Got iPad? Got folio?

I recently read an article from a pretty respectable source extolling the virtues of an iPad portfolio app called Flexfolios. Actually, calling it an article is generous since they basically just reprinted the app's description straight from the App Store, glowing quotes and all. Having used the app, I have to call that a disservice to the readers.

So I thought I'd chime in with my own portfolio experiences.


I went through a bit of a junkie phase with portfolio apps. I'd buy one, try it out. Find another one, try that out. I ended up ponying up for four apps - which may not sound THAT extreme but considering these were between $4.99 and $24.99(!!!)... It adds up. It's one of my pet peeves with the App Store that you usually can't try something before buying it. Purchases based on screenshots can lead to bad surprises. Believe me. But anyway, here are three that stood out - for various reasons.


Flexfolios. Yup. Ye of the glowing quotes. I'd just bought my iPad and was looking for something more professional than the photo app to display my work. This was one of the first out of the gates: great looking screenshots and website, the aforementioned quotes... And a whopping $24.99 asking price!

It was my first purchase on the iPad App Store. I figured I'd get what I paid for, that it was small change in a business sense... bla, bla, bla. It crashed the first time I launched it. And then it crashed when I tried making a portfolio. You get the picture. Or not, actually.

It eventually stabilized somewhat with a few updates. The price came down to $14.99 a few weeks after my purchase. It's now down to $9.99 and still not worth it as far as I'm concerned. Import process and portfolio building is terrible. The choice of included features is simply odd (when would I need to attach a document to a picture?) and it's still not stable. Forget this one.


Padport. It's the shiny new kid on the block. I heard about this one before it was even launched through a blog post (good read btw) and added my name to their notification list. I bought it the day it came out. It's good. It's promising. It looks wonderful but... it's not it for me.

My main gripe with Padport is the import process. There are two ways of importing photos into the app for use in portfolios: one by one through the iPad's library or in bulk through the dreaded iTunes file sharing. But you don't import directly into a portfolio - the photos first appear in the app's Library. Then you again need to drag them one by one into a portfolio, hunting for specific pictures through the entire Library. The interface for this task uses a split screen that shows your portfolio as a one line row of images on top and the Library beneath, which makes ordering images an absolute pain (you can only see 5 images at a time). As a matter of fact, this is how Flexfolios works and I'm not a big fan. I don't understand why they went with this method. Here's a screenshot:

Portfolio editing UI (portfolio is row at top) - I feel cramped.

But don't get me wrong: Padport is miles beyond Flexfolios. There are very nice features and - except for the process described above - the app is extremely slick and quite promising.

Things I like:

  • Locking mechanism to prevent clients from seeing the backend.

  • Contact and info screens that appear overlaid on the home screen.

  • Themes applied per portfolio.

  • Border around pictures.

  • The ability to flow from one portfolio to another.

Things I don't like quite as much:

  • Portfolio building UI.

  • No portrait mode.

  • No possibility for full screen pictures (yet).

  • Themes sometimes don't kick in immediately when viewing.

Padport is $9.99 . Check out their website for more info.


Foliobook. As far as I'm concerned this is the one. It's simple, unobtrusive and does exactly what it's meant to do without unnecessary flourish. And it's stable. The setup UI can be a little quirky in parts but it is hands down the winner at portfolio building: when in a portfolio, you can select multiple pictures to add at once (from the iPad library) or select a whole folder of up to 100 images (!). Here's what I'm talking about:

Foliobook portfolio UI - multiple picks!

Add a folder - or album

The great thing about this is that I can create my portfolio albums in Aperture, sync them to the iPad and then add them in one fell swoop to their corresponding portfolio in Foliobook. Very quick, very slick. And since the Edit view takes up the entire iPad screen, re-ordering is simply a matter of dragging a photo to a new position.

Room to move

Some more shots:

Album screen

Album screen with slideshow and editing buttons

Thumbnails UI (accessed by swiping down)

home screen

contact screen (made with a portfolio)

Things I like:

  • Import UI.

  • Locking mechanism to prevent clients from seeing the backend.

  • Customizable landscape and portrait modes.

  • Zooming (like the photo app).

  • Swipe down to show thumbnails.

  • That thumbnails UI.

  • Did I mention import UI?

Things I'd like:

  • The choice to have portfolios flow from one to another.

  • Free placement of home screen elements

  • Contact screen.

  • Customizable border around pictures.

That last wish is a matter of taste: I like having a white border around my images. Right now I just create them in Aperture using the BorderFX plugin which works quite well. But it does mean I have to choose to either have borders or not. It would be nice to have this choice in the app itself, per portfolio. As for the contact screen, I've created  a Contact portfolio with a single image for this purpose. But since the number of portfolios is limited, it would be nice to have this as a separate feature.

I've heard some say this app feels slow. I don't see that at all (and I'm using a resolution of 2048x1536 at 132ppi). But what I do know is that the developer is actively working on both feature and performance updates. In fact I've seen two free updates so far that have greatly enhanced Foliobook's feature set.

For those who need video be aware that it's not currently possible, but the feature will soon be available through an in-app purchase (great idea IMHO, allowing functionalities to be added depending on needs... as long as it doesn't get crazy).

Foliobook is $7.99. More info can be found here.

So that's my take so far. Hopefully it'll be helpful to some of you.