A very common question I get asked is, why isn’t there an iPad version of Reloading Studio. In fact, the question can be split into two – the iPad and a more general question about mobile phones. Rest assured, the mobile version will happen, however, iPad probably won’t. Here’s why…
Those are really good questions. To understand this, we need to take a step back in history of Reloading Studio and my own use case. I load for everything that I own (with a few obvious exceptions), I also have somewhat of an eclectic taste, from modern tactical to old black powder cartridges. The application is based on actual practical experiences and came about because I wanted to document something complex. I think that handwritten notes are limited.
For example, the process to load a 9mm on a progressive is significantly simpler, than a precision 308 on a single stage and even that is trivial compared to loading some black powder cartridges. I wanted something that could keep track of state (for example, track brass lifecycle), track all my processes, all components, create relationships between components and do so with ease, speed and simplicity while I load (not before and not after the fact).
I cobbled together a few prototypes and quickly realised a few specific requirements.
Screen real estate
This is perhaps the most important finding.
Big or at least – not small – screen is needed.
While I load, I have ideas, we all do. I am generating data and I am recording measurements. I am improving on the process and taking quick notes. Fast data entry while you have an idea (sometimes not in logical order of things) was crucial. To do that, a reasonable screen real estate is required. I wanted to add data immediately, no scrolling, no looking for menus, just move the mouse to the point on the screen and start typing; or prime the screen with correct options just before I begin working on a task. In my opinion, this is just not possible on an iPad. In my opinion, iPad is primarily a data consumption device.
With dirty and oily hands, sometimes wearing gloves, tools all over the bench, pointy and sharp bits around, perhaps chemicals, lube, solvents, I found it much easier to use a dedicated keyboard and a mouse, than a touchscreen. I also found it a lot safer to use a cheap laptop at fraction of the cost of an iPad (we all have old computers and Reloading Studio will run on most of them).
Planning, data and cost
I wanted a dedicated copy of the application that could stay in my reloading space and another in the office. That way I can synchronise using my own cloud accounts (e.g. Dropbox or OneDrive). I can plan a reloading session and use the same data in the workspace to execute on the plan.
I also wanted to make sure data is recoverable and application can work offline.
It was a lot easier to do with Mac and Windows, than an iPad. And again, I would much sooner buy a cheap dedicated ‘reloading space’ laptop, then iPad with less features and at least double the price.
A compounded understanding of the reloading process, requirement for speed and screen real estate made iPad a less convincing choice. Besides, I think a laptop is a lot more versatile and much easier to use and look things up while working. Maybe it’s just me, but I am not exactly old-school when it comes to computers.
Portability and the future
This is where it gets interesting. Reloading is a process. Sure, we made some ammo, but how does it perform? Performance data needs to be recorded somewhere. iPad is not it – I don’t know anyone (myself included) who would risk take a personal iPad to a farm or a shooting range. Just nope. A mobile phone however, absolutely. So, at this point it boiled down to time. I had to start somewhere and desktop was the right place to start. In the near future however, I am indeed starting work on (design has started) the mobile companion application for Android and iOS, that will integrate with Reloading Studio laptop and will become part of the broader Reloading Studio ecosystem.