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Portfolio for iPad offers a plethora of options, and a steep learning curve

A few weeks ago, TUAW editor-in-chief Victor Agreda asked me if I had any recommendations for an iPad portfolio app. He had a friend who wanted to be able to save his portfolio on his iPad and passcode it so his kids couldn't access it. It's a good idea, and I've seen the iPad be used for wedding photography to comic portfolios. Yes, it's fairly easy to do a basic portfolio using the built-in Photos app on the iPad, and I've done that myself. However, the current version of Photos doesn't allow album creation on the iPad, and you can't passcode that specific app.

For those wanting to explore portfolio apps, TUAW is reviewing two of them this week. Today, I'm taking a look at Portfolio for iPad, and Wednesday I'll look at Xtrafolio. Then, on Thursday, we'll do a head-to-head comparison of the apps and whether the built-in Photos app is the best choice after all.

Interface

Portfolio makes it easy for first-time users to get started. A basic guide immediately springs up the first time the app is launched. There's a plethora of choices to make the app look slick and professional ranging from color choices to logos. If you don't have a logo to represent your work, you'll be inspired to create one. Different options are available based on whether the portfolio will be shown in portrait or landscape mode, or on an external screen.

There are a lot of layers to the app, and sometimes the options get a bit overwhelming. I found myself frequently referring to the help file to remember specific gestures or to explain some of the options as I customized a portfolio. While you can just quickly upload an album and go, Portfolio's strength lies in its versatility, therefore, it's worth taking the time to read the help file to get the most out of it.

Use

A portfolio is designed to show off your work. They can be anywhere from pages saved in a binder to PDFs on a thumb drive. With more people choosing to own an iPad, it makes sense to use it to display your work if you're a creative professional. Sometimes, you need to change a portfolio in a hurry or your material might be scattered on different computers. Portfolio makes it easy to bring these together and is good for those whose portfolios consist of images, video, PDFs or all these.

After creating a gallery, images can be loaded from iPad media, file sharing, URLs, Dropbox or a Mac. Tapping a file automatically adds it to the gallery, which is a little off-putting at first. I prefer to see some sort of ticker box showing me the selections before I commit to adding them to the gallery. Tap away from the selection box, and the jiggling icons are automatically active in case you do change your mind right away.

Selecting an image allows a degree of customization that can't be found in the vanilla Photos app. Files can be renamed, keywords and IPTC metadata edited, then you can set that metadata up to be displayed when the gallery is shown. You can rotate an image, set it as the gallery thumbnail or send via email. You can create a gallery slideshow that can be anything you want -- be it understated elegance for wedding photography or your secret gallery of LOLcats set to rock classics from the 80s. Under gallery configuration, you can set a password for each gallery. You can also set a master passcode for the entire app for additional security.

When showing your portfolio, you can double-tap on the image to automatically zoom up to 2048x2048 (limited by the iPad's memory, the developer says) or double-tap the thumbnail to bring up a side-by-side comparison with another page. Tap a thumbnail or slide to change images or go into slideshow mode where it does it for you automatically.

Portfolio is $14.99 in the App Store, and if you don't mind taking the time to read through the help file and getting to know the program, it's well-recommended for the number of options and the multilayered security features.



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iPad

A few weeks ago, TUAW editor-in-chief Victor Agreda asked me if I had any recommendations for an iPad portfolio app. He had a friend...