Archives for category: iPad

Note: Michael Jennings is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago. He is responsible for the recording at the Jericho Mafjar Project. This past Fall, he spoke with some of the PARP:PS participants including myself about adopting the iPads for his project. I asked him to write an entry for this blog noting, in particular, what he is doing differently than we do at PARP. He can be reached at

What does one do with an entire area of an archaeological site for which all records of excavation (including plans, notes, and finds) have been lost? Addressing this question was one of the main objectives of the 2011 Jericho Mafjar Project (JMP), a joint archaeological investigation of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities and the University of Chicago at the iconic site of Khirbat al-Mafjar in modern Jericho. The site, as we know it today, consists of two main areas: a southern sector that includes a palace, pavilion, and magnificent bath, and a northern area. The northern area, excavated by a Jordanian team in the 1960s, is the area for which all records are missing.

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Before FileMaker Go came out, FMTouch was the only way to get FileMaker databases on an iOS device (there is also a FMTouchBB for Blackberry). FMTouch is an app that runs on the iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch) and a matching plug-in that is installed in the FileMaker Pro application on the desktop computer. FMTouch works by using what is knows as a DDR (Database Design Report) from your FileMaker Pro database, then uploading that DDR to FMTouch on the iPad over wifi. Once installed and initialized, FMTouch is used offline and syncs with the desktop database whenever you choose.

The trick is getting the DDR. You can’t make one with the normal version of FileMaker Pro, it requires FileMaker Pro Advanced. However, FMTouch has a service where you can upload your database and they will make one for you. 

In order to work with FMTouch the size of the DDR report has to be smaller than 10MB. The DDR report from the database that I uploaded for PARP:PS is 28.8 MB, and too large for FMTouch. The PARP:PS database is also not optimized for a touch screen as the elements (check boxes, radio buttons, text fields) are too small.

The best answer that I could come up with was to make a smaller version of the database that only had the elements that we needed in order to use it in the field. The PARP:PS database is named PS_11.fp7. So I made another file with the same name (in a subfolder so to keep from getting confused) and stripped most of the database away. The main database has 34 tables. The iPad database has 12. The main database has 86 layouts and 60 scripts. The iPad database has 6 layouts and 2 scripts. The design elements are all larger and the layouts are sized to the iPad. The DDR for the new database is 5.6 MB. Read the rest of this entry »

The iPad version of the database looks vastly different from the desktop. We stripped all but the essential fields from the database in order to speed it up and make the syncing go faster. The elements here are all designed for the iPad, with larger text fields and elements such as radio buttons and checkboxes. We also made use of drop-down menus for dates and a few other fields.


The list view of SUs lets you browse through the list, but it isn’t a real list view. In FileMaker terms, it is a portal, and doesn’t sort properly (for instance SU 50010 is in the database but doesn’t show up in this list). We found a work-around by viewing the SU table in a table view (see below). The scripting engine in FMTouch isn’t as robust as the FileMaker itself, and while the FMTouch database knows which SUs are fills and which ones are wallSUs, it can’t go to a layout based on that data, so there are buttons for both Wall and Fill and you have to tap the right one to see the right screen. Read the rest of this entry »

The previous iDraw exercises paid no attention to scale, they were focused on gaining familiarity with the concept basic technical drawing skills. When you try to draw original items on the ground, you need better scaling and layer controls.

PARP:PS has always drawn at 1:20 scale. Since the original iDraw only used pixels for the units, we had to create a scale bar that made logical sense to the user and draw things in an artificial scale. But now that we can use different units in iDraw we can have a better sense of size when we draw.

We also had to arrive at a logical layer structure. Being able to turn layers on and off is key to moving elements out of your way to focus on the drawing. So our drawings used the following layer structure:

  • Elev Text
  • Elevations
  • SU Text
  • SU
  • Walls
  • Tr Outline
  • Baselines
  • Scale Bar
  • Image

This layer structure, and the major grid lines standardized on 5 instead of 6, can be copied to your computer using the instructions below. The file that you download and install will be an A-3 sized document with millimeter sized grids.

iDraw documents are packages. That is, it is really a folder, but your iPad thinks it is a document. The problem is that when you copy native iDraw documents to the Mac, the Mac doesn’t see it as a package, but as a folder. And it will copy the document over to the iPad as a folder, and iDraw won’t recognize it as a document. The trick is to make the Mac think it is a package, then copy it over, and then rename it in iTunes. So the file that I made has a .pkg extension, making it look like an installer package. Download the file here, which will start as a .zip file. Once decompressed it will be called GridA3.pkg (and the Installer might try to install it but return an error which can be dismissed). Using the file sharing feature of iTunes, copy the GridA3.pkg file to iDraw. While still in iTunes, rename the file GridA3.idraw. Close and re-open iDraw and you will see the new file. Duplicate that document to have the scaled five line grid system and the pre-defined layers.

As you draw, you will often see a rectangle with the dimensions of the object near your finger. If you are used to doing scaled drawings at all it will soon become easy to translate those cm dimensions on the screen to cm dimensions on the ground. Multiply the number on the screen by 20 to get the ground measurement. This allows you to draw triangulation lines corresponding to tape measurements to properly place objects.

A bonus to using the A3 sized document to practice with is that you can import the drawings from the previous exercises and, since they were scanned at 100% scale, they will be properly scaled on the iDraw drawing.

Here are a couple of finished drawings from the 2009 season of PARP:PS:

51000 Plan 27

52000 Plan 9 Final

First, a configuration setting. Go to the settings app, select general, then keyboard, and turn Enable Caps Lock to on. This will let you type in acronyms like PARP or SU with a double tap of the shift key. The key will turn all blue with a white arrow. Also note the double tap . function. This is a holdover from the phone. If you are typing in a sentence and want to hit period, space, type the space bar twice.

Now, on to the homework. Add a couple of walls and two SUs.

You will need this drawing.

Duplicate your second drawing. Name it 29.4 lastname. Mine still has the scan layer, but it is hidden. Make it active, then delete the old scan and insert the new one (above). Rotate it and scale to match the outlines of drawing #2.

Make a new layer and call it SU. On that layer, draw the solid lines that represent the walls. Experiment with using each of the line tools available: brush, pencil, and bezigon.

Don’t forget to draw what looks like a floor surface at the top.

Once those are done, make a closed form with the bezigon tool for the two SUs. Trace the outline as much as possible. You might have to make the fill translucent before you draw so the solid color doesn’t cover up parts of your drawing while you are trying to draw. Make the two new shapes have no line, and a solid color fill (any colors will do). You can use the pen tool to cleanup the shape so it more closely matches the pencil drawing lines.

Use the align and order tool (the two square icons on the upper right) to send the SU shapes behind the wall outlines.

Then make your text layer active again. Reuse any elements that you do have and copy/paste to make any new ones needed.

Don’t forget that you can copy and paste group elements, too. Since there were three elevations on the first drawing, place those. Then select all of them and copy/paste. Move the three new arrows into place, move the numbers, and edit the numbers. Don’t forget the elevations.

This is my finished drawing:

And just to show what you can do with a digital drawing that you will never be able to do on paper, I added a couple of photos from the database to the drawing to more clearly illustrate what is going on.