We are slowly exposing the archaeological deposits at AlDf-30, where we are searching for a Middle Maritime Woodland (ca. 1450 B.P.) house floor that we encountered in a 2009 test pit. We haven’t made our way down to this cultural layer yet, and the overlying deposits have had low densities of artifacts. However, we have encountered a few artifacts and features which need to be mapped, and this has given us the opportunity to test the use of PDF graph paper on the iPad.
You may remember that the forms we are using incorporate PDF graph paper; we are using PDF Expert to draw our unit level plans directly on to the PDFs. The app has a robust annotation and drawing function that we use to its full capacity.
We plot the features and artifacts exactly as we would draw them with a pencil and graph paper – by placing a dot at every plotted point, and then connecting those dots to fill in the outline of the features. So far, it has worked very well. We use Jot styli to plot the points, but we have found that dust often gets caught between the stylus disc and the screen, scratching our iPad screen protectors. We are coming to the conclusion that a finger works best (that’s what the iPad was designed for), and the zooming functionality helps with turning fat fingers into small lines.
Once we finish drawing the plan, we have to save a “flattened” copy of the form. This can then be imported into most standard illustration packages. This will save us countless hours back in the lab; normally we scan hand drawn maps, import the scans into illustration software, and then digitally trace every line to produce a publishable image. With the PDF forms, we negate the scanning and tracing necessary to produce the maps.
If you are testing the forms, be sure to first preserve an unflattend copy – flattened forms will not allow data to be imported from the form fields automatically. For those of you trying out the forms, please let us know how you are doing!