Archaeo-Pad grew out of my experiences developing Skelly-Pad, an App for recording skeletons, which itself came about because I needed a subject for my final year dissertation for BSc in Archaeology at the University of Reading. Being an IT specialist by background I was convinced it would be possible to build digital tools that would genuinely help archaeologists, who, it has to be said, are not always hugely receptive to new technology!
Lots of people suggested that a simple ‘Cut and Fill’ recording App would be useful so that’s what started me off developing Archaeo-Pad. There’s really 4 key principles behind it;
- Archaeologists differ in their approach to recording, often for very good reasons, so the App needed to allow people to create their own forms
- It needed to add value over and above the standard Apps that already exists – so it concentrates on the archaeology features (like Level calculations) and I decided not to try and build a drawing App – there are plenty of those already
- Data should only have to be entered once. Paper forms often ask for the same data to be entered multiple times, so if things go wrong you can track down the right plan, section or whatever. Archaeo-Pad makes it easy to keep track of which context belongs to which plan, sample, level and so on
- A proper, functioning App needs to have backups, exports and print facilities – so Archaeo-Pad includes an annoying backup reminder and lets you export data in printable format (HTML) or to a CSV, so you can pass context lists or finds lists on for processing in the office.
I used the prototype myself on a dig last year, and came back with lots of improvements, but it worked very nicely as a personal ‘dig notebook’ and will work just as well to record a complete dig.