There was a time when the one and only way to log your dives was with a traditional paper log book, but over the last few years dive logging has entered the 21st century! Today there are countless computer applications, websites and even mobile apps for your smart phone that allow you to go digital with your dive logging. The majority of your high end dive computers available today even include there own dive logging applicants for your home computer that allow you to download all the data from your dives including a profile directly to your home computer. With all the options out there the question remains: “What is the best option out there?”.
For me finding the perfect solution for dive logging has always been a challenge, a few years back I did a lot of searching around for the perfect digital dive logging solution was never able to find what I really needed. So I resorted to having my wonderful wife create me custom log book pages which meet my needs. The pages are wonderful and have event resulted in a number of people having my wife make them custom pages as well. The great thing about this is I was able to have pages exactly the way I wanted them. Want some of your own contact here by clicking here. The one problem with paper log book pages is of course the fact they are paper and as we all know paper and water don’t mix very well. So even though I remained extremely pleased with my custom log book pages I still needed a solution that was easier and allowed me to have access to all my dives in the palm of my hand, so the search for a digital solution returned.
For me the primary need was portability of my log book, but as a professional the ability to have a signature field on my digital logs was the first barrier in my search but as luck would have it between the time of my initial search and my present search one of the best iOS Mobile Dive Log applicants added a signature field to the application. With the addition of the signature field it was possible for me to start really considering digital logging as a possibility.
insane. As a technical dive logging app it is heavily lacking but does include basic support for double tank configurations and the developer has informed me rebreather support is on the horizon. One of my absolute favorite things about the developers at More Mobile Software is the support provided and the attention to the feedback provided by users. Every reasonable request for functionality I have made for the application they have added in an extremely timely manor.
Since Dive Log for iOS does not allow direct imports from a dive computer the next task was to find the perfect desktop application for my Mac to allow for the importing of the dive profiles from my dive computer. There are two options on the Mac that allow for syncing between the desktop computer and iOS Dive Log. MacDive and Dive Log Manager both provide for a sync and after trying them both its a no brainer to go with Dive Log Manager again by More Mobile Software. Since DiveLog for iOS and Dive Log Manager are both made by More Mobile Software there is rarely any compatibility issues and the two pieces of software are often updated at the same time to take advantage of new features being added. While MacDive is a great application it simply lacks the easy of use that comes with Dive Log Manager. Dive Log Manager comes in two version a free version and a paid version, the big difference between the two is the free verson is basically just a viewer for data entered on the iOS device while the paid version is a full fledge piece of software that can act as a stand alone piece of software. With the paid version installed adding dive profiles from your dive computer is an extremely simple task. Everything was perfect in this configuration right up until I purchased a Uwatec Galileo Sol. Uwatec has failed to move into the 21st century with the dive computers they make and continue to use IR Technology and a PC only data communications methods, worst of all they refuse to release the communication protocols to the public preventing 3rd party developers from making a piece of software to allow ease transfer to a make. The protocols were released to one developer who has made an application for the mac called JTrak for the Mac but the developer is a single individual who clearly lacks the ability to understand the basics of user interface design, and worst of all is extremely slow on providing updates to the software.
Needing the ability to get the data off my Sol I reluctantly installed Windows 7 on my Mac and started the search for a piece of software that would interface with Dive Log for iOS and provided support for the Sol. It Wasn’t log before I cam across an application called “Dive Log” which is essentially a mirror of Dive Log Manager for the Mac OS. Who copied who I have no idea, and perhaps some of the same developers are involved in the development of both pieces of software, but all and all they are basically the same piece of software. So the selection of the software on the PC side of things was easy.
By using Dive Log for iOS, Dive Log Manager for Mac OS, and Dive Log for Windows I had a fully functional solution that allowed me full support for everything I needed. Total damage to the wallet a whooping $85.00. If you only need Mac Support you will be looking at a total of $36.98 while those needing windows support will be looking at around $45.00. I say around $45 for the windows only solution because Dive Log for Windows is sold in Euro’s so the conversion to the USD changes on a daily basis. So the big question that needs to be asked is was the $85.00 worth it for going to a fully digital logging solution and my answer would be absolutely 100%. Now the only problem I have is the slow process of transferring over 5,000 dives from paper to digital. At some point I am sure I will get along to pulling out my old log books and starting this process but that will have to wait for a rainy day when I have absolutely nothing else todo.
Now like many bloggers I feel that my life is so important that I need to share everything with the world. This is an issue I looked into long ago but what I found was every solution out there sucked. One of the things that the above solution lacks is an online front end for sharing your dives with the world. Well that is not actually completely true, while neither Dive Log Manager or Dive Log for Windows has its only online service for sharing dives, Dive Log for Windows does have an export & publish option for a number of online dive directories. The draw back of the sites Dive Log for windows has is all the sites it supports are European sites and heavily lack support for US based divers, plus most of the sites as noted above sucked.
Just the other day my solution to the problem was solved. When I say just the other day I literally mean yesterday. As i was browsing around on Twitter I happened to notice a post by @DiveBoard mentioning they were about to pass the 10,000 logged user dives mark. I had tried DiveBoard when the site was first put online and like many of the other online dive logging sites was extremely disappointed, but I figured i would check it out again since a good amount of time had passed for them to work out the bugs. The progress DiveBoard.com has made since it was first put online is simply amazing. For the first time ever I feel like a online dive logging site has actually got it right, while the site still has some features I would really like to see added it is well on its way to becoming a great method of sharing your dives with the world. The site is actually so promising that I ended up staying up until 4am this morning uploading all of my dives from Dive Log Manager to the site. Now I make it sound like this was a time consuming task but intact the process was extremely easy since the site supports bulk uploaded via UDCF file format. The reason the process took so long is because I made a mistake in exporting the data from Dive Log Manager and forgot to map the locations of the dives resulting in about 150 dives not having locations associated with them. Since the process of deleting dives has to be done on a dive by dive basis I elected to just add the locations manually instead of attempting to reimport the dives with the locations mapped. DiveBoard.com does still have some work to do in terms of making it the perfect online sharing system for dive logs but they are leaps and bounds ahead of every other online dive logging site out there.
Some of the things that would be great to see DiveBoard.com add is Dive Buddy linking, allowing you to follow divers who you are friends with, syncing between users so when someone tags you as being on a dive with them it auto adds them as a dive buddy for your dive taking place at the same time and location, detailed dive shop / operator listings and last but not least a more detailed system for dive sites & locations. Perhaps something similar to what divetime.com provides. The one other feature that would be nice to see is a better implementation of FaceBook TimeLine support that is an embedded Facebook app on the timeline instead of just a generic link, but with TimeLine being so new I expect this is something we will see added in the near future. If you want to check out my logbook on DiveBoard you can access my log by clicking here. When that rainy day comes along and I can get all 5,000+ dives that currently site on paper only they will also be added here. Slowly but surely I am also adding photos and videos to my dives on DiveTime. Perhaps one day they will even add a WordPress plugin to the system and I’ll be able to display my DiveBoard log’s directly in my own blog! Wouldn’t that be nice great!
Ok so with everything that has been talked about here it leaves the question of what is the workflow process that makes this whole process function and stay up to date. Funny as it is that is the easiest part, once I figured out how to get everything setup that is.
The Digital Dive Logging Work Flow
- Go out and do my dive with my standard dive computer and bring my iOS device along for the trip (Don’t forget your waterproof case). While onsite grab the GPS coordinates for the dive location if its somewhere I have never been before.
- Durring the post dive gathering for drinks, enter the basic details of the dive in the log book and have my dive buddy sign my digital log book.
- Once back at home or the hotel which ever the case may be sync the iOS device and my dive computer to the Desktop Software and then merge the two dives together. This ensures puts all the data into a single dive that has both the manual entered date and the dive profile.
- Enter all the logistical details for the dive such as equipment used, add the photos and videos to the dive. Don’t forget to include all the cool aquatic life you saw.
- Repeat the merge and logistics steps for each dive imported.
- Run a sync back to the iOS devices which updates all the details on my iPad and iPhone.
- Last but not least export a UDCF version of the dive(s) and upload it to diveboard.com.
Now this process may sound time consume but in total it takes about 5 – 10 minutes from start to finish.
So there is only a few small things other then what is noted above that I am really waiting for in terms of my digital dive logging to make the solution prefect. First off I can’t wait for ScubaCapsule to finally start shipping the Dive Computer housing and software for the iPhone which will hopefully remove the step of needing anything other then my iPhone as a dive computer which will get rid of a number of the above steps, I am assuming that with the dive data already being on my iOS device this will allow for direct import to Dive Log for iOS. Second it would be great to see More Mobile software or DiveBoard.com add direct support for automatically providing data to the DAN (Divers Alert Network) and REEF (Reef Environmental Conservation Foundation databases in terms of aquatic life seen and dive profiles. Limited DAN support is already added but the process should be more automated.
So what about you how are you logging your dives? Do you do it the old fashioned way with paper or pencil or have you moved into the world of digital logging? Either way take a moment and share your logging solutions with us in the comments area down below!