You’ve heard the phrase ‘There’s an app for that’, well it’s probably true, but how do you sort the wheat from the chaff & know what to bother spending your time with; well that’s where I hope I can help!
Being both relatively new to diving & a bit of a tech geek I’ve been very interested to see what the intersection of my two loves might produce.
WIth this post I’ll concentrate on Digital Logbooks (Category Types & Desktop), with later articles, assuming I get the chance, will cover Digital Logbooks (Mobile & Cloud) and possibly Weather/Conditions Information, Training and a Miscellaneous catch-all for anything I’ve missed.
So, what makes or breaks a digital logbook; might I suggest the following
Location: your phone knows where it is at all times – assuming it can ‘see’ the sky, regardless of whether you’ve got a mobile signal so logging the location of your dive should be a no-brainer – typing in GPS co-ordinates on a map should be a thing of the past, shouldn’t it?
Synchronisation: between your dive computer and the mobile/desktop app – you really don’t want to type it all in again
Dive Site Database – for easy reference & inspiration
Categories of digital logbooks
As I see it there are 3 core categories of digital logbooks: Manufacturer, Agency linked & Independent and each may offer a variety of solutions from software you need to install on your computer, to a mobile ‘app’ or even an internet ‘cloud’ offering.
Let’s take a look at what’s available in each category.
Your dive computer usually has a complementary program to download the dive information & visualize it. Usually free (sometimes a ‘lite’ version) & obviously guaranteed to work with your computer is a big plus, while on the minus side it’ll likely only work with your computer so if you change computer brand you may have the joy of trying to migrate all that valuable dive data.
Cressi – Log Book (for PC & Mac) comprehensive in detail & allowing you to simulate dives (including displaying the profile alongside the display on the computer) and offering the ability to print log books, the look-and-feel is a little garish & dated.
Interestingly the interface to the computer is via infra-red connection rather than metal contacts.
A rather confusing setup in terms of variously named desktop & mobile apps (though I guess once you’ve settled on your desktop & mobile OS of choice you don’t need to look further.
The Mares offerings are pretty comprehensive with Dive Organizer the more attractive of the offerings.
My computer is a Mares (Puck Pro) & I have tried the Mares desktop software but have defaulted back to an Independent offering as some of the limitations, such as the kit cataloguing function just annoyed me, but perhaps your feelings may be different.
Verdict: Good for starting out but may be limiting, some are somewhat primitive & could seriously do with a fresh look – I’m looking at you Cressi, while others, such as DiverLog really do set the bar high such that if you have a compatible computer you’d have little reason to go anywhere else. If you haven’t already played with the one for your computer then explore the links above – it may just fit the bill.
A few of the diving organisations produce dive logging apps, their advantage is the terminology will be understandable & specific to the agency training you have undertaken but on the other hand you may find they leave out resources (centres, boats etc.) that are not associated with that agency.
IANTD have partnered with cloud logbook provider Diviac. Diviac is covered in detail in the cloud section later. IANTD are leveraging the partnership by enabling instructors to log their training dives and directly send validated logs to their students’ logbooks. Certified divers can also mutually validate each other’s logs.
Verdict: limiting in restricting primary functionality to members of specific agencies – doesn’t help networking/ sharing/ community but the non-affiliated cloud offering from Diviac is worth a go – see later
There used to be a large range of independent dive log software, particularly for Windows (see note at the end of this section) but things have now consolidated into essentially 4 applications, all of which are very good, though restrictive in terms of what platform they are available for – except for Subsurface.
Dive Log DT ($24.99) (Mac) A companion application to Dive Log for iOS. Dive Log DT is a MacOS desktop application that allows you to edit and manage your digital scuba diving log book. It is an extended version of the free “Dive Log Manager” application that adds direct editing capabilities and the ability to download a select number of dive computers.
Diving Log 6.0 ($45.68) (PC) — described as scuba logbook software — can be customized to suit recreational or technical profiles, and can log repeat information such as dive buddy or location, and sync all data with your smartphone. It’s also easy to analyze dive data, such as pinpointing best and worst air-consumption rates.
Macdive 2 ($25.00) (Mac) to capture data from dive computers; otherwise, it must be entered manually.
“If it gets too complicated, most divers won’t log anything,” says Dubai-based instructor Gavin Hibberd-Smith. With Dive Log, he says, “as soon as I switch on my iPad or iPhone, it automatically syncs so I can easily carry a digital version of my dive log everywhere.”
As far as Mac software goes, MacDive is AWESOME..! The developer (Nick Shore) provides the most incredible tech support that I have ever seen on any piece of software anywhere. I have been using it for years, and any time that I have had an issue he has answered my email and fixed the problem literally in minutes.
The program lets you import data from your computer, store all sorts of data including photos, maps, gear configurations, profiles, etc… Plus, easy to sync with the Dive Log app for the iPhone.
This All-in-One Digital Dive Logbook Solution = Dives + Buddies + Dive Places + Log Categories + Photo Album + Personal Information + Dive Computer Import + Equipment Management + Dive Planner + Enhanced Statistics + Many More