Drafts: still my jam »

I’ve been redoing my Drafts setup lately, much like Gabe. He’s always an excellent source for some critical thinking about your setup. I don’t know where I stumbled across Tim Nahumck’s site, but he has some pretty amazing stuff of his own on the subject. Cheers to these guys.


Side note: Sorry for not putting anything on the site recently. It’s been a little busy. Rest assured, I’m still here. Maybe I’ll get back to this regularly, maybe I won’t. We’ll see!

Drafts 4 »

Alex Guyot, writing for MacStories:

This is Drafts though, an app that has been at the forefront of iOS automation since the field began. I should not have been worried. Released today on the App Store as a new, iOS 8-only, and Universal app, Drafts 4 is an evolution which boasts a huge number of improvements and represents a much needed shift in direction. With a UI refresh, a smarter and more accessible interface for building actions, a fantastic Share extension, a customizable extended keyboard, an enhanced URL scheme, and the intriguing introduction of JavaScript scripts for text manipulation, Drafts 4 is Agile Tortoise’s statement that they are ready for the challenges of a modern iOS.

Greg Pierce knocked it out of the park with Drafts 4. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, and even after using it for a couple of months, I’m still discovering things that make the app even better. You should absolutely pick it up.

The Story Behind Drafts »

My pal, Greg Pierce, was interviewed on Lifehacker and it’s a good read to get a little context on where Drafts came from. I specifically like the bit about taking criticism:

I’m Teflon® coated. When you’re an independent developer and put so much of yourself into your products, it’s easy to slip over the line and take criticisms personally. It’s important to maintain distance so you can be critical of your products, however. If you can’t do that, you are not likely to make good products–you have to know when you are wrong.

If you can maintain that distance, you create a lens through which you can evaluate your own ideas and criticisms of your products–and you can use that same lens to evaluate the requests and criticisms you channel from outside sources.

The important thing to remember is that if a person is taking time to send you a request, or a criticism, they are doing it because the care about your product. Even when I get those occasional criticisms that come off as rude or poorly thought out, I try to mentally rephrase them to fit the format, “Your app is useful to me, but would be that much more useful if it did or did not do X.” It almost always works.

I’m going to assume that the Venn diagram of people I know and people that own Drafts overlaps a lot. But if you somehow don’t have it, you should pick it up.

✱ Groceries with Due, Silo and Drafts

It’s no secret that I forget virtually everything. I’ve been using the excellent Due (iTunes) more and more lately, and I also stumbled upon Silo (iTunes). Silo is a list app, much like the popular Clear, but for some reason, I dig this one more1. I have to thank Sean Korzdorfer for his insights here in respect to both of these apps.2 Using URL schemes, you can make some pretty fantastic workflows using these two relatively simple tools, and Sean has some killer stuff he’s made note of. I shamelessly used a bunch of his stuff and tweaked it to fit my needs. And what would a workflow be without Drafts? Crap, that’s what. So here’s a simple hack that has been super useful for me. Nothing insane, just tying a notification to a grocery list.

So, I need to go food shopping (which is constant with two growing boys). Sending things from Drafts to Due is easy enough, but I only use Due for time-based tasks, not lists. Silo is a much more natural fit. Problem is I forget everything. On a million occasions, I’ve made extensive lists in a number of apps only to totally forget about them. Plus, certain days are better for me to get to the store than others. So what to do…

Like I mentioned previously, using some of what Sean has done as inspiration, I made a simple action for passing an embedded Silo URL from Drafts to Due. Then I just set the time I want to be reminded to go to the store, and when the alert fires, completing the task in Due will prompt me to pass the URL on to Silo. Then I choose an existing list — in this case, groceries — and boom. List is set, and off I go. Here’s the raw scheme and some screenshots so you can see what’s going on:

due://x-callback-url/add?title={{LIST ☲ silo://x-callback-url/note/add?text=[[draft]]&x-success=drafts://}}

Just make sure you’re creating a comma-separated list in Drafts, and you’re set. You can install the Drafts action directly, by clicking here.

Like I said, this isn’t revolutionary, but it’s handy for a scatterbrain.3


  1. Here’s the documentation on Silo’s x-callback parameters. 

  2. I even stole his use of divination symbols. I mean, there’s only so long you can read his tweets and not want to use these characters. 

Drafts Actions RSS Feed »

Greg Pierce, the man in charge at Agile Tortoise, has created an RSS feed for the recent additions to the Drafts directory. Don’t mind if I do.

Putting your Mac to sleep with Drafts »

David Sparks has a great tip for putting your Mac(s) to sleep using Drafts on iOS.

This is how it works:

I type “MB sleep” in Drafts and save it to the standard Drafts folder on Dropbox. (In my case it is located at Dropbox/Apps/Drafts.) I use “MB sleep” because I’m going to add a second one for putting the iMac to sleep.

Point Hazel at the Drafts folder and tell it to look for a file that contains the terms “MB sleep”

When Hazel sees the file, it deletes it and runs an AppleScript to put the Mac to sleep.

Read David’s whole post for the AppleScript bits. He goes on to explain how you can make this easier with Launch Center Pro —credit to Milosz Bolechowski:

Milosz had another great idea of using a URL scheme to further automate this. If you want to take it a step further, set up a URL scheme in Launch Center Pro as follows:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=MB%20sleep

This is a great tip, but this stuck out to me:

Then when you tap the button in Launch Center Pro, it opens Drafts and fills in the text “MB sleep” for you. You just need to send it to Dropbox for the Magic to happen.

If instead, you make a Dropbox Action in Drafts, and use a slightly different custom URL in Launch Center, you can have Drafts do everything.

In Drafts, make a Dropbox Action called MB sleep. Add “MB sleep” to the template area so that is autofilled when the rule runs. Again, make sure this is pointed to your /Apps/Drafts/ folder. Then in Launch Center, use this URL scheme instead:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=MB%20sleep&action={{MB sleep}}

With this, Launch Center Pro will kick you to Drafts, the MB sleep text is filled in, and will be sent to Dropbox where Hazel will pick it up. Nice thing is you don’t have to do anything but hit the action in LCP.

Here’s a little bonus if you want to be kicked back to LCP in the end:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=MB%20sleep&action={{MB sleep}}&x-success=launchpro://

Add a list to Things using Drafts »

This is a great x-callback tip from Andrea Patruno on getting a list into Things from Drafts. One thing that always drives me nuts is that Things’s URL scheme is crap, to put it bluntly, and doesn’t allow adding more than one item at a time.

Andrea’s scheme uses Drafts’s built-in List in Reminders action to send a full list — with one task per line — over to Things, provided you have Reminders integration turned on. Everything will show up right in your Inbox. The post is a little hard to understand since I don’t think English is Andrea’s native language, so here’s the scheme:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=[[draft]]&action=List%20in%20Reminders&x-success=things://

Wish I would have thought of this earlier.

✱ Drafts 3.0 —all about organization

Fire up your App Store updates tab and grab the latest and greatest version of Drafts from Greg Pierce, at Agile Tortoise. Released today, version 3.0 is packed full of new goodies including the ability to backup your action setup. The full list of new features is far too long to mention in one post –unless you’re Italian–, but I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about what the most useful parts of the new version are for me personally.

The killer new stuff in 3.0 is all about organizing your drafts and actions. In previous iterations of the app, you had a main list of drafts, and while that was searchable –and still is– it could get tedious once your list got to be relatively long. The same can be said for your action list. The more you added, the longer scrolling your list became. This is all fixed up in 3.0, and quite cleverly.

Action Panes

You now have panes that you can assign actions to. Not only does this cut down on long lists, but is also handy for sorting your actions in a way that makes sense for you.

For example, I’m using three of the 4 available panes. The first is for my most used actions –consisting mostly of custom URL schemes. The second is all social sharing actions (email, twitter, ADN, iMessage), and the third is built-in actions for sending text to other apps installed on my iPhone. This new setup allows for even faster speed in sending your drafts where they need to go.

Draft Panes

Similar to the panes for actions, there are also new ones for your drafts. There are three available; Inbox, Archive, and Pinned.

For me, the Inbox is treated as somewhat of a triage section. In other words, an area that holds all the drafts that I’m going to send somewhere else.

The Archive is exactly what it sounds like. I’ve been keeping generic notes in there that I want to be able to access later. Something that is rarely talked about is how good Drafts is as a general note-taking app. I use it constantly throughout the day to jot down quick thoughts in meetings or while sitting at my desk. These notes don’t need to be sent to another app. They live in Drafts. The archive fits this need perfectly.

The third pane is for notes that you want to pin. Basically I use this as an area to keep a small subsection of my notes that may pertain to active projects before they head to the archive.

Another nice touch in 3.0 is when you swipe on a drafts, you’re presented with 2 additional options along with the delete button. Say you’re in your Inbox, you will now see a button to archive or pin that note. This is great for quickly rearranging your notes.

All of this sounds complex, but that’s due to my inelegant description of the update. When you try it, it will all make sense.

Markdown Keyboard

Since its release, Drafts for iPad sported an extra row of keys for quickly adding Markdown to notes. In version 3.0, the iPhone gets some love in this area. The catch here is since you already have some options (link-mode, drafts, search, etc) in the area that would usually be assigned to extra keys, Greg had to find an elegant solution, and he did. Swipe the bar above the keyboard up to 3 times, and you’ll get the extra keys. This has made getting text into the app even faster than it was in version 2.x –and it was already very speedy.

Conclusion

All-in-all, Drafts 3.0 is another excellent update to what was already a phenomenal app. Greg deserves a ton of credit for continually adding new features that not only greatly enhance the app, but never detract from it’s greatest strength; speed. Drafts is, and has been, one of my most used apps, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

✱ Dropbox actions with Drafts

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Drafts from developer Greg Pierce. Some friends have asked what kind of rules I use in conjunction with the also sweet Launch Center Pro. I figured I’d take a few minutes to write something up, so here goes…

Scratchpad rule

One of the things I do is keep a general scratchpad in Dropbox. All sorts of notes go in this file, but it’s generally things I don’t want to forget. Here’s the multi-part process of setting this up.

First, set up the scratchpad file in Dropbox. It can be wherever you want, and named whatever you want, just make sure you remember so that you can point Drafts in the right direction. Then you’ll want to start building the rule in Drafts. This isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Create a new Dropbox action in Drafts –mine is named Add to Scratchpad. Then choose the path in Dropbox, and tap Predefined in the File section. For the Write section, pick Append. Then we get to the template. You can get creative here. Here’s my template:

[[date|%Y-%m-%d %I:% %p]]:[[draft]]

This setup allows me to have output like this:


2013-03-08 7:03 AM:

Living room window

  • 8’ sill piece
  • 47” 1/2” quarter round x 2
  • 8’ 1/2” quarter round x 2
  • 55” side molding x 2
  • 106” top/bottom molding x 2

Sweet right? Okay, so now we have the Drafts rule all set up. So now to Launch Center Pro —which is easy. Simply create a new action —I called mine “Scratchpad”— and choose the “Custom URL” option. Then you’ll want to add an x-callback-URL similar to this —depending on how you named your files:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=[prompt]&action=Add%20to%20Scratchpad&action=LCP&x-success=launchpro://

That’s it. The action will prompt you for text, send it to Drafts.

You’ll also need to create another Drafts rule that runs the append rule and sends you back to LCP. In URL Actions in Drafts, name a new action LCP and add this as the URL:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?action=Add%20to%20Scratchpad&x-success=launchpro://

This will trigger Drafts to run your Scratchpad rule, and finally, kick you back to Launch Center Pro where you started.

Hope that helped you understand how this works. It sounds complicated, but if I can do it, you can too. If you visit this link, it should import my Drafts rule. Then you just need to make sure you have the correctly named files in Dropbox, and create your LCP action. That’s it! I’m pretty sure that my set of rules could be accomplished much more easily, but this setup works. If you have any problems, or questions let me know.

Note: This whole post was written in Textastic on my iPhone. Forgive me if there are clumsy errors.