Tag Archives: Drafts

A Leap Forward for TextExpander on iOS

Who is this for? TextExpander users who have been hoping to see more of the functionality of the Mac come to iOS.

To date, TextExpander for iOS has primarily served as a sync engine between the snippets on a Mac and those on an iOS device. Their iOS offerings shared some of the functionality of the Mac counterpart, but it was primarily something you’d setup once and occasionally reopen to update your snippets. The real magic happened when you used it in tandem with other applications.

Today that changes with TextExpander 2.0 for iPhone and iPad. Rather than just serving as a conduit for your snippets, the latest update adds in essential functionality that has been missing from iOS including fill-ins and pop-up menus. A visit to the app makes it possible to take advantage of more advanced snippets and can send them to the clipboard, a text message or a new email message.

In addition to its own new tricks, Smile Software has also updated their SDK. This will make it possible for other applications to take advantage of this new functionality. You can already see this in action in latest version of Drafts.

While I agree with Federico Vittici’s thoughts on the design, his desire for URL Schemes to expand snippets and that it would be helpful “to build popup menus using variables as options, not just pre-defined text,” TextExpander 2.0 is a strong step in the right direction.

For more, be sure to check out Vittici’s comprehensive review over at MacStories. And if you’re yet to do so, be sure to download TextExpander for Mac, iPhone and iPad. It is easily one of the best time saving applications ever created and as you can see, it keeps getting better.

Multiple Calendar Entries with Drafts and Fantastical

Who is this for? Anyone who has ever gotten an email or text with multiple calendar events (read: anyone with a non-technical partner or co-workers).

Great solution from Eric at Geeks with Juniors for converting a list of events in Drafts into individual entries on your calendar in Fantastical.

Hat tip to James Gowans who points out that this might also work with other apps as well.

Update: James modified this action to work with Drafts and Due as well. Click here to add this action directly into Drafts.

Drafts, Threadnote and Corrections

Drafts, Pop and Intention.Note: This post is a follow up to

So… Turns out…

I’m not good at admitting I’m wrong, so I’m just going to come out with it. I was wrong about Quick Entry applications like Drafts and Pop.

While I didn’t (and still don’t) have a problem with the execution of the apps, I was worried about putting the capture of text ahead of whatever my intention was for said text. In my own workflows, I like to try and make determinations about where something belongs and get to that application. A place for everything and everything in it’s place, if you will… While slower than opening a quick capture app, it keeps me from having one disorganized and overflowing “inbox”. Posts go in one place, tasks in another, reference materials, yet another.

Why I was wrong…

While Drafts has the potential to become that, I’ve realized that it is not the intent of the app. In hindsight, I see they it is made to quickly create text and properly file it in the right application. It’s ideal for brain dumps. Write a task for OmniFocus, fire it off. Start a draft for Simplenote, fire it off. Create a note for Evernote, fire it off. Craft a Tweet… well, you get the gist. And you can do it all from a single consistent application. While it’s still not quite for me, I do see how it is useful.

Speaking of quick capture apps…

I’m also intrigued by newcomer, Threadnote. For the sake of disclosure, I was given a free copy to evaluate, but I’m only talking about it because I was damn impressed for a 1.0 release. I’ve also had a bit of back and forth with one of the two developers and they seem very dedicated to making this a meaningful application. While it’s not quite as focused on the “quick capture” part and doesn’t have all of the features when compared to competitor Draft, it’s very interesting. It’s especially interesting for Twitter users who are interested in the idea of capture, but have struggled with implementing it into their everyday lives.

It’s like Twitter for one…

It mimics the functionality of Twitter, but is intended only to be used for yourself. While my podcast co-host posted a spoof about the idea of “Solo, The Social Network That’s Just For You“, it turned out to be a pretty darn good idea in execution. By combining all @Replies and hashtags from Twitter with search, Threadnote lets you sort through your notes with ease. You can even use geolocation, which can come in handy for things like remembering all my favorite beers and where to buy them.

Here how that works…

Your @Replies auto populate from your phone’s address book or can be added manually. You are offered a list of suggested hashtags when you first launch the application or you can add your own. The app remembers the @replies and hashtags and helps autocomplete as you write. You can also manually add in the geolocation on a note-to-note basis. All three points of data (along with search) create a search experience that blows away any of the apps I’ve tried. This alone is a killer feature, especially when you consider the kinds of naming conventions some of us use to ease the pain of searching through our note apps.

But, it’s still new…

Where Threadnote is weak is in taking advantage of the text you’ve written. In the current version you actually have to save and exit the note and re-enter back into it before you can send it to an application like OmniFocus or to a service like Twitter. It also doesn’t offer a fast way to eliminate the notes I use in other applications like Draft does, so there is the extra step of manually deleting those notes.

Do we really need another app?

There’s little doubt that there are too many apps, there’s even less doubt that there are too many capture and quick capture apps, but Threadnote has the potential to help many everyday users get started. And if they keep at it, I think they have the potential to wow some of us geeks as well. And much as I hate to admit that I was wrong, I’m finding that there is a very real need and place for applications like Drafts and Pop. Who woulda thunk it? Oh yeah, absolutely everyone whose opinion I trust on this kind of stuff…

If you are looking for a way to bring idea capture into your life, but are overwhelmed by note taking applications like Simplenote and Notesy, give Threadnote a shot. And if for some crazy reason you took my advice on Drafts and Pop, you might want to give them another look as well.

Drafts, Pop and Intention

There is a new tier of applications aimed at speeding up our actions on iOS. What started as integration between applications evolved into dedicated apps such as Launch Center that exist to get us where we want to go faster. Now, with the introduction of two new text apps, Pop and Drafts, that same speed is available to our writing.

Pop and Drafts exist for a singular purpose: open the application, start writing without having to hit another key and then decide what to do with your words later. Both apps approach the same task with a different focus, Pop exists to only to capture and copy your ideas where Drafts aims to take your words and help you use them in a variety of ways. The focus is entirely on capturing your words, so these applications open faster than traditional note-taking apps. They reduce the friction and the time it takes to get words out of your head and onto your screen.

I don’t want to talk about the minutia or potential uses of each app; they’ve already been well covered. I don’t want to dismiss them; both of these applications are well executed and are already proving useful, even those those who didn’t expect it. I do, however, want to talk about the idea of write first, determine second. While I see the benefit of these apps, I also see a potential concern. What we gain in speed, we give up in intention. I want to capture an idea as quickly as it occurs. I’m terrified of losing inspiration, but the more I attempt to create, the more I benefit from determining where my ideas belong.

I am as distractible as one can get, but I’ve found I can hold onto it long enough to consider where it goes and push the right buttons. I can take a short-term loss in speed for a long-term gain. There is something to writing and then figuring out what you want to do with your words, but today I’d rather write with intent. Sometimes I’ll start moving on something and discover I was wrong or chose the wrong tool for the job, but more often than not, the decision to write with intent has led to better results. Choosing a specific tool, like Simplenote or OmniFocus provides a structure and begins a workflow that guides an idea forward.

I’m a fan of shortcuts. I’m a fan of giving your mind creative space, but I’m a bigger fan of acting with intent. Inevitably, you have to hit the button, to take all of those steps that these applications save you (or possibly more). There’s a real argument to be made that these applications benefit us. That they help us to get an idea down faster, but they also add yet another layer of abstraction between capturing and acting on an idea. So consider forgoing them and consider your intention at the onset. Get your idea to the right place, determine if it is a worthwhile, and either act on it or eliminate it.

What is your priority? Intention or speed? Make that determination first and then choose your tools wisely.