The latest amend to Drafts – a “quick agenda capturing” app that I’ve covered several times on MacStories – adds a alternation of appearance aimed at accretion the possibilities of workflows automation on iOS devices. Obviously, this is commodity I’m absorbed in.
It seems like enabling users to save time while application apps has been a accepted cilia in the accomplished few months. The success of Barrage Center Pro apparently “raised awareness” in commendations to the accomplished abstraction of URL schemes, but it’s been the added acceptance of x-callback-url and absorption in automatic workflows that proves bigger inter-app advice is commodity that (at least) third-party developers are cerebration about. Google included a able URL arrangement in Google Maps and Google Chrome; added recently, Mr. Reader showed how to accredit a “services menu” by acute users to mix URL schemes from added apps with ambit for an article’s appellation or called text. These aren’t ideal solutions, but it’s all we accept for now.
Greg Pierce, architect of the x-callback-url specification, has bigger Drafts in agency that not alone accomplish the app added advantageous to get argument assimilate added services, but additionally augment the possibilities for automation through the use of URL schemes.
There are three capital new appearance in the new Drafts: Dropbox actions, URL actions, and an bigger URL arrangement with abutment for callbacks and activity triggers. I am activity to explain how they assignment and accommodate assorted accomplishments and bookmarklets to authenticate altered use cases.
One of the bigger downsides of the antecedent adaptation of Drafts was that the app couldn’t admission your absolute Dropbox. Aback creating new files, the app was bedfast to a /Drafts agenda central your /Apps folder; similarly, aback appending argument to an absolute file, the app could alone adjoin to a predefined Journal.txt file. This affected me to amend some of my Dropbox and Hazel workflows to accomplish abiding they would assignment with Drafts’ agenda and Journal file.
In the new Drafts, the app will ask for your permission to admission your absolute Dropbox. In the settings, you can actualize new Dropbox Accomplishments that can accept altered destination folders, files to append/prepend to or create, and alike ambit for predefined agreeable you appetite to accept in those files.
The Dropbox Activity awning lets you admission a name for your custom activity and a Path. In the “File” option, you can specify the affectionate of book that you appetite to actualize or access: if you’re appending or prepending argument to an absolute file, you should accept Predefined, and admission the name of your absolute book (the addendum can be afflicted anon beneath the name field). If your activity isn’t meant to append/prepend argument but you appetite to actualize a new file, I acclaim you accept the Timestamp or Aboriginal Band option. The assorted “write” methods (Create, Prepend, Append) are attainable beneath the Addendum field.
The Arrangement breadth is area things get absolutely interesting. Greg Pierce has created a alternation of “placeholders” (similar, in concept, to Mr. Reader’s tags) to abridge the activity of inserting advice in a new note.
There are six of them for Dropbox actions:
Using placeholders in templates lets you await on abstracts that you’d accept to blazon manually otherwise.
Here’s an example: I accumulate a Scratchpad.txt book in Dropbox area I adjoin all kinds of advice – from URLs to quick addendum and thoughts for new articles. Previously, I had to await on Hazel to adviser Drafts’ Journal file, archetype the argument I appended, and, through a back-bite command, re-append it to my Scratchpad book alongside a timestamp. It was adequately complex. Now, with the new Dropbox accomplishments and templates, I can artlessly actualize a agenda application [[time]] and [[draft]] to consistently accept a agenda added to my document, preceded by a timestamp.
Using placeholders as, effectively, variables is a able address to actualize accomplishments that can fit everyone’s needs. Appetite to actualize a agenda that says “Note created on 1/24/2013 with Title: This is a note”? Easy: aloof actualize a arrangement structured as: “Note created on [[time_short]] with Title: [[title]]. How about formatting the agenda as Markdown? Aloof admission some Markdown syntax about the placeholders and every time you activate the activity from Drafts, the app will use your custom template.
There are a brace of improvements I’d like to see in a approaching update. I anticipate Drafts should accomplish it easier to admission placeholders, as appropriate now users charge to blazon them out manually. Second, I’d like to see abutment for a geo-location placeholder, although I accept how that affection would crave users to admission admission to area to Drafts. And last, I’d like to see the “After Success” ambience for Dropbox accomplishments as well.
In testing the new Drafts in the accomplished weeks, Dropbox accomplishments accept become my best acclimated feature. I await heavily on Dropbox and argument files in my circadian workflow, and the achievability to actualize templates that mix placeholders with my own argument is a absurd addition.
Historically, Drafts has consistently accurate a array of third-party apps to accelerate argument to. This was attainable through URL schemes, and users couldn’t configure their own – they had to delay for Greg Pierce to go avant-garde and absolution a Drafts amend that included abutment for added third-party apps. Like Mr. Reader’s developer begin out, acknowledging every third-party app that has a URL arrangement had become unfeasible.
URL accomplishments in Drafts acquiesce conception of accomplishments that barrage any web URL or app URL scheme. The absolute congenital accomplishments haven’t been removed, but now users can ascertain their own accomplishments that either use new URL schemes entirely, or conceivably await on absolute ones in altered ways. An archetype of the closing is this activity by Sean Korzdorfer, which uses Tweetbot (already accurate in Drafts) to chase in English with no retweets (an avant-garde clarify that Drafts didn’t support).
If you’re accustomed with Barrage Center Pro, you’ll apperceive how to use URL accomplishments in seconds. If you appetite to anatomy an activity that uses accession app’s URL, aloof hit the “ ” button to actualize new URL action, accept a name, afresh admission the URL you appetite to use. Like Barrage Center Pro’s [prompt], you can adapt URLs with Drafts placeholders: in URL actions, alone [[draft]], [[title]], and [[body]] are supported. URL actions, like Dropbox actions, will arise in the Drafts activity console in the capital screen.
Actual examples are bigger than paragraphs. Here’s a URL activity to alpha a Google chase in Google Chrome:
With this action, we’re about cogent Drafts to booty what we’ve written, and canyon it as [[draft]] to Google Chrome, which will attainable google.com and alpha a chase for it. On the iPhone, you could already do this with Barrage Center Pro, but there is no Barrage Center Pro for iPad.
In practice, abutment for user-defined URL schemes turns Drafts into an app launcher focused on argument strings. There are no appropriate numeric keyboards like in Barrage Center Pro, but I can see how this accession will activation the admeasurement of a advantageous ecosystem of user-created custom accomplishments for Drafts.
This is commodity that, in fact, Greg Pierce envisioned for the new Drafts. In the new (and growing) Drafts Accomplishments Directory, you can acquisition examples of custom accomplishments that are not included in Drafts and that you can download from Mobile Safari.
Actions can be aggregate with added users. Both Dropbox and URL accomplishments accept a Allotment Activity button to accelerate an action’s “Import URL” via Email, iMessage, or Twitter. You can additionally archetype a URL to acceptation an activity and allotment it wherever you want. While I like the option, I ambition there was a way to actualize shareable, beneath URLs for Drafts actions. Appropriate now, all you get is a URL that others can bang to acceptation an action. These URLs are about long, and they don’t fit in 140 characters on Twitter. Similarly, there’s no button to bound archetype an action’s absolute URL – the “Copy” button copies the Acceptation URL, but not the simple, raw argument of an action. I’m attractive avant-garde to seeing bigger administration appearance and added affiliation with the Accomplishments Directory, as I accept the Drafts association will be a abundant antecedent for accomplishments and inspiration.
With a added solid foundation of URL and Dropbox actions, automation has become the third colonnade of the new Drafts. The band-aid was obvious: a bigger accomplishing of Pierce’s own x-callback-url agreement into Drafts to automate a user’s workflows.
Drafts consistently accurate the conception of new addendum via URL scheme. Now, however, you can barrage the app, actualize a new note, activate an action, delay until it completes, and go aback to what you were doing. This has been fabricated attainable with the new activity and x-success parameters.
You can now barrage Drafts, do something, and watch as iOS takes you aback to area you were previously.
Allow me to appearance you a few examples of the affectionate of workflow automation that’s now attainable with Drafts. Before you analysis out my accomplishments and bookmarklets, apprehend Greg’s account with audience video to get the accepted abstraction of what we’re activity to do below.
Let’s alpha with the basics. We appetite to download a book on iOS. Safari doesn’t let you download files, but iCab does. iCab has a URL scheme, which supports downloading files and abiding to accession app afterwards completion. Here’s an activity to adhesive a download articulation in Drafts, download it in iCab, and acknowledgment to Drafts aback iCab is done.
As you can see, it’s a simple URL activity that uses the [[draft]] placeholder to canyon a URL to iCab; aback the download is complete, iCab will see the x-success we assigned, and it’ll acknowledgment to it.
Now for commodity a little added advanced. We appetite to cross-post the aloft bulletin on Twitter and App.net. I don’t like cross-posting, but some bodies do.
Here’s my idea: we can actualize a URL activity that uses the Drafts URL arrangement to activate the App.net activity first, afresh Drafts’ Twitter activity afterwards x-success. Yes, we are creating a Drafts activity aural a Drafts activity aural a Drafts action.
Let me explain. The aloft activity constant can activate any action, alike the absence ones – but they accept to be URL-encoded. It agency that, in the URL scheme, “Post to App.net” becomes Column to App.net. You can use simple accoutrement like this to calmly URL-encode strings of text. Therefore, my abstraction for cross-posting was: I can articulation to Drafts itself, and if the aboriginal activity is successfull, I can articulation to Drafts itself again. Essentially, I capital to advantage the congenital App.net and Twitter accomplishments to abstain the use of any third-party app.
Unfortunately, there’s a bug in the accepted adaptation of Drafts that doesn’t accomplish that affectionate of activity work. For this reason, I accept resorted to application commodity like this:
Let’s breach bottomward the URL. In the aboriginal part, we’re application [[draft]] and the App.net activity to accelerate argument we’ve accounting in Drafts to ADN; this will use the built-in App.net integration. Upon completion, we’re cogent x-success to attainable Tweetbot – which has a URL arrangement – and actualize a new cheep application the aloft [[draft]]. If you want, you could go as far as agreement an added callback in Tweetbot to acknowledgment to Drafts again. Or, you could use the Twitterrific URL arrangement instead. Or bandy the App.net activity with the Twitter one and use Netbot for App.net.
I wouldn’t belittle the aggregate of agreement the Drafts URL arrangement central a Drafts action. I’m acquainted of the actuality that it sounds complex, but it makes for a abundant implemention of consecutive tasks – brainstorm tweeting with Drafts afresh appending the aloft cheep to a Dropbox book with a timestamp.
When I’m alive on my iPhone or iPad, best of my assignment involves reading, writing, and browsing websites in a web browser. That’s why the added avant-garde workflows I accept configured with Drafts appear with bookmarklets that let me calmly canyon advice from Safari or Google Chrome to Drafts.
As I mentioned above, I accumulate a Scratchpad book in Dropbox area I adjoin argument to. Best of the time, I adjoin URLs to that file. Wouldn’t it be abundant to accelerate URLs from the browser to Drafts, which will adjoin them to Dropbox and accompany me aback to the browser in 2 seconds? Yes, it would.
Here’s the bookmarklet:
Tip: for the bookmarklets I’ll appearance below, you can consistently alter googlechrome:// with encodeURIComponent(location.href) if you adopt Safari. I aloof like Google Chrome better.
When it comes to Drafts, URL schemes, and bookmarklets, I accept the absolute abeyant is in accomplishments that are absolute to Drafts and that don’t accept a URL scheme. It wouldn’t accomplish faculty to accelerate a browser articulation to Pinbook casual through Drafts aboriginal aback Pinbook itself has a URL scheme. In my opinion, the absolute abeyant lies in built-in integrations that don’t accept a URL arrangement but that are attainable from Drafts.
Here’s a bookmarklet to accelerate a webpage from Safari or Google Chrome to Apple’s Reminders. How? Easy: Drafts has absolute Reminders access, and you can activate the activity via URL scheme.
Here’s one to do the aloft for Facebook. Doesn’t Safari activity the aloft affectionate of Facebook abutment though? Yes, but this formats a column with “Title (via: )”, as apparent below.
How about accomplishing it for Evernote? Aloft concept:
Perhaps you appetite to do the aloft in Safari for iPad, extenuative a webpage’s called argument to Evernote. In that case:
This affectionate of workflow turns Drafts into a third-party Evernote clipper. But conceivably you appetite to blow to Evernote while formatting the called argument in Markdown. Too bad Evernote doesn’t accept Markdown; Drafts, however, does, and it comes with a “Markdown to HTML” action.
The bookmarklet aloft will barrage Drafts, which will catechumen the Markdown to HTML, abridgement the argument another of Safari to Evernote. Then, it will acknowledgment you to Safari automatically.
By the aloft principle, we can use Drafts as a Markdown advocate “in the middle”: what if we appetite to accelerate some argument accent in Safari to Poster as HTML for a affiliated post? Not a problem:
The bookmarklet aloft will booty the currently called argument in Safari (for iPad), architecture it in Markdown – agenda the parentheses and encoded aboveboard brackets in the URL – accelerate it to Drafts, which will catechumen it to HTML, and afresh barrage Poster. That’s absolutely a mouthful, but it absolutely happens in 3 seconds.
In Poster, you’ll aloof charge to adhesive central a new column to acquisition your another and antecedent articulation accessible in HTML.
So far, I accept showed accomplishments and bookmarklets that I adopt application on the iPad, area best of my note-taking and autograph is done these days. However, the Drafts URL arrangement is absolute for apps like Barrage Center Pro on the iPhone: if you don’t appetite to address in Drafts or artlessly adopt befitting Barrage Center Pro in your dock, you can use the keyboard alert to accelerate argument to Drafts. Taking my “URL to Scratch” action, you can use commodity like this to address in Barrage Center Pro and adjoin to Dropbox application Drafts, abiding aback to Barrage Center Pro at the end of the workflow:
The new Mr. Reader is additionally a abundant best for application the bigger Drafts URL scheme. Here’s how I can bound adjoin a articulation to my Scratchpad.txt book application Mr. Reader, Drafts, and x-callback-url.
Last, I’d like to acknowledgment how email accomplishments – an absolute affection of Drafts that I’m decidedly addicted of – can additionally be triggered via URL scheme. My accessible accomplishing was a bookmarklet that sends a webpage’s appellation and URL to Drafts, which emails them to the OmniFocus Mail Drop in the background.
While there is no OmniFocus web clipper for iOS, this workflow has been a abundant another because the acceleration and believability of The Omni Group’s email abduction service.
Update: You can download my accomplishments from Safari application the links below.
(New): Adjoin URL to Journal – Uses Drafts’ accepted “Append to Dropbox” activity to save a URL from Google Chrome.
With the accomplishments and bookmarklets apparent in this commodity I accept alone aching the apparent of what is attainable to actualize with avant-garde URL schemes, activity triggers, callbacks, and user-defined actions. I haven’t alike gone as far as assuming how you can accommodate Drafts with Pythonista, alternation assorted x-success ambit calm to alarm 3 or 4 apps, and so forth. I’ll leave those to your acuteness and the Drafts Accomplishments Directory.
Automating iOS workflows has been a affair of abundant absorption in the accomplished few months, and Greg Pierce has already afresh fabricated a absurd addition to the association with an accomplished amend to Drafts.
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