Capture, process and automate with Drafts and Launch Center Pro

Drafts for iPhone and iPad is one of my favorite utilities. I love that it manages two sides of GTD – capture and processing – so well. Many solutions do one or the other. Drafts handles both on the one device.

Capture

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To capture a thought or piece of information with Drafts, just tap it and start typing. There’s no new document to create, to tags or categories to fiddle with, nothing. It’s as easy as opening a notebook and grabbing a pen. I use it to collect tidbits all day. It’s very easy but the real power is in the processing.

Process

When you’re processing an inbox, you must decide what each item is, what must be done (if anything) and then move that information into your system. When I’m processing a stack of index cards on my desk, I’ve got to have apps like OmniFocus and Evernote open on my computer. Drafts lets me send actions and reference material directly to those apps with a tap.

Automation options

Federico Viticci at MacStories recently wrote a great article about iOS workflow automation with Drafts. You should read it. In it, he mentions how powerful the combination of x-callback-urls, Drafts and Launch Center Pro can be. Briefly, you can create an action in Launch Center Pro that passes text to Drafts, which triggers an action of its own and then sends you right back to Launch Center Pro. It’s very convenient and super fast.

From Drafts to digital notebook in a snap

I wanted to use this idea to move notes from Drafts to nvALT, which is my digital notebook. I name notes in nvALT according to a convention described by Michael Schechter, who borrowed heavily from Merlin Mann. It makes things very easy to find. Fortunately, I’m now using Launch Center Pro and Drafts to create a note in Simplenote (and, as a result, nVALT on my Macs) that uses the naming convention with a bare minimum of effort. Here’s how.

Set up Drafts

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First, create a URL action in Drafts that will pass the note to Simplenote. Mine looks like this:

simplenote://new?tag=Drafts&content=[[draft]][[time_short]]

The “[[draft]]” pulls the content of the note and the “[[time_short]]” appends the current date and time to the end of the title. Once that’s done, it’s time for Launch Center Pro.

Set up Launch Center Pro

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In Launch Center Pro, we’ll create an action to pass text to Drafts and then jump right back. To begin, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the edit button (It looks like a pen) in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Tap a blank square to create a new action.
  3. A slip appears. Selection Action.
  4. The action edit screen appears. Enter a descriptive name (I chose Drafts>Simplenote).
  5. Add the URL. Here’s what mine looks like:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=[prompt]&action=Simplenote&x-success=launchpro%3A

  1. Tap done.

This action will pop up a compose field (below), pass the text to Drafts which then triggers the Simplenote action we created earlier and finally, comes back to Launch Center Pro. The whole thing takes 2–3 seconds. Plus, I’ve got Simplenote set up to sync with nvALT on my Macs. The new note appears with my naming convention intact.

readyforinput

This has saved me a lot of time and I hope you like it, too. There’s much that can be down here, so start playing with Drafts and Launch Center Pro. Thanks to Federico and Mike for the inspiration.

Thanks for reading. You’ll find more tech-y “how-to’s” here.

Thanks for Drafts for iPad and iPhone

Screen-shot-2012-12-24-at-9.21.51-AMThanks to Drafts for sponsoring the site this week (here’s a full review of Drafts I wrote a while ago). Drafts has been on my iPhone’s home screen for months and months. If  you received a new iPad or iPhone for Christmas, you definitely want to install Drafts.

Drafts is where text starts on iOS. Launch Drafts and start typing. Capture ideas, status updates, todos, phones numbers, whatever. It’s ready to go as soon as you launch. There’s no need to fiddle with tags, categories or an edit button. Drafts is always ready.

Drafts is more than storage. When you are ready to do something with your text, Drafts is ready with an extensive list of output actions, including: Dropbox, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, App.net, Email, Messages, Events, Reminders and one tap export to a continuously growing list of other apps.

Try Drafts in your dock for a week, you won’t regret it!

Drafts and Drafts for iPad are available now at the App store.

Drafts for iPhone is a useful notepad

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 9.21.51 AMThanks to Drafts for sponsoring the site this week (here’s a full review of Drafts I wrote a while ago).

Drafts is where text starts on iOS. Launch Drafts and start typing. Capture ideas, status updates, todos, phones numbers, whatever. It’s ready to go as soon as you launch. There’s no need to fiddle with tags, categories or an edit button. Drafts is always ready.

Drafts is more than storage. When you are ready to do something with your text, Drafts is ready with an extensive list of output actions, including: Dropbox, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, App.net, Email, Messages, Events, Reminders and one tap export to a continuously growing list of other apps.

Try Drafts in your dock for a week, you won’t regret it! It’s been on my home screen for more than a year.

Drafts and Drafts for iPad are available now at the App store.

Drafts for iPhone is a quick, useful notepad

A couple of weeks ago I got a copy of Drafts for iPhone ($0.99) to play with from Agile Tortoise. Today it has earned a spot on my iPhone’s home screen and replaced once-favorite Birdhouse, which has been flaky lately. Drafts lets you quickly record text and then share it in several useful ways. Here’s why I’m loving Drafts.

I’ll preface this post by saying I don’t like typing lots of text on my iPhone. It’s time consuming and I make typing errors. When I first saw Drafts I thought, “Nice, but it’s a note-taking app. I don’t really use those.” However, when I realized it could replace Birdhouse, I became intrigued.

I like storing potential tweets as drafts. Yes, several Twitter apps offer drafts as a feature, but it’s often buried. Drafts lets me launch the app, type and close it again. The next time I open the app, I’m presented with a new note. The older one has been moved to the queue.

Of course, Drafts does more than store tweets. For one, it supports Markdown and converts Markdown notes to HTML, so good news if that’s your thing (plain text is supported too, of course). Notes can be as lengthy as you want, so type away.

To active a note in the queue, simply tap it. To create a note, hit the “+” button. The action button on the right offers several sharing options (above):

  • Tweet (using iOS 5’s built-in tweet function)
  • Send to Tweetbot (I have several Twitter apps installed, but Tweetbot is the only option that shows up here. I don’t know why.)
  • Email as text
  • Email as HTML (converted from Markdown)
  • Copy to clipboard as HTML (converted from Markdown)

That’s a darn useful list. Drafts also displays each note’s word count and character count, has a search function and several UI settings, including four themes and three font sizes (small, medium and large) across 13 fonts. Finally, any note can be edited, even after it’s been shared.

It won’t convert me into an iPhone typist (dictating notes to Siri is still quicker), but the fact that I can get notes out as easily as I put them in is huge. There’s no sync support, so abandon your Dropbox and iCloud dreams. But I don’t really care about that. Drafts is a win.

You’ll find more screenshots and a demo video after the break.

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