Tag Archives: drafts

Finally trying Ulysses

I’m finally trying Ulysses. After posting about how I write blog drafts, a reader pointed out that Justnotes for Mac isn’t actively maintained anymore. I think Ulysses will make a nice replacement, both for my Dropbox folder of 1000+ notes, and also for longer, more structured writing I want to do.

Ryan Irelan uses that structure to organize courses for Mijingo:

“Each course is also a Collection inside of the courses collection, in which I have separate sheets for each section of the course (or even broken down into multiple sheets per section depending on the length)”

Ben Brooks is also trying to consolidate from the iOS 9 Notes app and others to just using Ulysses:

“This was my pain point, I often just simply forgot where I jotted something down. I don’t typically make tasks out of articles I am writing, so I remember what is what by looking in Ulysses, and if it isn’t in Ulysses I won’t go searching for it. Notes was the most convenient place to write, but also a bit of a black hole for writing.”

I can already tell that Ulysses is a great app. Looking forward to the upcoming universal version with support for the iPad Pro, too.

WordPress drafts workflow

Since moving to WordPress, I haven’t changed much with how I write blog posts. But there are more tools available now, so I thought I’d revisit my workflow.

The key is being able to work on a blog post from any device and any text editor. I have a Notes folder on Dropbox that I use for draft blog posts and notes about other projects. When I have an idea for a post, I create a new note there and either start writing it, or leave a link, quoted text, or a few topic ideas to come back to later.

On the iPhone, I use Editorial. On the iPad, I use Byword, since Editorial hasn’t been updated for the iPad Pro yet. And on my Mac, I use Justnotes. All of these sync from the same Dropbox folder. They are plain text files, so I can edit from anywhere and they’ll survive platform and hosting changes over the years.

If I’m on my Mac, when I finish a post I’ll preview it in Marked and then copy it into MarsEdit for posting. On iOS, I’ll copy it into the WordPress iOS app. For microblog posts from iOS, I use an unreleased iPhone app that’s part of the microblogging stuff I’ve been working on.

I’ve also been using the Calypso-based WordPress UI a lot lately. I usually work on several blog posts at once, and if a few are ready to go at once, I schedule them to go out later in the day or over the next couple of days. WordPress’s web UI makes keeping track of scheduled posts pretty nice.

It hasn’t been all perfect switching between multiple apps, though. I noticed today that some of my new posts, which I always write in Markdown, were converted to HTML for publishing (likely by Calypso on WordPress.com). But for the most part, no regrets switching over to WordPress. The added flexibility and future-proofing have been good.

More with Typed.com

Last week I mentioned Typed.com and Elliot Jackson’s tips in the Realmac forums for posting via Drafts and Editorial. Now Elliot has expanded his solution into a full blog post:

“The gist of it is that your post, written in Drafts, gets sent to Editorial which will take care of the publishing part thanks to it’s ability to run Python and Javascript scripts in it’s built in browser. The post could be both written and published from Editorial, but as nearly everything I do on my phone runs through Drafts anyway, it made sense for this to too.”

I’ve been using Editorial as my default iOS text editor for a while. I have a “Notes” folder on Dropbox that I use like Simplenote, but driven from Justnotes on the Mac and accessible via Editorial or any iOS editor. But I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what is possible with Editorial. It’s one of those rare apps that is fine for new users, but which also contains a great depth of features when you’re ready to explore underneath the initial layer of its UI.

Microblogging with Typed.com

Dan Counsell wrote a long post this week about the planning and executing of Realmac’s crowdfunding campaign for Typed.com. It’s worth a read for the careful thought he put into it:

“I spent two weeks planning and building the entire campaign. I started out with the video as I knew this would be a huge amount of work and to be honest, it was also something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with doing. Every popular campaign I looked at had a half-decent and engaging video. I did a lot of research and it turns out the flow of the video should be something like this: Introduce yourself, talk about the problem, move onto the solution that you’re building, and finally finishing up with a direct plea asking for pledges.”

The beta for Typed.com is well underway, and linked in Dan’s post is a support forum for users. This post by Realmac designer Elliot Jackson especially caught my eye:

“We don’t have an API yet but this is something I’ve been enjoying playing with for shorter posts. My workaround is to send the content over a URL then decode it and use JS in the browser to fill in the form elements (tags etc).”

He details a way to send short microblog posts to Typed.com by using Drafts and Editorial. Check out the full post for his JavaScript and Python scripts linking these apps together on iOS. I’m really looking forward to Typed.com’s official launch.

More quick blogging workflows

I had a great conversion with Seth Clifford one night at WWDC, about writing and blogging. We all want to get better at writing and posting more frequently. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the best way to improve anything is to do more of it, more often.

I believe there are two important facets to microblogging. The first is the timeline experience: a reverse-chronological list of posts from your friends, like you see on Twitter. The second is that posting should be effortless: if there’s less friction between your idea and publishing it, you’ll write more often. So a big part of posting regularly is just having a system that makes it easy.

Seth updated his iOS blogging workflow by using Drafts and WordPress’s email-to-blog feature. As a nice bonus, he gets Markdown files of each post saved to Dropbox:

“Drafts allows you to send email as an action. WordPress allows you to post into the system via email. Using a combination of the action and the Jetpack plugin’s email functionality, I can go from idea to published in seconds, without touching the WP iOS app (which continues to get better, but still isn’t fast) and get my local copy stored away.”

Also this week, Ben Brooks has switched his core Twitter posting to go through WordPress. He has a standalone microblog at benb.me where the posts live. They go out to Twitter automatically via IFTTT. Posting to a blog first and then Twitter second seems like a simple idea, but it is extremely powerful. Years from now you end up with an archive of all your short-form writing at your own domain. Not as an afterthought, but as the default.

The great thing about blogging is there’s no one correct way to do this stuff. I’m really happy to see these solutions from Seth and Ben, and I know other folks are working on similar workflows.