Dan Catchpole

Dan Catchpole


After the last couple weeks of Back 2 Work, and some questions from some forums, I decided to write this about about a couple apps I use on iOS and OSX. Friction, on any device, sucks. You want to get in, get out, and get back to doing the thing you were working on. Apps like Drafts and Alfred 2 help to cut down on friction.

Agile Tortise

What's really cool about Drafts is how the guy who created it figured out how to use the Callback URLs built into iOS take inputs and push them out to other apps. It means you can have a single place to put a thing, and then decide what to do with it.
Oh, this is an appointment, I'll shoot this over to Fantastical (example 1)
Oh, this is a task, better push this to OmniFocus (example 2)
Oh, I guess I'm drafting an email, and I want to type it up and format it in Markdown (I goofed, there's a few ways to have Headings read in Markdown, and Drafts doesn't support hashes, just '=' under the heading)

So there's a growing number of apps that are supporting the callback url schemes, and you can create your own custom ones, both for basic stuff like text files, but even more complicated ones like Tweetbot, Evernote, etc and they support TextExpander for iOS, so it can auto-expand snippets as you add them. I have a couple I can use to add whatever I typed to a text file called Clipboard.txt in my Dropbox folder, which then appends it to that file with the date and time.

It cuts down on what little friction you might encounter while doing stuff in iOS, and Drafts makes a great little place to store little bits of text, ideas, phone numbers, etc, until you're ready to do something with'em, and then makes it super easy to pass that data to the app you want to take action with.

Here's a list of Actions people have cooked up for Drafts

Another app, Launch Center Pro does similar stuff, so that might be worth checking out, too.

Alfred 2

Running with Crayons LTD

Alfred 2 is from a category of apps called 'App Launchers' that's been around in various forms for Windows, OSX, and Linux for a while now. One of the earliest ones for OSX was Quicksilver. The obvious use is that you can hit a keyboard shortcut, type a few things, and it starts to learn what you type, so if I always open Chrome when I type 'chrome' eventually it'll know as soon as I get to 'ch' Chrome will be the first suggestion. But you can do a bunch of other cool stuff with it too. I'm still learning all of it's functionality, but in the demo I launched a handful of apps, did some web searches, wrote an email, etc. But one of the last couple things I did was find a handful of files, stored in various places across my HDD, 'clipped' them in Alfred 2, and then attached them to an email (or I would have, if I hadn't picked such large files) to someone. Then, they have these things called Workflows, which smarter people than I have been tinkering with that, using scripts and code, can plug in various things to make them work with Alfred. The DarkSky one calls Dark Sky's API for my location, and then gives me info about it, like temp, chance of rain, the day's forecast, etc.

The Alfred 2 Forums have a place where people can share the workflows they create, so you can get some really handy ones without building them yourself. I've got one that parses the text entered into Alfred and pushes it to Fantastical, the same way it does on iOS, for example.

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