A Decade of Drafts

I was a late iPhone adopter. I held on tight to my BlackBerry for way too long. It wasn't until the iPhone 4S that I made my way over to the iPhone. And then a new opportunity really opened up for me – the App Store. There was a lot more development happening on iOS than any other platform, and there were new possibilities for me to explore. Of all the apps the App Store had to offer, one of the most transformative apps for me at the time was, you guessed it… Twitter.

Why Twitter? I suddenly had new acquaintances, and a different world opened up for me. I didn't just find some new social network, I found a new community of people. Around this time I started following more people in the Apple community – Merlin Mann, Rene Ritchie, Seth Clifford and others of the Apple space. I started learning more about personal productivity and apps to help me make my life better. And that's when I got introduced to the single app that has been the most impactful in my life: Drafts.

I bought Drafts in October of 2014. If memory serves, I was introduced to it via Merlin Mann on Back to Work.[1] The concept was simple: Drafts is where your text starts. Capture everything, put it there, then figure out where it goes later. I spent a lot of time texting back and forth with Seth about how versatile the app could be. It was so simple: anything you are going to write down, it goes into Drafts. Have an email you want to write? Start it in Drafts. You have some random thoughts you need to get down? It goes in Drafts. Have a few tasks you need to get done? Yup, it goes there too. Over a short period of time, it started to be more central in my life, and made its way into the dock.

With updates, I started to stretch the capability with URL schemes and JavaScript. At the time, MacStories really started showing off the power that came with Drafts, even though it was still in its infancy in regards to automation. But to my recollection, it was really the first automation anything that I can remember actively wanting to use in my daily life. I wanted to find more uses for it. I started using it for all sorts of things: note taking, list making, task/event capture. It quickly became the central point in my digital life.

As apps like Launch Center Pro, Launcher, and Workflow – now Shortcuts – made their way onto the scene, I found more ways to integrate Drafts into my life. There were communities through Twitter, App.net, and even Reddit. All of the excitement drove me more into what I could do and how I could improve life not only for me but for others as well. Drafts was the reason I started writing, something I didn't know I wanted to do at the time. But it was the first thing that made me want to expand my creative interests. I finally hit my stride with all of it.

That's when I started imagining what Drafts could become. I wanted it to break free, to be more extensible and customizable, to have the next evolution and start of a brand new chapter in its history. And that's when Drafts 5 came to fruition. It gave me the opportunity to reach out to Federico Viticci on MacStories to write a major post on the site.[2] I was incredibly proud of that piece, and it's something I look back on fondly. I wrote more posts as new versions were released with new features I felt might help others, then a few more posts on MacStories for some of the major updates. Even though I wrote for me, it didn't hurt that I gained visibility for my work based on what I had created and shared. I've shared countless workflows, how modular the app is, and even how to customize it using themes and syntaxes.

When I look back on my time learning Drafts, using it daily, and evangelizing it as much as I can, I've been so thankful for what it's done for me. It's forged new connections with people across the country, and I have some meaningful, deep friendships as a result. It's allowed me to create, produce, and be more effective than I ever thought possible. Every day, I feel like I’m making tiny improvements. It's as if I was sculpting something from a block of clay or stone, and shave off a little more each day. It starts to come into focus over time.

At 10 years in, it's an incredibly astonishing feat: still retaining the core of the app – capturing text – and building powerful features surrounding it. Even this far on, I'm still enamored with where Drafts started, how far it's come, and I'm even more excited for its future. Drafts is the single most important app in my life. There's no workflow I have that does not touch Drafts in some way, shape, or form on a daily basis. It's provided more opportunities than I ever thought possible and is the central hub for how I manage my life. As the app has evolved, I'm improving my workflows by adding new or improved functionality over time. As it continues to change over the next 10 years, it's going to be great to see what gets created.

I could find a replacement for many apps I use, but there's no replacement out there for me with the way I use Drafts. This is the only app I could not live without. Greg Pierce has created something truly incredible, and he should be very proud of what he's accomplished. Cheers to 10 years, Greg!

  1. Thanks, Merlin. ↩︎

  2. It even got a mention on Connected #189: Nah, Hummus!, which was quite enjoyable. ↩︎