On This Date

Even though Seth and I no longer have a podcast, we still talk nearly daily about a lot of things. One of them is Drafts, and how we are using it for small life improvements here and there. Journaling is one of them, and it has become a part of standard practice for me. I don’t always have to put something in that’s poignant, but I do document quite a bit from time to time. I’m not perfect at it, but I try to do the best that I can. After all, it’s for me – so if I don’t do well at it, I’m only disappointing myself…

I journal using Drafts because I trust the system. Using Shortcuts, I run an automation in the morning to create the entry at 4:00am so I never miss a day; this entry is created in a specific format with the journal tag, date heading in yyyy-mm-dd format, and some weather and date information. I have another automation that runs just before midnight to save it as a nice-looking PDF at night and archive the draft. I still keep all the journal entries in Drafts: they live in my Journal workspace in the archive folder at the top of the drafts list. I keep them just in case I need to search for something later, even though I hardly do it. But there are times where I might want to go back and review them just to see what happened in the past. One of Seth’s problems was that he wanted a way to review things that happened on that day throughout the life of his digital journal. We used to use Shortcuts to do this, but that’s cumbersome at best. Why use another app when Drafts is perfectly suited for this? Seth ended up finding this forum tip on creating temporary workspaces, which admittedly was from a while ago (November 2018). Even though a lot of you think I’m an expert, there’s quite a bit of this stuff that I don’t know or use.

Using this example, I was able to create an action to show what happened On This Date. In simple terms, it searches for all drafts tagged journal, then searches for a string of the current date in mm-dd format; the action then has some code to let you filter the look of it, then load the workspace. I added a few things because I want to keep my Journal themes applied when creating this temporary workspace.

Let’s walk through the code a bit. First, you’ll find some configurable variables for your searching. This sets the name of the temporary workspace, the tags you want to include (or omit using !tag), and some strings to search.

//BEGIN config variables
//setup tags or searches you wish to load...
let name = "On This Date";
let tagFilter = "journal"
const now = new Date()
const date = now.toString("MM-dd")
let queryString = date;
let group = ActionGroup.find("Journal");
let lTheme = Theme.find("custom", "Journal Light");
let dTheme = Theme.find("custom", "Journal Dark");
//END config variables

I also added the action groups I use for journaling as well as my journaling themes as variables, since I want to make sure I use them later in the action. Now that all that is configured, we can set up the workspace:

//create workspace
//for other options, see:
let ws = Workspace.create();
ws.name = name;
ws.tagFilter = tagFilter;
ws.queryString = queryString;
ws.setInboxSort("created", true);
ws.loadFolder = "all";
ws.showPreview = false;
ws.showTags = false;
ws.showLastAction = false;
ws.showDate = false;
ws.loadActionBarGroup = group;
ws.loadActionListGroup = group;
//ws.lightTheme = lTheme;
//ws.darkTheme = dTheme;

There’s a surprising amount of customization. I did find out that there was an undocumented .showDate customization that I could take advantage of. The only thing I would like to see added here is .lightTheme and .darkTheme so that I can set the themes directly with the temporary workspace which would eliminate the need for me to call them using the other methods; maybe those will get added in the future. The last part applies the workspace, shows the draft list, and applies my themes. I appreciated the callout in the original action, so I kept it in there: the workspace is temporary unless you use the .update() function, very much akin to a temporary draft to store information.

//unless you call `ws.update()`, this ws is temporary
//load this workspace, and display draft list

//set the Journal themes
app.lightTheme = lTheme;
app.darkTheme = dTheme;

Actions like this can seem like a lot at first, but they are fairly simple enough to manage. This action can bring a lot of awareness and possibly even some joy to your day, looking back on the things you’ve done in the past. I’ve also included this in my widgets: I’ve found that I use it more often this way, and it’s a great use of a widget action for Drafts.

I have to admit, this is the first time in a while that I’ve done something like this to change some of my workflows. Not because I don’t adore Drafts, but because of how life has been going for me (all good things, thankfully). But it makes me wonder: what else am I missing? Seems like a great time to go exploring…

Clear Spaces for a Clear Mind

I get asked often for what’s on my Home Screen: what apps, what wallpaper, what layout. Now with iOS 14, I’m asked about my widget setup as well. I’ve shared some updates through posts and social media sporadically. A lot of my current setup is visually unchanged (except the wallpaper), but I wanted to cover the why of the Home Screen – where apps/widgets are placed, what stacks are being used, and now I’m using them together for a more streamlined, productive setup.
More “Clear Spaces for a Clear Mind”

Drafts 15

Drafts 15 has been released to support both iOS and the new iPadOS 13. And as it is with the major releases, I had the opportunity to write about it over at MacStories.

I encourage everyone to go read it there, but wanted to offer a couple of highlights:

  • Enhanced Shortcuts Support: the support for Shortcuts has been very well implemented and enables users to not only create, but to pull from drafts without opening Drafts itself.
  • Multiwindow Support for iPadOS: this is another game-changing feature, and is the cornerstone of this release. This will empower users to create new ways of working on their iPad, allowing users to integrate Drafts into more of their daily lives. I give a few examples here. For more on how Multiwindow works, I recommend reading Federico’s review and watching Chris Lawley’s video, which provide the overview for all of iOS/iPadOS 13.
  • Updated Interface: there are a multitude of improvements here, from iconography to re-written UI to contextual menus, new in iOS 13.

This is a fantastic update, and has once again changed the way I use my devices with Drafts. In addition, it’s streamlined my workflows and opened up new possibilities for me. I hope that everyone finds more and more use cases for Drafts going forward.