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.

Drafts for Mac

For many years, Drafts has been the place on iOS where text starts. But for all of those years, there has been a missing component: a macOS counterpart.

That ends today.

Drafts for Mac has finally been released to the public. Last time there was a major release, I wrote the Macstories Review. But when it comes to a Mac and how best to integrate Drafts into the macOS ecosystem, I'm simply not the right person to do the review justice. But thankfully, one of my favorite internet people reached out to me privately about writing the review for it, and I was thrilled to even be asked. To be clear: they didn't owe me that, but it is honestly a nice feeling to feel respected within this community. They also reached out to Federico about writing for MacStories, and he agreed.

So, it's my pleasure to point you not here for a review, but over to MacStories where Rosemary Orchard has written a review of Drafts for Mac. It's most of what I wanted to see when I wrote up my Drafts 5.0 wishlist months ago: a way to edit the notes on the Mac so that users didn't have to roll a different solution or pass notes back and forth in odd ways. What the new macOS app provides is exactly that, along with workspaces, themes, tagging, etc.

What don't you get: the actions that Drafts is famous for on iOS.

Remember: this is a v1.0 application, not the v5.7 application that we have on iOS. It's going to take time to get there. The platforms are different: this isn't a "Marzipan" app, this is a full-fledged macOS app written from the ground up. Things will take time to get there. The macOS app does have the advantage of already having a rich ecosystem of automation apps to pull from, like Automator and Keyboard Maestro, so there are already was to implement some automation.

I'm really happy with the macOS version. For me, it is exactly what I need: a way to view and edit my drafts on the Mac for the single purpose podcasting. Perhaps my needs will change in the future, just like Drafts' place in the Apple ecosystem now that Drafts for Mac is finally here.

Drafts 5.5 – The Markdown Update

The latest Drafts update brings some improvements with Markdown syntax. In addition to the standard Markdown (which has been simplified to represent the original Markdown specification), there are two additional syntax options: MultiMarkdown and GitHub Markdown. MultiMarkdown is a flavor which allows for footnotes, tables, citations, etc. GitHub Markdown is a different flavor of Markdown which supports extensions created by GitHub for rendering on their website, and includes the extensions for strike-through text and tables. I personally use MultiMarkdown, the format with which I’ve been most comfortable writing.

One thing that is included with MultiMarkdown as an option is Critic Markup. Looking through the guide, there are several helpful elements that can be used for editing my writing utilizing Critic Markup. I can highlight some substitutions, additions, and deletions. I can highlight text to show something I might want to work on later. I can also add a basic comment somewhere that won’t be shown in a preview. And with this action, I can easily add any of them with a tap and a text entry, which inserts it in the proper format. This is helpful for creating and previewing the documents in Drafts, and gives users the flexibility to mark up files and save them back to a cloud service. I can see myself using this a lot for longer posts or large reviews. I’ve even modified my own site preview action to render the MultiMarkdown via scripting, as well as updating both my standard and linked post WordPress publishing actions to do the same.

Critic Markup in Drafts vs my site post

There are additional Workspace options for sorting. You can now include flagged drafts in the archive tab – the same way it is done today with the inbox – as well as optionally sort the flagged drafts at the top. And of course, support for using these is also added to the script object. This allows you to give a bit of priority to Drafts in your inbox, depending on how you have your workspace configured. I liken it to something like Gmail: there’s a giant inbox of drafts, and you have a starred list that can be used to filter priority; you can also option to have the starred emails on top to bring them into focus, or have them in their separate list. This smart addition enables more focus on key drafts in your list.

There are some other small improvements and fixes; you can read the full list here. It may seem like a small update to some, but for the advanced users of Markdown, this is a fantastic update. What this should give users a glimpse of for the future of Drafts: custom syntax highlighting. Currently, the following syntaxes are supported: Markdown, MultiMarkdown, GitHub Markdown, JavaScript, and TaskPaper. Whereas I love the new Critic Markup portion of MultiMarkdown, I would love to be able to customize my own syntax. When I used Ulysses for writing, I really liked some of the comment, highlight, delete, and other markup styles. Part of what makes Drafts so versatile to each user is the myriad of ways which it can be customized. Controlling the editor in this fashion would, to me, make the editor the most powerful on iOS. No other editor would allow for syntax highlighting for writing and coding in the same way. I know this will at some point be on the horizon, but that cannot come soon enough. I’ll patiently wait for it after the Drafts for Mac release.