Drafts 26: The Customization Update

Back when I wrote about my wishlist for Drafts 5.0, I wanted to have a custom syntax for the editor in Drafts. At the time, this was based on my usage of other text editing apps, and I wanted a theme with a bit more color for MultiMarkdown. Now we are almost 3 years into the latest major version of Drafts, multiple large feature updates later, and we are finally here at tapping into the realization of its visual customization potential with version 26.

I’ll cut right to it – the customization of the appearance through themes and extending the syntax of text in the editor is going to open up a whole new world to explore within Drafts. The modularity that exists with workspaces and actions is about to get a whole lot bigger with the inclusion of custom themes and syntaxes. I won’t be able to provide a bunch of different options here, for a big reason: this is about making the app yours.
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The Payoff of Developing Foundational Journaling

I’m often asked what different uses I have for Drafts, my everything-text app of choice. I have a variety of core use cases which I use Drafts for every day: even with my posts and large reviews, journaling is by far the highest volume of content I create.

I’ve journaled for a while. And while I’m not perfect at doing it and frequently miss days because life sometimes gets in the way, there are some considerations I’ve made for my particular journaling solution. A few years ago, I created my own journal solution: this utilized Drafts + Dropbox + Workflow. That solution morphed into using DEVONthink To Go to save the journal entries, primarily because of security. I was also storing more information there at the time, so it made sense.

Then, in the midst of a pandemic, I started looking at a lot of the things in my life that were just adding to my least favorite thing: clutter. I started wondering where DEVONthink fit into my life. And aside from keeping the rare thing or two in it, I only used it for journaling. So while this solution worked – and worked well – it started to become apparent to me that I no longer wanted this as the solution.

Inevitably, as often these ear worms do, it sent me down a new path. How could I take my journaling solution and simplify it to use the apps and services I want to use so that I can streamline my process, or at the very least, make it easier to use and review later?
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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.