Appearance: Automators Episode 73

In my second appearance on Automators (part of the Relay FM network),1 I’m back to talk with David Sparks and Rosemary Orchard once again about Drafts. We dive in on some of the new stuff from version 26 which introduced custom themes and syntaxes. We also touch on a few other updates from the first version to now as well. I hope you enjoy it.

There were a couple of things in the episode that I wanted to follow-up on here, including the homework assignment David gave me. I’m thrilled that the time spent with David and Rosemary gave me the idea, which made me reconsider some things with my personal journaling and changed how I’m doing it going forward.
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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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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.
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Clean Install

Every year, I hesitate on jumping on the betas. I worry about the bugs, the data loss, and all the ways it can screw with my devices. Then, inevitably, I end up jumping on them around beta 2 or 3. When the releases come out in the fall, I usually delete the beta profile and do an install with the release version. I follow the recommended steps for backing up, then just install the OS and carry on.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a clean install: no restoration from a backup, installing everything as new, letting the cloud services work to bring the data back to my devices on a per-app basis. This is a time-consuming process, and the main reason I haven’t done it in so long. It might be all the way back to iOS 8 since I’ve done this. Those many, many years of little inconsistencies have lead to a lot of cruft, and I think this is the year to do wipe the slate clean.

Playing around with the iOS 14 beta so far, the App Library is a feature that hasn’t been my favorite. It doesn’t organize the apps in the categories which I would: I think that a banking app should be in finance, not in productivity. I think games should be a category, which include the Apple Arcade titles as well. I get they are pushing a brand, but unless you stay subscribed, that advertising will go away. The search aspect of it is great, but I can also use Spotlight search to find the apps I need.

But where it doesn’t live up to my desires, it does deliver on supporting a clean install. I don’t have to organize my Home Screen as I add apps one by one. I can hide pages and pages of apps, and organize my true Home Screen. This takes away a ton of pressure and mental overhead that I don’t need to carry with me. It will make the process far easier for me than ever before. And in that way, the App Library is actually a welcome feature for me now. I wish that same feature would be there on the iPad, but perhaps there are more plans for that in the future.

This year is the perfect time to do a clean install. I can finally shed the years of issues without having to worry about the time and effort required to get back up and running. I’m all for clearing clutter and minimizing what things I have in my life. And this fall will be no different.