Figuring out how Drafts REALLY works

On my way back from Arizona a few weeks ago I decided to play around with Drafts a bit. Now I use Drafts every day. When it went to a subscription model more than a year ago it was a no brainer for me. This is a seriously powerful app when you need it.

But since my initial workflows and shortcuts I’ve not really done too much with it. But after listening to some stuff from Tim Nahumck I decided I needed to invest a little time … and honestly there’s no better time than cruising at 25k feet on your way back from Phoenix.

Ok, first of all I never really understood workspaces. I had some set up but I didn’t get it. That was the first place I started.

Each workspace can have its own action and keyboard shortcut thing which I didn’t realize. This has so much potential. I can create workspaces for all sorts of things and have the keyboard shortcut things I need when I need them! This alone is mind blowing and I’m disappointed I didn’t look into this feature sooner.

I have 4 workspaces set up:

  • OF Templates
  • O3
  • Scrum
  • post ideas

Initially since I didn’t really understand the power of the workspace I had them mostly as filtering tools to be used when trying to find a draft. But now with the custom action and keyboards for each workspace I have them set up to filter down to specific tags AND use their own keyboards.

The OF Template workspace is used to create OmniFocus projects based on Taskpaper markup. There are a ton of different actions that I took from Rose Orchard (of Automators fame) that help to either add items with the correct syntax to a Task Paper markdown file OR turn the whole thing into an OmniFocus project. Simply a life saver for when I really know all of the steps that are going to be involved in a project and I want to write them all down!

The O3 workspace is used for processing the notes from the one-on-one I have with my team. There’s really only two actions: Parse O3 notes and Add to O3 notes. How are these different? I have a Siri Shortcut that populates a Draft with a template that collects the name of the person and the date time that the O3 occurred. This is the note that is parsed by the first action. The second action is used when someone does something that I want to remember (either good or bad) so that I can bring it up at a more appropriate time (the best time to tell someone about a behavior is right now, but sometimes circumstances prevent that) so I have this little action.

In both cases they append data to a markdown file in Dropbox (i have one file per person that reports to me). The Shortcut also takes any actions that need to be completed and adds them to OmniFocus for me to review later.

The third workspace is Scrum. This workspace has just one action which is “Parse scrum notes”. Again, I have a template that is generated from Siri Shortcuts and dropped into Drafts. During the morning standup meetings I have with my team this Draft will have the things I did yesterday, what I’m working on today, and any roadblocks that I have. It also create a section where I can add actions which when the draft is parsed goes into OmniFocus for me to review later (currently the items get added with a due date of today at 1pm … but I need to revisit that).

The last workspace is post ideas (which is where I’m writing this from). Its custom keyboard is just a markdown one with quick ways to add markdown syntax and a Preview button so I can see what the markdown will render out as.

It’s still a work in progress as this draft will end up in Ulysses so it can get posted to my site, but I’ve seen that I can even post from Drafts to WordPress so I’m going to give that a shot later on.

There are several other ideas I have bouncing around in my head about ideas for potential workspaces. My only concern at this point is how many workspaces can I have before there are too many to be used effectively.

So glad I had the time on the flight to take a look at workspaces. A huge productivity boost for me!

Updating my meeting Workflow for Drafts 5

Drafts is a productivity app created by Greg Pierce (@AgileTortoise).

I’ve loved and used Drafts 4 every day for the last several years. I loved it so much I even contributed to the Tip Jar Greg had in the app. Seriously, it’s an amazing app. If you haven’t downloaded it already you totally should.

Recently, Greg released Drafts 5. With this new version comes a new Business Model as well. Instead of a single pay (and hope people ‘tip’ you) he’s converted to a subscription model.

I signed up for the free week and didn’t have a real opportunity to use it before my free week was converted into a pay week but I’ve no regrets. I like what Greg does and want him to keep updating his app so that I can get the benefits of it once I have a real chance to dive in.

Part of the reason I wasn’t able to really use the new version is the way that I primarily use Drafts. I have a WorkFlow that takes a meeting on my work calendar and allows me to take notes about that meetings.

It’s one of the most useful productivity tools I have during my morning standup meetings with my team, and it’s useful for the other (sometimes endless) meetings that I go to.

With the release of Drafts 5 I was not longer able to use both Drafts 5 AND my workflow, so I needed to update my workflow.

With Drafts 4 it was just one of the built in Apps. Because Drafts 5 limits some of the functionality unless you have the PRO version I don’t think that Workflow will be updated to include Drafts 5 like it did Drafts 4.

Once I realized that AND since I’m paying for the app I figured I’d need to update my Workflow instead of waiting and hoping that Workflow would be updated to include Drafts 5.

In order to make the update I had to look for URL Scheme for Drafts 5 … but I couldn’t really find one. I assumed that Drafts 5 URL Scheme would be the same as Drafts 4 (I was right) and made various attempts at getting a copy of the Workflow to work with Drafts 5.

This is the section of the workflow that needs to be updated:

Since Drafts 5 isn’t included in the Built in Apps I was going to need to pass a URL and open the app.

This would require 3 separate steps in Workflow

  1. Convert Text into URL Encoded string
  2. Prepend the URL Scheme for creating a new draft to the URL Encoded String
  3. Open the URL

This basically means that 1 step is now replaced with 3 … but hey, that’s the price of progress must be paid!

Both the Drafts 4 and Drafts 5 versions of these workflows are available.

If you enjoy them, hit me up in the comments or let me know on Twitter @ryancheley!

OmniFocus 3!

The OmniGroup posted on their blog the other day that they have a ship date for OmniFocus 3 … May 30.

To say that I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. I’ve been a loyal OmniFocus user for about 5 years now, and though I have declared OmniFocus bankruptcy once, I still believe it’s a super useful App and I could not imagine life without it.

OmniFocus3 will bring with it tags which is something I’ve really wanted and struggled without in using OmniFocus2. Sometimes things don’t just fall into pure GTD contexts and tags appear to be a recognition of that.

The initial release on May 30 is iOS only. The Mac Version is set to be released in 2018 but no firm date has been announced.

Only 25 days until upgrade day 😊