Author Topic: Drafts 3.5 for iOS review: Note-taking app lets you focus on writing first  (Read 248 times)


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  Drafts for iPadDrafts provides lots of built-in actions as well as the ability to create your own actions.  Drafts for iPhone and iPad by Agile Tortoise is one of those apps that's difficult to describe in one sentence. On one hand, you can lump it in with the growing number of iOS text editor apps. But, while all those other apps are designed to work with longer text-only documents, Drafts' primary focus is short notes. But don't let that fool you because Drafts really isn't a note-taking app either. Confused? Maybe this will help. Think of Drafts as a tool that helps you automate text-oriented actions and integrate other iOS apps. If that still doesn't make sense, then perhaps the best way to describe Drafts is to provide an example of how I use it.

Drafts for iPadDrafts can communicate with other apps via "URL actions" using an easy-to-use scripting language.  As a Web developer and project manager, I keep lots of notes, which I store as plain text files in my Dropbox account. One of the notes that I update frequently contains a running list of my business expenses. When I want to record an expense while at my Mac, I'll open my expenses file in nvALT, place my cursor at the top of the document, then use a TextExpander script that prompts me for input and inserts that info into my file.

However, what if I need to record an expense while I'm not at my Mac? While I could always edit the file with a Dropbox-powered text editor on my iPhone or iPad, Drafts makes this process fast and easy on an iOS device—even easier than on the Mac. When I open Drafts, it greets me with a blank screen where I can immediately start typing. So, I call up my TextExpander snippet and enter my expense info, which ends up as a few lines of text in Drafts. Next, I select an "action" I created called "Add to Expenses" which prepends the text in Drafts to the top of my expenses file that's stored in Dropbox, all without needing to open the file and edit it directly.

Actions in Drafts are little scripts that can manipulate the text in a note and send it on to other apps for additional processing. The app provides several that you can use straight out of the box. For example, you can post to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and, create Reminders, save to Evernote, create tasks in Clear, and so on. While these built-in actions are handy, Drafts' real power lies in your ability to create your own actions. You can use the built-in actions as examples, but it doesn't stop there. Drafts can talk with almost any other app on your device, as long as it provides a URL scheme to enable that communication pathway.

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