Drafts 3 A Magnificent IOS App with One Caveat


Drafts and most specifically Drafts 3 for the iPhone and the iPad is one of those apps that is simple in nature and concept and yet so sophisticated in operation. This tool is designed for you to take a thought that you’ve grabbed and just dump it without thinking about where you should put it. Rather than thinking about the end point for a piece of information, you just dump the thought or piece of information in Drafts. At that point, you might want to flesh out the thought or add more corollary information to the initial piece. At this point, having gathered together your thoughts or information you can now decide where it belongs. As an example, you might decide that it really belongs in Evernote for further elaboration or as it relates to information there or it should become a task say in OmniFocus. Drafts allows you to now send your information off to a variety of target applications.

Drafts banner

In actuality, Drafts supports a broad range of applications it can send to. It also uses the open command and some apps not necessarily supported directly by a Drafts send to function might allow the information to be sent to them by using the Open In command. Drafts is so ideal for capturing information and then processing that information. It can even take action on the information it is going to send. You might, as an example, want formatted information sent. Drafts is a text editor. To send formatted information, Drafts supports Markdown. You can write in Markdown, preview your writing in Drafts and actually send it off to other Markdown applications for further processing or some non-markdown applications that are able receive the information fully formatted. Mail and Evernote are an ideal example of this action.

Grab everything First in Drafts

Drafts really could be thought of as your app of first stop. Get into the habit of starting in Drafts with everything. Write everything you‘re thinking about or any email you want to write in Drafts. Then send your information off to the appropriate target application. Don’t stop at one application if you don’t want to. Send your information to two or as many applications as you like. This is another beautiful aspect of Drafts. Information is liberated and can really be dispersed out to more than one target. Thus, you might send the same information to OmniFocus to create a task and also to Evernote to have long term storage of the information.

So far so Good except …..

Frustrated man

So far, this workflow is ideal. However, here is where it falls apart. Drafts only works on IOS. To use Drafts effectively you are forced to live in IOS at the front end anyway. This is completely impractical. Many people work primarily from their Mac and then from their iPad or iPhone. Or they work from either direction. Yes, some people only work and exist in IOS. However, as long as people work on a Mac this workflow, which is so ideal, completely breaks down.

You can always get your information to OSX generated from Drafts. Just send it to an app that syncs to OSX. It doesn’t matter which app it is and could be a copy and paste cloud based system such as Cloud Clip. The problem though is your forced to work in IOS at the front end to take advantage of Drafts.

Let’s say you start say this dump strategy in OSX and you use a generic Notes program just to do what your doing in Drafts by dumping your information in a Notes program. Now you switch to IOS. Your information is sitting in that IOS application in the Notes program at the IOS level. To get it into Drafts you have to copy and paste it into Drafts. What’s the point. You’ve already captured your information. It makes no sense to copy and paste the information to Drafts then massage it in Drafts further and send it off to another environment. This defeats the whole purpose of Drafts and the workflow.

It is an ideal application in concept but it comes with a major caveat. The workflow completely breaks down as soon as a Mac enters the picture. The answer is simple. Port Drafts to OSX. At one level, it would work identically to that of it’s IOS cousin. It would be your dumping ground for the development of information. In terms of sending the information off to other environments, that process might likely be a bit different but it’s totally doable. The beauty though if it sat in OSX is you could start in OSX, continue with the development of the thought or information in IOS and then move it to it’s logical home. The workflow would remain fully in tact.

The Workflow Concept is Brilliant; the Execution is Critically Flawed

I can take nothing a way from Drafts. The worflow concept is brilliant and yet so simple in design. The execution is severely flawed. Unless and until it works seamlessly in OSX this is an application I could only recommend you use if you were never to leave IOS and you never work at a Mac. As long as you work at a Mac there is no way around the flaw. You’re better off to utilize a different program that executes at the IOS and OSX level. However, there is no way of taking advantage of this unique aspect of Drafts in which you dump the thought into Drafts and then decide where it’s logical home is. You could use any variety of programs to work in both IOS and OSX. However, to move your information to it’s logical home cannot easily be done. It can only be done through an old fashion cut and paste approach and basically with this flaw in place you’re better to do this or start with the logical home for the information in the first place.

Is there a Solution to the Caveat

Circus ponies notebook

The only real solution to solving this problem is for Drafts to become a native OSX app. If that cannot be the case then you really need to look at it’s concept and see if it makes sense for you. If it does, choose a program that is native to both IOS and OSX. As an example, you might want to use Circus Ponies Notebook, a very powerful Notebook which is significantly more than the name implies. It is a Notebook but it is probably, in my view, the most powerful outlining and relational tool for Notetaking on the Mac. You can write anything from plain Jane notes, to extremely sophisticated outlines all the while pulling in whatever kind of information you want. You can even annotate PDF’s in Notebook.

I’d love to see Drafts work in OSX and I’d love to be able to fully and wholeheartedly recommend it without a caveat but I cannot do this. No app in the Apple ecosystem should force you into one realm or the other. This is the beauty of the Apple ecosystem. It flows between OSX and IOS. Any app choice should work as identically in one as the other. Evernote will do this for you and with style. Circus Ponies Notebook will also accomplish this but with a different intended goal for the development of information. In fact, there are a slew of applications you could choose from. There are also some to avoid.

So should Drafts ever run in OSX then the solution to this very unique workflow can be fully enabled. Otherwise, take the concept of the workflow but using another program that does work in OSX and IOS and apply the workflow as well as you can to that application. If all fails, it’s back to basics and choosing your target application from the get go. If that’s Evernote, then go straight to Evernote and flesh out your information to complete your work. At the end of the day, by choosing the right application you will accomplish what you need to accomplish in the most fluid of ways without trying to twist yourself around something that is an impediment and will delay your work. That is, the beauty of the workflow is definitely there but it’s flawed execution will only hamper your outcome. Choose wisely and the day will still be yours but maybe not quite as nicely were Drafts the application it truly could be.


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