A few days ago, Drafts 3.0.6 was released with a couple of great features. The one that has caught my eyes is the new
[[line|n]] tag. It allows Drafts to parse your post into lines and use them as parameters for invoking other apps via URL Schemes.
In this post, I'd like to highlight how you can use the new tag to improve your existing workflows. Instead of focusing on the specific use cases and actions that are now made possible with the new tag, I will point out the general thinking that you can apply to your existing workflows to improve them.
Reduce the number of URL Actions required to perform the workflow
The obvious benefit of this is when you have three or more information that you need to parse. For example, in my Mail Later action, I specified three lines of information: the email recipient, the email subject, and the date/time when I want to be reminded. Previously, I had to use a trick of store the first line into the
[[clipboard]] and process the next two lines in a separate URL Action. Now, I can easily create a single action to perform this workflow:
Add more information to Dropbox and Evernote actions
You can also use the new
[[line|n]] tags to provide more information to your Dropbox or Evernote actions. For example, in my Logging Gas Fill Up Events` Dropbox action, I only included two user-generated information: the amount I paid and the price per gallon at the time I filled the gas. I've been wanting to log the current location data, but there are two reasons why it wasn't included in the previous version of my action.
The first reason was because I wanted Drafts or Launch Center Pro to provide that information using one of their built-in tags, but that hasn't happened yet. The other reason was because this Dropbox action was created before the
[[clipboard]] tag was introduced in Drafts 3.0. Creating a follow-up URL Action without the existence of the
[[clipboard]] tag is not really useful either.
Now that the new
[[line|n]] tags exist, I'm no longer limited to two or three user-generated information. I don't need to create additional URL Actions to parse the third and subsequent information either. Now, I can parse all these information using a single Dropbox action.
Here's an example of the new Dropbox action that includes location information and the current odometer status, in addition to the total amount paid and the price per gallon information:
[[time_short]] [[line|3]]: $[[line|1]] at $[[line|2]]/gallon; Odometer at [[line|4]] miles
Open this link if you want it installed on your iOS device automatically.
You can apply the same technique as you define your Evernote actions or when you want to send more than two user-generated parameters to another app that supports it.
Share different subsets of the same information to different Apps
Finally, I think the new
[[line|n]] tags really excel when there are two (or more) apps that can use different subsets of the user-generated information written in the Drafts post. For example, you can send the first and second lines to Due, and the first and third lines to Tweetbot.
To illustrate my point, I will share about a workflow that I've been doing on a regular basis, related to iOS apps deals. For example, if I saw on Twitter that an app I've been eager to try has just dropped its price to free, I'd immediately download it and tell my close friends about it. But sometimes, I may not be able to download the app, due to Apple's 50 MB limit on downloading new apps over a 3G connection. That's why I created the Search App Later action to set up a reminder in Due complete with the App Store URL to search for that app when I'm ready.
With the introduction of
[[line|n]] tags, I can now create a three-lines Drafts post containing the following information: the app name, the date/time when I want to be reminded, and a list of my close friends' Twitter handles.
This action would create a new reminder in Due, and a new tweet mentioning my friends to download the app. Open this link if you want it installed on your iOS device automatically.
[[line|n]] tag is a great step-up in terms of ease of parsing user-generated information and sending more parameters to your actions or other apps. It has also made sharing different subsets of the same user-generated information between two or more apps easier, thus enabling a new kind of actions to be created in Drafts. In the next few days, I will share about a couple of interesting use cases that utilise this information sharing.
On the other hand, while the new
[[line|n]] tag in Drafts is excellent for parsing three or more unique information, it's not really suitable for parsing an arbitrary number of similar information, such as multiple lines of events or reminders. If you have such a need, you might be better of using recursive techniques as what I've written previously.
To find my other workflows, please visit my Productivity and Workflows blog.