Phraseology 2.0 for iPad

A few hours ago, Greg Pierce who is well-known for his work on Drafts, released a 2.0 update to its writing app: Phraseology for iPad. Before I jump into what the new features are, I'd like to highlight a few things that make Phraseology different from other writing apps for the iPad.

First, you need to take a peek at Brett Terpstra's awesome work of doing features comparison for most (if not all) of the text editors on iOS: iTextEditors. A few things to note here:

  • Phraseology is an iPad-only app
  • Phraseology does not support sync
  • Phraseology 1.x supports Markdown format, but it does not support syntax highlighting
  • Phraseology supports TextExpander
  • Phraseology has its own URL Schemes

And, if you mouse-over on Phraseology's left-most column, you will learn that it integrates with Terminology, lets you reorder paragraphs and sentences, and provides you with extensive document stats, such as Flesh Kincaid Reading Ease/Grade Level, Gunning Fog Score, SMOG Index, etc.

Phraseology's Inspect view helps you improve the readability of your writing.

Inspect and Arrange views

If you want to continually improve your writing skills, Phraseology is your perfect companion. It lets you become a ruthless editor for your own work. You will spend a lot of time switching to the Inspect view to see how well your writing is. It provides you with readability analysis, average words per sentence, average syllables per word, and the list of root words (lemmas) found.

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Launch Center Pro 2.2 Update

Today, Contrast releases an update to Launch Center Pro. The 2.2 update also acts as the first version of its iPad app. The new iPad version makes it possible to interact with iPad-only apps, such as Mr. Reader and Editorial.

This update brings several new features, such as multitouch support group and move action between groups. Now, you can launch actions from within a group by using two fingers: one finger to open the group and another to tap the action. You can also move action from one group to another, or to the home grids (and vice versa). This makes it easy to organise the actions without having to copy and paste the URLs.

Tweet a code snippet via Dropbox

Launch Center Pro 2.2 also brings a set of new Dropbox text actions. You can now create, append, and prepend text files in your Dropbox folder.

If you're familiar with Drafts, these actions are already available in Drafts. What makes the Launch Center Pro actions different is its ability to retrieve the shareable link to the Dropbox file. The link is copied to the clipboard and can be chained for other purpose.

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8 Reasons to Love Launch Center Pro 2.1

Two months have passed since we saw the release of Launch Center Pro 2.0. That was a major update that brought the ability to share and import custom actions, new Dropbox actions and tags, photo attachments, prompt labels and externally launch actions.

Today, the team at Contrast releases another big update to the app. The new update contains a lot of refactoring in terms of URL scheme syntax, refinements to the photo attachment features, several new tags, and integration with Fleksy.

After spending a few days using the beta version, here are eight completely new reasons why I love the new update.

1. URL Scheme Normalization

If you remember what kinds of URL Schemes are supported by Launch Center Pro 2.0, you'd probably need a cheat sheet to figure out each of them. Despite of their raw powers, the URL Schemes could definitely use some refactoring. The new update tries to normalise the different URLs into the same base URL, i.e. launch://.

Here are a few examples comparing the old URL Scheme and the new normalised ones.

As you can see from the examples above, it's now easier to figure out and remember how one URL Scheme differs from the others. And, since most of these URL Schemes support x-callback-url, it's now quite rewarding for you to create TextExpander snippets that can help you write launch://x-callback-url/ easily.

If you have written a lot of actions that use the old URL Schemes, there's no need to worry because they're still supported in Launch Center Pro 2.1. For someone like me, it's going to be a while before I completely upgrade all my Launch Center Pro actions into the new URL Schemes. By the end of this post, you will see the benefits of moving to the new URL Schemes that should motivate you enough to upgrade your actions to the new syntax.

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Using 1Writer and Launch Center Pro to Create the Missing Dropbox Sync Feature in Drafts

I love writing in Drafts on my iPhone, even for longer posts. Writing in Drafts is a part of my daily workflow. Sometimes I start writing a new post in it, but oftentimes I'd start a new post on iA Writer on the Mac and continue writing in Drafts on my iPhone.

Writing on the iPhone allows me to work almost anywhere and anytime. The problems with writing on the iPhone are the internet connection and battery limitations. Turning off 3G allows me to save the battery - which in turn allows me to write for a longer period. On the other hand, it disables me from getting a real-time Dropbox syncing that apps like iA Writer and Byword offer. Even when I turn on the internet connection, most apps would try to sync the entire folder before letting me load the single file that I want to edit.

That's why I loved it when Drafts 3.5 introduced Import from Dropbox feature. It allows me to pick a file that I want to edit, load it in Drafts, and continue writing - without having to sync the entire folder nor keeping the internet connection alive at all times. With the release of Launch Center Pro 2.0, I created an action that allows me to pick the file and load its contents to Drafts without even switching to the Dropbox app.

The other problem with writing in Drafts is the lack of Dropbox sync support. Drafts has the feature to create a new file and prepend/append to an existing file; but not to replace the content of a file in your Dropbox. After a short research, I found at least three apps that support Dropbox's replace file content feature in their URL Schemes: Byword, Textastic, and 1Writer.

I have tried using Byword's URL Scheme, but I can't seem to make it replace the old file. Instead, it creates a new file each time I trigger its /replace URL. I haven't tried Textastic's URL Scheme, so I don't know whether it's going to work or not. But, I have tried 1Writer's `/replace` URL and it worked as I expected it to be.

1Writer uses a shorter name, instead of the full path name, of mapped Dropbox folders.

1Writer's /replace URL

I ended up creating a 1Writer URL that allows me to replace the content of a file in a Dropbox folder with the content of the current [[draft]]. The action is relatively straightforward, with two minor things that you need to do. First, you need to define the Dropbox folders that you will be referring to in 1Writer. Once a folder mapped in 1Writer, it may have a name that you can refer to - which can be different from the full path of that folder. For example, 1Writer may use "Meeting Notes" instead of the full "Apps/Meeting Notes" path.

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8 Reasons to Love Launch Center Pro 2.0

It's been a while since the team at Contrast, formerly known as AppCubby, released an update to its flagship app, Launch Center Pro. Today, they finally release the long-awaited 2.0 version of Launch Center Pro with plenty of great features and a complete iOS 7 redesign.

I was lucky to be a part of the beta tester team. It gave me enough time to play around with the new features and improve my existing actions. In this post, I'd like to highlight eight things that I love about the new Launch Center Pro 2.0.

Launch Center Pro 2.0 allows you to easily share your custom actions.

1. Easy to Share and Import Custom Actions

Previously, any custom actions that you create in Launch Center Pro are private to your iPhone. If you want to share the action, you need to paste the URL in an iMessage, an email, or somewhere in your blog post. Today, it's easy to share actions with others.

Simply tap on the Share Action button at the bottom of the Action Composer window. It will take you to the Launch Center Pro 2.0 share page in Safari. The web form will automatically be filled with the action URL, alongside the action's name. You can add a brief description of what the action is trying to do.

Once published, you will get a unique URL that you can linked to in your iMessage, email, or blog post. The readers/recipients can load the URL from their iPhone's browser, and tap the Install Action button to have the new action be automatically installed on their iPhones.

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