Mingle Lets You Launch Actions From Your Contacts List

By now, I'm sure you're already familiar with Launch Center Pro and Drafts. These apps make a lot of iOS automations possible through their custom actions. Yesterday, Samir Ghobril released Mingle, an app that allows you to create custom actions and launch them based on your Contacts list.

Mingle lets you launch actions from your Contacts list.

How It Works

Mingle uses a custom Contacts list view that lets you to drag a contact's avatar to the right to switch the focus to any of the four actions. It allows you to setup exactly four contact-based actions that you can trigger by dragging the contact's avatar. As you drag to the right, Mingle will reveal the first action's icon. Then, as you hold and drag farther, you can see all the other icons too (one at a time).

If you arrive on the action that you want to launch, simply release your finger. Mingle will execute the URL schemes stored for that action.

Mingle supports the standard iOS URL schemes that you may already comfortable with. For example, you can attach a Tweetbot URL that lets you send a quick DM based on the contact's Twitter username.

What makes Mingle special is its ability to pull contact information into tags and allows you to craft your own actions using them. For example, you can use [phoneNumber] and [email] tags to extract the first phone number and email address for the selected contact. Other tags include [displayName], [twitter], and [url].

Mingle also includes many built-in actions that can give you hints on how you can create your own actions. For example, the WhatsApp message action looks like this:

whatsapp://send?text=[prompt:Message]&abid=[ABID]

As shown on that action, Mingle also supports [prompt:Title] tag - similar to Launch Center Pro's [prompt] tag. And, you can even work with more specific contact-based tags such as [ABID] (used by WhatsApp to uniquely identify its users), [social:], and [IM:].

Mingle has three custom URL schemes of its own, mingle-message://?recipient=, mingle-email://?recipient=, and mingle-tweet://?username=. Because these are contact-based URL schemes, they're useful only for in-app usages.

After beta-testing the app for a couple of weeks, here are a few custom actions that I use.

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Using Launch Center Pro's [prompt-list] for Better Interaction with List Apps such as Clear, Silo, and Begin

I bet everyone has his own favorite list app. For a long time, I liked Clear and its simplicity. But when Silo came in with its x-callback-url support, I was hooked into it. I have been exploring several new list apps for the past couple of weeks, and one of the apps that I'm interested in is Begin.

Begin is the brainchild of Ben Brooks and Kyle Rosenbluth who were looking to build a simple list app that highlights Today's list and Tomorrow's list. It has a nice dark theme that suits my preferences. And, it also supports x-callback-url.

Now, all these apps have something in common. They allow you to send a comma-separated list of items via URL Scheme to be added to the list. While Clear and Silo allow you to create a new list or use an existing one, you're stuck with Today's and Tomorrow's lists in Begin.

Clear allows you to specify the list name that you're targeting in the URL. It will create a new list only when the list name is not found. Silo prompts you on which list you want the items to be added into. It will allow you to create a new list and add the items into the new list.

By default, Begin will add all items into the Today's list. But, it allows you to append (tomorrow) modifier to the end of each item that you want to send to the Tomorrow's list.

Begin has a nice dark theme and a simple approach to manage to-do lists.

Adding Multiple Items at Once

When doing a "brain dump", I'd like to write as many things as possible in Drafts, and send them in as a batch to Clear or Silo. Because both apps require the items to be sent as a comma-separated list, you need some form of preprocessing to reformat the data before sending them to Clear/Silo. Phillip Gruneich has written a Pythonista script to convert such entries into a comma-separated one. All you need to do is define the end-point according to your needs. He used Clear in his example, thus if you're using Silo or Begin, you may need to modify his script.

As a comparison, Drafts offers a nice built-in action that allows you to write each item on your list as a separate line. Then, simply trigger the List in Reminders action to convert the entire [[draft]] to entries in the default list on the built-in Reminder app. If only there's an easy way to convert such a list into a comma separated one without having to involve Pythonista nor being tied to use the built-in Reminder app.

Launch Center Pro has a prompt tag variant that allows you to convert a multi-line entry into a comma-separated list.

Launch Center Pro's [prompt-list]

Apparently, Launch Center Pro has been including a variant to its [prompt] tag that automatically converts a multi-line entry into a comma-separated list since its earlier version. Yet, I was unable to discover this feature until the release of its 2.0 version. Combined with the new [prompt:label] feature, creating new entries into list apps has become more intuitive to perform in Launch Center Pro.

Here are the Launch Center Pro's actions that you can download and install for Clear, Silo, and Begin. Have fun!

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.0 on your iPhone.

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.0 on your iPhone.

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.0 on your iPhone.

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Workflow: Using Tags in Silo 1.0.5 as Contexts for a Simple GTD System

If you have used OmniFocus, you're probably used to the concept of having contexts to your actions. If you're not familiar with the concept of contexts in a typical Getting Things Done system, you might want to read Sven Fechner's article on contexts.

I really like the concept of projects and contexts in a GTD system. And, I tend to choose simple list apps, such as Clear or Silo to keep any types of lists I have, including to-do lists. If you've been searching for a simple (lightweight) GTD system that might fit your need, you might like the new features in Silo 1.0.5.

You can define more than one tags for each entry, and filter with more than one tags when you search them.

What's New in Silo 1.0.5

Released over the weekend, the new update to Silo includes two features that have made it possible for me to use it as a simple GTD system. First, you can add tags to an entry by using the # prefix. You can then filter the entries inside a list using these tags.

The second feature is the ability to append multiple entries into an existing list, using Silo's URL Scheme. Previously, adding a comma-separated list of items through URL Scheme forces you to create a new list. Now, the same URL that's being used to add a single entry can also be used to add comma-separated list of items:

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Workflow: Using TextExpander Snippets in Drafts as Templates for Creating Lists

One of the features in Drafts that I haven't discussed much is its support for TextExpander snippets in custom action fields. With this feature, we can create URL actions that contain fenced abbreviations, such as <<abbreviation>>, and have Drafts automatically expands it when the action is fired.

This feature is different from the built-in support that Drafts has for TextExpander snippets when you write your posts. For example, you can type ddrafts in the post window to have Drafts automatically expand it to the default Drafts' x-callback-url:

drafts://x-callback-url/create?text=&action=&x-success={{}}&afterSuccess=Delete

This is very useful if you like to create your own custom URL actions in Drafts. I personally find it very helpful to store these x-callback-url syntax into TextExpander snippets instead of remembering them. Open this link to download a copy of a TextExpander group containing my most-frequently used iOS URL Schemes.

Use TextExpander to define a comma-separated list of essential items for the template of your lists.

List Templates

While it's quite obvious that TextExpander snippets can really help the process of creating new URL actions in Drafts, figuring out how they can be used inside the actions themselves is not a trivial task. One of the workflows that I find most useful is using a comma-separated list of items stored in TextExpander as a template for lists that I frequently use and discard afterwards. Examples of such lists include travel packing list, weekly groceries list, and daily habit list. Creating a slightly modified version of them each time a new event occurs can be cumbersome.

For example, I can have most of the basic essentials on my travel packing list to be relatively the same, regardless of where I'm going and whom I'm traveling with. Yet, depending on the destination, duration, and travel companions, I might want to add a few more items to the list. On the other hand, the basic list itself already contains more than a handful of items that I wouldn't want to forget. The same can be said with weekly groceries list and daily habit list.

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