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 2.0

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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How the New [[line|n]] Tag in Drafts 3.0.6 Can Improve Your Existing Workflows, Part 2

Last Friday, I wrote three reasons why I believe the new [[line|n]] tag in Drafts 3.0.6 can improve your existing workflows. Today, I will expand it further by taking advantage of how Drafts is resolving the [[line|n]] tags.

Because Drafts translates all unresolved [[line|n]] tags to blank, I can use it as optional parameters to my actions.

Use [[line|n]] tags as optional parameters

As Drafts parses through your post, it will try to put values to the corresponding [[line|n]] tags. If it can't, Drafts will simply put an empty String for each of those tags. For example, if you're trying to parse a post up to its fourth line when the post itself contains only three lines, the [[line|4]] value will simply resolve to blank. No parsing error will be reported by Drafts.

Taking advantage of this behavior, I can expand my Mail Later action to optionally send the email body to Launch Center Pro's in-app email action. To support longer email body, I decided to use the fourth line to the tenth line as a single email body parameter.

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How the New [[line|n]] Tag in Drafts 3.0.6 Can Improve Your Existing Workflows

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.

Time-shifting a Mail action can be as simple as defining the recipient, subject and reminder time

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:

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Tutorial: Designing a Chain of Actions in Drafts Involving Apps that Support x-callback-url

By now, you're probably already aware that you can create a long chain of custom URL actions in Drafts that involve other apps that support x-callback-url. Theoretically, you can create these chains for as long as they fit the purpose. Nevertheless, when you start to involve three or more actions, you might be wondering which action to begin with.

Here's a sample workflow that some of us may be doing quite frequently: sharing an article that we find interesting to as many outlets as possible.

  • We may tweet about it, and
  • We may post it on App.net, and
  • We may save it to Instapaper because it's at least three pages long, and
  • We may want to return to Chrome to continue reading, or use Chrome to return to Tweetbot or Riposte.

We know it's possible to do all of the above, especially since all of the apps involved here support x-callback-url. Yet, when you start coding your actions, you might be wondering where to start. Based on my experience in writing many long chains of actions in Drafts, here are some guidelines that you can use when designing your chain.

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