Tag Archive for ‘Federico Viticci’

A New Vision for Siri and iOS Automation ➝

An incredible piece by Federico Viticci that clearly explains what Shortcuts for iOS is and what it might mean for the platform going forward.

iPad ProMotion ➝

Federico Viticci, on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro’s 120Hz display:

A good way to think about the iPad’s new display with ProMotion is not the difference between low-res and Retina screens, but the jump from 30fps to 60fps. You see more of every animation. Text is more legible when you scroll and doesn’t judder. It’s hard to explain and it has to be seen and experienced to be fully understood. Every scroll, page transition, and app launch animation on the 10.5” iPad Pro is absurdly smooth to the point of feeling unrealistic at first – hence the common reaction that something doesn’t quite compute. But as you spend some time with the new iPad and start using it on a daily basis, its display becomes normal and you wish that other Apple displays were the same.

I would be surprised if this new display technology doesn’t make its way into the iPhone this year.

Reports of Workflow’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated ➝

Federico Viticci:

In the first update following Apple’s acquisition in late March – and despite rumors that claimed the app would no longer be supported – Workflow has today restored some of the features that were removed in version 1.7.3 of the app (which was released when Apple confirmed the acquisition) and has brought a variety of changes and improvements, including new Apple Music actions.

I don’t know if this update is a sign of things to come, but it’s nice to know that Workflow hasn’t been completely ignored by its developers since the acquisition. And the inclusion of new actions in this update gives me renewed hope for the future of the most important tool in my iOS arsenal.

Tweetbot Update Brings Image Support in DMs, New Compose UI for Replies ➝

Federico Viticci, writing on MacStories:

Similarly to Twitter’s iPhone app, Tweetbot 4.6 doesn’t count usernames against the 140-character limit. To present this change in functionality, Tapbots has opted for a Twitter-like design where usernames aren’t displayed in the compose box upon starting a reply. Instead, a “Replying to…” banner at the top of the screen highlights the tweet’s original author and other participants in a conversation. […]

Unlike Twitter’s official apps, usernames are still displayed in the body of a tweet in both the Timeline and Mentions views, providing a familiar format that doesn’t force you to tap on the “Replying to…” banner from every section of the app.

This is why I continue to use third-party clients — I can actually trust them to do the right thing with their user interface decisions. The same can’t be said about Twitter itself.

Initial Thoughts on iOS 10

Every year, when Apple releases their newest version of iOS to the public, I’ve typically already spent a few weeks or months with it on my main device. That was the case with almost every major iteration, until iOS 10. Whether I acquired it by nefarious means, signed up for the developer program, or sent my UDID number to a friend, I’ve always been able to get a hold of it. This year was a little different.

I installed iOS 10 on my iPad during the public beta, but it didn’t last long. Even though this was one of the best beta periods I’ve experienced from a stability standpoint, I’ve come to realize that my standards of acceptability are much higher than they’ve ever been. Now that my iPad and iPhone are my primary computers, I can’t put up with the little software bugs anymore.

In years past I could always switch to my Mac when something wasn’t working right, but that was during a time when all of my workflows were decidedly Mac-centric. Now, if something didn’t work on my iPad, I’d be left trying to piece together how I used to do it on my MacBook — often realizing that this task didn’t exist until my post-iOS era and I’ve never done it on a Mac before. iOS has become too essential for me to run beta builds. I just can’t risk anything breaking anymore.

The public beta only lasted a few days on my iPad — I reverted to iOS 9 at the first opportunity. That was a month or two ago, though, and Apple has spent their time polishing the rough edges. The public beta was good, but the final build is superb.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any complaints, though. There’s still a small number of annoyances that remain. However, iOS 10 is an incredibly well built operating system and has quickly become my favorite OS upgrade of all time. As of this writing, I only have it installed on my iPhone, but I expect to have it on my iPad and my wife’s iPhone within the next couple of days.

I’m not going to be writing a detailed review of the update — if you’re looking for that, I suggest reading Nick Heer or Federico Viticci’s. Instead, I’ll be sharing a handful of my notes, taken in the first few hours after updating.

  • It’s going to take a little time to get used to the new lock screen behavior. I’m fully prepared to be called a maniac for this, but I’ve never enabled Touch ID or a passcode. I’ve been happy enough continuing to use the “slide to unlock” gesture. Because of this, I expect I’ll accidentally swipe to my widgets instead of unlocking my iPhone on numerous occasions over the coming weeks.
  • The quicker animations for launching and closing apps is quite jarring. It makes my eyes feel weird.
  • iMessage Apps are going to be incredibly popular, but I don’t expect I’ll install many of them. I’m a bit of a minimalist and iOS’s built-in images app will get me most of what I want. I might buy a couple sticker packs, but that’s about it.
  • Games in iMessages are surprisingly great. I spent about an hour playing a connect four clone and a battleship clone with my brother-in-law. It was fun. I think I’ll be playing games like this more often in the future.
  • I like the new design of the system-wide application back buttons. They have more heft and are much more inviting to use.
  • The Music app is much better than it was in iOS 9, but I wish I could set artists as a tab along the bottom. I don’t need search and I don’t need Radio. If I had my way, the tabs along the bottom would be: recently added, artists, playlists, and more.
  • I love the Force Touch shortcut for clearing all notifications.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a way to quickly view Today View widgets with an app open. You can slide from the top and swipe to the left, but iOS doesn’t remember which pane you viewed last — unlike Control Center. That puts an extra step between me and my widgets. I routinely use Fantastical’s widget to check the date, PCalc’s widget for quick calculations, and Workflow’s widget for launching workflows. With iOS 10, widgets are significantly less convenient for me.
  • It’s a little odd that you can “uninstall” default apps now. I don’t plan on going crazy with it, I don’t have much of a problem simply hiding these apps deep within a folder. But of course, I had no problem immediately deleting Tips and Stocks.

Tweetbot 4.4 Brings Timeline Filters ➝

Federico Viticci gives a rundown of Tweetbot 4.4’s timeline filters. I was a little bummed when the media view was removed from Tweetbot in the transition to version 4, but I’m glad to see it return alongside the ability to create your own filters.

Workflow 1.5 Now Available ➝

A big update to Workflow — one of my favorite apps for iOS. It features twenty two new actions, a completely rewritten workflow composer, and a ton of other improvements. I’ve been using the beta for about a week and have had a blast working with the Ulysses integration, for obvious reasons.

I plan on sharing more of my workflows soon and I also have some updates to those that I’ve already shared — Push to Ulysses, Push to WordPress, and Upload Image. Until then, I suggest reading Federico Viticci’s review of the update.

Push to WordPress Workflow

Push to WordPress (v1.1): A major update to my publishing workflow. The update makes use of my new writing template — originally discussed in Launch Ulysses Workflow — to incorporate post metadata into the Ulysses sheet.

Push to WordPress (v1.1) no longer asks for the URL slug, tags, post type, and custom field content. Instead, that information is obtained by Workflow with regular expressions on the exported text. The update also skips the WordPress dashboard and asks for a publish date from within Workflow.

If you’re interested in learning more about this workflow’s update, I’ve written about the changes in its own article. And if you’re interested in the original, links to that version and my initial write-up, explaining the thought process behind it, will remain below.

—July 7, 2016


For as long as the iPhone has existed, some portion of my writing took place on iOS, but it’s never been as easy as it is now. A few weeks ago, I shared the workflow I use to kickstart link publishing on Initial Charge. I’ve used it almost everyday for about a month and it continues to amaze me each time.

Between Workflow and Ulysses, my writing process has been greatly streamlined and the amount of time I’ve saved is beginning to add up. It may seem like just a few minutes here and there, but that’s slowly turned into a few extra hours that I can allocate elsewhere. There’s been multiple instances over the past week in which I’ve emptied all of my inboxes — Instapaper, Overcast, Reeder, Tweetbot, and Dispatch. Doing so before I started using Ulysses and Workflow was a rarity, but now it’s becoming commonplace and I’m starting to enjoy these unexpected breaks.

Workflow has done the majority of the heavy-lifting for me in that regard. Many of the tasks which used to require multiple steps and a lot of tapping can be performed in the action sheet. Since the last time I’ve written about the app I’ve built workflows for searching Initial Charge, converting text to title case, and displaying the word count of selected text on a web page. This is stuff I do a handful of times each week that are now much quicker to perform, thanks to Workflow.

But the workflow that’s made the largest impact has been Push to WordPress. As I’ve discussed previously, I used to use WordPress’ Press This bookmarklet for composing links, relying on a combination of CF Setter and Slugger+ for setting custom fields and URL slugs. For writing feature articles, I would start in Simplenote and eventually copy and paste into the WordPress dashboard when I was nearing a final draft.

This process was inefficient, at best, and has been supplanted by a more modern workflow that allows me to write entirely in Ulysses, regardless of what form that published work will take. This means I’ll have a familiar writing environment for everything I publish — going all-in on Markdown and building efficiencies from its consistency. It will also let me keep an archive of my writing in iCloud — accessible from Ulysses on all of my devices.

It’s worth mentioning that The Soulmen have announced that Ulysses will soon have native support for publishing to WordPress. I was initially worried that this would render my publishing workflow useless, but I’ve realized that there’s still a reason for its existence. Ulysses’ publishing mechanism might not have support for the features that I need if I’m going to use it full time. Support for custom fields, scheduled publishing, and custom URL slugs are all essential to me, but there’s no telling if they’ll exist at launch. And more importantly, we don’t know when the update will be released — I need to publish now.

The Workflow

This is, by far, the most complicated workflow I’ve ever built. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit Federico Viticci’s publishing workflow as an inspiration for my own. I originally designed two separate workflows — one for publishing links and another for publishing features articles. That is, until I came across Viticci’s. His asks which post type you’re publishing and performs a different set of actions based on the one you choose. This was a brilliant idea and allowed me to simplify Workflow’s action sheet without losing any functionality.

The workflow uses a few regular expressions to interact with text on the first and last line of the document. I wish I had the ability to write my own regular expressions, but it’s a little over my head at this point. I did manage to find the ones I needed in a Reddit thread and on Stephen Millard’s Thought Asylum. Without these, the workflow just wouldn’t be possible.

There’s several pieces of information that I needed to populate in the “Post to WordPress” action in Workflow — title, custom fields, post content, category, tags, and URL slug. The title, custom fields, and post content are saved as variables using the aforementioned regular expressions before being passed to the publishing action. The category is automatically set based on which post type is chosen at the beginning of the Workflow — Linked List or Feature.

Unfortunately, the current workflow asks for the URL slug and tags when it’s triggered. I would prefer those bits of information be automatically populated, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I devised a way to do so. It’s all theory at this point — completely untested — but I hope I’ll be able to integrate it soon. The largest benefit to adding this feature is that both tags and URL slugs would be saved in Ulysses rather than only existing inside my WordPress database.

Push to WordPress is activated from the “Run Workflow” action extension, when viewing Ulysses’ export screen, and performs the following process:

  • The entire document is saved as the variable “Note,” the first line is capitalized with title case, and saved as the variable “Title.”
  • A menu appears asking whether your publishing a link or a feature article.
  • If Linked List is chosen:
    • The first line — title — and last line — URL — are stripped from the document and the result is saved as the variable “Content”.
    • Workflow asks you to choose which URL you’d like placed in the custom field.
    • The post content, title, and custom field URL are passed to the “Post to WordPress” action and Workflow asks for the URL slug and tags.
    • The post is saved as a draft in your WordPress Dashboard which is then opened in Safari.
  • If Feature is chosen:
    • The top line — title — is stripped from the document and passed to the “Post to WordPress” action.
    • Workflow asks for the URL slug and tags.
    • The post is saved as a draft in your WordPress Dashboard which is then opened in Safari.

I’ve only tested this Workflow in Ulysses, exporting HTML snippets — it does not work if you’re trying to export “full page”. I expect it will work with other text editors as well, as long as they’re able to export HTML. But there are a few more things to remember about the workflow:

  • Push to WordPress always assumes that the title is on the first line — if anything else is on the first line, it will be stripped from the post content and treated as the title.
  • If Linked List is chosen as the post type, the workflow assumes that the last line is the contents of your custom field.
  • The workflow doesn’t actually publish the post, it only saves it as a draft. That way it can be previewed in the site’s design and scheduled to publish at a later date — most of what I publish is written a day or two before it goes live.

While it’s unlikely that anyone has the same setup as I do for publishing, I suspect there are plenty with similar needs. With that in mind, I think Push to WordPress is a perfect starting point for anyone who wants to hack together their own publishing workflow.