Tag Archive for ‘K.Q. Dreger’

The Screenshots Page ➝

K.Q. Dreger:

At some point, companies that make software stopped having a dedicated “screenshots” page on their websites. These pages were always sparse. A simple gallery of thumbnails. But for those of us who appreciated seeing before buying, or for those who were simply curious in nature, the screenshots page was one of the best out there. I miss it.

I always look for screenshots when considering the use of an app and am disappointed when I can’t find any.

➝ Source: audacious.blog

Don’t Hide the Date ➝

K.Q Dreger:

I’ve noticed an interesting (growing?) trend over the past few years. Some bloggers (or their designers) choose to hide when a post was written. I usually see this via dates excluded from the URL and/or the page itself. Why they’re doing this, I’m not sure.

I could not agree with this more. The date an article was published is an essential piece of metadata. Without it, how will a reader know whether the information is up to date?

I often include the current year in my search terms when I’m looking for information on the web. I want a recent article to increase the chances that what I find is accurate. If I happen upon an article and I can’t find the date it was published (or updated), I assume it’s no longer relevant.

➝ Source: audaciousfox.net

Adding Sync to Edit ➝

K.Q. Dreger:

Ideally, I can use your iCloud accounts to sync the current sheet back and forth, but I have speed concerns that I haven’t been able to test yet. I’ve long thought that a syncing service should be fast enough that all changes are committed and sent to the server by the time a user can close the app or shut their laptop lid/smart cover. If CloudKit isn’t able to provide that sort of performance, I might need to look at a few other options. Whatever I end up doing though, it’ll be totally seamless for the users; you’ll turn it on, and it’ll just work.

Edit for iOS

Edit is a brilliant new writing app from K.Q. Dreger that’s the very definition of doing one thing well. It’s a place to write short-term notes, draft email replies, compose articles, or jot down bits of text. I’ve been using it for just over a week and it’s already earned a permanent spot on my first home screen.

There really isn’t much to Edit, though. It’s a single-view application with a text field, a word counter, and a few buttons in the bottom left. I think the always visible word counter is a great touch. And I appreciate the ability to quickly switch it to a character counter with a single tap. The word counter is great for most of my writing, but if I’m drafting a tweet, the character counter is a necessity.

Edit Features Light and Dark Modes

In the bottom left, there’s a dark mode toggle, a select-all shortcut, and a share button. I’m not someone that gets too excited about having a dark mode — I’m the oddball that usually prefers most applications’ light mode. But the dark mode hides my first complaint about the application — text sits too close to the top of the screen.

It’s an incredibly minor complaint, of course, but I wish there was a little bit more padding between the edge of the display and the text itself. Turning on dark mode helps this tremendously, though. On space gray iPhones and iPads, it makes it difficult to determine where the display ends and the bezels begin.

I think it would help if there was an option to display the menu bar within the application, which could be a way to give users a bit of margin at the top of their screen. I understand why the menu bar is hidden — to help users maintain their focus on writing. And although I appreciate Dreger’s decision to release the app without a settings screen, I find myself wishing I could glance at the top of my screen to see what time it is.

As for the select-all shortcut, it’s absolutely genius. Edit doesn’t have the ability to save multiple documents — you get a single text field and that’s it. So if you want to start from scratch, the select-all button gives you a quick and easy way to delete everything.

I have found myself wishing that double tapping the select-all button would delete everything automatically, though. Currently, you’ll have to tap the select-all button and then use the delete key on your keyboard. I could see downsides of a shortcut like this, but perhaps displaying a modal dialog to confirm the action — with the ability to skip it in the future — would be sufficient. But this would inevitably lead to an additional option, if you’d like to turn those confirmations back on in the future.

Speaking of selected text, as an aside, it would be really neat if the text counter switched to displaying the number of selected words or characters when there was a text selection on screen. This could be useful if you were drafting a tweet or message with a number of different wordings, separated by a line break, but wanted an easy way to check the character count of each. In fact, this is the kind of feature I’d like to see in every writing app.

Taking a step back for a moment, Edit doesn’t have the ability to save multiple documents within the app. Which begs the question, how do I save text once I’m done with it? That’s where the share button comes in. Edit utilizes the system’s share sheet to let you send your text to just about any application on your device. This is the key takeaway for this app and what sets it apart from other writing apps. Edit isn’t a place for long-term text storage, it’s a place for writing.

Exporting From Edit

If you want to write an article, take a note, draft an email, compose a tweet, or do almost anything with text, start in Edit. Once you have something presentable, use the share sheet to send it to Bear, Newton, Ulysses, Day One, Linky, or whatever the most appropriate application might be. Edit isn’t a one-stop shop for all of your text needs, its part of a bigger workflow that utilizes a number of other applications. It lets you quickly get text down in a focused environment and you can figure out where its going to live once your done.

Aside from the handful of minor complaints mentioned above, I would also like to see iCloud syncing added to the app. I have it installed on both my iPhone and iPad and it would be nice if I could start writing on one device and then pick it up on the other. And I would love if there were some typographic options as well. The app let’s you change the font size using pinch-to-zoom — which is brilliant, by the way — but there’s no way to change the app’s typeface.

Currently Edit uses San Francisco with some often unused OpenType alternative characters to create a familiar feel while maintaining its own uniqueness. And while I think this is a great decision out of the gate, I’d still like to see a few more options in the future.

I spoke with Dreger about many of these feature ideas and he seemed very receptive to them, specifically mentioning that syncing was high on his list of priorities. But of course, syncing isn’t a simple feature and it would take a lot of experimentation and research to figure out exactly the best way to implement it. I have confidence that we’ll see it in the future, but don’t expect it anytime soon.

Overall, I think K.Q. Dreger made all the right decisions with Edit’s initial offering. Utilizing the share sheet and the select-all shortcut to eliminate the need for storing multiple documents is such a brilliant idea. I still think its a few small features away from becoming an absolute must-have. But despite that, Edit has become an important part of my writing workflow because it’s core set of features are rock-solid and the application is such a delight to use. This is the kind of app that just about anyone could benefit from using.

The Call to Encrypt the Web ➝

K.Q. Dreger, with another take the recent push to encrypt the web:

Unfortunately, the world wide landscape today desperately calls for us to encrypt what we can. We, as creators on the web, are obliged to help protect the privacy and security of our readers. Enabling HTTPS on a domain doesn’t hurt existing content, but it does provide your visitors with a little more protection, and — critically — it doesn’t require a change in their behavior. They get to keep just using the web.

There’s no easy solution to this. Encrypting the web is almost certainly better than not, but it does introduce an additional barrier to entry for new creators. And, as I said when I linked to Dave Winer’s piece last week, it would be a very bad idea to dismiss unencrypted webpages as a byproduct of encouraging developers to move to HTTPS. To put it another way, it’s okay to move forward, but that doesn’t mean we should destroy everything behind us in our quest for progress.

Google Introduces AMP in Email Preview ➝

K.Q. Dreger, on Google’s AMP for email announcement:

Can you imagine interactive spam? Maybe Google’s spam filtering is robust enough to save Gmail users, but if AMP in email becomes as widely used as they intend, they’ll have handed spammers and malicious actors a whole host of new tools to phish and deceive users.

The email experience can certainly be improved, but it needs to be approached as supportive tools around the email message, not replacing the message entirely.

There’s a lot of problems with email, but AMP doesn’t solve enough of those to justify the massive downsides it brings with it.

Regarding the Em Dash ➝

Adam O’Fallon Price:

For me, there is no punctuation mark as versatile and appealing as the em dash.  I love the em dash in a way that is difficult to explain, which is, probably, the motivation of this essay.  And my love for it is emphasized by the fact that many writers never, or rarely, use it—even disdain it.  It is not, so to speak, an essential punctuation mark, the same way commas or periods are essential.  You can get along without it and most people do.  I don’t remember being taught to use it in elementary, middle, or high school English classes; I’m not even sure I was aware of it then, and I have no clear recollection of when or why I began to rely on it, yet it has become an indispensable component of my writing.

I absolutely adore the em dash — to the point where I probably overuse them. It’s the most versatile and elegant punctuation mark of the lot and I can’t imagine what my writing would look like without it.

(Via K.Q. Dreger.)