Automations and Workflows for Things on iOS: The Complete Guide

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Things 3.4 dropped today, and with it came a huge URL scheme perfect for creating all sorts of automations on your iOS devices. It also comes with new JSON support for scripting all sorts of automations on your Mac — the coolest of which (in my opinion) is the ability to create project templates, complete with headers and all.

We’ve been digging into all things Things — or all the things in Things? — on The Sweet Setup recently, so it was only natural to jump into this new URL scheme as well.

Fortunately, I know Matt Cassinelli.

Matt used to be part of the Workflow team before it was acquired by Apple. Matt wrote all the Workflow documentation and FAQs for the app’s website, so he quickly became a Workflow wizard. When Matt caught word of the new Things URL scheme support, he jumped in with both feet and both hands.

The result was a 7,000 word guide on how to get started using Things’ new URL scheme. This guide talks about ways to utilize Launcher, Launch Center Pro, Workflow, Drafts, Bear, and Ulysses to automate alongside Things to get you from Point A to Point B quicker than ever. And best of all, the guide is written with dummies like me in mind — Workflow generally makes my eyes glaze over, but Matt has found a way to keep even me interested.

Matt includes a plethora of screenshots and even a video of a workflow he created to take a checklist in Drafts and send it to Things as a project, to Bear as a note repository, and to Ulysses as a group of sheets ready for action. The possibilities are increasingly endless.

If The Sweet Setup’s guide isn’t enough, there are a bunch of great articles to read about the latest automation possibilities in Things, like this one from MacStories.

We should deem today as the great Workflow Wednesday. That’s a better name than Hump Day, if you ask me.

Supported By

Fresh Links

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It may take one of those double-takes to notice a difference, but the little — erm, not so little — “Supported By” ad at the top of The Newsprint’s homepage has been replaced by a new “link bar” or “link ticker”. This is just a simple way to share links as quickly as possible with as little friction as possible.

I’m becoming one of those data ownership snobs, wherein I’d rather keep as much of my online sharing to my own little sector of the internet as possible. I generally have way more links to share than is appropriate on the Sunday Edition, and I don’t always want to have to write a big long blurb about a link. Sometimes, something is just plain old cool and that’s all I want to say.

Overall, I hope this is a quick and easy way for people to:

  • visit The Newsprint,
  • recognize the site is being updated constantly,
  • consume a range of links which I find interesting,
  • and maybe even bring some more value to my own writing each week.

I intend on creating three different RSS feeds for the site going forward:

  1. The current and/or regular RSS feed, with just link-styled blog posts and original content.
  2. A new Fresh Links RSS feed for just the quick links seen above.
  3. A new RSS feed for all Fresh Links, link-styled blog posts, and original content.

Hopefully these RSS feeds are just around the corner. I’ll make sure to notify everyone when they launch.

As always, whenever a new bit of design hits The Newsprint, I have to thank Josiah.

If you have any feedback, or if you have any interesting links which deserve a spot on the link bar, you can get a hold of me in a variety of different ways.

The Sunday Edition — 02.18.18

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Photo by Brad Eide

Isle of Skye, Scotland by Brad Eide.

My dad celebrated his 50th birthday this week, making for a great reason to get together to eat some birthday cake and to try a few different beers.

From this chair, 50 years of age seems to be that odd age where you can say “I’ve been there and done that”, yet still have a considerable portion of your life ahead of you. Many 50-year-olds are in the prime of their career, have children and grand-children to enjoy, generally have a different level of financial freedom, and often have most of their health. It seems to be a utopian-like age.

To my dad: Happy Birthday. Enjoy the ride the rest of the way.

This week was full of product launches.

I’d be remiss not to mention All The Things on The Sweet Setup. All The Things provides a breakdown of Things 3 on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad and how to make the most of the brilliantly-designed app. Further, All The Things provides tips and tricks to improve your productivity, be it through analog notebooks, Shawn’s hybrid productivity method, or tips from a range of interviews included in the course.

We’ve been blown away by the response to the course so far and recommend it to anyone looking to streamline their productivity systems. The course fits for any system you use — not just Things. Plus, it’s on sale for a few more days yet.

Oppositely, Field Notes Brand launched a neat Valentine’s Day giveaway, whereby any purchase on their online store netted you a free two-pack of a special Heartbeat edition. I haven’t received my two-pack yet, but I’m sure they’ll be splendid.

Alongside the special Heartbeat launch, Field Notes Brand also turned their wildly popular Dime Novel limited edition format into a standalone product. The new Signature Edition is the same size as Dime Novel (i.e. a tad larger than the standard 3.5-inch x 5.5-inch memo book, but also smaller than the Arts & Sciences/Pitch Black larger format notebook), and is bound with 3 paper signatures inside a hard binding. The interior 70# paper is great for writing or drawing — of which you can do either, as the Signature Edition comes in either blank or ruled printings.

Above all else, the Signature Edition’s design is ethereal. The flat grey/blue and flat cream/yellow covers are simple and natural, and the text debossing throughout adds a touch of elegance and luxury to an otherwise understated notebook. I haven’t gotten my hands on them yet, but I’m willing to bet these will be my new favourite Field Notes books.

If your heart wasn’t pining to travel just yet, this video of a bunch of balloons taking flight in Cappadocia, Turkey might get your travel heart beating.

I’m mostly pining to return to here:

I’ve become quite fascinated with the power of URL schemes on iOS and macOS recently,1 and Bear ranks right at the top of that list. I’ve been using Bear as my note-taking app for about six weeks now and it has started to accumulate data and information necessary for a range of on-going projects.

To keep everything organized inside Bear, you can use tags — pretty powerful tags, I might add, with sub-tags and nested tags all built-in — to separate like-minded notes into their own respective bins. One of Bear’s niftiest features are its custom tag icons. If you tag something #finance, the #finance tag will have a little bar chart next to it. Or if you tag something as #travel, the #travel tag will have a little airplane in the sidebar.

For the most part, it can be a guessing game as to which tags Bear recognizes. I went searching for a list of recognized custom tag icons in Bear and found this fairly exhaustive list of tags. There are a bunch to choose from, some more useful and more satirical than others.

If you’re a Bear user and want to utilize those custom tag icons, this list should have you covered.

Instead of coffee this week, I recommend a good cup of Earl Grey, a dash of milk, a pinch of sugar, and maybe a cookie or two to go alongside these wonderful links.

Happy Sunday. All the best in the week ahead.

  1. This handy workflow, for instance, allows you to use TinyPNG’s API to resize images on your iPhone and iPad — perfect if you end up destroying all your photography so it’s easier-consumed on the web. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Monday, February 12, 2018

I’d be surprised if you read The Newsprint and haven’t seen the Solo trailer yet. If not, spare 1:43 of your time.

This is the first Star Wars trailer that doesn’t have me drooling and running up to my wife to tell her I’m pre-ordering tickets. I’ll pre-order tickets, of course, but I’ll be able to curb my enthusiasm for the time being.

I’m not sure what has me so mellow on this one. It could be that Alden Ehrenreich hasn’t quite nailed the Harrison-Ford-ness of the great smuggler just yet. There’s not a whole lot of “Han shot first” to his persona so far.

My 2018 Mac and iOS Setup

Monday, February 12, 2018

2018 Sweet Setup

My 2018 Mac and iOS setup features the LG UltraFine 5K Display, a 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pro, and my beloved Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad.

Over on The Sweet Setup today, I outlined my current desk setup and iOS device home screens. I recently received the LG UltraFine 5K Display, which really helped round out a lot of the productivity bottlenecks I was running into.

Ideally speaking, I’ve got a few more improvements I’d like to make:

As always, my desk is a work-in-progress.

I should have added the grey Bellroy Field Notes Cover to the photograph of the Saddle Brown Smart Cover, Camel Twelve South PencilSnap, and the Cosmos Blue Apple iPhone X Leather Case. It would have rounded out the leather rainbow quite nicely.

The Sunday Edition — 02.11.18

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Photo by Simon Fitall

Photo by Simon Fitall on Unsplash.

Last week, I mentioned the difficult time of the year it can be for those with poor health, and for those families dealing with the poor health of a loved one. I said that knowing my grandmother was in her final days.

Last Sunday, we said goodbye to my grandmother. She was one of those classic grandmothers: short in height, thick and white curly hair, and endlessly worried about there being enough food on the table. She was the mother of 8 children, 30+ grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren, and a wife of nearly 65 years. One of her favourite memories was going to see King George VI when he visited Winnipeg in 1939.

We’ll miss you, Grandma.

This week’s Falcon Heavy launch was a sight to behold. From the sheer force of the launch through to the impeccably timed thruster landings, it’s hard not to get shivers down your spine when viewing the video. This photograph may also give you pause:

Everyday Astronaut has a few wondrous images on his web page. I’m not sure if I’m more impressed with the quality of the photography or the extent of his imagination.

If you somehow missed the launch, take a few extra minutes and an extra cup of coffee to give this one a watch.

I’ve tested a few iPhone wallet cases over the years, specifically the ones from Twelve South. However, I think I’ve finally found the best iteration of the iPhone wallet case to date.

Hard Graft’s iPhone Card Wallet combines a sleeve and a few card slots in an intricate leather case. The sleeve is the part I’m most fascinated with; I’ve never been much of a fan of having to fold over a wallet case — complete with cards and cash — to type out a simple message or to take a phone call. Twelve South worked around this reality by allowing the hard case of the BookBook to be removable, but I think I’d prefer Hard Graft’s sleeve approach.

If you’ve got a spare $150, this might be the best iPhone wallet case so far.

This one comes out a little later than normal, so I apologize if I missed your regular afternoon cup of tea.

Happy Sunday. All the best in the week ahead.