Agile Tortoise

Drafts 3.6

Drafts and Drafts for iPad 3.6 are now available, some great new stuff in the release!

Google Drive Actions

Create an unlimited number of custom Google Drive actions. Similar to Drafts’ existing Dropbox and Evernote actions, you can now create/replace/append/prepend to text files on your Google Drive!

A built-in “Save to Google Drive” action will simply write to a Drafts folder in your Google Drive with a timestamp file name. Visit Settings > Custom Actions > Google Drive Actions to create customized actions. Read the docs for more details, or try these example from the Action Directory as starting points:

A couple of notes:

  • Google Drive actions work only with text files, not documents or spreadsheets. We are looking into support for additional file types, but these require separate APIs and access for handling structured documents.
  • Google Drive actions can currently write only to text files in the root of your Google Drive, or to folders directly in the root folder. There are technical reasons for this, as Google Drive’s API would require a significant number of additional HTTP requests to build the location of nested folders.

Background App Refresh Support

Drafts sync now supports background refresh, to keep you current between the iPhone and iPad versions.

Auto-Backup of Actions

A new “Enable Auto-Backup” option is available in Settings > Action Backup and Restore. If enabled, Drafts will backup your actions and settings automatically every couple of days. This is a good safeguard to enable, especially if you alter your actions regularly.

New Clipboard Actions

“Append to Clipboard” and “Prepend to Clipboard” actions. These are potentially handy in a number of workflows, but also useful for, say, merging several drafts by appending them to the clipboard, then creating a new draft from the clipboard.


  • Issue that could result in losing a synced change if you were already editing the draft when an updated version arrived.
  • Fix for issue with Terminology and Phraseology menu items not working on selected text in the first line of a draft.
  • Other misc. fixes and improvements.

Get Drafts and Drafts for iPad on the App Store.

Phraseology 2.0.3

Phraseology 2.0.3 is now available in the App Store.


  • General performance improvements and bug fixes.
  • New: Additional external keyboard commands. Phraseology now supports the following keyboard shortcuts when using and external bluetooth keyboard:
    • Cmd-N: New document.
    • Cmd-B: Markdown bold (adds ** or wraps selection with **selection** if text is selected).
    • Cmd-I: Markdown emphasis (adds * or wraps selection with selection if text is selected).
    • Cmd-H: Markdown header. Adds # at beginning of current line. Use more than once for subheads.
    • Cmd-L: Markdown link. Adds if no text is selected, or selection if selection is present.

Get Phraseology on the App Store.

Phraseology 2.0.2

Phraseology 2.0.2 is now available in the App Store.

This update adds a cool new “Show Spelling Issues” option in syntax highlighter. When used, possible spelling errors (based on the same spell checking used by auto-correct) will be highlighted in red. Tapping on one triggers the suggestion menu for replacements. The spelling issue highlighting cannot be used at the same time as part of speech highlighting, so will disable other highlights when turned on.

Other Changes

  • Change: Smoother scroll/cursor handling.
  • Fix: Improved accuracy of readability scoring.
  • Fix: Fix for “Te:Replace” Terminology integration not working for first word in a document.

Get Phraseology on the App Store.

Mimic Google Chrome’s X-callback-url Support in Mobile Safari

Not sure whether to call this a tip or a hack. Either way, this post demonstrates a way to mimic Google Chrome on iOS’s x-callback-url support in Mobile Safari through the use of some javascript and an intermediate static html page.

For those not familiar, it is possible to use x-callback-url support in Google Chrome on iOS to open a URL from another app, and have Chrome present a “Back” button to return to the app you opened the URL from. Safari does not offer this level of integration.

To mimic this feature in Safari, I have created an intermediate HTML page with a little javascript that can take a “url” and “x-success” parameter. If it gets these, it will load the “url” in an iframe that displays full screen, and present a “< Back” button in the top left of the screen, which when tapped will open the URL in the “x-success” parameter.

Here is a sample Drafts action that will use this page to open a URL from the text selection (or entire draft if no selection is made) using this technique.

The action works looks like this:

Which consists of three parts:

  • ** : URL to the static HTML page. Free free to copy this page, modify it, host it elsewhere.
  • url=[[selection]] : url parameter passed to the HTML page will has javascript that will look for this parameter. It should be a URL encoded URL, which will be loaded in an iframe. In this example I am using a Drafts’ tag that returns the current text selection or the full draft if there was no selection.
  • x-success={{drafts://}} : The URL encoded URL to open when the “< Back” button is tapped.

The page also automatically adds an “X” link that will close navigation directly to the url in the URL parameter…which is basically a “Cancel” button.

This example could easily be adapted for use in Launch Center Pro, Mr. Reader or other apps that support custom actions.

Hope it’s useful to someone. It is certainly a bit of a hack. One caveat, some websites pass the “X-Frame-Options” header to prevent them from being loaded in iframes, and this hack won’t work so well for them.

Drafts 3.5.93

Drafts and Drafts for iPad 3.5.93 are now available:

  • Change: Re-evaluated a lot of code around editing to resolve several oddities with scrolling and a jumpy cursor. Things should be quite a bit smoother now, particularly editing longer drafts. Please let us know if you still see issues.
  • Change: URL editing in URL actions is now in a larger text view, instead of a single line, which should ease editing of longer actions.
  • New: Additional external keyboard commands. Drafts now supports the following keyboard shortcuts when using and external bluetooth keyboard:
    • Cmd-N: New draft.
    • Cmd-B: Markdown bold (adds or wraps selection with selection** if text is selected).
    • Cmd-I: Markdown emphasis (adds * or wraps selection with selection if text is selected).
    • Cmd-H: Markdown header. Adds # at beginning of current line. Use more than once for subheads.
    • Cmd-L: Markdown link. Adds if no text is selected, or selection if selection is present.
  • Fix for orientation issues on iPad.
  • Fix for “copy” [[selection]] button in tag help not working.
  • Improvements to markdown auto-list completion.
  • Misc. bugs.

Get Drafts and Drafts for iPad on the App Store.

Updates: Drafts, Phraseology & Tally

Have three minor updates released today…

Drafts and Drafts for iPad 3.5.92

  • New: Auto-list completion for Markdown lists. If you start a line with “– ” or “* ” to create a Markdown list, hitting return will prefix the next line of the list automatically. Hit return a second time on an empty list item to end the list.
  • /create URL scheme now supports a special “||clipboard||” tag within the text parameter, which will substitute the contents of the clipboard at the time the “create” URL is opened. This can be used in an x-success callback URL to allow capture of a clipboard value that changed before returning to Drafts. Note the pipe characters, not brackets. This tag is not evaluated other time, only on /create URLs when processed by Drafts. Full URL scheme documenation.
  • Fix for overlapped status bar in upside-down orientations on the iPad.

Get Drafts and Drafts for iPad on the App Store.

Phraseology 2.0.1

If you missed all the great new features in Phraseology 2.0, please read about that update first. This is a quick fix for a few issues:

  • Increases frequency of auto-saves to avoid data loss.
  • Performance improvements, particularly with longer documents. Effects typing, but also imports, pasting and other operations.
  • Fix for an odd hang typing certain phrases.

Get Phraseology on the App Store.

Tally 1.3.2

  • /increment & /decrement URL schemes now append “title” and “value” parameters to x-success callback. “value” will be the current value of the tally after the increment/decrement is performed. Full URL scheme documentation.
  • Fix for delay firing URL scheme callbacks.

Get Tally on the App Store.

Terminology 3.0.7

Terminology 3.0.7 is now available in the App Store.


  • Fix for issue with searches not being case insensitive.
  • Added [[clipboard]] tag for use in actions. Inserts current contents of the clipboard.

Get Terminology on the App Store.

Phraseology 2.0


Phraseology 2.0 is now available on the App Store. If you are new to Phraseology, learn more about it’s full feature set on the app page. Phraseology 2.0 is a free update for existing customers.

Don’t care about the details? Get it now on the App Store for a special launch price of $1.99!. Also, pick our dictionary-thesaurus app, Terminology, for only $1.99 this week to celebrate the launch!

General Update Information

The key goal of this update to was to bring Phraseology up to date with iOS 7, including a few additions to take advantage of some of the new possibilities iOS 7 offerred. As I worked on the update, however, I found a many other areas where I felt Phraseology could be improved/expanded. In particular, I am excited about opening up some of Phraseology’s unique features for use as services from other apps (details below).

Document Manager Improvements

Phraseology retains its lightweight approach to document management and organization. You can create an unlimited number of documents, which can reside in your main document list, or be archived. The document browser has been extended and now supports full text search of documents and adds the ability to sort your document list by created, modified, accessed date or title.

iCloud and Dropbox Versions

Documents can now be synced/backed up to iCloud. This is enabled by default if you are signed into iCloud. Even if you only use Phraseology on a single iPad, this is recommended for backup purposes.

If you have a Dropbox account, you can also link it to Phraseology in settings and Phraseology will maintain a version history on your documents as you edit. Past versions can be restored via the versions button (clock icon in top right).

Phraseology is not a “Dropbox editor” – there are many good apps that focus on editing in traditional files and folders. If you are looking for an editor focused on direct editing of files in Dropbox, I recommend Editorial – which can be integrated with Phraseology easily.


Phraseology’s unique Arrange view allows drag and drop re-ordering of paragraphs and sentences in your text. The view is largely the same as in previous versions of Phraseology, with a few updates:

  • The Arrange view now utilizes the entire iPad screen.
  • Arrange can be triggered for the entire document (via arrange button in toolbar), but can now also be triggered to arrange a text selection by selecting text in your document and using the “Ph:Arrange” menu item.
  • Arrange is now available as a service to be integrated into other apps using URL schemes. Support is automatic in our own Drafts for iPad, and can also be used from Editorial by installing our example workflows.

Part of Speech Syntax Highlighting

Phraseology’s Inspect view has always allowed browsing the parts of speech in your text, but Phraseology can now do colorized syntax highlighting of parts of speech as you type. You can individually enable highlighting for nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, determiners, propositions and conjunctions. Highlighting (like Inspect) supports only English language texts at this time – due to the fact that the libraries which support the feature in iOS only offer English. (Details)


Phraseology’s Inspect view still offers all the same great statistical and readability scoring information and word usage data about your text is always has – plus:

  • The Inspect view now utilizes the entire iPad screen.
  • Inspect can be triggerred for the entire document (via Inspect button in toolbar) or only for text selections using the “Ph:Inspect” in the text selection menu.
  • Inspect is now available as a service to be integrated into other apps using URL schemes. Support is automatic for Drafts for iPad, and can be added to any app that allows creation of custom URL-based actions – such as Editorial and Mr. Reader.

URL Schemes and Automation Support

Phraseology now has a full suite of x-callback-url URL schemes. As mentioned above, the Arrange and Inspect features can now be triggerred via URL schemes and used without ever creating a document in Phraseology. There are also now a full set up URL actions to create and open documents, as well as append or prepend to documents contents – all with callback support.


  • TextExpander SDK has been updated to support the latest versions of TextExpander Touch.
  • Phraseology now requires iOS 7.
  • Lots of other things I can’t think of at the moment.

I’m sure there will be a few rough spots with the initial updates, please keep up with news by following @phraseologyapp on Twitter, Facebook or Hope you enjoy the app!

Be sure you read the documentation on the support pages for more detailed coverage of some of Phraseology’s features as well.

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Phraseology 2.0 Preview

An exact release date has not been determined yet, but expect Phraseology 2.0 to hit the App Store in February, 2014. It will be a free update to existing users and brings the app up-to-date with iOS 7.

Lots of good stuff in this update, including improvements to Phraseology’s unique arrange and inspect features, as well as new things like iCloud sync, a Dropbox-based version control system, part of speech syntax highlighting – and state of the art support for iOS Automation.

Here’s a preview…stay tuned for updates!