Drafts... for Obsidian?

Published Jun 2, 2021

# Drafts… for Obsidian?

Months after publishing this post, I released a plugin that builds the workflows straight into Obsidian. Set up Lumberjack today!

I have long appreciated the ideas behind Agile Tortoise’s Drafts app. It’s probably one of the best-designed apps on iOS/iPadOS. The “just start typing” user experience is brilliant, and the automation abilities are fantastic.

However, I just can’t get my head around the core idea that Drafts is “where text starts.” What about where text ends?

I think that’s on me. I am neurotic about having canonical versions of my thinking. I want to develop my thinking in-place. Versions should only be created as deliberate kinds of backups, not as a side-effect of wanting to work with your thoughts in different ways. So, I abhor the idea that I should start writing something in Drafts, only to eventually export it to another app.[^Sure, anytime I export from Drafts, I could just trash the source. But… what if something happens in the export or I lose the exported file at some point? Better to have the archive… but then there’s unintentional versioning happening. I know, I know, this is whiny. But it’s important!] [^I could also just use Drafts as my be-all end-all notes app. Some folks have done this with aplomb. But where are my files? Drafts uses a proprietary database format, and the developer has no plans to ever change that. So, if I ever want to use another app to interact with what I’ve written, an export’s my only option.]

I basically want to avoid thought- cruft. I want my thoughts to start in the same place they’ll end.

So, while I use Drafts as a fantastic keyboard launcher for the iPhone/iPad,[^Here’s more on keyboard launchers from The Sweet Setup: https://thesweetsetup.com/apps/best-app-keyboard-launcher-mac/] I don’t want to write anything in it that I plan on keeping and using long-term.

But those “just start typing” and automation features… If only there was some app that could provide a quick, powerful, and flexible environment for writing and thinking.

Enter Obsidian. Increasingly, Obsidian’s plugins offer automation abilities that parallel Drafts. Plus, it’s where all of my thinking goes anyway. The one thing that’s missing is the ability to tap a single button and just start typing…

Not anymore! I’ve created two workflows that let you “just start typing” in Obsidian.

# Draft

The Draft workflow is designed to be exactly the same as Drafts’ default startup experience. Run the shortcut and you get a new note (in some designated inbox folder) in Obsidian, and start typing immediately.

There’re a couple of downsides in contrast with Drafts:

# Setting up the Draft workflow

# Requirements

# Steps

  1. Install, enable, and set up the above plugins
  2. Set up the following template for Templater. Title it “Just start typing”
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<%*
if (this.app.workspace.activeLeaf.view.currentMode.type != "source"){this.app.commands.executeCommandById("markdown:toggle-preview");}
let editor = this.app.workspace.activeLeaf.view.editor;
editor.focus();
let startChar = "";
if (this.app.isMobile) {
editor.setCursor(editor.lastLine());
editor.replaceSelection(startChar);
editor.setCursor(editor.lastLine());
} else {
const initialLines = editor.lineCount();
editor.setCursor({ line: initialLines, ch: 0 });
editor.replaceSelection(startChar);
const finalLines = editor.lineCount();
editor.setCursor({ ch: 0, line: finalLines });
}
%>
  1. Set up the template above as a command via Hotkeys for Templates
  2. Install and customize the shortcut on your iPhone/iPad
  3. Add the shortcut to your homescreen (click the … button when editing the shortcut and select “Add to home screen”)

# Journal

The Journal workflow is designed to facilitate journalling or adding tasks in your daily notes. It’s the same idea as above: let me tap one button, then start writing something. Except this time, it opens your Daily Note,

# Setting up the Journal workflow

# Requirements

# Steps

  1. Install, enable, and set up the above plugins
  2. Set up the following template for Templater. Title it “Timestamp and start typing”
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<%*
if (this.app.workspace.activeLeaf.view.currentMode.type != "source"){this.app.commands.executeCommandById("markdown:toggle-preview");}
let editor = this.app.workspace.activeLeaf.view.editor;
let timestamp = tp.date.now("HH:mm");
let linePrefix = "\n- [ ] " + timestamp + " ";
editor.focus();
if (this.app.isMobile) {
editor.setCursor(editor.lastLine());
editor.replaceSelection(linePrefix);
editor.setCursor(editor.lastLine());
} else {
const initialLines = editor.lineCount();
editor.setCursor({ line: initialLines, ch: 0 });
editor.replaceSelection(linePrefix);
const finalLines = editor.lineCount();
editor.setCursor({ ch: 0, line: finalLines });
}
%>
  1. Set up the template above as a command via Hotkeys for Templates
  2. Install and customize the shortcut on your iPhone/iPad
  3. Add the shortcut to your homescreen (click the … button when editing the shortcut and select “Add to home screen”)