Supplemental: Using Drafts

I’ve been working on the next entry in my series on writing. It’s about capture, and–spoiler alert–I rely pretty heavily on Drafts.

It took me a while to fully understand why this app is so amazing. Since it’s such an essential tool for my next piece, I thought it might be a good idea to explain my ah-ha moment. If you’ve looked at Drafts before and didn’t understand it, maybe I can help you see why it’s such a handy piece of software.

Here’s the secret: text doesn’t live in Drafts. Drafts is temporary storage; it’s not Evernote, and I don’t believe it was ever intended to be anything of the sort.

Sure, it has a nifty sync service to synchronize all of your notes between your devices, which is great. But the real power in Drafts is speed combined with the ability to send stuff elsewhere. It’s a high-velocity conduit. I use it primarily to send text to either Dropbox or Evernote (and sometimes OmniFocus).

“I already have the Evernote app installed. And I can save text to Dropbox with Byword/iA Writer/some other editor.” – You, just now

Sure you can, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that I can do it faster than you.

When I pick up my phone to jot something down, I never have to think, “Which app do I open? Where is this going to live? What type of thing am I making note of?” It all starts with Drafts, and once it’s written down, I can toss it into any number of lists, notebooks, or Dropbox folders with two taps. Drafts removes friction.1 It reduces the up-front cognitive load associated with persisting data in my outboard brain.

If you want to test the efficiency of any capture system, try getting an idea out of your head when your 18-month-old toddler is feeling particularly impatient. Drafts makes this possible for me. It’s earned a place in my dock on both my iPad and iPhone, and I don’t see it leaving anytime soon.

  1. Noticing a theme? 

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The thing is though that I fear for Path’s health and future. Today, they had to lay off 20% of the staff. And though they recently rolled out a premium subscription model, I still am not sure if there are enough people using it and willing to pay for that to sustain them. I hope it sticks around.

patrickrhone / journal » Blog Archive » The Middle Path

I’ve used Path off and on, and when the latest version was released, I became very pro-Path because of their new for-pay business model. I showed it to my friends. I encouraged people to sign up. I told them how great it is to not have your private info sold to advertisers. But not a single person signed up. They all have Twitter and Facebook, and they don’t want another network.

“All of my friends are on [insert social network]. None of them are on Path.”

None of my friends want to use Path because none of their friends are using Path. And it’s a damned shame. Path is really well executed. As David Chartier put it, “it’s the Facebook I always wanted. An ad-free, non-intrusive, beautifully designed service for people to talk about and between themselves instead of posting links and memes.” Yes, their CEO is a dick, but let’s be clear: Dick Costolo, Jack Dorsey, and Mark Zuckerberg aren’t cuddly teddy bears, either.

I’m sad that the service appears to be dying. It doesn’t bode well for other for-pay services, and I shudder to think that ad-driven software is the only way to be successful in the realm of social web applications. I’m hoping that this–much like Microsoft’s entry into the smartphone and tablet space–is just a case of being too late to compete and not a rebuke of for-pay software.