As a youth minister, I take lots of notes. I jot down emails and phone numbers. I send emails. I write articles, lessons and sermons. I make lists, and lists of lists for planning projects.
All of that involves text.
As I am an uber-nerd, I use plain text for pretty much everything. As I type this now, I'm using Textastic on the Mac. But I store everything in plain text, and I'll briefly tell you why.
Because plain text is future-proof. I can take plain text and put it anywhere, and I can then format that text how I want it. For example - I wrote this original post on the Squarespace internet site, and I had no backup. This post got summarily deleted because of my stupidity (and maybe a bug in the Squarespace iPad app). If I would have originally written this article in a text editor on my Mac (and by the way, if you have a Mac, everyone has a text editor - it's called TextEdit - and Wordpad for Windows) all I would have had to do was copy and paste the text instead of rewriting the post like I am now.
Plain text is powerful because computers have been using it since their inception. I could literally take this text right now and put it on an old 1982 green-screened NCR if I wanted to. Or I could use this text in MS Word 2024 if I want. Granted, you are limited in formatting with plain text, and that's why they invented Markdown. If you really need to prettify something, a Word Processor should be your app of choice.
But I digress.
The reason for this post was not to tell you about the benefits of plain text, but to tell you how plain text and a little app called Drafts has changes my entire youth minister workflow.
Drafts is a little app that does a lot of stuff, and it's highly customizable.
The app opens ready to write - cursor blinking and keyboard ready. There's no start or splash screen - the app seems to be designed to do one thing very effiecently, and that's capture quick text when you want to the fastest way possible and send it to exactly where you want it.
I haven't messed around with URL actions yet, but the Dropbox actions are really where I get my work done.
I have a list for just about everything. For example, I have a text file named Log.txt and it's just random thoughts, links I've pasted in, and other stuff that comes to my mind. I open the app, type my text, hit the Share button on the lower right just above the keyboard, and I hit 'Append to Log.'
Here's the cool part: when I append a file, it simply adds that new line of text to the existing Log.txt file. I can then pull up that file on my Mac or on my mobile device and look at the list. It's incredibly helpful to be able to append to certain lists and not have to created new text files. You can create a new file, and that's what I do if I am starting an article or something. Drafts will automatically drop it into my Drafts folder on Dropbox and put a UNIX timestamp on it. It even gives you a little green bar and checkmark along with a little sound to let you know it's finished its work.
Drafts helps me remember things so well. Riding down the road in the car, I can pull up the app, hit the Siri button, say a note, and hit 'Append to Whatever' and it's there waiting for me on the desktop when I get back to the office. I have a text file called Today.txt for my running to-do list, Camp.txt for notes regarding our summer camp this year, and a Comics.txt list that I can append to when someone tells me a great comic to buy.
Drafts isn't limited to Dropbox actions, though. Built right in are actions to Send To services like Messages, Evernote, Elements, Email, and lots of other system apps. And by searching the Drafts Action Directory, you can find many more URL and Dropbox actions that you can install from your Safari browser.
Basically here's what I'm saying - you need to check out this app. They have seperate versions for the iPhone and iPad, and they are $2.99 and $3.99, respectively. [App Store Link]
Try it out, and I bet you won't be disappointed.