iOS

Editing JSON files with Shortcuts and Data Jar

If you visit my links page, you’ll see a bunch of categories with a unique-per-category icon, a category name, and a bunch of links in that category. Each of those categories is generated from its own JSON file. Simple enough.

However, I don’t really want to have to log onto the server, manually edit JSON files, and recompile the site. First of all, directly editing any kind of file like JSON or XML that has tags or characters that are required for it to make sense which can be accidentally deleted is a bad idea. Mistakes get made. Secondly, it’s just easier mentally to view them a different way.

Since I also want to update my git repository after changing something on my site, I like to use shortcuts that will let me download files to edit, or upload new or edited files, and then update my git repositories and compile my site without me having to do anything other than run the shortcut.

In …

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Image Publish Shortcut

I’ve mentioned here before that I don’t want to have to remember the mechanics behind things like how post summaries work when writing posts. The same applies to images in my posts – I wrote an image handler shortcode but if I have to remember parameters or manually paste shortcodes in iA Writer as I crank out an article, I’ve failed.

Tech is supposed to seamlessly enable me to write and publish, not stand between me and my site like a high priest demanding complex incantations that require years of practice to master. Like I’ve said before, the whole point of me using an app like iA Writer is because it has the writing experience I want, and I don’t want to have to write text in Hugo templates. The site shouldn’t dictate how I write, it should just put whatever words I dictate on display when I’m done.

So… not …

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iA Writer Footnote Converter

I use iA Writer on iOS and Mac as my primary text editor for writing blog posts. I like its Files app integration and ability to work with Working Copy and other Files app providers. It’s also really easy to get at anything written in iA Writer because they’re all stored as iCloud Documents in an iA Writer iCloud folder.

One thing I have had an issue with though is that iA Writer does markdown footnotes in a way that doesn’t work when I post it to my sites as an .md file and compile it with Hugo. For that matter, it didn’t work when I used to put it into Wordpress with markdown enabled either.

iA Writer’s footnote format looks like this:

There is a footnote at the end of this sentence[^this is the footnote].

That doesn’t convert to a proper markdown footnote in most (all?) markdown …

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The Unwieldiness of Complex Shortcuts

I use and rely on Shortcuts app for many of my iPad workflows. The most complex of them that I’ve created are for publishing to my Hugo-powered blog, and for publishing episodes of the various BubbleSort podcasts.

One issue with Shortcuts that I’d love for Apple to address, which they almost certainly won’t, is the ease with which they become too complex to manage or restructure.

Case in point is my Blog Post Publish shortcut, which I wrote in such a way that I could use it for multiple websites. This necessarily leads to multiple menus and multiple nested If statements, since Shortcuts doesn’t support the “else if” construct.

Nested If statements in Shortcuts

Instead, the next if clause gets forced under an Otherwise statement, so that if written in code, it would like something like this:

If (blog == “ …

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 Mistaking Familiarity for Intuitiveness

I don’t remember Gruber making the “iPads aren’t as intuitive as Macs” claim as part of his public confusion about how the iPad works, but I’m sure some people have. And, as Matt Birchler says in his excellent skewering of the “iPads are too damn complicated!” narrative, that’s ludicrous.

I think Matt’s onto something with the explanation that a case of familiarity and unfamiliarity is really the issue here, not the iPad itself. I’d say the real issue with the people I’ve seen on Twitter claiming no one can decipher the iPad’s mysteries is the inverse – unfamiliarity mistaken for counter-intuitiveness.

As I said yesterday, the iPadOS multitasking UI does have issues. I’m not debating that at all. What I am debating is that it’s so complicated as to be unreasonable, and whether every possible iPadOS feature needs to leap directly into the user’s brain the first time they pick up an iPad, or whether it’s ok that some learning is involved.

Also, the clunkiness of the …

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