iOS Geekery

The Brilliance of Ulysses for Blogging

When I started the Hugo-based incarnation of this website, I wrote all posts for the site in iA Writer. It’s a very clean and focused Markdown text editor suited well for blogging with Hugo or other platforms that take Markdown and convert it to HTML.

Then I accidentally discovered a secret about Ulysses.

When you export a sheet to Markdown text from Ulysses, you get a text file of plain text with all your Markdown formatting. But when you attach images to that same sheet and export it as Markdown, it gives you a zip file with your Markdown document and all attached images. Furthermore, if you put the images in the text of the document, Ulysses lets you add image metadata which it then puts into the Markdown image tags that it creates.

Ulysses image attachments and metadata

The above image shows what it looks like when I attach an image to the sheet (attachment seen in the right attachments pane) and drag it into the document and add …

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What the Diff?

Based on my luck at finding a good text diff tool on iOS, doing text diff must be the most difficult task in the universe. Is that was diff stands for? Difficult?1

There once was an amazing iPad app called Kaleidoscope that was beautiful and did an outstanding job of comparing text files, but its makers stopped updating it long ago and now it isn’t even on the App Store anymore.

Kaleidoscope for iPad was both powerful and beautiful.

Clearly this means I’m finally going to have to learn how to write iOS apps like I’ve been saying I was going to since 2008 and make my own text diff app.

This could cost me a few years of life I don’t have.

  1. Sorry. That’s a very difficult joke. ↩︎

Breaking the Shortcuts

iOS 14 beta is remarkably stable and performant, but running betas always carries a risk that a subsequent beta version will break something important to you. iOS 14 dev beta 2 (and public beta 1) broke some fundamental actions in Shortcuts – Split Text, Combine Text, and Change Case.

Because I have several shortcuts that do a lot of text parsing, not least of which are my blog post and podcast episode publishing shortcuts and helper shortcuts, I noticed this immediately. It didn’t take much troubleshooting and testing to realize that these three actions now return nothing regardless of input. They’re just completely broken.

The good news is (also thanks to changes made to Shortcuts for iOS 14) it’s very easy to create a folder for iOS 14 beta specific versions of your shortcuts, make copies to that folder, and then fix them. Folder …

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All the 14’s

I do a lot of work on my iPad and I don’t normally advocate diving into iOS betas in general anyway. And even though my iPhone isn’t as critical to me now as it was before I really got into modern iPads, I still need it to last through the day and generally be stable. So you might think I decided to avoid the iOS and iPadOS 14 betas like the plague.

Narrator: He did not avoid the iOS and iPadOS 14 betas like the plague.

The 14’s: iPadOS and iOS

The funny thing is that while Apple didn’t mention performance and stability at all during the WWDC 2020 keynote, iOS and iPadOS 14 are quite performant and very stable, remarkably so for any beta let alone the first beta. It’s about as far from last year’s iOS 13 beta experience as you …

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Inspect Browser

I’ve been doing a lot of website testing lately as Vic and I work together on a podcast theme for Hugo. Part of website testing involves using the element inspectors and developer tools available in most (all?) desktop browsers. Sadly (I thought) I couldn’t do this in the same way on iPadOS, which I spend a huge percentage of my time working in.

I was wrong.

Inspect Browser is one of those third-party iOS apps that proves that while Apple may not care much about enabling people to get real work done on their “Pro” devices, the people out there doing the work do care.

The developer of Inspect Browser claims on the website that their app provides desktop-class web development tools and features, and they are not kidding.

JavaScript console, HTML and CSS element inspectors, device previews for responsive design work, network inspector – it’s all there. …

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