From Drafts to 1999
by Frank McPherson Monday, July 3, 2017

I am still learning how to best use the apps that I have chosen for writing with the iPad Pro. The first step is determining the best way to write blog posts for this blog.

I use 1999.io for writing and publishing content here, but its browser based rich text editor is designed for desktops and doesn’t work well in mobile browsers.

The main problem is with linking, which I think is fundamental to blogging. To link to a web page in 1999 on a desktop all you do is select the word or words you want to be the anchor and a pop-up menu automatically displays with the option for creating a link. The equivalent on a mobile browser is tap and hold, but the default iOS action menu appears rather than the menu 1999 normally displays.

My solution is to use Drafts along with a HTML source editor plugin for 1999. First, I write the blog post, along with any included hyperlinks in Drafts, which is a markdown editor. Ideally for me 1999 would have a markdown editor, at least as a plugin, but it does not, so my next step is to convert the markdown post in Drafts to HTML, and then copy the entire post to the clipboard.

Next, I have to switch to Safari. I have discovered that for some reason the input box of the HTML source editor in Chrome does not have access to the clipboard, so I have to use Safari.

I create or select the blog post, select the HTML source editor in the Editors menu, paste the contents of the clipboard in to the input box, and then tap Update to save my writing.

Update: I have found the above process to not be consistent, however, I think the better approach is to use the Insert HTML menu item, and that should work regardless of which browser I use.

If I were more proficient at JavaScript I could probably improve the workflow significantly. First, I could write a front end to nodestorage, which 1999 uses to publishes HTML content. Another option would be to create a markdown editor plugin so that I wouldn’t have to convert what I write in Drafts to HTML.

Ideally, I think 1999 should provide a way for a user to specify a default editor. While I might prefer markdown as the default, others may prefer rich text, and still more may prefer HTML. The plugin method provides alternatives to the default rich text editor but causes users to jump through too many hoops.

I should note that I know that the process I describe above is not a use case for which 1999 was created. Dave created 1999 to do the writing and editing in a web browser, which for the most part I can do on the iPad except for the markup.