Changing my Workflow with Drafts and Reeder
I have wanted to overhaul my workflow for a long while now. Feedler Pro, my go-to RSS reader, has gone quite some time without a significant update and is beginning to show its age. Just last night, for example, I spent nearly ten minutes wrestling with it in an attempt at reading a batch of articles curiously marked as read for no apparent reason. Simplenote’s syncing idiosyncrasies have also become harder and harder to ignore as well, an issue that came to a head this morning when nearly a hundred deleted notes reappeared in the desktop client. Neither a new occurrence nor an especially irregular one, curious hiccups such as this one are one of the few things I can actually depend on Simplenote’s wholly inconsistent syncing platform for. These two mishaps joined forces with Google’s recent announcement putting a finite lifespan on the industry’s most popular feed reader to create the perfect storm, finally prompting me to look in to some alternatives.
The announcement of Google Reader’s impending demise set the internet in a tizzy last night and throughout today as post after post went live analyzing the decision and predicting the effects it will have on the industry and the RSS spec in particular. More than anything else though, the discussion has focused on alternative apps and services. Just this morning I plowed through articles on Feedly, Fever, Feed Wrangler, an interesting proposition by Daniel Jalkut dubbed NetNewsWire Cloud, and many others from my Instapaper queue, most of which on products I had never heard of before. Armed with the knowledge gained in the aforementioned articles and many others besides, and after a fair bit of consideration, I ended up downloading Feedly based on the good things I had read about the app on The Loop, Shawn Blanc’s personal blog, and The Verge. Without the ability to sort articles as I prefer to read them though, along with a relatively confusing — although visually impressive — interface and sluggish performance on my iPhone 4, Feedly fell short of my needs. In the end I opted to go with Reeder, of which I had also heard many great things about. Like Feedly and a number of the other alternatives I considered before making my decision, Reeder does not use Google Reader as a syncing backend. Taken in tandem with Reeder’s clean, modern, and intuitive interface and comprehensive control panel, the choice was an easy one to make, and one that I am very satisfied with. The multitude of other bells and whistles — extremely useful caching for offline reading and impressive integration of third-party apps and services, for example — are all just icing on a perfect cake.
With a new RSS reader in place, I set about replacing Simplenote. Although I have used Simplenote for quite some time, its syncing backend has proved deplorably unreliable. Unlike my search for a new feed reader, where I went in blind and relied on the opinions of others to point me in the right direction, I already had an app in mind: Drafts. Initially brought to my attention on episode #105 of Back to Work, Fissures of Men, Drafts implements every feature Simplenote possess, and more. This afternoon I purchased Drafts for both my iPhone and my iPad, and let me tell you, as a writer having tried more apps on both the iPhone and iPad than I care to remember, writing in Drafts — regardless of the device — is a joy; I would recommend this app to anyone desiring an excellent cross-platform writing experience for everything from a simple note to a novel. Robust performance, extreme customizability, deep integration with all my favorite apps and more besides, and aesthetically pleasing, Drafts ranks at the top of all iOS text editors I have every come across.
As far as my computer goes, I continue to use Sublime Text as my one and only text editor, First Crack to publish this site, and have no plans to change that any time soon. But who knows, a month ago I would have called Simplenote the best writing app on iOS, and look how that has changed.