Markdown Task Manager Cheddar Goes Free

November 19, 2014

Markdown Task Manager Cheddar Goes Free - Cheddar, the task list manager with Markdown support is now free and under new ownership. → via @_patrickwelker

As a Markdown users and 99% plain-text guy I always wished there was a Markdown-driven task manager. Back in 2012 Sam Soffes (… who has worked on a ton of other cool apps) heard my cry of help and released Cheddar.

Cheddar is a super simple task list manager which supports Markdown. It also comes with a super fast sync - which was at this time the fastest I’ve ever seen - and a basic URL scheme.

I was a beta tester of his app, but what ultimately kept me from using Cheddar was that I couldn’ afford to pay the $20/year subscription since I already had my Simplenote subscription going and was still happy with OmniFocus at that point in time.

Things changed, Cheddar is now free and under new ownership. Still, it isn’t for me, but maybe it is for you: if you’re looking for a Reminders.app alternative with tags and Markdown support, I suggest you give it a try.

2014-11-19-cheddar-mac.png

A Little History

On June 28th, 2012, Cheddar started out with a web app and iOS app. A couple of months after the launch Sam also released a Mac app.

2014-11-19-cheddar-old The old version of Cheddar. Still a beauty.

Regarding the pricing. Cheddar was a free download, but if you wan’t to use it without limitations (aka write more lists), you’d have to subscribe and fork over said $20 for one year of Cheddar.

Updates to the app weren’t as frequent as one wishes as a feature-hungry users. On January 6th, 2013, roughly after about one and a half years in the App Store, Sam made the decision to sell Cheddar:

I simply don’t have the time to give Cheddar the love it deserves. Lots of you have asked for tons of great features that I personally wish Cheddar had as well. I think it’s better for everyone if it moves on to a new home where some can give it the love it deserves. This makes me a little sad to see all of my hard work go to someone else. I’m excited really to see where they take it though! Sam Soffes on the Cheddar Blog

Fast forward. End of October 2014 the guys from Wide Open Technologies bought Cheddar and answered the question “who moved my cheese?”. After two weeks and some tweaks they released Cheddar Plus as a completely free successor of the original Cheddar (= no subscription needed anymore to go nuts with lists).

PS: if you’re interested in the source code, the old version is still open source and hosted on GitHub:

The Features

Cheddar has a solid API for all the hackers out there.

The iOS version of Cheddar has an in-app browser in which you can open a Markdown link. Inside the browser you can pass the URL to Safari, copy or email it to someone.

There’s also an URL scheme, but I couldn’t find any documentation on it — maybe it’s because the transition to a new team of developers takes some time to take care of all the little details. Let’s just hope it isn’t gone.

Talking iOS, the iPhone version isn’t yet optimized for the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus.

2014-11-19-cheddar-web+phone.png

On the Mac there are a handful of keyboard shortcuts, but most of the ones listed on the website didn’t work for me. Basic support is there, but if Cheddar wants to appeal to more Mac users, the team behind it needs to kick it up a notch so that it is possible to swiftly navigate trough the minimalistic interface without using the mouse.

That’s about it for the device specific features. Here coem the global ones.

Cheddars tags work as filters inside of lists. So, if you’re a dude who is on the hunt for his #carpet and click on the #carpet tag you’ll see all the tasks which have it assigned inside the current list.

When it comes to tasks, adding them is easy; the “What do you have to do?” input field is always at the top of your screen.

On the other hand, deleting a task or list isn’t possible. The only option is to archive them. I guess this will be one of the top priorities Wide Open Technologies will fix. After all, if you accidentally enter a task, the only way to complete get rid of it is to rename it and convert it into an actual task.

Speaking of the archive, you can archive your tasks everywhere, but only the web app allows you to access the archive (where you can look at your old projects or unarchive tasks).

The most interesting new features are the offline mode and the option to share a list to somebody. Your invitee has to join Cheddar to use this collaboration feature. Currently there isn’t much detail about this new feature available. If you’re inclinded to find out more, the best thing is to subscribe to the official blog to get updates.

My résumé: Cheddar shines at simplicity. If you don’t need subtasks, notes and are happy with using your favorite Syntax for writing in a task/list manager which syncs instantly, then this app is made for you.

With a larger team behind the app I hope we hear more about Cheddar in the near future.

Cleen Helps Cleaning Up Your Photo Library on the iPHONE

November 18, 2014

Cleen Helps Cleaning Up Your Photo Library on the iPHONE → via @_patrickwelker

If your iPhone is your main camera and you shoot a ton of pictures you probably know the drill: at some point there are just too many pictures and you are the person in charge to clean up this mess before you share them to family and friends.

Photo management has become easier in the last years. Several iOS apps now offer automatic uploading of your latest and greatest. Personally, I’m a fan of CameraSync because it allows you to setup a naming scheme of your own. Plus, it offers background location sync, meaning, if I return home the app recognizes my trusted ol’ WiFi network and the photos I took get automatically uploaded to my preferred destination.

In the App Store description of Camera Sync there’s a quote from Lifehacker.com:

Call me lazy, but I don’t like plugging my phone into my computer just to get all my pictures. CameraSync fixes this annoyance by wirelessly sending all new photos you take to Dropbox [or] Flickr, Amazon S3, SkyDrive, an FTP server or Box.net….

This is exactly me. Shooting away, auto-uploading and just being lazy about it.

For me, one problem remains with this approach: I end up with a ton of pictures which I don’t want to archive anyway. My Mac with its 24″ display attached to it is perfect for plowing through pictures and getting rid of them. Still, the last time I sorted my pictures was 6 months ago. This is downside of being lazy. I tend to defer this task because when I’m at it, I will also edit the pictures to have them ready to share. With editing being time intensive this leads to a vicious postponing circle.

Working in batches is fine - it would even be better if I do it monthly (which was my initial intention) - but wouldn’t it be even better to pre-filter pictures manually by hand even before uploading them with CameraSync? After all our phones are bigger now and have such a nice display. The upload would be faster without the additional ballast.

Well, now we can do it in the most easiest manner: meet Cleen and enjoy triaging with swipe gestures.

2014-11-18-cleen-triage.jpg

Cleen is a free iPhone app and was made by the same team who brought the nifty cloud-based photo book app tapsBook to the iPad. Cleen is equally clever and has three interactions to assist you:

  1. Swipe up: mark as favorite = keep your photos.
  2. Swipe down: mark as trash = prepare for batch deletion.
  3. Swipe left: postpone the final decision and act-on the photo later.

2014-11-18-cleen.gif

The workflow is much like the one from Triage (the self-titled Email First Aid Kit). Cleen applies this gesture driven fast filing system and let’s you sort out unwanted photos.

At any point you can drag a faved or trashed photo back to main area for revision.

Once your done, you can delete all files at once… and they will vanish from your iPhone’s camera roll.

2014-11-18-cleen-trash.png

The last part is actually the exciting part. Cleen is the first app I saw using this new iOS 8 feature and I can’t wait for a screen shot app which makes use of this feature. Screenshot Journal and I Love Screenshot can already copy screen shots to dedicated folders, but being able to move (or copy + delete) would be make those apps much more useful for bloggers.

The one minor issue is that I’d have wished for a more trimmed down UI where I can see more of my photo. To work around smallness of the cards which representat of your photos, you can tap and hold to zoom in on a photo. I would also like an option to just “keep” a photo instead of marking it as a favorite. Marking a photo for reviewing “later” keeps the photo and doesn’t add it as a favorite. So there’s kind of a workaround already build-in.

Currently you can’t select a default folder in the settings. If working with the cameral roll is your main use case for Cleen, you’ll have to swipe all the way to its folder first. Having an option to open Cleen with a default folder would be a nice little time saver.1

Cleen is not optimized for the iPhone 6 (Plus) yet. But my guess is that it won’t take long until an update is available which adds support for it.

In short, I think Cleen is excellent and does a stellar job at simplifying a crucial step of photo management: taking out the trash.

  1. And… an URL scheme for all those Launch Center Pro addicts would also be great – just to launch the app.

Link List – November 14, 2014

November 14, 2014

Link List – November 14, 2014 → by www.rocketink.net → via @_patrickwelker

Creating Content with Markdown by Brett Terpstra

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LINK — Creating Content with Markdown by Brett Terpstra → via @_patrickwelker

One of my dad’s passions is cooking. He used to write up recipes in MS Word, print them out and collect them in a folder. Some of those sheets he shared with his friends and family. In the last years he was active in various forums and a blog turned out to be the easiest way to get his information out.

At first “blog” was only the magic word, he built websites with RapidWeaver for each of his projects. This wasn’t the solution, he moved on and tried Google+ and Facebook. The social network approach was nice, because he got some likes, but there was no real interaction and the own brand, so to speak, was missing. He was used to click plugins and expect everything to work and be customizable.

After this forth and back I suggested using Markdown for the tenth time and set up a WordPress installation for him. It’s a new world for him and he struggles getting WordPress configured to do what he wants to do. Again the RapidWeaver plugins where a tad easier to use and often times I get a mail with “nothing works – gonna quit soon (again)”.

It’s frustrating to watch since live could be so easy. I only have to find a simple blogging platform that just works for him. It should be one that’s easy to understand, customized and manage – especially handling pictures.1

Whatever I eventually will come up with, there’s a good chance Markdown will be involved. It’s just the best way to write on the web – there’s no arguing in my opinion.

But Markdown is a barrier for people who hear it for the first time. What to do about it? Well, we’re heading straight for the holiday season I thought to myself “what better to do than to put the gift of Markdown under the tree”.

There are gazillion articles on the web which explain it. But I think there’s a better way:

Creating Content with Markdown: Learn by Video: Simple, future-proof writing with plain text by Brett Terpstra (currently $37.45). Instead of a DVD you can also watch in online on Peachpit. It’s 56 min full of Markdown.

Brett has built several Markdown utilities over the last decade. He’s the author of Marked and nvALT. In brief: it’s his thing and he’s damn good at it. Just check his blog and search for Markdown.

Now Brett’s gone back to basics and created a video which explains every aspect of Markdown.

2014-11-13-markdown-tutorial.jpg

What I hope to achieve with this gift is that my dad feels obliged to watch it. If he does, he will learn everything that’s to know about Markdown. Simple as that. A hopefully bulletproof plan since there’s no text to read and an instructor who walks him through all the obstacles.

About The Video Tutorial

Brett was kind enough to hook me up with a copy after he released his tutorial back in May. As usual when it comes to linking to the latest and greatest I’m a bit late to the party. In this case I hope it doesn’t matter too much that I skipped buzz-phase. After all, we’re dealing with a classic.

Before hitting play on the video I’ve found myself sitting with a reflective gaze traveling through the last years of me using my keyboard. I’ve been writing in different Markdown flavors for about 5 years and initially the thought that I know all the tricks was predominant. More precise: I imagined this to be a nice easy ride where I just sit back for an hour and see what people like my dad can learn from Brett’s tutorial.

My natural nerd-arrogance was casted aside and struck down after I reached a certain chapter. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I actually learned some valuable “tricks”. Truth be told, with Markdown there are no tricks. It’s just how you suppose to use the Markdown syntax. I didn’t know or forgot about the tiny details that can make your life easier when writing Markdown, c.f. now I can dismiss my workaround for keeping lists intact when throwing in a blockquote or code block.

The bottom line is, it makes for a great gift but also works like a PRAM reset for users like me. Now I have a refreshed memory and can use 100% of my knowledge again.

Brett starts out nice and explains what Markdown is, who it’s for and what the benefits are. He continues how basic structuring of a document works and of course the syntax of Markdown.

A basic knowledge of HTML is recommended to understand everything, but if you follow the examples you should be fine.

One last thing: it’s also nice to know that Brett developed the same style preferences as the ones I’m using now (excluding reference style links… FoldingText and inline links rocks – it’s my personal dream team).


If you’re curious, here’s the table of content:

  • 1.0 Introduction
    • 1.1 What is Markdown (1:44)
    • 1.2 Document Structure (2:51)
    • 1.3 Headlines (2:27)
    • 1.4 Bold and Italics (1:35)
    • 1.5 Lists (4:49)
    • 1.6 Linking (7:47)
    • 1.7 Images (1:18)
    • 1.8 Blockquotes (0:51)
    • 1.9 Code/Verbatim (3:10)
    • 1.10 Hard line breaks (0:42)
    • 1.11 Style considerations (2:39)
    • 1.12 Test Yourself
  • 2.0
    • 2.1 Markdown extensions: Footnotes (1:52)
    • 2.2 Markdown extensions: Tables (1:49)
    • 2.3 MultiMarkdown (3:07)
    • 2.4 Discount (0:48)
    • 2.5 Kramdown (1:10)
    • 2.6 GitHub-flavored Markdown (1:03)
    • 2.7 Other Markdown flavors and extensions (1:29)
  • 3.0
    • 3.1 Converting to Markdown (2:04)
    • 3.2 Exporting Markdown (5:54)
  • 4.0
    • 4.1 Leanpub and blogging platforms (1:02)
    • 4.2 Collaboration (3:37)
  • 5.0
    • 5.1 Byword (1:26)
    • 5.2 MultiMarkdown Composer (1:17)
    • 5.3 iThoughts X and iThoughts HD (0:48)
    • 5.4 Scrivener (0:48)
    • 5.5 Marked (2:30)
    • 5.6 Simplenote (0:29)
    • 5.7 nvALT (0:43)
    • 5.8 Sublime Text, TextMate, and others (0:40)
    • 5.9 Conclusion and additional resources (0:34)
    • 5.10 Test Yourself
  1. I was thinking about suggesting Kirby or statamic. If you have suggestions, I’m open. Send me a tweet. Budget is also import, Squarespace is not an option.