Producing A Video On iPad

Among several projects I’m kicking around is a YouTube channel sharing apps I like and other things relevant to computing platforms. Today, I published my first video on the channel.

It was very spur-of-the-moment. I was checking out watchOS 3—which I wasn't able to try as a public beta unlike iOS 10—and began composing a tweet about the app launch speed improvements in the update. I thought about attaching a video to the tweet, so I pulled up the camera on my iPad Pro that was propped up in front of me.

I took a few takes of me jumping around apps on my Apple Watch until I was satisfied with the composition. When I played back the video, I didn't like the background noise that had been picked up. So, I popped into iMovie and silenced the video. Flicking through the audio options, I picked a pleasant background score and edited it to fade out toward the end of the video.

As I exported the video to my camera roll, I thought I might as well upload it to the aforementioned channel. The result is here to watch.

The entire process took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. This speed and simplicity is one of the things I love about working on iOS.

Planet Money: The Podcast I Recommend Most

I’m considering publishing a Medium post about how NPR’s Planet Money deeply impacted my world-view. Whether you have a long list of podcast subscriptions or have never listened to one before, I recommend giving Planet Money a shot.

Simply put, each episode discusses some way money, trade and economics impact our world. If that sounds boring, trust me and give it a shot. Heck, scroll through their catalog of episodes and find the one that most piques your interest. The episodes are short—and absolutely fascinating and educational.

Planet Money taught me a lot. I think you might find it useful—or simply interesting—too.

P.S. If you own an iOS device, I recommend Overcast as a podcast client.

Website Updates on iOS

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed a little tweetstorm I had earlier tonight as I made some updates to my website.

While the homepage at varunpramanik.com is a pretty basic and lightweight page, I have a tendency to go a little nuts over the details on it (have a look at the source and stylesheet). I’m therefore happy that I was able to complete every task for the edits to my satisfaction on my iPad.

To start, I saved the logos for each company/service to Photos and then pulled them up in Pixelmator to get the hex codes for their dominant colors using the color picker for the brush tool. I used these hex codes to give the links a sense of character and relevance to their destinations.

I used Drafts as a Slide Over app to drop notes, like the aforementioned hex codes.

I grabbed copies of my website assets from my cloud storage using Documents, sending them to Transmit for management and Coda editor access.

I did the bulk of my code editing in Coda (I made some minor tweaks in Transmit’s built-in barebones text editor). Coda has some great syntax highlighting and preview features, though it has frustrating backspace and cursor movement behaviors.

Finally, I uploaded my assets via FTP to my host using Transmit, whose drag-and-drop uploads and permissions management I absolutely love.

Check out the end result.

Markdown Tables in Ulysses on iOS

After hearing much about Ulysses from people whose opinions I trust, namely Federico Viticci, I decided to give it a try for a writing project. This post is a slight distraction aside in the midst of that project.

As I was writing, I figured it would be best to lay out some data in a table. Unfortunately, the Markdown variants supported by Ulysses don’t support a MultiMarkdown-like syntax for tables.

That’s where iOS comes in. More specifically, that’s where Workflow shines. I figured I could meet my needs using a combination of a Workflow action extension and Ulysses’ Markdown XL raw source syntax (~…~). The Workflow I created takes Markdown-formatted text, converts it to HTML and places it on my clipboard. While I aim to use it to create HTML tables, you could technically use this workflow in any instance where you need to convert Markdown to HTML via an action extension.

Here’s how it looks:

  1. I create a MultiMarkdown-formatted table.

    Screenshot of a sheet in Ulysses with a block of MultiMarkdown table-formatted text.
  2. I select the block of text and hit the share button.

    Screenshot of a sheet in Ulysses with a block of MultiMarkdown table-formatted text selected, displaying the iOS text action pop-up.
  3. I run the workflow.

    Screenshot of the Workflow action extension running my workflow to convert the MultiMarkdown-formatted text to HTML code.
  4. I paste and replace the text with the HTML code on my clipboard.

    Screenshot of a block of HTML table code, which was pasted from the clipboard to replace the MultiMarkdown-formatted table text.
  5. I wrap the HTML code with Ulysses’ raw source syntax (~…~)

    Screenshot of HTML table code wrapped in Ulysses’ syntax for raw source.
  6. Voilà.

    Screenshot of a formatted HTML preview of the Ulysses sheet, displaying the table code rendered appropriately.

Transferring files to and from Pythonista

Pythonista is a fantastic iOS app—one that really pushes the boundaries of what iPhones and iPads are capable of doing. However, due to Apple’s restrictions, developer Ole Zorn can’t include any kind of file syncing for scripts within the app nor can he add Pythonista to the system share sheet as a destination for files.

There is a work around, though: copy and paste this script by Ole into Pythonista, then run it. The script creates an FTP server that is accessible over your local network. You can then use Panic’s excellent Transmit to transfer files to and from Pythonista on the same iOS device.

Introducing Chronicles

Hello! Thanks for visiting Chronicles, a new blog I am launching to talk about personal projects I work on and share anything useful I find in their pursuit.

From the time I first began browsing the internet to the time I’m writing this blog, I’ve always loved finding resources that helped me learn interesting and useful new things. They did so because they were accessible—delivering their content in simple and direct language, and bearing designs that were easy to understand and navigate.

Getting this blog up and running was more than a little frustrating at times (a story for another time), but I’ve modified my WordPress installation to make accessing this blog fast and efficient out of the gate. As time moves forward, I expect to make more such modifications to improve different aspects of the user experience.

I make no promises about how frequently I will post here. The best way to keep up with me is to follow me on Twitter. That’s where you’ll see my blogs from Chronicles and other platforms pop-up too.

Thanks for your time and attention,

Varun