Draft: The App for All Your Writing Needs

It was a only a little under 3 months ago that we called Draft “The Word Processor for the Web“. A just-launched app that I’d been testing with a few of my colleagues, Draft was one online writing app that’d captured my imagination — and got me to rethink how I write my articles.

If you’ve already tried out Draft, it needs no introduction. Otherwise, here’s a quick summary: it’s an online markdown writing app that saves version of your documents as you write, lets you open and save files on your online storage services, and has built-in collaboration tools to let others edit your work.

That in itself is a lot, enough to make quite the dent in the online writing market. But Nathan Kontny, the developer behind Draft, hasn’t stopped working, and today Draft has quite a few extra features that make it better without making it more confusing or cluttered.

Get Your Writing Critiqued

Draft’s a great writing app, hands down. It hasn’t lost anything I’ve written in it yet, even with my apartment’s spotty internet connection, something I can’t say about any other online writing app. And its integration with Filepicker.io that lets you open and save to Dropbox, Evernote, your FTP server, and more is simply brilliant. If you’re looking for a way to edit your documents and write new stuff online, your search is over. Draft’s the way to go.

But it’s far more than just that. In our previous review, we went in depth on how it saves versions of your writing, so you can go back and see how your writing progressed or recover something you accidentally deleted. You can also share your document with others, so they can make changes and you can add them or reject them.

Draft changes from editor

If you’re trying to improve your writing skills, though, you’ve got to try out their “Ask a Pro” service. For $5-$15, you can get a professional copy-editor to critique your writing within 24 hours. I tried it out for an article in my upcoming magazine, and the service was great. It’d be easily worth its price if you need to get your writing checked before submitting it to your employer, publisher, or professor, even if you don’t use Draft as the main place you write.

Transcribing Just Got a Lot Simpler

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But if you have to transcribe audio or videos — or perhaps just write notes from lecture videos from college — you’re going to find Draft’s new Transcribe feature invaluable. You can add any video or audio link, or upload your own audio or video, then use Draft to help you write down your transcribe.

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It’s far more than just a video or audio player with a text editor on the bottom. Instead of just that, it’s got keyboard shortcuts to play or pause the media, and controls to automatically loop over a specific junk of the audio or skip to the next section. You won’t have to drag the play progress slider back and forth anymore. Draft will help you break down the audio into chunks you can easily type up, then make it equally easy to jump to the next part.

You’ll never want to transcribe audio with your normal media player and text editor again!

A Plain Text todo list, too

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Now, if you write a lot, you’ve likely got a lot of things to keep up with as well. You need a quick place to jot down your todos and the things you’re going to write about. Draft now might be the perfect place for that with its recent addition of Github-style todos.

Just press Alt+T, or type - [ ] then your task, and save the document. Preview the document or go back to your dashboard, and your todos will be ready for you to check off. It’s a great way to keep track of the stuff you have to do without needing another app. And, since it’s plain text that can be synced with Dropbox and Evernote, you could keep your tasks with you easily if you want.

See How Your Writing’s Performing as well

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Now you’ve listed the things you need to write, written, gotten feedback on your writing, saved it to your Dropbox, and published it to your blog, all from the same app. Oh, and you transcribed part of a video to include in your writing as well. To top it all off, you can now see how the article you wrote performed on your site with the new Reports tool.

The reports tool requires you to have a Draft subscription for $3/month, which isn’t even a high fee to support such a useful app. Once you’ve subscribed, you’ll be able to add your own site’s feed and other sites you write for, and see how many people shared your posts, your average post word count and reading level, which days of the week your articles get shared most, and more. It’s no replacement for Google Analytics or other analytics services, but it gives you a lot of insight into how your writing performs that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

In Closing

It’s quite rare to find an app that has improved so much in the time since it was released, and equally rare to find such a useful app that has so many uses but isn’t cluttered or confusing. In my book, Draft is the best tool for writers online today. It’s one you should be sure to try if you haven’t taken it for a spin already.


Summary

A great online writing app that lets you list what you need to write, write, get feedback, publish your work, and see how it performed, all from the same text-based app.

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