Back in July of last year when I first released Text Case to the App Store, my idea behind it was for it to be a small utility app that you could use to format text into a few different formats. The main format was title case, and although it was a standalone app, I always thought of it being used primarily by selecting text and using the Action Extension to copy a formatted version of that text to the clipboard.
However, since that first release, there’s been 10 updates. Some of them were minor bug fixes, but most of them were adding new formats. In the current version that’s in the App Store, there are 24 different formats to use. Which is a pretty big number in my opinion. Especially as it was just meant to be a small utility app.
As Text Case as grown, the primary way people were using Text Case became through the Shortcuts app. Simply because it’s just easier to use it in that way. It can slot into your writing workflow, and you would never really need to open the app.
But as we all know, the original way that third-party apps could provide functionality to the Shortcuts app, was by “donating” different actions to the system. And then magically they would appear as selectable actions in the Shortcuts app, and that could either perform a task in the background, or it could launch your app directly into a specific part.
As Text Case is really just something that takes an input, does some fancy things to it, and then provides that result as an output, it was held back by the original limitations of how Shortcuts worked. The only way you would be able to use functionality from Text Case without launching the app was to copy text to the clipboard, have Text Case perform its changes on the clipboard, and then overwrite that with the newly formatted text. It only took a couple of extra steps, but it was nowhere near the ideal solution.
However, in iOS/iPadOS 13, there is a whole load of new advancements to how apps integrate with the Shortcuts app. The benefits at least from the perspective of Text Case is that you can make use of parameters. So within the format text action, you will be able to provide the source text as a parameter, there will be no specific need to make use of the clipboard. These actions can also return values as well, so your formatted text will be directly available to use as either a direct result or as an input into another action. It just turns the functionality of Text Case into customisable building blocks, that can be part of a bigger workflow.
That new functionality, that will be released very soon, is making me think about what Text Case is becoming. I can’t say that I see it as a standalone app anymore. Sure, it will always be an app. But that’s not really how it’s going to be used. Text Case is becoming a kind of “directory” of text formatting tools, which will directly integrate into different parts of the system.
It means that when I add more formats to Text Case, just like I am with the next update (which will add three new options), I don’t feel like I’m simply just making my app better. It feels like I’m providing the system with additional functionality. Whether it’s through an Action Extension that can be launched by sharing text, or within the Shortcuts app, Text Case is becoming more of a framework for using elsewhere, rather than something people would use directly.
And you know what? I’m completely fine with that. It’s really interesting to see how Text Case is changing, and how you can get all the functions of the app, without even remembering that you have it installed.
Everyone loves Siri. Well they don’t always, but sometimes it can be pretty useful. Fortunately, Text Case supports Siri so that you can convert text into any format using it!
Unfortunately, there’s no way for apps to take any form of input from Siri, so Text Case uses your clipboard as a form of input and output.
The simplest way to open up Text Case to Siri, is to record a custom phrase for a specific format.
To do this, you’ll need to navigate to the Setting screen, and tap on “Add to Siri”. That will bring up a list of every format in Text Case, and after tapping on one of these, the Siri Shortcut interface will appear, where you can record a phrase to use with this format.
One a Siri Shortcut is set up, to format your text, all you need to do is to copy some text, say the phrase to Siri, and the formatted result will be ready to paste wherever you want.
The Shortcuts App
That’s not all you can do with Text Case though, as you can even use these actions within the Shortcuts app.
However, as Text Case deals with the clipboard, you will need to make sure you set the clipboard to the text you want to be formatted, and then retrieve the clipboard when you want to use the results.
Here is a basic example of how you can make use of Text Case inside a Shortcut:
Although the main Text Case app can be a very useful app to have open while you’re formatting a few pieces of text, sometimes you just want a little less friction while you’re writing.
That’s why you can format any text in iOS, simply by selecting text, sharing it to Text Case, and then just tapping once on the format you want to use. It’s a flow I use whenever I’m writing on my iPhone or my iPad, because it allows you to completely focus on your writing, without needing to manually switch apps to just format a title.
Enabling the Extension
First off, you’ll need to enable the Action Extension. This can be quite long-winded, so it’s best to follow along with the screenshots below, or there are some written steps.
Select any text in your favourite text editor.
When the share sheet appears, on the bottom row you’ll find an option called “More” with three dots as the icon. Tap that.
It should then open a list where you can enable and disable any available actions from your installed apps. You need to enable Text Case’s “Convert Text” action.
After that, tap done, and it will appear in the list of actions in the bottom row of the share sheet.
Formatting Text via the Extension
Once you’ve got it enabled, formatting text is rather simple.
Select the text you want to format.
Select “Convert Text” from the bottom row of the share sheet.
When Text Case appears, you just need to tap once on the format you want to use. By default Title Case will be the first option.
After you tapped on the formatted title in Text Case, you will be returned to your previous app, where your text should still be selected.
You can now tap on Paste to overwrite the text with the formatted version.
It’s taken a while, but I’m very glad to announce that Text Case 2.0 is finally available!
The reason why it wasn’t a simple update, is that The app has been completely rebuilt. This includes a new way of organising individual formats into groups, and a new design that fits.
There are four new formats to use: Emoji, Rot13, Base64 Encoded, and Base64 Decoded. This means that there are now 23 different formats to use in Text Case!
The app now has a few extra customisation options, you can switch between a Dark and Light theme, change the order of the groups, enable/disable formats, and also choose between 22 different app icons.
As you may have already seen on my Twitter, or in my journal entries, I’ve started to work on the second major version of Text Case, 2.0. The major changes will be to the user interface, so I want it to be slightly more colourful, fit more in what I see as the latest design language Apple has set out in the Shortcuts app, and also have the formats structured better.
The project started with me making a list of all the things that I will need to implement for it to be level with the functionality of the current version. Here’s that list:
Drag and Drop
Use Copied Text
Tap to Copy
Hold to Share
Siri Shortcuts Support
Add to Siri
Title Case Format
Custom App Icons
I started working on the most important section of the app, the formats list. Over the past few days I’ve been building up the style similar to the Shortcuts app, so instead of being simple white boxes that contain the formatted text, they’re more colourful and even have a slight gradient to add a bit of depth (I’m planning on experimenting with a small shadow as well).
So once the list was working, I added the core logic from the current version and made the formats work. I did adapt it slightly though, as it now groups similar formats together, which I think makes the app look a lot tidier. This change means that when I add the reordering feature, it will most likely me limited to reordering the groups rather than individual formats. You’ll still be able to hide any you don’t want to see though.
Then I added the input field. It’s also a bit cleaner, and fits with the new style. But it has essentially the same capabilities as before. I plan on investigating importing text from a file, and implementing drag and drop, but I think that’s supported automatically.
After I had the list displaying, input working, and the text being formatted, I worked on the interaction with the resulting formatted text. I’ve had a few bits of feedback in the past saying they would appreciate one-touch copying, and now I’ve added it! So you can simply tap any formatted text in the app, and you’ll get a nice alert at the bottom showing the exact text you’ve copied. Or alternatively, you can still tap and hold on formatted text to bring up the contextual actions, which are the same as before, copy and share.
The next step from here will be to start working on the settings section of the app, as that also allows me to test the rest of the app in different scenarios much easier. I’m already planning two changes to the settings in this new version. The first is changing the idea of an accent colour to a theme, as I want the format groups to control the colour. But I also appreciate that a light and dark theme is a minimum. The second change is custom app icons, they may be a basic selection, but the app no longer has a “main colour” so I’d like to give a few options.
It’s time for an update to Text Case! It contains four changes, and three of them were taken from user feedback! Which I really like, as it means I can tailor the app to how the app is actually being used, not an idea in my head.
So, here are the improvements:
A new format! Strip HTML will clear any HTML tags and any whitespace either side of the result.
You can now alter the order of the way formats appear in the app.
Pasting text via the keyboard shortcut (CMD + V) will now work even if the textfield is not selected, meaning you can get the formats much faster.
Any settings in the app are now synced between your devices.
Thinking Out Loud About the State of My Current Projects #
Yet again, I’m getting to a point where I think the number of projects that I have active, is getting too high. I had similar thoughts last year, when I wrote an article titled “My App Store Clear-out”. I explained how some projects weren’t getting any time, some we’re hard to maintain, and others were just stale.
Back then, I reduced my number of projects to 5:
Hydrate – A work in progress iOS app to track water intake.
Qwiki – A small Mac menu bar utility for searching and browsing Wikipedia.
Pretty Regular Expressions – An app to test regular expressions in a simple UI, for iOS and macOS.
Tap Gap – A very simple arcade game for iOS, that was made free, as no further work is going to be done on it. But there were still people downloading it.
Pixels Sticker Pack – An iMessage sticker pack that features a small amount of pixel art.
In the year since I wrote that, I’ve given up on Hydrate, and developed two new applications – Text Case, and SOLID. Text Case being the iOS utility to format text, and SOLID being another utility to create single colour wallpapers on iOS.
That leaves me with this:
Pretty Regular Expressions
Pixels Sticker Pack
I’d very much like to get that down 4 or 5, with 5 being an ideal maximum. However, I would like to start a new project next year, so I should restrict myself to 4.
Of course, I will keep on the latest apps, which fills out one half. But there’s tough decisions to be made on the rest. Tap Gap is certain to be pulled, that’s already decided. But the future of Qwiki and Pretty Regular Expressions are currently unknown to me. I like both of them, and I think they’re good apps. But I just need to work out if they are realistically going to get any updates in the future.
So this is where I am right now:
I don’t want to annoy users by making a product unavailable, or officially cancelling all future updates, but most of them have been growing stale anyway. And I think I’d rather sell a limited amount of products that get regular attention, rather than a whole bunch of them that are near-to-never updated.
Another update to Text Case has just hit the store!
Just a small one this time though, to tie up a few things, before anything big can be planned or worked on. In fact it can be boiled down to three things:
A new text format, this time it’s KebabCase. And as usual it was requested, so I added it! There’s no chance that I can come up with every format possible, so if you want one added then please just let me know.
About section added (website links, App Store link, app version…)
And I’ve fixed a bug in the Action Extension. As the UI used to inherit some of the styles from the encompassing app, but it wouldn’t always look correct. I’ve fixed this by keeping it matching with the rest of the app, along with the chosen accent colour.
It’s not an extravagant update, but then again, they can’t all be.
Well in this update, Text Case will now be accessible via Siri! And you will also get to set a different accent colour in the app.
There’s not that much UI in Text Case, as it’s been intentionally kept rather simple. However there are now 6 colours, that will be used for the navigation bar, switches, and buttons:
With iOS 12 now being released, Siri has gotten a whole lot more powerful, and you’ll expect quite a lot of apps to try and make use of it. Which meant I just had to add support to Text Case.
There’s only one function in Text Case, and that is to convert text into various different formats. And that means it’s also really easy to use! The formats will be applied to any text that you have copied, and the formatted text will replace it on the clipboard, ready for you to paste anywhere.
From Settings, you will find the “Add to Siri” option at the bottom. If you tap this, you will then get to select a format, and then record a custom phrase.
That’s not all the ways you can use Text Case with Siri. Because as you use Text Case, iOS will learn what formats you are using, and begin to suggest them to you.
These suggestions will also appear in the new Siri Shortcuts app, where you will be able to automate them with everything else!