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Posts tagged with "URL Scheme"

Command-C Browser Actions



When I’m writing on my iPad at home, there’s a chance I have my MacBook on my desk with either iTunes open (to check for app updates or playing music from iTunes Match/Radio) or MailMate running (because I’ve been having issues with Mail on the beta of iOS 7.1). It’s not uncommon for me to use a dual-monitor setup when writing, relying on my MacBook for Google searches and other reference material – effectively, I use it as a secondary display to my iPad when I’m working on articles that require a fair amount of research.

Since the release of Command-C, I’ve been using Danilo Torrisi’s utility to quickly beam text and URLs across all my devices, using Launch Center Pro actions to speed up the process. Command-C has excellent support for URL schemes – a boon to iPad users who fiddle with automation tricks to save time when working on iOS. I recently realized, however, that most of the content I share with Command-C is made of URLs from Safari, therefore I asked myself whether I could put together a solution to send URLs with one click from Safari without using an external app or keyboard shortcut. It was pretty clear from the beginning that I would end up with a bookmarklet, but I have to thank Danilo for providing the necessary guidance I needed to achieve the kind of workflow I wanted.

The bookmarklet is part made for myself, part proof of concept (as always) for others to iterate upon. It doesn’t only send URLs from Safari on another device with Command-C – it sends the webpage you’re currently viewing in Safari to another app on another device with Command-C.

Read more for Mobile Safari

Joseph Schmitt, writing in response to Greg Pierce’s hack to simulate x-callback-url support in Chrome:

Wouldn’t it be great if Safari supported Chrome’s back button behavior? It sure would. However, Apple’s laissez faire attitude towards inter-app communication keeps me from holding my breath on this front. Therefore, I was truly excited when I saw this post by the father of x-callback-url himself, Greg Pierce, wherein he launches a simple HTML page in Safari and uses JavaScript to add x-success links to the page on his own. Woah, awesome!

However, Greg’s technique depends on loading a full-screen iframe on the page and overlaying a back button on top to trigger the x-success url. That gets the job done, but I really prefer how Chrome handles this: make the last page jump to the previous app. I brainstormed for a bit and figured I could probably replicate Chrome’s behavior’s using Greg’s idea, and I was right: was born.

To build actions with, see the URL parameters in Joseph’s blog post. The format is easy to understand if you’re already familiar with URL schemes; here’s a demo action to launch a Google search in Safari based on from Launch Center Pro. is a nicer hack that takes over Safari’s Back button to go back to a previous app like Chrome does, albeit without the app’s name visible alongside the button. You can, however, tap & hold the back button to see the app you’re going back to. It would be nice to mix a success URL scheme with the address of the webpage you’re currently viewing, although I believe that’s beyond the limit of how much it’s possible to work around Safari’s JavaScript.


Mimic Google Chrome’s x-callback-url Support In Mobile Safari

Speaking of Greg Pierce, I’m intrigued by the workaround he found to mimic support for x-callback-url in Safari for iOS:

For those not familiar, it is possible to use x-callback-url support in Google Chrome on iOS to open a URL from another app, and have Chrome present a “Back” button to return to the app you opened the URL from. Safari does not offer this level of integration.

To mimic this feature in Safari, I have created an intermediate HTML page with a little javascript that can take a “url” and “x-success” parameter. If it gets these, it will load the “url” in an iframe that displays full screen, and present a “< Back” button in the top left of the screen, which when tapped will open the URL in the “x-success” parameter.

Here’s what I did: I downloaded Greg’s HTML file on my Mac, put it in my Public folder in Dropbox, and got the direct link that can be accessed by any web browser. With that, I edited the Drafts action Greg made and now I have a custom “callback page” that I can integrate with Safari and actions from Drafts, Launch Center Pro, Editorial, or Mr. Reader. I’m thinking of how I could take advantage of this solution in my workflows – the nice part: you can navigate across pages inside the frame – but I believe I will mostly use it to quickly check a webpage in Safari and go back to the previous app quickly.

It’s an interesting workaround, but still a hack. For instance, it’s not possible to dynamically generate a callback address from the address that’s currently loaded in the frame. Still, if you want to put together a basic alternative to Chrome’s excellent x-callback-URL support, check it out.


Creating and Sharing Text Files In Launch Center Pro

When Launch Center Pro 2.2 was released last month, I mentioned the addition of Dropbox actions for creating and modyfing text files, but I didn’t share any action example because I couldn’t find a possible use of the feature in my workflow. This morning, I realized that my old workflow to generate and share text files with Dropbox could be simplified with Launch Center Pro, so I rewrote it using the app’s new Dropbox functionalities.

I often need to create text files and share them quickly with Dropbox. These are usually notes that don’t fit in a Twitter DM or long crash reports for developers of apps I’m testing. In my old workflow, I used to type file name and file contents in Launch Center Pro, then, with two steps of inter-app communication, upload the file with Drafts, get the shareable link back with Launch Center Pro, and start a new tweet with the link in Tweetbot.

The workflow still gets the job done but the new version is simpler, faster, and more flexible. It’s just three steps:

  • Type file name;
  • Type file contents;
  • Get public link to text file in Dropbox.

With a single action that doesn’t involve switching between apps, I can type a file name in a Launch Center Pro prompt, insert contents manually or by pasting, and hit Done to create a text file in Dropbox. Launch Center Pro gets the link of the just-created file and presents an iOS share sheet with a series of options for the file’s public link so that I’m not limited to Tweetbot anymore; I discovered that I often needed to DM or email a link, and with the old workflow I was forced to start a new tweet then select and copy the link manually from it. With the new action, everything happens inside Launch Center Pro in seconds and I can pick the best option for me (it’s usually “Copy”).

I was skeptical as to whether I would need Dropbox actions in Launch Center Pro, but this workflow shows some clear benefits of Contrast’s app – keyboard prompts and a native share sheet combined with Dropbox text features make for a quick and elegant note-taking and sharing experience.

You can download the action here.

TAKE ACTION - Action Menu Generator For Launch Center Pro

Nice work (and great name) by Jeff Mueller: starting from my idea for an action menu for Safari in Launch Center Pro, he made a web app to simplify the process of assembling the bookmarklet. You can choose from a set of emojis for icons, select one of the built-in actions (so you don’t have to write URL schemes), and hit Create Menu to generate a menu. It’s very simple and much better than writing code manually.

I hope that Jeff will add more app actions and emojis soon. Check it out here.


Safari Action Menu In Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro action menu

Launch Center Pro action menu

Last week, I was looking at the way I use Safari and save links to other apps and services, and I realized that I wanted a unified action menu to group some of my most used bookmarklets together. While this can be done by creating a bookmark folder in Safari, folders require too many taps on the iPhone and I’d like to have better visual differentiation between actions with unique icons for each one of them. That seemed like a good opportunity to test the capabilities of Launch Center Pro (now on the iPad as well) when it comes to lists and JavaScript, so I got to work.

A fair warning: Though my solution works, the code isn’t pretty. Until Apple improves the way apps can share information with each other, we’re stuck with hacks like URL schemes, JavaScript, and manual encoding. If you want to customize what I came up with, you’ll have to manually edit URL schemes and test everything on your own. If you’re not concerned about a bookmarklet’s prettiness, go ahead – I’m fairly satisfied with the results. Read more

Launch Center Pro for iPad Review

Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro

Contrast’s Launch Center Pro, the app that started the small revolution of iOS automation in June 2012, arrives today on the iPad with a new version (sold separately at $4.99) that takes everything you know about Launch Center Pro for iPhone and scales it up to the bigger screen. Launch Center Pro for iPad doesn’t do anything dramatically different from its iPhone counterpart: you can create custom actions, play around with Dropbox and clipboard integration, and do all the things that were possible in Launch Center Pro 2.1 – only now on your iPad too.


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