Tag Archives: calendar app

A Few More Thoughts on Fantastical 2 for iPad

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Fantastical 2 received an update this week that fixed something I hadn’t even realized was a bug. Multiple overlapping all-day events are pretty common at my workplace for indicating travel schedules when executives are traveling, but I often had to decline them because Fantastical would display those all-day events over my actual meetings, which would obscure the meetings from view. As of two days ago, however, this is no longer an issue, as my meetings are drawn above the all-day events. This is a little change that makes a big difference, and I’m guessing it’s a reaction to user feedback.

I also thought I’d take a bit of time to add some feedback of my own. After a few weeks of heavy Fantastical usage for both the calendar and tasks, I’ve now got a little more to say about the app suite.

The Calendar Totally Handles Heavy Schedules

Managing my boss’s calendar can get pretty heavy, and I do most of my calendaring on a PC. However, for occasions when I need to find one meeting in a week with 50 meetings, or search for a meeting with a particular rare invitee, Fantastical has been more than up to the task. The search function is fast and very powerful, even with multiple calendars and hundreds of events. It’s easy to see rooms, invitees, and even what time zone a meeting is in. It’s astonishing how much better this is than Apple’s native offering.

Completing tasks feel stale

Compared to the rest of Fantastical, which features rich animations for navigation, task, and event creation, the actual act of completing a task just feels, well, underwhelming. You tap on a checkbox and the task will instantly be crossed off and display the original due date.

Completing tasks in Clear will slide a task neatly to the bottom of the list. It’s fast and easy to follow. Ticking off a task in Things, on the other hand, will cause a checkmark to jump into the checkbox. It’s not as elaborate, but it still adds an element of fun. In comparison, there definitely seems like there’s an opportunity for tasks to feel a little more fantastic in Fantastical. I’d love to see this element addressed in a future update.

An icon to indicate notes for tasks

I don’t mind that Fantastical hides notes for tasks in the main calendar view, but it would be useful to have some sort of icon to highlight tasks that do feature notes. I often add notes (via sexy Drafts URL scheme magic) to provide context for a multi-step task, so even having a little “N” symbol beside the checkbox would be enough.

As I wrote this post I kept looking for other little details I might want changed, but the fact of the matter is, this is the entirety of the wish list I have for Fantastical. The app is just superbly designed, incredibly efficient, and a lot of fun to use. I still can’t stop singing its praises.

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Automating Task and Meeting Creation with Drafts and Fantastical for iPad

Fantastical and Drafts

After reviewing Fantastical for iPad, I’ve decided to have a go of making it my control center for all tasks and meetings. I don’t like creating tasks by tapping on various fields and categories, so Fantastical’s natural language parsing really is the ultimate solution for me. There’s nothing wrong with Fantastical’s UI for this purpose, but I prefer to use Drafts for creating all of my tasks, simply because it loads so quickly. It took me a little while to understand URL schemes, but this iOS automation guide from @The_Axx and the Fantastical FAQ really helped me out.

Setting this sequence up requires setting up two “URL Actions” in Drafts. You can find this menu by entering Drafts -> Settings -> URL Actions and creating the following actions:

Meeting – fantastical2://parse?sentence=[[title]]&notes=[[body]]

Task – fantastical2://parse?sentence=[[title]]&notes=[[body]]&reminder=1

The process starts like this: I load up Drafts, type in one line of text that describes the meeting/task and due date, and an optional second line of text for a note. If you look at the URL schemes above, the [[title]] tags correspond to a ?sentence value in Fantastical, and the [[body]] tag corresponds to the %notes field in Fantastical.

The only difference in each of these URL schemes is that the %reminder=1 line added to the Task action. This forces Fantastical to create a task, without my having to specify with keywords like “Remind” or “task”.

These URL schemes are set up in Drafts as actions, so that I can type in names, dates, and details, and tap on one button to send the meeting or task to Fantastical. I could go even further by adding add=1 to the end of each URL scheme, which would instruct Fantastical to auto-create the meeting or task (eliminating even the need to press the ”Add” button within Fantastical).

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