A Few Thoughts on Craft

I signed up for Craft a few months ago to see what all the hype was about. I played around a bit, kicked the tires, then decided it wasn’t really for me. I don’t love using blocks for everything – too “Notiony” and I feel like it slows me down a bit.

They offered me an “educational license” recently which gives me their “Pro” features for a year, so I went back and took another look this week and it just doesn’t jive for me.

The part I’m most disappointed in is saving a workspace locally. You can use a folder in iCloud as your Craft repository which sounds exactly like what I’m after, but it’s severely limited – unless I’m missing something.

First, I dragged a few markdown files from my Obsidian folder into my Craft folder. Craft didn’t recognize them at all, acted like they didn’t exist. When I went into the actual import menu in Craft I was able to import the notes and it worked well, but it renamed my notes from things like “Top of Mind” to “R4FeErfde877DjFhekkskFjGhHHYWOEO”. That’s not useful to me whatsoever. Why they wouldn’t maintain the file name, why overcomplicate things?

I guess my point is, I didn’t find it to be super open or welcoming, and it didn’t have a “light app” feeling for me. It feels like a prettier, slightly less functional Notion that lets me save my files to the cloud with obfuscated names. :man_shrugging:t3:

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you cannot just drag files into Craft, you have to import them into Bear, export them and textbundle files, then import into Craft. Full details here

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I’ve been using it for a couple of months now, and I admit I feel equally underwhelmed. I’m looking for something that unlike Apple Notes can handle Markdown but looks and feels nicer than, say, Obsidian. Plus, I prefer folders over tagging. Don’t care for backlinking etc.

Like you, for me that focus on “blocks” everywhere really gets in the way, especially on iOS, where selecting text inside or across blocks is tricky. I also think the lack of end-to-end encryption is a serious shortcoming. I use iCloud sync but as you said, it has its own issues. Another issue for me is the lack of support for editing of embedded documents. I frequently store Excel files inside a page, but the only way to edit them is to download them, edit, save in the filesystem, delete the old file from Craft and add the new version. Ugh.

I may try Bear again. It’s been a while, and I’m not a fan of tagging but at least it’s a hierarchical tagging system, so I guess I may be able to mimic a folder structure.

The best app ever for editing embedded documents is – go ahead, laugh me off the forum pages – Evernote.

You can open an Excel file, edit it, and close it, which saves it right back to Evernote. I never understood why apps like Notion (and now Craft) think it’s useful to house a document, but in order to edit it, you have to download/reupload each time. How is that useful?

Evernote lets you use folders, saves documents embedded in notes (that you can edit) and it feels nicer (okay, not faster) than Obsidian. The last version on Mac and iOS is actually quite fast too. I know it doesn’t speak to your encryption hopes, and it’s fallen severely out of favour on this forum, but EN is worth a shot if you haven’t tried it before, or for a while.

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I used OneNote at one point extensively (because my primary machine at the time was a work Windows computer), and not surprisingly it was perfect for editing of embedded documents.

I also just redownloaded Bear to give it another try, and I was able to edit and save an Excel file just fine. It doesn’t have all the fancy graphics and templates of Craft but I couldn’t care less for those anyway. If I can only get used to the tagging system…

Five minutes with Bear reminded me why I left it. No tables support. Markdown can’t be hidden (even though the new Panda editor looks awesome). Most importantly, working with tags is just hideous. When I click on a tag and get a list of all the pages with it (in a separate side bar, why, I don’t know), I can’t for the life of me find a way to sort it other than by date.

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I really like Bear. In part because it’s not complicated. In my personal categorization, I distinguish between writing apps that support footnotes and those that don’t. Bear doesn’t support footnotes, but I can just write. Just about everything has a keyboard shortcut, but I can still easily move from Mac to iPad/iPhone. Bear Pro, at less than $20.00/year allows met to export as pretty clean HTML, Markdown, docx, RTF, TextBundle, among others, and import Drafts, TextBundle, Evernote.

I would like Folders, but tags and a custom icon for tags makes that much less of an issue.

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Honestly, there are days I wish I never left Evernote. But, it’s been too many years since I left.

I also have this steady workflow that I don’t want to have to undo for the billionth time.

As far as Craft goes, I have found a nice use for it, it’s not my main hub for writing. All that is done in Ulysses for me. (I tried getting into Obsidian, but found it too bare bones for me)

Fun use cases of Craft…

  1. Portfolio - Easy to display your projects to others
  2. Limited Project Focus - Having a team member review protocols, workflows,
  3. Directories - I keep lots of them
  4. Retreat Planning - Quick lists of what to pack/bring
  5. Retreats - Last year, we had a retreat of 150 people for our Diocese, I organized everything into Craft (schedule, bookings, books, food, etc) and just gave the Craft link out. I plan on doing the same thing, but maybe with the custom domain feature.

I haven’t found a use for it in terms of actual writing, as in, how I write when I am in Ulysses. For some reason, there’s some mental block that goes ‘this is not your writing environment, this is your personal, entertainment, or team environment app’

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I can relate! While I’m an avid user of Craft, l opt to use Ulysses for writing projects. There’s something about launching Ulysses that magically shifts me into writing mode. For convenience, I often link a writing project in Ulysses with the related notes in Craft, either using URL schemes or Hook.

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I wasn’t particularly impressed on my trial of Craft - it has its places, but Obsidian feels more lean. Something about the simple text seems to resonate with me, plus I have gotten pretty used to writing in Markdown. Seems to sync well with the iPad and iPhone also.

I am sure something out there might hit it even better, but there is a definite itch that Obsidian scratches.

Use what you like, in the long run.

My only other use for Craft is project documentation that I share with another team mate. I like that I can dump any file in there and it stores it.

I think expecting Craft and Obsidian to function similarly is a huge mistake. Obsidian is plaintext and Craft is rich text. Those environments are totally different. What is noticeable on these forums is that everyone is praising the greatness of plaintext; namely markdown, yet wanting a rich text environment.

I really like Craft and it’s become my main working environment. I appreciate it doesn’t create plaintext files for every note, but if I wanted that I’d be in a plaintext environment. Rich text operates differently and needs a different way of storing text. I’m happy enough that I can export Craft when I want to what I want. Craft does tables, so I don’t need a spreadsheet. If I did, I would link either to my file system or to my cloud storage. For Microsoft documents that would be in my OneDrive. Craft does excellent formatting. I can create a great looking document and share it in a breeze. I can add images and links to just about anywhere.

I never like markdown. It was much ado about nothing. It was plaintext masquerading as rich text and did an absolutely poor job at that, which is why so many threads are about getting a more feature rich plaintext environment. We don’t need one, it’s already here and it’s called “rich” text. The clue is in the name. Craft does 90% of what I want. No plugin needed for tables, no plugin needed for themes or strikethrough or highlighting text. And now that we have rich text environments that also export in multiple formats, it makes it even easier!

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Plain text became a lot more important to me once I realized these notes are long term files and that I tend to switch apps every few years. It’s easier when the notes are in a format that almost anything can handle, or at the very least they are easy to copy and paste.

That is where Markdown fits into it as well. I can have plain text and still mostly keep my formatting. When I went from Bear to Obsidian, this worked quite well (although there were some differences).

When I was experimenting with Craft I was also using other apps and would try exporting what I put into Craft to get it into the other apps. Craft’s block texts where notes could be attached made it obvious to me that if I ever wanted to switch from Craft, getting my documents out of it would be a lot of work. That is one of the reasons I dropped it.

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I find myself in the same boat, seems like Bear is best for portability (aside Obsidian and similar plain text apps like iA Writer).

Has anyone given NotePlan 3 a try? It won’t check all the boxes, but it hits a lot of them. I’m experimenting with it and really like a lot about it.

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Probably not at $120 per year.

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You can still get the old $60 price by getting on Reddit and complaining about the price on r/noteplan.

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Fairly recently: May 2022 Software of the Month Club – Noteplan

Lots there to sift through if you’re looking for opinions!

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There are a number of forum members who use and like NotePlan. It is my daily driver. I live in the Daily Note. I also keep my task list and calendar in it.

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