Shortcuts (iOS): Create Things 3 Projects

Hi all,

I’m starting a new topic because I’ve setup a new method for handling my project templates in Things and I figured I’d share it with the rest of you.

One thing I’ve always missed from OmniFocus is the Taskpaper syntax, so I figured I’d try to re-create that in some fashion within Shortcuts. I decided to use Federico’s wonderful Things Parser as my boilerplate. I’ve done a couple modifications to it to support my workflow, but not a ton.

Download “Things Parser (+Projects)” Shortcut

Download Sample Template

How am I using this?

Well, I have setup numerous templates in Shortcuts (similar to how MacSparky is doing with his OF templates). They ask me questions about the project and then I have a text box that I use to parse all of that information into a general theme that I can make use of.

For instance:

#Jetpack Maintenance \\tomorrow ++The jetpack is low on fuel and hasn't been flown in a while.

Re-fill fuel tank @Gas Station ++Make sure to use the high octane fuel.
Check for leaks in chassis @Home
Fly test the jetpack @Remote Location
Measure Top Speed @Remote Location ==Capture Performance Stats
Measure Top Velocity @Remote Location ==Capture Performance Stats

So this will all be parsed out to:

  • Top-level project called, “Jetpack Maintenance”, due tomorrow with a note, “The jetpack is low on fuel and hasn’t been flown in a while.”
    • Each line after is added as a task within this top-level project.
    • @ is a tag
    • == is a heading
    • \\ is a start date
    • ++ is a note

This doesn’t support every possible variable. I don’t make much use of deadlines so I haven’t added that support in here yet (although I’m going to try to this week). It also doesn’t support adding directly to an area. Since this is so quick to drag and drop into an area, I haven’t bothered with this, and doubt I will at this point.

Why did I do this?

  1. I was finding Drafts to be too fiddly with this stuff. I was having to spend too much time crafting form fields rather than just writing the template script. I also realized that it’d help to automate other aspects of my system with a project. If the project is related to an event, I can more easily create the event within Shortcuts.

  2. I realized that you can do date calculations within JSON data going into Things. For instance, if I have Shortcuts prompt me for a date, I can prepend “9 days before” to the formatted date and it just works. No more Chrono.js stuff in Drafts.

Anyway, here’s a quick video of one of the templates in action. :blush: This creates a project template for a team meeting that I have and adds the event to my calendar.

Example Template

Hopefully this is helpful to someone else.


Hey Kennonb - thanks for sharing this, I have been looking for something just like this.

I am curious did you make progress on the deadline update? I would like to be able to schedule various deadlines based on the project deadline (using date math in shortcuts).

So I ended up going back to processing these from Shortcuts into Drafts. It just offered me more flexibility than what I was able to accomplish within Shortcuts easily. Plus I still have one off projects I wanted to create in Drafts from time to time.

I have this modified version of the Things parser that I’m using.

This way I can format my templates like:

+New Project ^StartOn !Deadline ==Heading
Item for project ^StartOn
Another item ==Heading
This item has a tag @Tag ^Friday 4p

I’m still processing my templates through Shortcuts but just sending the final “draft” through to this Drafts action.

I hope that’s helpful.