I mentioned last week I had setup iOS Shortcuts to post Likes, Reposts, and Bookmarks to my website, and automatically syndicate those posts to Twitter. This solved a particular pain point in my “workflow,” where I’d share something to my website with Indigenous, but then have to go in to the WordPress editor through a browser to get the post to share back to Twitter. This was enough of a pain I avoided it where possible. With the new shortcuts I don’t have to worry about that. A couple of taps, and everything “Just Works”(tm).

This post is an attempt to document how I have my shortcuts setup, so you can make some of your own. I’ve tried to keep things as jargon free as possible, but the instructions do assume the following:

  • you have a website of your own,
  • that website has a Micropub-compatible endpoint, such as self-hosted WordPress with the Micropub plugin,
  • your iPhone or iPad is running iOS 12 or above,
  • optionally, your website can syndicate to other sites through Micropub syndication target. WordPress users can use the Syndication Links plugin.

My own setup uses WordPress with all of the IndieWeb plugin pack, so that is what this guide has been tested with, but everything here should be universal to any Micropub server. To get started, you will first need to install a pre-requisite shortcut.

Install the IndieAuth Shortcut.

This is the foundation for the other shortcuts. With out this, your shortcuts cant authenticate with your site. It can be found here, with some more notes found on this IndieWeb wiki page about Shortcuts. While installing it, you can configure it with the URL of your site and run through the authentication process to get a token, or enter a pre-existing token. Alternatively, if you already have a valid token from somewhere, you can enter that into the shortcut for it to use.

Note for WordPress users.

I ran into an issue with the IndieAuth shortcut, where WordPress didn’t interpret the authentication scopes properly, meaning the generated token wouldn’t work. I didn’t spend much time debugging this, so I don’t know if the issue is in the plugin or how Shortcuts sends the request. Thankfully, there’s a workaround. Go to your WordPress admin area > Users > Manage Tokens. At the bottom of the screen will be a form where you can generate an appropriate token. You’ll want to select at least the “create” scope. Do this, then copy and paste the token code in to the text field at the top of the shortcut, like this:

With our authentication mechanism setup, it’s time to build the shortcut proper.

Building the Shortcut.

Initial Setup.

In the Shortcuts app, create a new shortcut. The first thing we need is a “Get URLs from Input” block, then a “Set Variable” block. Name the variable something memorable, as we’ll be using it in a couple of places. I called mine “repost” in my Retweet shortcut.

Next, add a “Run Shortcut” block, and another “Set Variable” block after it. The shortcut block should be set to run your IndieAuth shortcut, and you can turn off “Show While Running”. Set the variable name to “token.” Once done, you should have something like this:

Posting to Your Site.

This is “where the magic happens.” In broad terms, the next few blocks will:

  1. Be configured with the Micropub endpoint of your site,
  2. Craft a POST request to your endpoint, with the following pieces of information:
    1. Your authentication token
    2. The type of Micropub post we’re creating (“entry”)
    3. The URL we’re sharing, as a “repost-of”, “like-of”, or whatever
    4. Set a syndication target.

With these steps in mind, onward we go!

Add a URL block to your site. Enter the URL of your Micropub endpoint. If you’re not sure exactly what this is, check the source of your site. Look for a link tag with rel=“micropub”. Alternatively, I’ve written another shortcut which will try to detect an endpoint for a given domain. You can find it here. Note that I’ve not tested this shortcut on any device but my own, so there may be bugs. The Get Endpoint shortcut will check if the endpoint variable is set, and if not, ask for a domain to parse for the endpoint. Once parsed, the endpoint URL will be copied to the device clipboard for pasting elsewhere, and return a URL.

Back in the sharing shortcut, add a “Get Contents of URL” block. Tap on “Advanced,” then set the Method to POST. Tap on “Headers.” Add a header called “authorization” (note the US spelling, if you’re using a UK keyboard or similar). Set the value of this header to “Bearer ” – with the space at the end – then insert the token variable created earlier.

Next, in the Request Body section, set it to Form. If you’re replicating my setup, add three new fields: h, repost-of (or like-of, etc.), and mp-syndicate-to. Set the value of h to entry. Set repost-of to the variable you created from your input URL, right back at the start.

Finally, set mp-syndicate-to to the UID of the syndication target you want to share to. In my WordPress setup, this is twitter-bridgy. Your system may vary, if you’re not using WordPress + the Syndication Links plugin. If you’re not sure what your UID might be, you can try running another shortcut I’ve created, which will query your site to find all the places you can syndicate to. The shortcut requires the “Get Endpoint” shortcut linked above, and will return text listing all UIDs configured for your site. As an example, the output for me looks like this:

{"name":"XYZ IndieWeb","uid":"xyz-indieweb"}
{"name":"XYZ Linking","uid":"xyz-linking"}
{"name":"IndieNews En","uid":"indienews-en"}
{"name":"XYZ Books","uid":"xyz-books"}
{"name":"Twitter via Bridgy","uid":"twitter-bridgy"}
{"name":"Github via Bridgy","uid":"github-bridgy"}

If you don’t want to syndicate your post, remove the mp-syndicate-to field entirely – don’t just leave it blank, or you might run into issues.

Once all fields in your Like/Repost shortcut have been filled in, you should have something like this:

You can leave things here, if you want, or you can add something like a Notification block to show you the returned response from your site, for debugging purposes. Unfortunately, the current limitations of Shortcuts mean we can’t get the URL to our new post from the results. Maybe that will change in iOS 13.

Set your new shortcut with an appropriate name and icon. Turn on the option “Show in Share Sheet,” and optionally set the “Accepted Types” to “URLs.” Tap Done a couple of times, and your shortcut should be complete! The best bit is, you can duplicate the shortcut, change repost-of to like-of (or viceversa), and you’ll have a working Like shortcut too 😃

Now, you can use the iOS share sheet for any URL to run your shortcut. Tap the share icon, tap Shortcuts, then tap the relevant shortcut from the list:

As a bonus, here’s a couple of short clips of the Like shortcut in action:

If you run into any issues getting the shortcut created, please do let me know through a comment or Webmention, and I’ll try to help where I can.

I’m mostly done writing the first draft of my iOS Shortcuts guide. Just got some screenshots to add, mostly. It’s sitting at ~750 words, although I’ve tried to keep it fairly technical-term free. Hopefully I’ll get it published tonight or tomorrow.

I’d hoped to write up some loose documentation on the iOS Shortcuts I have setup, but diagnosing all manner of WordPress plugin issues has taken up my night. I’ll try again tomorrow.

I was trying to enrol my iPad into the iPadOS public beta, but the portal seems to be having all sorts of issues, so I can’t get logged in yet. I’ll wait until the rush dies down. FWIW, these are what I’m most excited for:

  • Better mutli-tasking
  • Mouse support
  • Better file-management

Lock Screen

Raise to Wake is a feature I’ve wanted for a while, so I love that. It sometimes seems a little sensitive, but I guess I’ll either get used to it, or it’ll be tweaked in a software update. The new behaviour of unlocking your phone without going to the Home Screen until you press the Home button seemed a bit unintuitive to me, I’ve changed a setting under General > Accessibility > Home Button to remove the press.

Notifications

Functionally, the new notifications are great, and will get better as more apps embrace the feature. Like others, I’m not a fan of the styling, which is very evocative of “Web 2.0”. Clear All is another minor feature I’ve wanted forever, so I’m glad that’s there; I just wish I hadn’t had to Google to discover it’s hidden behind a 3D Touch gesture. These hidden or unintuitive features and gestures are probably my biggest peeve with iOS 10 for now.

Related to the notification area, I don’t get why the “Today” widget area is duplicated here and to the left of the Home Screen. One or the other would’ve been better, at least in my opinion. Maybe because I never used the old “Today” screen, but did use the old search screen which used to be to the left of the Home Screen…

Messages

Overall I like the update, but I’ve found some of the new features to be really unintuitive to use. The message styles (hidden ink, balloons, etc) are hidden behind a 3D Touch of the send button – so if you don’t get it right you’ll find yourself accidentally sending the message before it’s finished. This is a very minor thing, but it does cause frustration. I also found the Digital Ink features to be confusing to use, and the associated gestures a bit hit-and-miss. “Playback” of these messages is also hit-and-miss: sometimes they play automatically, but most times they don’t.

This article from The Verge has a good rundown of the new features of iMessage and how they work.

Other

Being able to (finally) remove in-built apps is obviously something which has received some headlines. Surprisingly, I’ve removed fewer than I expected… I think it’s only Stocks, Tips, Find My Friends and weather. I’ve actually found myself switching to a couple of the in-built apps

Over the last couple of weeks, my iPhone 5S has been rebooting itself during the night. Once (last Saturday) it got stuck in a reboot loop on the Apple logo screen. Strangely, it seemed to be emitting some kind of tone every time it restarted… maybe that was my woken-at-3am brain imagining things, but I’m sure it also made a noise in the early hours of this morning when it rebooted.

The most annoying thing about this, is that it’s only happening at night, while I’m asleep. I know it’s happening because my lock screen tells me so, and I can’t use TouchID to unlock the phone. That, and the fact the display flashing up the stark white loading screen sometimes wakes me up. Throughout the day, everything appears fine. It’s really quite bizarre.

I’d reset the phone to factory settings, but there are a couple of security-related apps installed which would be a massive PITA to have to de-authorise and set up again.

Has anyone else experienced this?