How I made a backup shortcut for texts in iA Writer using x-callback-URLs, a bit of SSH and Launch Center Pro.
It is no secret that iA Writer is the writing app of my choice. Currently I use the app even more intensively than I usually do. The app isn’t just the beginning, it is also the setting for a very important project. 📚
Of course, I have to consider possible risks in such a project. One of the biggest risks I have discovered for myself is obviously the technology I use. Although the reliability of my iPad, of the software and of the cloud services that store my data is proven, in this case I prefer to assume the worst case and try to prevent it from happening.
In detail this is about the regular backup of currently two text files (with about 20,000 words each) located in the iA Writer folder on iCloud. In the next several days and weeks more files will be added or both files will increase in size.
The simplest backup method would be to take the two files whenever I wrote something new and copy them into Dropbox. But as a enthusiast of the Shortcuts app this would just be too trivial. I also would regularly forget to copy the files manually.
So I soon started thinking about a backup shortcut. My goal was to get it triggered or executed automatically on a regular basis or to make executing the shortcut as easy as possible for me. Just as I don’t want to copy files from A to B manually, I don’t want to navigate through some menus and make the same selections again and again.
So, how does the solution look like? First I had to get the data I wanted – the text documents. But it doesn’t get easy with the Shortcuts app here. While you can select any file path from Dropbox, iCloud restricts you to use the Shortcuts app directory. I solved the problem with URL commands, which were implemented in the iA writer app only a few months ago.
The paths to the texts are stored in a list at the beginning of the shortcut. If new texts are added, I can simply add their paths here. Using the paths from the list, the Shortcut fetches the texts via an x-callback-URL (Thank you iA!) and packs them into a ZIP file.
The file is named based on the current date and time. It will then be transferred to one of my servers via an SSH command. In the same way, you could also transfer the file to a local NAS server. This would basically be the end of the shortcut. But according to the motto "The more, the better", the ZIP file is also pushed into the dropbox. 🚀
The easiest way to trigger the shortcut is via the app Launcher Center Pro. It is possible to launch the shortcut location-based – for example by leaving the office – or according to a fixed schedule. The app will send a notification and with a tap to confirm the shortcut will be executed.
My most important texts will now be stored locally on the iPad, on iCloud, on Dropbox and on a private server. Now it is less likely to lose date if one instance fails.