Using Dragon Dictation on the Mac
I am finding that with Dragon Dictate which is from Nuance, I am able to dictate articles into the Mac much faster than I would be able to type them. It is really easy to add punctuation and to edit your text as you go along. If you use an application called Marked, then you can keep track of what is you are dictating within the Marked application. All I need to do is to hit Command Save, and what I have dictated into the Dragon dictation application will be visible in the Marked application too. I bought Marked from the Apple App Store and it is very useful not only for being able to see what it is that I am dictating, but it also gives me a word count as I go.
Using markdown text with Dragon Dictate and Marked
The way that Marked works is that it looks for the markdown text codes such as when I insert the hash tags to give me my headers. By using the hash tags I am able to tell Dragon Dictation and Marked where my headers are and for it still to be perfectly readable as text. If you want to find out more about using Markdown, then you can have a look at the Daring Fireball website. I’m finding that there are more and more tools available for using Markdown and also Multi-Markdown. It is also possible to use Markdown within Scrivener for Mac.
The process that I generally use for correcting my articles, is that I will dictate the article in Dragon dictation, keeping track of it in Marked. Using Marked allows me to see how many words I have written so far. Then what I will do after that, is to copy the text and go to Scrivener and paste the text in there so that I can edit it. I do a certain amount of editing while I’m still in Dragon dictation, but when I’m in Scrivener I like read it through aloud. If it sounds alright to me when I am reading it out aloud, then I can then move the text into TextMate.
TextMate is great for Markdown
When I have the text in TextMate, it is already completely edited and has some of the headers already put in. I might put in some extra headers, but mainly what I do is to use TextMate to add in the links that I’m going to have within the article. I do that in TextMate because it has a Bundle (customisation) which allows me to use some quick keystrokes to add the URLs for the links. I prefer to use the links as references so I place them at the bottom of the article. Then what I do is to use the reference style Markdown links in the text to refer to the URLs that are inserted already lower down. When I have everything ready, I can then use a quick keystroke which is control – shift and H and all of the text is then converted into really good HTML code.
The final step is in MarsEdit
What I do next then is to use the blogging editor that I prefer to use which is called MarsEdit. It is possible within Markdown to add links, which give you your images in your HTML, but that is only really works when you have the images already online. Your need to know the image url already. That is why I’m using MarsEdit, because it allows me to drag and drop images, which quite often I will have collected using Skitch.
It would be quite handy if I was able to dictate directly into MarsEdit, but I have found that Dragon Dictate does actually work better when I am using it to dictate into the Dragon Dictate application itself. Also in terms of the editing process, I do need to go from application to application to provide breaks in the workflow. This allows me to do the editing process better. It may seem a little convoluted, but it is only a couple of jumps from one application to another and is very easy with cut and paste.
Speedy article writing
While I was creating this article I was filming it with ScreenFlow and I was able to say that it took me less than 19 and a half minutes to write 750 words. The editing part of this will probably take another 2 to 5 minutes, and another couple of minutes to add any images within MarsEdit. So you can see that it is a very quick way to create articles. The whole process is a lot faster than if I was to be typing it in manually. I haven’t specifically done a compare and contrast between typing manually and using the dictation software, but I guess that it would be around about three times faster working this way.