Symbolic dynamics is a coarse-grained description of dynamics. By taking into account the "geometry" of the dynamics, it can be cast into a powerful tool for practitioners in nonlinear science. Detailed symbolic dynamics can be developed not only for one-dimensional mappings, unimodal as well as those with multiple critical points and discontinuities, but also for some two-dimensional mappings. The latter paves the way for a symbolic dynamics study of ordinary differential equations via the Poincare maps. This paper provides an overview of the recent development of the applied aspects of symbolic dynamics.