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Local automation options that I’m aware of today

On Mac, of course.

Automator

I’ve used Automator occasionally over the years to create contextual workflows (services) and mini apps for simple things like PNG to JPG image conversion or batch opening often used web pages.

But most of the time Automator stops short of what I want to do.

And I find it to be surprisingly difficult to use: finding the right action is tough, and the language used to describe many of the available actions is rather unclear.

If I’m going to invest time in learning something, I’d rather learn to write a script than deal with Automator.

I wonder who uses Automator and for what purposes.

AppleScript

Then there’s AppleScript. I’ve always known that it exists but have never looked into it.

For simple things, it seems appealing enough. You can write lines that are remarkably close to English sentences and the computer will follow the instructions.

Here’s an example:

tell the application “Finder” to close all windows

But from what I’m turning up in web search, it seems AppleScript isn’t exactly a live and vibrant part of Mac OS X. Any official documentation I’ve seen is Leopard-era. (Translation: 2007.)

When I asked a friend about it, he replied, “Oh yeah, I remember using that in Mac OS 8!” (Translation: 1997.)

I don’t care so much about how new AppleScript may be, but if it’s going to become obsolete in the next year or so, I’d rather not spend time learning it if there are other reasonable options available.

Python?

A fellow cast member on a TV shoot the other day recommended Python as an option.

That is out of my realm of experience, but I’m not opposed to giving it a shot if it is capable of doing the job.

My first questions would be:

  • can Python be used to script what’s happening to certain files locally on my Mac?
  • can it run a file through certain applications, save a new copy of the resulting file, rename it, etc, all in one go?

Objective-C/Cocoa

A good friend and software developer in Osaka recommended that I learn to make native apps.

This is something I am interested in, but for the local automation chore I have in mind, it would be like using a bazooka to swat a fly, after building my own bazooka.


I will look into local automation further, but the issue here isn’t rhetorical. If you have any recommended solutions, I’d love to hear from you.In the meantime, I’m going to be working on my new joke. I just can’t seem to get the punchline down. It starts like this:

A French software developer and an American web nomad are talking automation scripts backstage at the filming of a Japanese TV drama…

Local automation options that I’m aware of today
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