Automator -- 1.5 years later

Discussion in 'macOS' started by mkrishnan, Dec 17, 2006.


What is your experience with Automator?

  1. I have used Automator and I have at least some previous programming familiarity

  2. I have not used Automator and I have at least some previous programming familiarity

  3. I have used Automator and I have no previous programming familiarity

  4. I have not used Automator and I have no previous programming familiarity

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Automator was a very interesting new feature in Tiger. The intention was apparently to provide an interface that would allow individuals with little or no programming experience to create workflows and automate simple tasks.

    1.5 years later, I'm curious about whether or not this promise came true? It seems to me like Automator is a rarely discussed piece of Apple technology here. It seems very infrequently brought up as a solution to problems. Sometimes, when it is, other technologies are clearly considered superior by users here (e.g. prefering PS actions to using Automator in conjunction with PS).

    So what I would like to know are two things:

    1) Do people use Automator?
    2) Are the people who use Automator people with at least some programming exposure or are they naïve to programming?

    For the purposes of this poll, my definition of programming experience is going to be any experience with anything that incorporates text-based computer language in which commands or APIs are used to manipulate information. I'm including the major programming languages (C and variants, Java, all Basics, Fortrans, etc), scripting (shell scripting, PERL, Javascript, etc), and high-level programmable environments that follow similar rules (e.g. Matlab). If you've ever been taught / learned how to solve any problems using any of these environments, pleaase consider yourself as having exposure to programming.

    I am defining having used Automator as having solved at least one problem since you got Tiger using an action or workflow you created in Automator.

    My personal answer: I have used Automator a little (I made some workflows that I assigned to Finder's contextual menus and still sometimes use), and I have been exposed to programming.
  2. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus


    Mar 10, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    I have used it. Not much, but I've tried it both for fun and actually a couple of useful things.

    I have some programming experience. I've got an engineering degree in CS and work as a freelance web programmer.
  3. Loge macrumors 68030


    Jun 24, 2004
    I use it for systematically renaming files. I haven't found other uses yet, though it appears to have potential.
  4. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    I've tried it a few times, I think I was successful once or twice. I've got coding experience.

    It'll be interesting to hear whether the people who have been successful with it are programmers or not. Maybe it's my "Automator is a programing tool" perspective that makes it frustrating.

    Of course I find Applescript to be pull-your-hair-out maddening too, so it might just be that Automator suffers from the same mindset as Applescript did.
  5. EvryDayImShufln macrumors 65816


    Sep 18, 2006
    I use it to resize pics to go on my cell phone, and also to change folder view options for picture folders and such.
  6. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    Shifting the conversation to the new thread...

    I almost think your original problem (deleting a file after operating on it) would almost be better served by some sort of subroutine-- a series of commands that would run sequentially from the same inputs. Multiple outputs would be useful for other things though.

    I'd like to see a set of type-converters too. I seem to remember running into problems where the output of one block was a file name, and the input to another was a file, or something like that.

    My biggest gripe has been that it's hard for me to write a general automation if it can't make decisions.

    edit: Cool, cross thread quoting works!
  7. Bibulous macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2005
    I use it about once a month, mostly to automate Finder tasks. I don't save them for later use as they are pretty basic and geared to one task.

    I would like to see more (or any?) third party apps supported, as it is easy to use and fun when your 'app' works.

    I took a C class 10+ years ago, but have not thought of it since.

    Just to add that I have tried but still don't have any idea how to go about writing an Applescripts. Not something I would want to spend any amount of time learning about.
  8. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    i tried, but it seems not flexible and powerful enough to finish some tasks, or maybe just because i didn't really get it.
  9. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus


    Jan 15, 2006
    The Kop
    I have been taught (extremely poor teacher) some Matlab. And have self learnt applescript, and delving into the world of terminal.

    I have some contextual menu addons made by Automater for Finder. I do find it very restricting in what i can do so i don't even think about it as a solution anymore

    Definately fall into this camp
  10. jive macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2006
    I use it to rename Photos, resize images and send certain files through Bluetooth to my phone etc. It's useful I suppose.
  11. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Really? With the little " icon? Sweet! :)

    Mmm, so far there seem to be quite a few no-programming yes-automator responses... but I'm surprised that there have been few no-automator responses!

    I guess a lot of us fall in the "I used it a few times, I don't see it as being that great right now" camp.... :(
  12. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603


    Jan 10, 2006
    I use it (very rarely) to rename files and thats about it. If there were more jobs that I found repetitive then I guess I would use it even more. For the time it takes to create a workflow you may as well have done the job yourself.
  13. jeffy.dee-lux macrumors 6502a

    Nov 19, 2003
    or it could be that people who've never used automator are less likely to check out this thread.
    I've tried using it a little bit, two little finder contextual menu operations. One for importing audio files into itunes and converting them to MP3, and another to sort PDF files alphabetically and then join them in that order.

    Can people give examples of some of their workflows? I feel like i could make use of this more, but can't really think of how.
  14. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    Automator creates programs that are far more bloated than their equivalent Applescript for simple tasks.

    Automator actions can be quickly assembled, compared to writing out the code for Applescript however.... because Automator has a more Object-Oriented philosophy (picking different pieces of code and stringing them together)
  15. xPismo macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    Same here. I also use Automator scripts to keep my photo workflow going, they rename CRW files and can batch jpg them via Photoshop.

    FWIW has been a good resource for me.

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