What is Workflow?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Tissue Paper, May 14, 2015.

  1. Tissue Paper macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2012

    I always had a little problem getting my head around the concept of workflows. I have been using the Alfred app for a while now. After purchasing the extra pack, I set up the workflow to run simple things like at the end of the week, with a single command- Alfred will trigger all the apps that I specified and need for reviewing my week. Same thing for example for when I want to do an writing assignment. This; however, doesn't seem to be the only thing workflow does, right?

    I also tried Googling this a few times but I hardly ever find a site that explains "What a workflow is, why humans use it and what does it do". And now that I think about it, you're bound to find one that explains what an Email does but never a workflow hehe.

    Then the Workflow app came out:

    And it sounds interesting but I still can't imagine how that works on an iOS. Does that mean the iPhone itself will run processes on its own?

    I'm sorry if my question seems a little bit weird but I always really wanted to know as I feel maybe it's something I can implement to make things easier but I still don't know how it works. I'm curious how you guys use it too (if you do).

  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think you're over thinking the issue.
    Workflow is the list of tasks needed to complete a given project. For photographers their given workflow will be different then for authors, or programmers.

    You can't google and say what is workflow and expect a specific answer since its more of a generic term, its only specific when you narrow it down to a specific type of action.

    Ultimately a workflow is a series of steps that you take that efficiently complete a project, that doesn't mean it will be efficient for me or anyone else. Find what works in you and don't worry about the term workflow.
  3. Tissue Paper thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2012
    That's a good answer but now I'm curious what do people use it for.

    The reason I ask is because a lot of the times I feel like I use technology almost as if it's early in the day. Then I come across productivity articles and app reviews and realize there are so many ways to save time and do things now. One of them is workflows.

    Take Drafts for example. It's a really good app (which I still forget to use sometimes) but I get impressed when I hear how people manipulate the way its used and ultimately it saves people a lot of time so instead of typing in an email, everything is typed in Drafts first and then exported accordingly.

    The only use workflows did for me was to save me the time to open individual apps; and instead open them all at the same time but there are so many different uses I'm sure.

    Was hoping more people would share how they use them :}
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Its not an it, in the sense that some people use "workflow" and some people don't. Its a description of the steps people use to accomplish a task. Some people use Lightroom in their workflow to process their images. Lightroom is not workflow. Some people use Aperture in their workflow.

    I think you're confusing the term that describes the action (or actions) and thinking its more of a noun.
  5. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    maflynn has given you a very good explanation of workflow. It is a set of actions used by an individual or group of people to complete a given task.

    Example: Writing a note to someone.

    You will need to; 1. Get a piece of paper. 2. Get a writing instrument. 3. Write the note.

    The 3 actions when combined produce a workflow, all be it an extremely simple workflow. The first 2 actions can be done in a different order, but it is still a workflow, because it will complete the objective.
  6. Tissue Paper thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2012
    Yeah I know what you mean but I was referring to Alfred's workflows and similar apps like Alfred.

    Look at this:

    This feature is similar to Automator but it's a little different. I create simple workflows with Alfred but now they're making them for the iOS too.

    This is an example of what the Workflow feature looks like in Alfred.

  7. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    A better way to think of it as the process for handling repetitive tasks. It makes no sense to setup a workflow for one time events. If you perform the same tasks each time then substantial time savings can be had by designing and implementing a suitable workflow/process.

    Can't help with Alfred as I don't use it.

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