Related link: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/automator/
A week has passed since my upgrade to Tiger, and I think I’ve found a new friend — Automator.
Hardly a day goes by without me thinking: “Hang on! Perhaps I could use Automator to whip up a simpler way of doing this!”
I’ve been really enjoying toying around with workflows, trying to find new ways of doing things. Or in some cases, new things to do. Nothing terribly complex or world-changing; in fact, usually very simple and basic. But useful.
“Examples, give us examples!” you cry. OK, here’s some:
I try to post regularly on my weather weblog, Rising Slowly but find the process of grabbing images then resizing them to a specific width tedious and overly time-consuming. (In other words, I know it only takes a few seconds, but every time I have to do it I feel like it’s just that little bit like too much hard work. Hurrumph.)
So I created two workflows, one for turning an image dragged out of my browser into a 100×100 thumbnail, and another for resizing images dragged in the same way to 394 pixels wide.
As yet there are no actions for MarsEdit, the editor I use to maintain that particular site; but as soon as any appear, I can see both these workflows being further amended to make life even simpler.
Use Markdown in TextEdit
You may well have heard of Markdown, a chunk of Perl that does an excellent job of converting suitably-marked-up text into valid XHTML. I use it all the time in BBEdit (in fact, I’m writing this very post in this manner).
Using three very simple Actions, you can now make use of Markdown in a TextEdit document too: Get Contents of TextEdit Document -> Run Shell Script (point this to markdown.pl) -> Set Contents of TextEdit Document. Save in your Applescripts folder for easy access, any time.
One thing that has bothered me during all this noodling around in Automator, is that there’s no pre-installed Action along the lines of ‘Get contents of clipboard’. I keep wanting to use this in many of the workflows I play with, and if it existed then my Markdown example above could be used in all sorts of other text editors and word manglers.
With a bit more time, I might be able to sit down and make such an Action myself, but no doubt someone else has already created it, or will do so much sooner than I can.
What simple little workflows have you been cooking up? Or, what’s the craziest, longest, most complex workflow you’ve created?