My Fear of Scripting

I really enjoy reading @drdrang’s blog. In his last blog post:

What surprises me is when people who know Shortcuts or Keyboard Maestro—people who develop long workflows with branches and loops and regular expressions—balk at a little JavaScript or Python or AppleScript.

I understand that there are only so many hours in a day and whatever time you invest in learning the rudiments of a new language takes time away from other things you’d like to do—or need to do.

I’m not a programmer but I’m very curious about technology. I use Shortcuts very often, know some HTML/CSS and I have invested time in learning a bit of Pyhton - which I learned out of curiosity but never got much further away with because I didn’t know how to apply for my use cases.

I also wanted to learn javascript to create automation in drafts, scriptable, etc but all I could find were places teaching javascript in the context of website creation - which is not my intent.

One can argue that I could open Drafts and start testing with js… and trust me I’ve done that for specific use cases where I had to modify actions from others to suit my needs, but that learning curve is steep even for the basics.

In my case (and probably for many others), the main issue is not the time I have in a day, but the difficulty in finding where to invest the time (learning any of these do take time)

When I reserve 30 mins for Shortcuts (or Keyboard Maestro for that matter) not only do I create shortcuts (including if statements, regex and loops) and learn in the process but also I can immediately see the benefits of the invested time…and it can be universally applied.

Perhaps this is why many non-programmers step back from programming. It’s not the time invested, but the difficulty in choosing where to invest it.

(PS - this is also why MS PowerAutomate, former MS Flow, frustrates me so much. It could be a really nice KM type of application for Windows, but did they know how to complicate that thing…)


Personally I find Shortcuts a time sink compared to “just writing the darned code”. I don’t have the same feeling with Keyboard Maestro.

But perhaps, with the Scriptable “inline javascript” action, I can have the best of both worlds. But, wait, it’s the cumbersomeness of Shortcuts that I dislike and I still have that. :frowning:

Maybe that cumbersomeness can be fixed in iOS 14 (or at least iPad OS 14).

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If you can do everything you want in Shortcuts, you are fine with that. If you reach the point when Shortcuts can’t do what you want, and it is worth your time to learn something new, presumably you will spend the time. Once you do, it will open up many opportunities, just like Shortcuts did for you.

In terms of what to learn, there are all sorts of factors. Over the years I’ve learnt (and mostly forgotten) several programming / scripting languages for resolving personal and work issues. The circumstances varied, and as a result I’ve created solutions in well over 30 languages in the last 35 or so years. Often a combination. My point being that you don’t need to learn everything about a language, just enough to do what you need to do, and over time it will expand naturally as you find more things to do.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
- Lao Tzu



Back in the days, like twelve years ago when I was still using Windows, it was a limitation of the user interface of Microsoft Access that pushed me to open the ‘console’, and I could finally achieved what I wanted (a particular setup inside a form, I think). I was already in the context, I intuitively knew what I was doing.

I’ve tried to pick up scripting/programming a few times, and failed. I came to the conclusion that it’s probably easier to start when you have an exact goal in mind, why not by looking at and/or modifying existing scripts. Ans not everyone is destined to do it, if UI works well (and I’m rather a UI guy), it’s all fine!

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‘An exact small goal in mind’.

Right now I’m embarking on learning OmniAutomation for OmniFocus. I want to start small, I have two automations I want, but I don’t yet know how small these will turn out to be. To avoid procrastination-through-fear I’ve made both of them tasks in OmniFocus one week apart. That ought to get me going… :slight_smile:

Have you found any particular tutorials that are helpful? This will be my first foray into scripting since the days of batch (.bat) files in MS-DOS and Windows 3.1-98

On OmniFocus Automation (which I interpret your question to me as meaning) I went to the Omni-Automation website and took a couple of stock automations and adapted them. But then I do know javascript.

That’s where I was looking. I don’t know JavaScript. I have basic knowledge, but have not yet made a project.

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