What's the Best Way to Keep Track of Automations?

I have a number of automations spread out among IFTTT, Zapier, and Shortcuts that I’ve built up over the years, but now I sometimes find myself in a situation where I can’t remember what I automated where. Does anyone have something that they use to keep track of automations? I need some sort of system to keep track of this, and that I can reference quickly. Airtable, MindNode, and Craft come immediately to mind as possibilities (because I already use them), but I’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried to do this before I start barking up the wrong tree.

I’d recommend keeping a folder of text files, one for each automation (or include it in wherever you keep your other reference notes).

Come up with a good unique tag — eg, #my_automations — and include a name (eg, “birthday greetings automation”) and a short description, plus links to any files, documentation, etc., or code snippets you used (in case the macro, shortcut, etc. gets corrupted or lost somehow). It could also help to include notes on why you used the approach you did (“Shortcuts is clumsy, but has the best integration with X”).

Think of it as a lab notebook.

For personal stuff, I use Obsidian, having used a variety of note taking apps for it previously with varying amounts of success.

i document my automations as I build them, or rediscover/amend them for older ones that predate my documenting.

I also liberally cross-link and cross-reference with software, hardware, and services.

For work stuff, it is Microsoft OneNote, but the approach is very similar, other than it is more of a shared resource where anyone can maintain it.

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Including links to documentation, code, etc. is a good idea. Thanks for suggesting that. I was initially thinking of using Airtable to make it easier to filter my automations, but using tags and cross links in reference notes would be better. Thanks for the input!

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Watch out or I’ll start serkonizkng on the virtues of keeping as much as possible in plain text formats… :joy:

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Recently started consolidating my automations into Zapier and Python/JS scripts. Now I just use Shortcuts as a wrapper to run a script via Scriptable. Not sure if moving to just 1 or 2 platforms is viable for you though.

I keep a simple plaintext note, in Bear because that’s my notes app but it works anywhere. I call it Breadcrumb because I use it to find my way back :slight_smile:

Every automation I set up gets its own heading, and I list a few key facts: purpose of the change, where key files are located, what edits have been made to default settings, and steps to reverse the change. That way if something goes rogue on me I always know where to find it.

My Breadcrumb also serves a broader purpose. I use it to track any terminal-based changes like defaults commands, apps that need special permissions, anything I might want to undo that would be difficult to figure out. It lets me tinker responsibly!

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I like this approach a lot. I might have too many and too disparate automations to use a single file for all the details. But I could do a heading, a brief description, and then a link to each automation’s own note. So a kind of index page. Then I don’t have to rely on tagging the automation notes correctly

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Yeah, I don’t think I could reduce the number of platforms I’m using. My main problem isn’t so much that I’m using different automation platforms, it’s that I don’t have a record of what I’ve automated. That’s what I’m looking to fix. (I have far more shortcuts that any other type of automation, but I sometimes can’t remember what I have in there!)

if you are on Apple, the Notes app is simple and syncs with your devices

Notes does do a good job of syncing across devices, but I use Craft as my “single source of truth” (I have over 2,000 notes in it right now), so I’ll be sticking with it.

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. The consensus seems to be that using text files to keep track of this is the best option, which is where I was leaning when I asked my original question. Airtable was somewhat tempting because of the ability to sort/filter based on specific criteria, but text files work well for that, too. As a Craft user (I have over 2,000 at the moment between my two workspaces), I’ll start keeping track of my automations there. I like the idea of maintaining an index of automations, so I’m going to be using backlinks to accomplish that. Again, thanks for weighing in, everyone!

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