Shortcuts is finally coming to the Mac, and TimeStory will support it on day one. (Or as near as possible!)
I’m excited about this feature. I like the Shortcuts app in the Monterey beta so far, and I like that Apple now has a single, consistent automation story across their platforms. And thanks to iOS, it’s launching on the Mac with far more user and developer mindshare than Automator or AppleScript have had in a long time (if ever).
On WWDC Week
After the WWDC21 announcements, it was Shortcuts which prompted me to immediately grab the Monterey and Xcode betas. The Meet Shortcuts for Mac was well-done, and all I needed to get oriented. The first roughed-in shortcut or two came together fairly quickly, having never touched this API before. I was able to follow this up with a lab appointment where I had a fantastic conversation with a couple of Apple folks, including one of the original creators of the app. (Thanks, Ari. And as an aside, thanks, Apple; I signed up for four labs this year, never having done a WWDC lab before, and they were an incredibly helpful and motivational resource.)
On composable actions vs. features
I can sum up much of my enthusiasm for Shortcuts support by describing the other features I no longer have to build.
Need to find the next seven days’ worth of events in a TimeStory timeline, filtered for some tag, and add them to your Reminders? Need to import vacations or other events from a company calendar into your project plan? Want a hot key to quickly pop up a two-week timeline view, with a specific project open?
With robust automation support, these can all be done without any special features on my part, and I can respond to a customer request with a shortcut file rather than a promise to add it to my backlog. TimeStory doesn’t even need to request access to your calendar, reminders, or other private data, because it gets handed whatever data it needs.
On Shortcuts vs. AppleScript
I wanted to mention that TimeStory does have a basic suite of AppleScript commands. I built it mainly for my own use, but it can do a fair number of simple things. I’m not removing it. But the Shortcuts UI is a far better fit for simple data flows or sequences of steps than Script Editor. It’s more discoverable, easier to use, and better integrated into the system, and I’m much more comfortable with pointing users to Shortcuts than I would be with pointing them to AppleScript.