Maccast Members 2011.09.11 - Automator in Lion
V Intro
* I read about some cool new additions in Automator in Lion and so decided to dive in a bit
V Quick Automator recap
* One of the best analogies I've heard is the concept of a 'recipe'
* An Automator workflow is the recipe and the actions are ingredients.
* How you combine the different ingredients determines the outcome
V Most actions have inputs and results (outputs) and they types are important.
* These can be viewed in the info area when you select the item in the Library or from the 'Description' tab if you select the item in the workflow
V Building a Workflow
* Launch Automator (Applications-->Automator)
V When you choose 'File --> New…' you'll get a panel with several types of documents
* Workflow - Workflows can be run from within Automator.
* Application - Applications are self-running workflows. Any files or folders dropped onto an Application will be used as input to the workflow.
* Service - Services are contextual workflows available throughout Mac OS X. They accept text or files from the current application or the Finder. Services appear in the Services menu.
* Print Plugin - Print plugins are workflows that are available in the print dialog. They accept PDF versions of the document being printed.
* Folder Action - Folder Actions are workflows that are attached to a folder in the Finder. Items added to the folder cause the workflow to run and are used as input to the workflow.
* iCal Alarm - iCal Alarms are workflows that are run when triggered by an event in iCal. They receive no input.
* Image Capture Plugin - Image Capture plugins are workflows that are available in Image Capture. They receive image files as input.
V Selecting the type will determine in Lion where and how it's saved by Version. Most of the time you'll probably create Applications or Services.
* One of the features new to Lion is a 'Duplicate to…' option which lets you take an existing Workflow and convert it to a different type.
V New to Automator in Lion
* Already mentioned Duplicating Workflows
V Easy install of Actions or Services
* You can download 3rd party Actions (ingredients) to be used in Automator workflows
* Just double click and you will get a dialog
* Services are installed to '~/Library/Services' and Actions to '~/Library/Actions'
* Versions support
V New Actions
* Text To EPUB File
* Website PopUp
* Create Banner Image from Text
* Get Contents of Webpages (Webarchive type)
* Save Images from Web Content
* Encode to MPEG Audio
* Encode Media
* Create Annotated Media File (add metadata)
* Enhanced RTF Support, better support for the RTF format in text
* New Filtering Options for Text Input in Services, better use of Data Detectors. URLs, dates, or phone numbers, can now be both detected and filtered from selected text.
V Text to ePub
* File New…, select the Service type
V At the top of the Workflow
* Service receives selected: 'Text' in 'Any application'
* Input is: 'Entire selection' (default) and 'Output replaces selected text' is unchecked.
V From the Actions List:
* If it's not visible Click the 'Show Library' button in the toolbar
V In the 'Text' library add the 'New Text File' action
* File format: 'Plain text'
* Save as: 'temporary.txt'
* Where: Desktop (I create a 'Temporary Items' folder in my Documents folder and set it to that) Check the 'Replace existing files' option
* Encoding: Default is fine (mine is Western (Mac OS Roman) )
V In the 'Text' section add the 'Text to EPUB File' action
* You can set a default Author, Title, and Save As (filename)
* Set the save location under 'Where:'. I created a My EPUBs folder in my Documents folder
* You can also set a default cover image. Apple automatically sets a generic brown cover in iBooks
V Chances are though you'll want to set the Title, etc at runtime
* Enable this by going under the 'Options' section at the bottom of the 'Text to EPUB File' action block
* Check the 'Show this action when the workflow runs' option.
V Save the Service.
* Name will be what is displayed when you see it in the 'Services' menu.
* I named mine 'Text to EPUB'
V To use it, not you can go to any app, make a selection, control+click (right-click), choose Services-->Text to EPUB.
* Once selected the dialog should pop up
* Set the Title, Author, filename, etc.
* Then the ePUB should generate and save to the location you specified.
* Now you can drag that .epub file to iTunes and it will be added to iBooks and you can sync.
V Some other things you can do:
* You could adjust the workflow to use RichText selections
V You can start with a set of selected TXT or RTF files instead of a selection (or a folder of files)
* Each TXT file will become a chapter and I think gets loaded in order by filename.
* Create EPUB Book with Contents of Clipboard
V Add media. Images, audio, or video (m4v or m4a) in the Text to EPUB action settings
* Added as 1 item per chapter at the beginning or end
* again these go in order by filename I believe
* Extra elements get added in a separate chapter
V Save Emails from URL
* File New…, select the Service type
V At the top of the Workflow
* Service receives selected: 'URLs' in 'Any application'
* Input is: 'Only URLs'
V From the 'Internet' actions add the 'Get text from webpage' action
* Set the 'Get' value to 'Plain Text'
V From the 'Text' actions add the 'Extract Data from Text' action (new in Lion)
* Set the 'Extract' datatype to 'Email addresses'
V From the 'Text' actions add the 'New Text File' action
* File Format: Plain Text
* Save as: 'Emails.txt'. I also set the 'Replace existing file' option
* Where: Desktop
* Encoding: Western (Mac OS Roman) (default)
V Save the Service
* I named mine 'Save Emails from Web Page'
V To use
* Select any URL that goes to a page that contains email addresses on it. A club directory for example.
* Control+Click (Right+Click) on the URL
* Under Services-->Save Emails from Web Page
* Should generate a TXT file on the desktop with only the email addresses that appear on the web page. One email address per line.
V Make stand alone web app widget
* File New…, select the Application type
V From the 'Internet' actions add the 'Get Specified URLs' action
* Add the Url for your widget. I used ''
* Tip: you can drag a URL into the Automator Workflow section and it will automatically add this action with the URL set.
V From the 'Internet' actions add the 'Website Popup' action
* Site Size: iPhone (Large, Medium, iPad, iPhone, and Custom option)
* User Agent: iPhone (Safari, iPhone, iPad)
* Position: Centered
* Output: Input URL
* Save the app. Name it whatever you'd like.
V Double click and you'll get an iPhone sized app window with the site loaded
V If you choose a site that has an iOS formatted version it will fit perfectly in the window
* Techinca, Macworld, Apple Insider, Twitter, Google
* Right+Click or use the Command + Left Arrow to go back
* You'll notice the "Automator" cog running in the menubar until you click OK or Cancel at the bottom of the app to exit the automator action.
V Automator Resources
* Mac OS X Automation
* Automated Workflows, Ben Waldie - Books, Blog, tutorials
* Automator World