Yosemite’s Speakable Scripts

October 17th, 2014

One of the cool new features in OS X Yosemite is a major expansion of the system’s dictation features. Not only has the dictation become more accurate and reliable (probably by leveraging the work that goes into Siri on iOS), but there are new integration points that facilitate really interesting workflows.

I developed FastScripts many years ago expressly because at the time I found it tedious to have to open a script in Script Editor, and run it. For quick-fix type scripts, it was easier to just do the thing than jump through the hoops of running it!

Over the years, Apple has improved the built-in mechanisms for running scripts, by adding their own standard script menu, and slowly increasing the ways in which scripts can be invoked through various built-in actions. Still, when it comes to organizing and invoking scripts by keyboard shortcut, I am convinced FastScripts is best.

But a nuanced feature of Yosemite’s Dictation feature actually leapfrogs FastScripts in one interesting area: it’s now possible to configure app-specific speaking commands that run arbitrary scripts.

I learned about this feature via Macworld’s Christopher Breen, who writes extensively about the new speech commands and how they can be used to create custom Automator workflows.

At first I griped that the commands could not be configured to run scripts, because that is what any reasonable person would infer from the selection of choices:

SpeakableCommand

Granted, these are all fine choices and you can perform some pretty interesting tasks by configuring a specific spoken phrase to open a file, paste a specific text phrase, or simulate a keyboard shortcut. But why can’t I run a script?

Going out on a limb I chose “Run Workflow…” and navigated in the file chooser to my scripts folder. Lo and behold, you can run a script, you just choose one instead of a workflow and speakable commands will handle it with aplomb.

Whether or not you use FastScripts to accelerate script execution with keyboard shortcuts, I think you might find some uses for speakable scripts. Enjoy!

Update Oct 17, 3:17PM EDT: Well, my excitement may have been a little premature. It seems the scripts are run not as the streamlined items that they are but are instead sort of wrapped in an automator action and run. It’s nice that you don’t have to go out of your way to translate a script into an Automator Workflow, but unfortunately this means that “Speakable Scripts” do put up the little Automator gear icon in the menu bar, and are probably ultimately slowed down at least a bit by being run as a full-on workflow.

Update Oct 19, 5:50PM EDT: Wait a minute, maybe it is running them as native scripts. There’s just a change on OS X Yosemite with how the system runs scripts, such that they always show an Automator-style progress indicator in the menu bar. I find this pretty irksome as a default behavior because for example short-lived scripts don’t need progress to be indicated at all. I’ve also noticed that the system automation progress indicator is liable to pop up at semi-random location in the menu bar, and then leave a gap when it goes away.

OS X Yosemite

October 17th, 2014

OS X Yosemite is now available, and if you rely upon any Red Sweater apps, you’ll be happy to know that we are good shape with compatibility. I’ve been running the beta releases for a few months and fixing little things here and there as I run into them. For the most part, Apple made this an easy transition for me, and I hope it will be an easy transition for all of you as well!

There are only two issues, both with MarsEdit, that I would point as possibly needing fixing, but they shouldn’t impede your normal use of the app:

  • The script menu icon doesn’t draw right in “dark mode.” If you flip the switch in System Preferences to favor a dark menu bar with white text, you will find that in MarsEdit the Script menu icon continues to draw darkly. This is rooted in a problem that Apple apparently plans to fix in a future update.
  • The “vibrant” translucency currently applies to the categories table in the post editor’s options side bar. I’m not sure it’s appropriate for this to happen, and it seems distracting to me. I plan to arrange for this content to always draw opaquely in a future update to MarsEdit. In the mean time, if the translucency bothers you in MarsEdit or in other apps, you can turn it off across all apps by selecting the option under System Preferences > Accessibility > Display to “Reduce transparency.”

Hopefully those little quirks are the extent of issues with Yosemite. Please do let me know if you run into anything else.

FastScripts 2.6.7: Yosemite Ready

October 7th, 2014

FastScripts 2.6.6 2.6.7 is available now from the FastScripts home page, and will soon be submitted to the Mac App Store for review by Apple.

This is a relatively minor update but addresses a few annoying bugs, while also bring it into line for the upcoming 10.10 Yosemite release from Apple.

  • Fix display of menu bar icon in “dark mode” on Yosemite 10.10
  • Ensure that user environment variables are set-up when running shell scripts
  • Fix appearance of keyboard shortcuts when running with non-Roman keyboard layouts

If you got 2.6.6 while it was active, the only difference with 2.6.7 is that it fixes an issue from 2.6.6 that caused the menu bar icon to appear in a light gray color by default on 10.9 and earlier systems.

Enjoy!

MarsEdit 3.6.5: Fix Flickr

July 3rd, 2014

MarsEdit 3.6.5 is available now from the MarsEdit home page, and has been submitted to the Mac App Store for review by Apple.

This releases restores functionality of MarsEdit’s Flickr integration, which broke last week when Flickr flipped the switch to require that all clients access their services with more secure HTTPS-based requests.

I want to be clear that the cessation of functionality was firmly my fault. Flickr did an admirable job of giving developers ample warning about the impending change, and even staged a couple of preliminary test outages before the final switch-over. What happened in this case is I made changes for MarsEdit 3.6.4 which I thought addressed the situation in entirety, but did not. I should have done more aggressive testing to ensure a smooth transition.

MarsEdit 3.6.5 includes the remaining Flickr fixes that should have gone into 3.6.4, as well as a couple other minor fixes:

  • Restore functionality for Flickr after recent API changes
  • Fix a crash that could occur on some systems while trying to locate the Growl framework
  • Fix a bug where blank document windows were sometimes opened upon launching

Enjoy!