Saturday, December 15, 2018

Shortcut Bubble Trouble

Shortcut Bubble Trouble

On ATP episode 304: Island of Shortcuts, there was a discussion comparing and contrasting Shortcuts and the command line. Marco and Casey made some great points about how the command line, more or less, is something that is common across all major operating systems today. While Shortucts is great it is something new you have to learn, whereas the command line is something lots of people already know and lives just below the surface out of reach of iOS users.

Siracusa said he has played around with Shortcuts and thinks that people have been able to do some impressive and useful things with them. However, he continues that “if you are a programmer then it is far less appealing to use because you have to write a program with little GUI bubbles in a big long linear list”. I definitely related to that, because I have created a few different Shortcuts, from a medical log to one that generates dismissal letters for my kids. Since I am a programmer it would have been a lot quicker for me to just type 4 or 5 commands into a text file rather than going through the tedious process of searching through the blocks, dragging them into position and typing in the various parameters. For example, my medical log shortcut includes 10 blocks, but I bet it could probably be simplified to 3–4 lines of code.

Given the recent discussion around iOS vs macOS it definitely got the gears going in my brain. Do I want a command line app in iOS because I am comfortable in my macOS habits or is it more because it is a more efficient tool? It goes back to a previous blog post I wrote about putting a real keyboard on an iPad, An iOS laptop. Do I want a laptop form factor for iOS because I am more comfortable with it or because that form factor is more efficent for typing and using? Even if I don’t get those things I hope that the Shortcuts team removes a layer of abstraction for the app and lets you write Shortcuts in some sort of an AppleScript or JavaScript format in the future.

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