Does Apple really want to kill Automator, AppleScript?

Shock termination of veteran Apple developer guru sends shockwaves across the Mac community

Apple, macOS, OS X, AppleScript, Automator, Sal Soghoian
Credit: Jonny Evans

Veteran Mac users across the developer and pro communities are reeling at the news that Sal Soghoian’s position as Product Manager of Automation Technologies at Apple has been terminated, after nearly twenty years at the company.

Eliminated

Soghoianannounced his news in a note on his website and in public at the MacTech Conference in LA yesterday.

“I joined Apple in January of 1997, almost twenty years ago, because of my profound belief that “the power of the computer should reside in the hands of the one using it.” That credo remains my truth to this day. Recently, I was informed that my position as Product Manager of Automation Technologies was eliminated for business reasons. Consequently, I am no longer employed by Apple Inc. But, I still believe my credo to be as true today as ever,” he wrote.

What is user automation?

Soghoian was in charge of macOS user automation technologies. These are powerful tools. In the past you could use them to enable voice control on Macs in the days before Siri, and you can still obtain a huge collection of insanely great scripts from Doug’s AppleScripts.

Soghoian’s keynote moment came in 2004, when he joined Steve Jobs on stage to demonstrate Automator.

Apple’s decision to axe Soghoian’s role suggests the company has no further interest in developing user scriptable tools, which will do nothing to negate concerns at the company’s future in the professional markets.

MacObserver notes, “Mac automation has been in a tenuous position for years since with features slowly disappearing with OS X, and now macOS, updates.”

Shockwave

The news has sent a shockwave through the core community of Mac users, who have known the man personally and professionally for decades.

“I find this to be a profoundly worrisome turn of events for the future of the Mac. I hope I’m wrong,” writes Daring Fireball.

The following Tweets from across the community show the depth of feeling:

What next?

It may be up to Mac users to stand up for the technologies Soghoian helped build: “Seriously, if you have any questions or concerns about the future of user automation, ask Apple. If user automation technologies are important to you, then now is the time for all good men and women to reach out, speak up and ask questions,” he writes.

It may be a dark reflection on an Apple that thinks Emojis on the Touch Bar are more important than enabling user programmable functions that Soghoian also states:

“The need for user automation is a constant. I've seen the benefits and power of individuals being able to automate critical and repetitive tasks. Solution apps are great, emojis are fun, but there's nothing like really great automation tools.”

Which technologies are we talking about?

The macOS user automation technologies include: UNIX CLI (shell, python, ruby, perl), System Services, Apple Events (JavaScript, AppleScript, AppleScriptObj-C, Scripting Bridge), Automator, Apple Configurator (AppleScript, Automator), and Application scripting support in Photos, iWork, Finder, Mail, and other Apple applications.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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This story, "Does Apple really want to kill Automator, AppleScript?" was originally published by Computerworld.

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