PRO: Excellent tutorial and reference for both Automator. Online extras is a bonus
Moose Rating: 1-5 (5 highest) 5
With each evolution of Mac OS X, Apple keeps improving Automator, although I wonder how many people really use it. It really is a jewel in the rough as it can make routine redundant tasks very easy to accomplish. I have been discovering ways to use my Mac and make my tasks easier using Automator. From scaling and changing formats of graphic files to batch renaming to thinking of ideas of how to use the image capture plugin to make a useful Automator action for better photo management. Ben Waldie first wrote this book for Leopard and this one is expanded to cover the latest information. In this edition, a beginner to Automator will learn how to start making workflows ( or recording them), saving them as workflows, applications or plug-ins. All the information is here, he explores the standard actions available and includes some of the applications that have Automator support. Fetch FTP is an application not listed that has AppleScript and Automator support.
Early in the book, you are shown some simple Automator workflows. Chapter Three builds on the complexity of workflows. Whether you need to use variables (user defined) or system or add AppleScript to overcome an Automator limitation it is covered in the book. I have found trying to build my own workflows is the best way to learn. You can also use the record process or find existing examples to use or glean from. Chapter 12 provides automator resources.
I have in the past contacted Ben Waldie by email asking questions about how to do something. He has always been very generous with his time and assistance. This is an intangible we don't see much anymore but appears to be more prominent in the Mac community. His website is [...] and has workflows available for purchase.
I would say the added bonus to this book is the companion site which offers two bonus chapters and two appendices. There was also flash video or iPod friendly podcasts available through iTunes. I found the flash video quality to be questionable but the podcast were acceptable. It looks like podcasts are added on a regular basis so this continuous the learning process of Automator.
The book is available in paperback, Kindle edition and in Adobe e-pub format from the Peachpit site. Maybe we'll see this on the iPad too. In closing, this is a great book to get started on learning Automator and reducing your workload.