V2 Sneak Peek: Workflows

Alfred is now almost 3 years old and has been built from the top down, with many wonderful new features being added throughout his life. Over time, it has been getting harder and harder to keep Alfred’s preferences usable and approachable for new users.

Around a year ago, I decided it was time for some big changes… and by big changes, I mean, rethinking Alfred’s architecture from the ground up with a brand new foundation, on top of which all of his features are built – I started to plan Workflows.

Workflows are process containers of interconnected processing objects (haha I just made that up, sounds posh eh?). Put simply, you have triggers, inputs, actions and outputs, which can be mashed together into really useful stuff.

There are loads of great built-in objects, so non-technical users can simply pop these objects onto the canvas, connect them together and use their workflow. Not a line of code in sight.

Even better? Developers can create their own custom objects to process information in any way they like, including live filters feeding directly back into Alfred’s results.

Now for some simple examples of the sort of workflows you’ll be able to create:

Should I watch this movie?

Alfred v2 Workflow - Movies

Alfred v2 Workflow – Should I watch this movie?

Movies weren’t created equal, so before I start watching a movie, I can search for “movie dark knight rises” to decide whether or not I should watch it. This will launch a YouTube search for the trailer in Chrome (because I don’t have Flash installed in Safari), an IMDB search using a default web search, and a Rotten Tomatoes custom search I’ve created.

Upload to Flickr

Alfred v2 workflow - Upload image to Flickr

Alfred v2 workflow – Upload image to Flickr

Using the “flickr” filter narrows the Alfred results to only image files. Once I’ve found the image I want, the workflow uploads it to Flickr using the script I’ve added. It notifies me when the upload starts, and again when the upload has completed. No need to refresh the Flickr page repeatedly to check if it’s done, Alfred will let you know!

Google Searches

Alfred v2 Workflow - Google Searches

Alfred v2 Workflow – Google Searches

This one has a few ways to start the search, using both hotkeys and keywords.

Using the keyword “suggest” feeds Google Suggest results back into Alfred using a script filter – This is a new and extremely powerful v2 feature, allowing developers to feed results dynamically back into Alfred. Once I’ve found the result I want, hitting return will search Google. And just because I can, it’ll also post a notification to Growl and copy the suggestion to Clipboard.

Alternatively, I can launch a Google web search using the “g” keyword. Holding the Cmd modifier when hitting return, or using the Cmd + Alt + G hotkey opens the web search in Chrome instead.

These are just a few examples of what can be created with the new Workflows, and they barely scratch the surface of what you’ll be able to do with them.

What next?

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be posting a few more sneak peeks like this to share some of the v2 features.

If you want to take part in the v2 beta in January, you can upgrade your v1 single user license to Mega Supporter or buy a new Mega Supporter license today.

38 thoughts on “V2 Sneak Peek: Workflows

  1. Will it be possible for me (like Quicksilver at some point in time), to

    1) open alfred window
    2) start writing a contact name
    3) select it
    4) select an action – e.g. “call with skype” or “send sms with skype” – on an detail of the contact?

  2. i love the automator workflows but they are too slow. if you made this really fast it will be awesome.

    can’t wait to put my hands in this new version and rewrite my extensions.

  3. Can’t wait for v2!!! I couldn’t use a computer without Alfred at this point. Thanks for all your hard work!!

  4. Looks great :)

    Will there be any kind of scheduling options for the workflows, to run them at certain times/intervals?

    • While there won’t be any scheduling options by default, Andrew is planning to add an external trigger into workflows from outside of Alfred. So you could hook into here from crontab. :)

  5. This workflow concept looks awesome, can’t wait to try it out!

    And “process containers of interconnected processing objects” is my new favourite buzz phrase, do you mind if I start using it at work!!

  6. Really impressed by this concept! I’ve been using Alfred since the beginning and I found myself not really immersed in some of the new features because it seemed (sometimes) too complicated to go through all the options and settings. With this visual approach, using Alfred for more complex tasks will be so much easier!

    Thank you for continuously improving the app!

  7. I’m throwing money at the screen, but nothing is happening.

    Otherwise, Andrew, this is some awesome work you’ve got going. I can’t wait to get my hands on the first Beta for v2.

  8. This looks amazing, I can’t wait to use it and develop for v2. I will become a mega supporter next week :)

  9. First of all thank you for this great product. Some days ago I upgraded my licence to “Mega Supporter” both to have the v2 ASAP :-) and to show my appreciation

    As a developer I really like Alfred because I can launch my scripts in a fancy and quick way :-)

    What I miss:
    - something like an autocomplete functionality, a way from an extension to fill the list below the input so that the user can choose the next piece of the command in an handy way
    - a piece of UI to put the output of my extension (every extension I’m aware of uses growl as an output catcher)

    Any of these features are planned in the future?

    • Thanks for upgrading to Mega Supporter :)

      The Google example above shows a script that feeds results back into Alfred. As well, one example outputs to Growl while the other outputs to Notification Centre, so you’ll be able to choose whatever suits you best.

  10. This seems great, but please make sure this kind of functionality doesn’t bloat Alfred too much. I love how light weight and snappy it seems for all the simple stuff.

    With that said, will this potentially allow for a workflow such as uploading screenshots to a webserver and putting the path to the image in my clipboard (ala TinyGrab, Scrup, etc)

    • Andrew takes great care in keeping Alfred’s footprint absolutely tiny. The framework rewrite from the ground up ensures that Alfred is notably faster and more lightweight than v1.

      And yes, that sounds like a perfect workflow idea :)

  11. The first is such a poor example. For obvious reasons, you were going to see Dark Knight Rises regardless of the result.

  12. Looks good.

    Will there be a way to upload photos or files to a server via FTP in a certain folder such as “/files/photos” and then copy the URL to the clipboard as “domain.com/files/photos”?

    • All of that will be possible through workflows. You’ll need to create custom scripts to upload to your own server via FTP, but I have no doubt that some Alfred users will be able to share their workflows :)

  13. I don’t have money for the rent, but I just went Mega Supporter! That’s how much I love Alfred ;)

  14. Will you add an option to blur the background behind the Alfred window like Quick Look does?

    • We may do in the future, but it requires use of a private API, which is less reliable than public APIs so would have the potential of breaking more easily.

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