How You Use Alfred: Mattias Arrelid, Spotify’s Director of SDK

In this series, we are taking a look at how some users have adopted Alfred in their workplace. They’ll give us a glimpse of how they use Alfred, how they stay productive and what it’s like working for some of the companies we know and love. Last week, we spoke to Ryan Cowles, Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

This week, Mattias Arrelid, Director of the Spotify SDK, shares how he uses Alfred while working on the latest version of Spotify – a service that fuels us with music every day while we work!

Who are you, and what keeps you busy?

My name is Mattias Arrelid, and I’m on a (never-ending) journey to make Spotify infrastructure better™ across all our supported platforms. Lately, this has manifested itself in some much needed tightening of our build & release infrastructure empowering our mobile & desktop apps, as well as some mentoring for one of my teams who is replacing the beating heart that is our player interface that all our features (radio, search etc.) use to play things inside our apps. Exciting times!

arrelid-setup-filtered2

On my desk, an Aeropress and some coffee, gloves (yes, this is Sweden), a MacBook Pro Retina 13″ (which may just be replaced this month) and a Cinema Display

How long have you been using Alfred?

That’s one fine, albeit tricky, question right there. Looking through my archived e-mails, I see the first newsletter from you in late February 2011. That said, I was obviously a cheapskate until late 2012 – that’s when I bought the Powerpack. To compensate, I opted in for the Mega Supporter option once I gave you my money…

What aspects of Alfred make your workday more productive?

The workflows, period. Being a big fan of Quartz Composer and scripting in general, it feels pretty damn amazing to have almost limitless functionality at the tip of your fingers at a cost that’s close to zero in terms of setup and complexity.

I don’t even want to think about how much time people spend repeating dull operations in their everyday work-life, when they could be using workflows instead.

Are there any workflows you’ve created or imported that you’d recommend?

Since I’m always running the latest and greatest internal Spotify builds, I’ve constructed a small set of workflows that easily lets me perform common debugging operations. One is starting Spotify with a certain cache and/or username – this has proven itself very valuable when it comes to error reporting, since you always want to prove your bug on a clean install of the app/version combo in question. Combine this with another little script that parses the Info.plist to pick up the version number and place it in the clipboard – I don’t even want to know how many times I’ve used this when reporting/confirming bugs in Jira…

Another workflow I’ve been tinkering around with is one that allows me to easily message/call people using my iPhone. I guess Continuity wasn’t that bad after all, especially combined with the powers of app URIs (that lets you invoke iMessage/Facetime with your contact’s details). I know something similar is available publicly already, but I wanted more granularity in what operation to perform (like FaceTime with or without video).

Another gem that I can’t live without is the IMDb workflow. I love their database, and this workflow gives me the option to just bypass their not-so-nice search box and find the right movie directly from within Alfred itself.

Thanks for answering our questions, Mattias. May Spotify continue to fill our ears with great tunes (and weird back-catalogue tunes too) every day as we work and play!

Want to make your team productive too with the Powerpack? Take a look at our corporate licensing scheme and drop us a line to find out more.

Fill Your Head with Tunes: Using Spotify with Alfred Workflows

Over the past few weeks, we featured a few of the apps we really love using with Alfred. While working on each one of these posts, I was listening to music using the service I’m featuring today: Spotify.

To say that we use Spotify a lot would probably be an understatement. At the end of 2013, Spotify released a “Your year in review” page, where you could see some mind blowing aggregate stats for its millions of users, the year’s most popular Monday songs, as well as some of your own usage metrics. Ahem, it turns out that we listened to over 30 non-stop days of Spotify music over 2013.

spotify_usage

It’s fair to say that Spotify pretty much fuels our week musically. Some clever Alfred users created workflows that gives you control of Spotify on your Mac. There are a number of great workflows, and below are two popular ones; a simpler one and a more advanced one, depending on how you like your workflows!

Remember that you’ll need a Powerpack license in order to use workflows.

A Simple Workflow: Spotifious

Spotifious by Ben Stolovitz is a great yet simple workflow that allows you to search and browse music on Spotify. Once you’ve set your hotkey, you can bring it up to see what’s currently playing and browse Spotify’s catalog.

It’s brilliant and requires no setup at all, other than using an up-to-date version of the Spotify app for Mac. The only downside is that searching can only be as fast as Spotify can respond to your query, so you sometimes have to wait a moment before your results appear.

Download the Spotifious workflow from Github.

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An Advanced Workflow: Spotify Mini Player

This workflow is Vincent de Saboulin’s Spotify Mini Player and gives you an even smoother search experience for your Spotify playlists, including showing artwork thumbnails as you browse.

It requires a bit of legwork to get started as you’ll need to sign up for a (free) Spotify developer account, but once you’re up and running, it’s the quickest and prettiest way to search. After setting up the workflow, it took roughly an hour for my library to be scanned and the artwork to be downloaded, but the results were beautifully presented and very fast.

Download the Spotify Mini Player workflow from Github.

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For those who can’t use Spotify yet

As Spotify isn’t available in all countries, those who are still waiting for the service to launch in their country can choose from the wealth of great workflows for other music services.

For example, users have created workflows for Last.fm and Rdio, and there is of course, Alfred’s integrated iTunes Mini Player.

What’s your favourite guilty pleasure song? If you tell me yours, maybe I’ll tell you mine ;)