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.

spotifious_nataly_dawn

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.

spotify_workflow

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 ;)

Alfred’s 4th Birthday: 10% Discount & Giveaways

alfred_birthday_apps_blog

This Friday, Alfred turns 4 years old. That’s 4 years spent helping millions of people be more productive on their Macs, getting things done more quickly, more efficiently and in a more enjoyable way. :)

It’s time for us to say “thank you” to all the Powerpack users who have been spreading the word about Alfred and creating amazing workflows. This week, we are giving away subscriptions for Dropbox, Spotify and Evernote, and featuring the best workflows for each of these apps.

What prizes can I win?

We’ll be giving away subscriptions to some of our favourite apps to Powerpack users;

  • Ten Evernote Premium one-year subscriptions (worth $45 each)
  • Ten Spotify Premium one-year subscriptions (worth $120 each)
  • Ten additional 10GB Dropbox space for life (worth loads!)

You’ve only got until Friday, so find out how to participate now!

Where can I get 10% off the Powerpack?

Pop by the birthday giveaway page to get a Powerpack license at 10% discount before 4pm GMT, Friday 28th February 2014.

The birthday giveaway ended on 29th February and the winners were announced on Twitter.

Featuring our favourite workflows

Alongside the giveaway, we’ll be featuring our favourite Spotify, Dropbox and Evernote workflows this week, created by some very clever Alfred users. We’ll also be posting tips and tricks on making the most of the Powerpack over the coming weeks.

A Look At More Brilliant Workflows

Since the v2 release, we’ve updated our blog to a simpler, cleaner look. We are also planning on making much better use of it with interviews, feature guides and much more over the coming months – so keep an eye on it for fun Alfred features. :)

Over the past few months, the Alfred community (that’s you!) have created some truly brilliant workflows. We’ve highlighted a few of our favourites before, but here are some more gems we’ve dug up for you.

Workflows are a Powerpack feature, so if you’re not yet a Powerpack user, you can either upgrade your v1 license or buy a new license.

Weather

David Ferguson (jdfwarrior) has been working tirelessly to help users with their own workflows on the forum, but has also created a great Weather workflow which shows you conditions and forecast.

If you’re wondering if it’s BBQ and ice cream weather, check out the Weather workflow.

weather_cambridge

Spotify Workflows

If you listen to Spotify all day, as we do, you’ll love these Spotify workflows.

The original Spotify workflow was created by Jeff Johns (phpfunk) and allows you to control Spotify with a thorough range of keywords. Have a look at the basic commands and download the workflow to get some summer tunes going!

For a different twist on the same theme, Spotifious by Ben Stolovitz also allows you to control Spotify, launching from a hotkey. Find out more and download Spotifious on the forum.

main menu

OmniFocus Workflow

Need to be more efficient with your work tasks? If you’re an OmniFocus fiend, you’ll be able to manage your tasks from Alfred. Surely that means you can leave early and go grab a beer?

Download Marko Kästner’s OF Task Actions workflow

OF-TaskActions

Firefox & Chrome Bookmarks Search

This isn’t a workflow, but a very useful integration worth sharing.

Out of the box, Alfred searches Safari bookmarks, as Chrome and Firefox don’t support Spotlight search by default. However, we really like Brow by Tim Schroeder as an alternative way to get native integration for bookmarks search in these two browsers.

Once you’ve installed Brow, Tim provides a guide to adding your Brow bookmarks to Alfred, so that in a few seconds, you can search your Chrome and Firefox bookmarks within Alfred!

TinyPNG File Resizer

Benzi Ahamed’s TinyPNG resizer filters files on your Mac for .png files, then uses tinypng.org to shrink the file size of the file you selected. Handy way to save time!

Download the TinyPNG file resizer workflow

This is just a little taster; you’ll find many more workflows on the Alfred forum. Once you start creating your own workflows, you’ll also be able to get help from fellow Alfred users if you have any questions.