John Ziebro

Print and web designer extraordinaire

Automator Availibility Workflow

Have you ever had the need to post your availability online without a complex calendar system? Need it to updated daily, but don’t want to move a finger to do it? Well if you are using a recent version of OS X, then you are in luck. iCal & Automator makes this task a snap. Once you have your availability on the server you can slice and dice with whatever programming language you prefer. In my case it is Php. This entry describes the process used on your local computer to prepare and upload the files to the server. In the following post, I will discuss the steps needed to check and display the dates on the server.

I would like potential clients to be able to check if I am able to photograph their wedding. They are interested in specific dates. At the same time, I don’t want to put my work calendar on display for the whole world to see. After some brainstorming I came up with a solution. Take a moment to view the example at ZiebroPhotography.com.

In order to make this work, I created a calendar in iCal, used only for days on which I have a confirmed wedding event. Using the Automator action ‘Find Calendars in iCal,’ I search for that specific calendar. I then run the action ‘Event Summary’ on the result. This creates a listing of all events scheduled in that calendar and passes it on to the next action. Using ‘Filter Paragraphs,’ all lines except ones containing the event date are filtered out. The action, ‘New Text File,’ accepts the list of dates and saves it to a designated file. Make sure you select the checkbox to replace existing files.

The last action is called ‘Upload to FTP,’ made by Petter Dekkers and freely available for download at Editkid.com. Fill in your FTP server, username, password and directory. This action automatically overwrites old files, so each time it runs you will have the most current version uploaded to the server.

Finally, save your workflow as an iCal plugin and schedule it as an alarm to run every evening. Now, if you add an event to that iCal calendar, a text file containing its date will be on the server by tomorrow morning!

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