Automator Actions 1.0

Overview

Automator is one of the newly promoted features of Tiger (or Mac OS X 10.4 if you prefer). At it’s core, Automator is an application that allows actions (which are really just small applications that do a particular, specific task to supplied items) to be connected together to construct workflows for repetitive tasks. As such, Automator looks to be very useful for managing workflows using media catalog applications such as iView MediaPro.

I’ve written some basic actions for iView MediaPro as part of my effort to move my general image workflow into Automator. As I thought other folks might find these useful, I’ve decided to provide them for free. I’ll be adding to these actions over the next few months as I get time. I’m open to requests to add features and actions for iView MediaPro. If there’s something that you’d really like to see, send me some email and I’ll look at it.

The actions that are in the 1.0 release are as follows:

  • Get Selected iView MediaPro Items
  • Import Files To iView MediaPro Catalog
  • Set Annotations For iView MediaPro Items
  • Label iView MediaPro Items
  • Export Annotations For iView MediaPro Items
  • Copy Annotations For iView MediaPro Items
  • New iView MediaPro Catalog

You can download iView MediaPro Automator Actions from the Software page.

What follows is an overview of the actions provided as part of the package. This should give a flavor of what’s possible with the actions as they are at the moment. As can be seen, fairly complicated workflows can be constructed using only a basic set of actions.

Get Selected iView MediaPro Items

This action returns a list of the items that are selected in the catalog specified. The popup catalog list is updated with a list of the open catalogs in iView MediaPro when you click on it. If you don’t have the catalog open that you want to work with, simply switch back to iView MediaPro, open the catalog and return to Automator. When you click on the catalog popup again, the list will refresh and your newly opened catalog will be there to select.

Import Files To iView MediaPro Catalog

This action is passed a list of files from a previous action (something like Get Selected Finder Items is often useful for this). The files are then imported to the specified catalog. This action will also provide a list of the newly imported catalog items to the next action in the chain, which is useful if you want to build workflows using “Set Annotations” that set some default fields on an import (such as the copyright and author information).

Set Annotations For iView MediaPro Items

This action is used to set the various annotations for an input list of media items. Simply set the checkbox for each item that you want to configure and enter the string that you want to be assigned to that field. If you set the checkbox and don’t enter a string, the field will be reset to blank. Use the popup menu at the top of the action to set the page for the entries you want to configure – multiple pages are required to make the action use a relatively small amount of screen real-estate without compromising the list of annotations you can configure. The action provides the input list of catalog items as output so that actions can be chained together.

Label iView MediaPro Items

This action is pretty straightforward. It sets the label color of for an input list of catalog items. Like the “Set Annotations” action, this action also provides the input list of catalog items as an output list to allow chaining.

Export Annotations For iView MediaPro Items

This action provides exactly the same function as the Action->Sync Annotations menu item in iView MediaPro. When you use this action, the annotations for the list of input catalog items will be written back to the actual image files (into the resource fork). This is useful if you want to make sure that that applications such as Photoshop will see the up-to-date annotations.

Copy Annotations For iView MediaPro Items

This action provides the core functionality of the MetaSync application. Each item in the input list is searched for in the specified catalog using the match criteria provided. When the matched item is found in the source catalog, the annotations from that item are then copied over. This is a useful action if you have two catalogs with linked images in them (such as a Raw catalog and a finished TIFF or Photoshop catalog) and want to keep the annotations in sync without entering the information again by hand.

New iView MediaPro Catalog

This action simply creates a new catalog in the specified location.

Workflows

Building workflows with these actions is relatively straightforward. You always start with an action that gets you the items you want to work with; either a Finder action to provide a list of files or an iView MediaPro action that provides a list of catalog items. Once you have your list of items, you can then drag in actions that will perform the tasks that you want to achieve with them. Once you have a workflow you’re happy with, you can save the workflow for use in Automator later. You can also save workflows as applications, which makes them even easier to use from within iView MediaPro (via the Helper Application menu).

For example, if you want to import files from the Finder, you can use a workflow as follows

This workflow will import the items selected in the currently active Finder window to the specified iView MediaPro catalog.

One of the less obvious functions that Automator provides is the ability to convert from one action input/output type to another one if a convertor function has been specified by the developer. As part of the action package, there is one convertor that will convert between iView MediaPro catalog items and files. This allows workflows to be written such as:

Note that the input type for “New PDF Contact Sheet” is “Image files” but the output type from “Get Selected iView MediaPro Items” is the basic catalog item type. The convertor provided allows these two actions to talk to each other and opens up a fairly broad and powerful range of possible workflows. For example, the workflow shown will create PDF contact sheets from the selected items in an iView MediaPro catalog, something that can be remarkably complicated to create using conventional techniques.

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