AstronomyPictureOfTheDay 2.0

AstronomyPictureOfTheDay is an Automator workflow for changing your macOS desktop background based on the Astronomy Picture of the Day feed.

What’s new?

There is a new release of AstronomyPictureOfTheDay available this morning. Version 2.0 is a substantial rewrite of the 1.1 version, but retains essentially the same functionality. The primary difference is that you no longer have to run a script to “personalize” it during installation. Now that it is distributed as an Application instead of an Automator workflow, you can just drag it to your Applications folder.

The source is still created with Automator, but some of the Finder actions for working with directories have been replaced by Shell Script actions to perform the same operations. The Finder actions are hard-coded to specific folder names, selected in the Automator UI when the action is configured. With a Shell Script action, I can use environment variables such as “$HOME” to make the action more flexible. Using variables also avoids the problem of having everything in the workflow tied to my own home directory, so that the paths needed to be modified before the workflow was usable by anyone else.

I could, of course, have written the entire program as a shell script, Python program, or whatever. But the point of building it with Automator in the first place was that it was easy. I suppose I am stretching the boundaries of where Automator is the easiest tool for this particular job, but at least now the hack is hidden inside the app instead of hanging out where everyone can see it in the installation instructions.