Workflow for iOS is Amazing

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I’ve been a long time fan of Drafts and Launch Center Pro for iOS. I saw Workflow pop up the other day in my RSS feeds and I figured it must be a Launch Center Pro clone, but much to my surprise, it’s a whole new animal. Whereas Launch Center Pro does a great job of launching actions, its ability to craft actions (while great up to now) was a bit lacking. As a programmer, I’m used to controlling flow with ifs, elses and else ifs. I’m also used to manipulating variables. Launch Center Pro has always (and may well continue to) lack these capabilities.

Workflow launches with those two capabilities — flow control and variables. They are much appreciated. Workflow will allow you to create much more complex workflows than Launch Center Pro is capable of at the cost of not being such a great launcher. Launch Center Pro has a great interface for quickly launching actions you’ve created, but Workflow lacks a great way to get to the action you want quickly (especially once you’ve created a bunch of them). It also exposes the action’s flow as it’s being executed. You can see each step as it’s happening. I’m not sure yet if I’d prefer not to see those steps every time my actions are run, but it affords Workflow the ability to display errors. I created an action that will grab a magnet link and send an open $CLIPBOARD script back to my iMac at home over SSH. When I tested what would happen with a malformed URL, Workflow happily displayed the error zsh spat out back home — verbatim. That was nice to see.

Since Workflow lacks a great interface for launching its own actions, it makes up for this by being able to create iOS 8 share actions for other apps to call on, adding actions to the home screen and adding Workflow actions to Launch Center Pro directly. The only downside to sending actions to Launch Center Pro is that Launch Center Pro isn’t capable of using the icons you assign actions in Workflow and you’ll have to manually set an icon again in Launch Center Pro.

All things considered, if you’re seriously into crafting workflows on iOS and you’d rather not use Pythonista (oh what I wouldn’t give for a Ruby-capable Pythonista-style app) you owe it to yourself to check out Workflow.