Apple dissolves Mac automation management post, Sal Soghoian to leave company

in General Discussion edited November 2016
It was revealed on Wednesday that longtime Apple Product Manager of Automation Technologies Sal Soghoian, whose work is responsible for services like AppleScript and Automator, will be leaving the company in December as his post was recently eliminated.

Sal Saghoian at X-World 2009. | Credit: pbase

Soghoian announced his own departure during a presentation at the MacTech Conference in Los Angeles, saying Apple is cutting the post he has held since 1997, reports The Mac Observer. Whether Soghoian's duties will be handed over to another team member is unknown, though the decision only serves to reinforce sentiment that automation technologies are no longer a priority at Apple.

The soon-to-be former employee addressed the recent development in a post to his website Mac OS X Automation.

"I joined Apple in January of 1997, almost twenty years ago, because of my profound belief that 'the power of the computer should reside in the hands of the one using it.' That credo remains my truth to this day," Soghoian writes. "Recently, I was informed that my position as Product Manager of Automation Technologies was eliminated for business reasons. Consequently, I am no longer employed by Apple Inc. But, I still believe my credo to be as true today as ever."

During his time at Apple, Soghoian worked on a variety of user automation products and technologies, many of which have seen diminished utility with each subsequent OS X -- and now macOS -- update. Apple's active automation projects include UNIX CLI (shell, python, ruby, perl), System Services, Apple Events (JavaScript, AppleScript, AppleScriptObj-C, Scripting Bridge), Automator, Apple Configurator (AppleScript, Automator), and application scripting support in Photos, iWork, Finder, Mail, and other Apple applications, according to Soghoian.

Despite Apple's decision to part ways, Soghoian remains upbeat on the future of user automation. After a brief vacation, he will begin fielding potential job offers and open himself up for consulting on Dec. 1. He also intends to maintain his Mac OS X Automation Dictation Commands websites, as well as a personal blog dedicated to his music.


  • Reply 1 of 71
    Very sad to hear this.  Mac automation was one of the things that attracted me to Apple's products.   Given that apps like ITTT and Workflow have become more mainstream on iOS devices it is ironic that the Mac is becoming less "automated".   I would have preferred to see the unique automation abilities of the Mac (as well as those apps on iOS) highlighted with training classes on the new Apple big screens at the stores.  I think more people would demand it if they ever knew about AppleScript as I use it all of the time to automate routine task - for me it is a key element to having may Mac products routinely outperform Windows machines in day to day productivity.  Thanks Sal for all of your hard work and best of luck going forward. 
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  • Reply 2 of 71
    If Apple has a vision for the Mac, they sure aren't sharing it. Automator has no equal in the PC / Linux world. 
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  • Reply 3 of 71
    It's symbolic of the change happening at Apple.  As Apple trades places with Microsoft, Apple has less and less interest in customers who care about this sort of thing.
    rcfadoozydozencornchiptallest skiljay-tdysamoriaspaceraysbaconstangboredumb
  • Reply 4 of 71
    Position eliminated?  No offer of retirement or reassignment?  Seems like a strange thing to happen; sounds like there is more to this story. 
  • Reply 5 of 71
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 1,033member
    The idea was good but I never cared for the implementations. Functionally the Unix world can't be beat for integrating processes, but it's for real programmers. Doing the same for macOS when the integration was among monolithic applications? Well that's really hard, and the application developers need to design for it. There's the rub. 

  • Reply 6 of 71
    I rely upon Apple Script and Numbers every day because of Numbers not having it's own web site access scripting.  Use Automator also.

    I've sent my Feedback to Apple about this.  Big mistake.
  • Reply 7 of 71
    It looked like a great idea, but personally I was never able to use it. For me, it was not at all intuitive.
  • Reply 8 of 71
    Wow. Not sure what this means for Applescript. I use Applescript to automate a huge number of tasks at my studio. I run the photo retouching department at a major corporation and without Applescript we would not be nearly as productive. Just as importantly Applescript ensures quality because it allows us to automate and therefore reduce or eliminate error-prone tasks. For example, while we save a master layered Photoshop file for each image that we work on, we also run an "output" script that automatically converts the file to CMYK and saves it with the appropriate name in the correct location. Without this ability I am sure my retouchers would constantly be making errors in our workflow.
  • Reply 9 of 71
    This is a bit cold:
    Recently, I was informed that my position as Product Manager of Automation Technologies was eliminated for business reasons.

    Did they part ways on unfriendly terms?

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  • Reply 10 of 71
    I think this make sense as automation is now moving to the realm of internet services and AI. Apple should find ways to bring the current software to the future. E.g. IFTTT plugins for automator. Siri and map searcg plugins for automator etc.
  • Reply 11 of 71
    I loved the idea of Automator as well, but just could never get the hang of it.  
  • Reply 12 of 71
    Position eliminated?  No offer of retirement or reassignment?  Seems like a strange thing to happen; sounds like there is more to this story. 
    Of course there is more to the story which we may never find out. There always is with these things.
  • Reply 13 of 71
    mobiusmobius Posts: 380member
    I've used Automator and Applescript intermittently over the last few years. It's a powerful tool. I'm sad to hear this news. I really hope that they do not eliminate this functionality. It would be a big mistake. As usual, it's so hard to know what Apple's intentions are.
  • Reply 14 of 71
    howld70howld70 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Seriously, I really don't get Apple's future direction on the Mac platform. First, they bring us the less productivity Macbook Pro, and now it seems like they are trying to abandon their software products one by one, slowly. Applescript is one of the most productive applications on the Mac, and I am really starting to worry. The reason why iPad sales don't pick up because there aren't any useful softwares to promote it. It seems like they are not spending their resources on softwares like they used to, or they rather let the third party developers doing the work. 
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  • Reply 15 of 71
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    I've never been a fan of AppleScript, and I suspect that the new breed of programmers are not keen on a programming language based on English grammar, but I wonder if this is the first step in removing all the 'ports' on the operating system. That would be a mistake, I feel. 
  • Reply 16 of 71
    It looked like a great idea, but personally I was never able to use it. For me, it was not at all intuitive.

    I love the Automator. It really simplified a lot of tasks, like consolidating text files, batch-renaming (which, though now build-in, still doesn't offer the flexibility of Automator+AppleScript) and adding metadata tags to music files and .cbz files.

    It seemed intuitive enough for me. But then again, I was a Windows User!

    edited November 2016
  • Reply 17 of 71
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,903member
    I also have used Applescript and Automator sporadically, but when you need it you need it.  Right now I have scripts that are tied to my Indigo home automation server.  Water leak detectors at my washer and fridge send signals to Indigo which then launches a script to text me and my wife using Messages. This is on a Mac Mini.  I also have a similar script to tell us when the garage door is up or down.  Useful when you drive half-way to work and suddently can't remember if you closed it.  Had a similar setup at my old job where an XServe monitored temperature in the machine room and could send me a text if things were over heating.

    If Apple someday removes Applescript and Automator I wonder if they will sell the tech to a third party so we can have continued functionality?  Like people have said this has always been a nice differentiator wtih Windows.  Certainly allowed me to say "Get a Mac" to people a few times as well. :D
    edited November 2016 dysamoriadick applebaumpscooter63
  • Reply 18 of 71
    jlanddjlandd Posts: 873member
    I loved the idea of Automator as well, but just could never get the hang of it.  
    It's a great tool but suffers from a strange interface.  Typical Apple in that it has a lot of power but inexpensive 3rd party utilities let you go bing, bang, boom and you have your automation of ANYTHING the system or application can do, and if you went to Automator with just the help docs most people would poke around in it for an hour and maybe end up with something that worked.  The only way I ever got Automator to work is if I carefully followed the directions on someone's blog for how to create something.  I surely did benefit from those, and from downloading premade scripts from generous folks.  Getting creative with it on my own had a terrible time to working result ratio.

    Apple missed the boat by not having Automator available with an interface that could be used by someone who is the same person they've always targeted with their bundled apps, the iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand users, aka normal people.  The only people I've ever known who created a lot of useful Automations and Applescripts are people who are much more savvy than 90% of computer users and were using them for work related tasks, as firelock with his studio image work.  Why did Apple never make it so that the average Joe could easily whip up a bunch of general productivity droplets for the ecosystem they created for home and non-work?  It's so buried that most users never even knew it existed. 
    edited November 2016 welshdogdysamoriabaconstangSpamSandwich
  • Reply 19 of 71
    AppleScript was a product of the classic Mac OS. Inspired from the success of HyperTalk language in HyperCard, the loose-leaf information storage and retrieval program based on the card metaphor, it was striving to bring natural language programming to the rest of us.

    The idea was wrong, obviously, because,"natural language" and programming don't go together. Programming is "unnatural", requires a high level of abstraction not found in the natural language and cannot tolerate the looseness and fuzzy logic inherent to the natural language. Trying to "naturalize" programming resulted in a scripting system extremely complicated and difficult to use. Many of the natural language scripts wouldn't work because of the strong typing inherent to the language causing an avalanche of errors. So, the efforts to implement a system-wide scripting language was already born dead.

    The mini scripting language of Filemaker Pro is the closest one to "programming for the rest of us". Scripts are built by point and click method, the system controls every step of script building process thus prevents the user from making mistakes. Automator is built upon this approach and is the first successful attempt to build a system wide scripting system. So, AppleScript may be dead but I don't think Apple will let Automator die, because it works.

    The dissolution of the post doesn't imply that "automation technologies are no longer a priority at Apple". Maybe the post itself was an obstacle to the development of these technologies?
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 20 of 71
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,903member
    Very sad news. Another nail in the coffin for the original Mac philosophy.

    AppleScript was never really given the backing it deserved and suffered accordingly. There have been endless moments when people have moved up to new system versions and asked 'and AppleScript?' with no clear answer.

    Automator has had a similar run but as it was newer you thought it had more chances of success.

    If AppleScript is now dead it is a crying shame.
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