Meet Typinator 7’s lovely assistants

If you believe in automation on the Mac, Typinator 7 may be just the app you’re looking for. Ergonis has released its latest version of Typinator and the new version is better and easier than its predecessor by a large margin. Typinator 7 comes with assistants, interactive input fields and “Publications & Subscriptions”.

Typinator already offered you the ability to create more than simple expansions from a shortcut. It supported (and still supports) regular expressions, date calculations, HTML expansions, pictures, keystrokes, variables and more. The problem with all this power was that you increasingly needed to think about setting up a complex expansion. Regular expressions, for example, aren’t exactly known for their user-friendliness — they’re well understood by developers but casual users may balk at them. Interactive input fields aren’t really difficult, but you can quickly get lost in all the options they offer.

With version 7, the Typinator developers have found a way around that problem without sacrificing the power that comes with input parameters and interactivity. They have added assistants for most markers that make up an expansion that is somewhat more complicated than a literal replacement. Let me explain that.

Imagine you wanted to replace a shortcut “PSU” by the expansion “Photoshop User”. That’s easy as pie. You type “PSU” in Typinator’s shortcut field and “Photoshop User” in the expansion window and you’re done.

But now imagine you want to replace a shortcut “rv” with an expansion that changes according to what “rv” could mean to you at any particular moment. In my case, I could be asking for a review unit of a video LED lamp today, of a 3D printer the next. Using an interactive input field marker like {{?Test unit}} inside my request email I can set up a template with an input form that asks me to type in the test product’s name and expand the lot in Apple Mail in one fell swoop.

The assistants help by letting you enter the parameters of the markers in their own slide-down entry form. That way, you won’t risk making silly mistakes and it’s a lot easier on the eyes as well. With some markers, you’ll only get a list of options. For example, with dates, the assistant slides down to let you pick the formatting.

By the way, with the new input field types Typinator supports you can set up a form with checkboxes, text fields, radio buttons, calculations and even cosmetic elements right from within Typinator.

Yes to subscriptions, no to a subscription licence model

An example of a complex but powerful feature that already existed in version 6 is the regular expression marker {/Regex/original/replacement//any text/}. It can be used to replace any combination of characters defined by the expression you enter. Here assistants won’t be available and so regular expressions remain a feature for advanced users. The good news is that those advanced users can now share their complex expansions with others through the new Publications & Subscriptions feature. This feature lets you publish your expansion sets to your web server or Dropbox and have others subscribe to them and have them automatically updated when the source is updated.

While these are the most important and spectacular new features, Typinator 7 has yet other new tricks up its sleeve. Take for example the ability to insert keystrokes within an expansion. In Typinator 7, you can now insert any key combination. You can, for example, create a plain text expansion that wraps a word inside the following marker: “<key:⌘B>” some word “<key: ⌘B>”. When the expansion takes place, Typinator sends ⌘B to switch the text style to bold, then inserts the bolded word and finally switches back to plain text.

Typinator has had scripting capabilities for years, but it required separate script files in the Includes folder. Typinator 7 supports “inline scripts”, which are defined in script markers within text expansions. The app supports AppleScript, JavaScript, Shell scripts, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Swift. You can combine them with other features, such as input fields, date and time markers, etc. It is even possible to mix multiple scripting languages in the same expansion.

Conclusion

Typinator 7 has become even more powerful than its predecessor. More importantly, it has also become more user-friendly and simpler to use. The new Typinator therefore remains my choice of text expander. At approx. €25 it stays one of the cheapest ways to save time, and seriously enhance your productivity and your ability to write texts without stupid typos.

Typinator 7 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or newer and is fully compatible with macOS 10.12. Typinator can be purchased securely on the Ergonis Software website. The upgrade to Typinator 7.0 is free for anyone who purchased a license for Typinator 6.x on or after January 1st 2016. Upgrade paths are available for owners of older licenses.

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