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Jakub Sypiański

Option: suffixes instead of prefixes

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To search something in Alfred, either through "Web search" or using workflows we write `{prefix} {my query}`, for example `map Warsaw`.  In most cases however it would be preferable to write `{my query} {suffix}`.

 

The advantage is that it is much easier to change the decision about the suffix than about the prefix. So if I search `map Byzantium` and Google Maps can't find it, I can change my decision, invoke Alfred again, press ↑ and change the suffix of search engine just with few keystrokes. At the moment I have to press ↑, go to the beginning of the line and then change the suffix. I can't see any disadvantages. We always know what we are looking for (query), but sometimes we are not sure what we what to look it with. Does the contrary ever happen? 

 

The added value of this solution is that in some workflows with dynamic searches we wouldn't have to add "." at the end of the query to perform the query (which is required now to prevent premature launching of a dynamic search).

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Wouldn’t work, imo.

 

If I want to search Google for “world map”, I’m going to start seeing a load of search results for “world” from the workflow whose keyword is “map”, which isn’t what I want at all.

 

This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of workflows/users have one-letter keywords.

 

It’s not exactly a great chore to hit CMD-LEFT to move the cursor to the beginning of the query, either.

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1 hour ago, deanishe said:

 

 

It’s not exactly a great chore to hit CMD-LEFT to move the cursor to the beginning of the query, either.

 

 

Then you can hit ALT-FN-Backspace to delete the prefix.

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6 hours ago, deanishe said:

It’s not exactly a great chore to hit CMD-LEFT to move the cursor to the beginning of the query, either.

 

You don’t even need ⌘, considering @Jakub Sypiański’s example:

 

8 hours ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

invoke Alfred again, press ↑

 

That brings the query with all text selected, so ← suffices.

 

8 hours ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

in some workflows with dynamic searches we wouldn't have to add "." at the end of the query to perform the query

 

I haven’t seen a Workflow require that since the early days of version 2 of Alfred. Alfred allows for customisable (and automatic) delays before performing searches, so adding . isn’t really necessary (and was always a workaround).


I agree with the other posts. This has been discussed a few times in the past and we always reach the same conclusion: for Alfred’s methodology, the current method is preferred.

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1 minute ago, vitor said:

That brings the query with all text selected, so ← suffices.

 

Oh, yeah. I was thinking more generally. It's just kind of ingrained to hit ⌘← to go to the start, even when just will do.


If sending the same query to different workflows is something you do a lot, why not implement a Hotkey that simulates ⌘←, ⌥⌦? That should cover the majority of cases.

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I am a bit disappointed by your suggestions but thank you anyway. I already make use of the keyboard shortcuts you mention. But if I didn’t consider it a problem, I would not have asked about the possibility.

 

I use Web Searches for 184 dictionaries, 34 library catalogues, 11 research tools as well as other things. To this can be added several workflows that are based on search queries. It means that I use Alfred searches in my research several hundred times a day. A huge proportion of this searches is performed through invoking Alfred, returning to the beginning of the line and changing the prefix. This in itself is enough for me to advocate for implementing the optional suffix-model.

 

The suffix-model would allow not only to modify the search keyword more quickly but also to be able to use all the suggestions. Example: my prefixes for dictionaries are coded as `{;}{first letter of language 1}{first letter of language 2}{first letter fo dictionary’s name}`. For instance: `;aew` for Arabic–English WordReference. It allows me to first choose the language pair and then cycle through all available dictionaries. Now, having suffixes would allow me to use this extremely helpful cycling feature also while the word is already in Alfred search box. Believe me, I never choose a dictionary BEFORE knowing what word I want to look up.

 

Moreover, having suffixes would allow having a global keyboard shortcut for taking the text selected in Alfred and then choosing what to do with it, while taking advantage of keyword cycling and their easy replacement. 

 

 
 
 
On 5/24/2019 at 1:04 PM, deanishe said:

If I want to search Google for “world map”, I’m going to start seeing a load of search results for “world” from the workflow whose keyword is “map”, which isn’t what I want at all.

 

This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of workflows/users have one-letter keywords.

 

My prefixes always start with a special sign (for example `;` for dictionaries), so this problem can hardly ever occur. And one's keywords are all one letter, no problem, I propose this as an optional feature.

 

17 hours ago, deanishe said:

If sending the same query to different workflows is something you do a lot, why not implement a Hotkey that simulates ⌘←, ⌥⌦? That should cover the majority of cases.

 

Unfortunately, not possible, because my keywords have between two and five letters and I don't feel like making them all five letter.  

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19 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

implementing the optional suffix-model.

 

What you need to take into account is that this is not as easy as flipping a switch. Adding that new interaction will fundamentally change how Alfred interacts with Workflows and what it expects from them. I have a Workflow whose keyword is coffee. If I have another workflow that messages people (with keyword msg), now I’m typing “Let’s grab coffee msg” and Alfred is running the coffee Workflow before I finish typing, which I don’t want. And you can’t tell Alfred to only run the command after you press a certain key, because you’d be breaking the interaction model of filters. There’s also the issue that Alfred’s command can have multiple words (i.e. you can have a Keyword with spaces in it).

 

29 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

My prefixes always start with a special sign

 

Which is fine if you’re you, but not everyone is and Alfred has to cater to those people as well. Adding prefixes to Alfred triggers seems to be the minority.


In the end, the complexity of adding this feature and making it work with the existing model (it doesn’t matter if it’s optional) is likely to not be worth it, considering the tiny amount of people that want this.

 

32 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

Unfortunately, not possible, because my keywords have between two and five letters and I don't feel like making them all five letter.  

 

I’m not sure you understood @deanishe’s suggestion. It doesn’t require you changing any keyword. His suggestion will work with your Workflows as they are. You make a new Workflow, something like this:

 

9X4l2NE.png

 

I’ve uploaded a ready-made version. Setup the Hotkey and do this:

  1. Call Alfred and make your query, like you need to now.
  2. Dismiss Alfred’s window.
  3. Press the hotkey you just set up.


Alfred’s window will open up and your previous trigger word will be selected. Type to overwrite it and run something else.

 

42 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

Why can't I edit my post? Although I can edit this one?

 

Looks like a bug with the forum software. I can’t even select any text from your post below the first quote.

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53 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

The suffix-model would allow not only to modify the search keyword more quickly but also to be able to use all the suggestions.

 

Maybe you can set the same keyword for several workflows so you can see all the suggestions from different workflows only writing one keyword.

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1 minute ago, JJJJ said:

Maybe you can set the same keyword for several workflows so you can see all the suggestions from different workflows only writing one keyword.

 

That would be a ton of work and might give results out of the desired order, making results more difficult to see. Furthermore, the way Alfred works, even if you have multiple Script Filters with the same Keyword, if you pick one (say, press ↵ to get it to autocomplete) it will only run the one you picked, not the others with the same name.

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6 minutes ago, vitor said:

 

That would be a ton of work and might give results out of the desired order, making results more difficult to see. Furthermore, the way Alfred works, even if you have multiple Script Filters with the same Keyword, if you pick one (say, press ↵ to get it to autocomplete) it will only run the one you picked, not the others with the same name.

Actually I thought suggestions would work like the ones in google search or Amazon search. So when you choose a suggestion it opens up in a browser.

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Posted (edited)

You have good arguments for not using such optional suffixes. But you have only one good argument for not implementing such optional suffixes: lack of interest. It’s not worth it to spend time on a feature that won’t be used by many. However, I would argue that a thread such as this is not representative. People may not even realise this feature is possibly useful. We are very much used to prefixes as keywords. On the other hand, perhaps it wouldn’t be very difficult to implement? I have no idea.

 

@vitor

1. Thank you for the workflow. Indeed I didn’t realise that it would work that way. I will use your workflow, but it doesn’t solve the crucial issue: I cannot cycle through all my keywords that way (and memorising all 250+ of them it's just not worth it). This would be possible only with suffixes.

2. As we both now these interfering keywords are easily avoidable by the use of non-word keywords. One general solution would be to require a double space before the keyword. Fast to type and efficient. Anyway, such prefixes would be optional.

Edited by Jakub Sypiański

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7 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

But you have only one good argument for not implementing such optional suffixes

 

There is another argument in my post:

 

4 hours ago, vitor said:

that new interaction will fundamentally change how Alfred interacts with Workflows and what it expects from them.

 

That translates in a lot of time spent designing, testing, and refining the feature in a way that works acceptably.

 

7 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

lack of interest.

 

No, my argument was that it is not worth it because the amount of interest is not higher than the required complexity and work to implement the feature.

 

7 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

However, I would argue that a thread such as this is not representative. People may not even realise this feature is possibly useful.

 

I also mentioned this has been discussed before. None of those previous posts was able to overcome the discussed barriers.

 

33 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

perhaps it wouldn’t be very difficult to implement? I have no idea.

 

It would.

 

9 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

I cannot cycle through all my keywords that way

 

What do you mean “cycle through”? Change the Workflow. I’ve given you the most complex option precisely so you can edit it to your needs. Want to have Alfred open while you change Keywords? The have just ⌘← and ⌥→. Heck, you can even add a ⌫ in there if you want to just delete a letter.

 

15 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

and memorising all 250+ of them it's just not worth it

 

If you have that many Keywords, you should rethink the design of your Workflow. Consider a List Filter or a Script Filter instead. You’ll only have to memorize one Keyword, and can access all of them at once.

 

17 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

As we both now these interfering keywords are easily avoidable by the use of non-word keywords.

 

Again, you’re only thinking of your needs for the feature. Not everyone (I’d best most people) would want to use workarounds and have to type specific characters. That clashes with the rest of the Alfred expectations.

 

19 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

One general solution would be to require a double space before the keyword. Fast to type and efficient.

 

Some people already double space as part of their normal writing; this would intrude on them. Also, a double space on macOS and iOS by default produces a period followed by a space, so that intrudes on an OS feature.

 

23 minutes ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

Anyway, such prefixes would be optional.

 

Again, optionality is irrelevant, you still need to design and implement the feature. It’s also optional that Alfred transforms into a web browser — that doesn’t make it simple or a good idea.

 

You’re only considering what you want and what would be convenient to you, not the implications of that on everyone else. Alfred has to cater to many more users and is a two-person team, only one of which codes.

 

We’re trying to get you solutions to your problem. Adding suffix support is unlikely to happen. You can either use a workaround or redesign your Workflow. We can provide support for either of those, which is what we’re doing.

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My sincere thanks. I am learning a lot about how Alfred works from your replies. However, I still have an impression that if Alfred allowed prefixes to be turned on in individual workflows, it would not interfere with other workflows, unless the user makes it interfere.

 

Actually, I don't have a Workflow. I just have these 250+ Web Searches in the relevant tab of Alfred settings. I will think if I am able to transform these into a workflow (but I don't even see an option in Alfred to copy or export these searches). If it wasn't clear already, I don't know anything about coding and the technology behind Alfred.

 

The attached screenshot shows what I mean by "cycling": the possibility to type ;a and to see all my prefixes starting with ;a. It seems to me that it's a behaviour that cannot be replicated otherwise. But perhaps I'm wrong?

Zrzut ekranu 2019-05-25 o 20.19.23.png

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On 5/25/2019 at 6:18 PM, Jakub Sypiański said:

But you have only one good argument for not implementing such optional suffixes: lack of interest.

 

You missed the big one: it's not compatible with the way Alfred currently works. In the typical case, Alfred tries to run workflows as early and often as possible, without you having to hit ↩ or otherwise explicitly start the search. It wants to show you results while you're typing your query. That way, you can find what you're looking for more quickly, and you can train Alfred to associate specific results with specific (also very short) queries.


Your suffix model breaks that. Alfred can't show results for an incomplete query if it doesn't know which workflow it should be calling, which is the case if the keyword is at the end of the query.


I get the impression that you mostly only use Web Searches, which are an exception to the results-as-you-type model, so you won't notice that as much. But "regular" Alfred users are used to seeing results while they type.

 

FWIW, your suffix-keyword-based websearch could be implemented as a workflow.

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I have the impression that the problems you evoke indeed don't apply to web searches, so perhaps allowing OPTIONAL suffixes in this case won't cause problem?

 

On 5/28/2019 at 12:17 AM, deanishe said:

FWIW, your suffix-keyword-based websearch could be implemented as a workflow.

 

I will try to create one, thank you for the tip. But is there a way to somehow export my 250+ web searches?

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

so perhaps allowing OPTIONAL suffixes in this case won't cause problem?

 

It will cause problems because it means breaking or turning off Alfred's normal behaviour that almost everything but web searches expects.

 

Don't get me wrong—I totally understand how suffixes would be really useful in this particular case—I mean that as a general principle you don't add a feature to your application that breaks the way everything else works.

 

17 hours ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

But is there a way to somehow export my 250+ web searches?

 

The configurations are all stored in a property list, which is probably easier for other software to parse than one of Alfred's exported search URLs. Not sure where Alfred keeps the icons, though.

Edited by deanishe
Grammer and speling

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5 hours ago, Jakub Sypiański said:

so perhaps allowing OPTIONAL suffixes in this case won't cause problem?

 

Why do you keep saying “optional” in bolder and bigger letters? We understood you the first time. We’ve already explained in several ways that “optional” has nothing to do with it. It doesn’t matter if they’re optional or mandatory, it is not a simple thing to implement.

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@vitor

The thing is that if this feature is implemented as requiring a very specific first character of the suffix (for example "\" or a double space which, I would still argue, people don't normally use in Alfred's window), nothing special will happen to the behaviour of other workflows or features. Unless the user does render them incompatible, but this can always happen anyway. Or are you trying to tell me that Alfred will not be able to await special orders and monitor whatever is typed in its window after we are past the first few letters? In any case, if you don't feel like it, you don't need to continue convincing me, I acknowledge that I'm the only one wanting suffixes, so I will try to focus on alternative solutions. Speaking of which:

 

@deanishe

1. Thank you for the suggestion, I will try to learn how to make a workflow out of these exported web searches.

2. Thank you even more for making a workflow for me. Alas, I get 404 (and a spoon).

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"Workflow incompatible. Please update to the latest version of Alfred." I do have the latest version, so unless you are able to amend the workflow for Alfred 3 without much labour, I'll have to wait for Alfred 4. 

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