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best strategy for an update-installed-apps workflow?

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Hi all! I'm pretty good with Python but never used any of the Mac-specific programming languages like the scripting things I see around Alfred. I don't know javascript either.

Is it possible to program in a workflow that checks for app updates (maybe only apps installed via direct download and not the App Store) and alerts the user to which apps are outdated?


Like if I have VLC installed and an update hits their servers, next time I run the workflow I get as result a list of outdated apps that includes VLC.


This is only useful if the workflow wouldn't need to start all the apps it's checking for updates though…


I feel like this definitely requires Mac-specific knowledge. I'm very willing to learn, but can you point me in the right direction? Thanks

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Welcome @gatto,


Yes, that is definitely possible but will take some work. There’s a ton of context to explain everything so I’ll only give an overview to help you search for more. The choice of programming language does not matter, it can be done with Python.


Essentially you have to parse the Info.plist inside each app to find the version (note macOS apps have two kinds of versions) then check whatever feed they have (will not be possible with every app) and parse that and compare versions.


Take a look at Homebrew Cask for some idea on feeds and how to update apps and check for versions.


There’s also the MacUpdater workflow which does exactly what you ask but requires a separate paid app (needs to be Pro or Business edition).


Speaking from a decade of toil with this specific problem, the workflow part is easy, it’s the version checking that will be hard because there is a ton of variation between apps. It’s a lot of work for a single person unless you’d want to dedicate yourself only to that particular problem (which can be fun). I’d recommend going with one of the existing solutions (they’re run by good people who care about their users) and learning from them.


Edited by vitor
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