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New Workflow and Theme Repository: Packal


rice.shawn
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I'm happy to announce that after months of development, I'm ready to make a new workflow and theme repository available to the public as an open beta: Packal. Workflows and themes are taggable and searchable. You can add in the icons, screenshots, long descriptions, and brief ones. There are many different ways to find whatever you need there. Since this is an initial announcement, there isn't much content there yet, except for the workflows and themes that a few kind testers uploaded.

 

Themes are stored as a simple application URL, which means there are no files to download, but, instead, they import directly into Alfred2. Workflows are scanned for viruses after they are submitted but before they are made available publicly. Workflow authors can easily update their workflows just by editing the page and replacing the workflow file there.

 

What is even better is that there is a soon-to-be-released companion workflow that will interface with Packal.org allowing for you to update your workflows directly from Alfred. I've worked out a method for updating workflows with Andrew that provides all of the security migration features that Alfred does natively. In order for a workflow to be updatable, the author needs to do nothing other than upload the file to Packal. All the packaging information necessary is automatically created for each workflow by the website itself. Besides the virus scan, the workflow also signs each package in order to verify its authenticity.

 

I think that these are exciting developments for Alfred, and this sort of repository is what many people have been waiting for since these forums were created.

 

So, please, head over to Packal, browse what's there, and, very importantly, submit your own workflows and themes.

 

--Shawn

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Excellent! A couple quick thoughts:

 

• Could you maybe scrape the top 10 or 20 most viewed themes and workflows to get things started? 

• The detail page for a theme could use some work; how about just showing the screenshots on the page, rather than in thumbnails? And the page could use some layout help in general (I'm an interface designer, so I'm picky on this stuff); if I have time this week upcoming I'll work up a quick comp if that would be helpful.

• Themes not being updatable is a bummer; I think I'd rather them be file downloads if that somehow makes them updatable (I'm surmising based on: "There are no files to download, and, also, because of that, themes cannot be auto-updated.")

 

Excellent beta product, for serious!

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One other thought – the browse page isn't super useful unless you can sort by a couple things (most "popular" – by downloads or views or something, "trending", date).

 

And it'd be rad if it sorta had a bit of all of these, showing a list in the main column and a sidebar with the ten Most Popular, Top Trending, Most Recent. But that's for version later dot something. :)

 

Scope creeper. :)

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Thanks for the kind words.

 

I had a "sort by popular" view on there, but, when I started profiling the site, I found that the data collection mechanism was slowing everything down egregious amounts, so I nixed that one. I have a few other mechanisms to play with to make the "popular" view again, and that's in the top priority of things to fix.

 

I'll admit that I spent much more time working with the workflows side of the site than the themes side. Originally, it was just for workflows, but then I expanded it for themes as well. Theoretically, I could make it so that the themes got updated. One of the main blocks, currently, is that I don't know too much about how and where Alfred stores theme information, although it probably wouldn't be that hard to figure out, and I should be able to do it with the theme URLs anyway.

 

But my main question that I have is: how often do people update themes? I'll confess that I spend much more of my time in the workflows forum and not much here. If people update rarely, then it might not be worth it to build in the updates; however, if people do often, then it can become more of a priority.

 

I'm happy to get some feedback on the layout. Just send me an email about it.

 

--Shawn

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