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Contents First, Commands Later

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Compare the current Alfred way of approaching problems with the ideal way (partially done in LaunchBar 6) :

  1. Currency exchange
    • Alfred: "rate 100 usd eur"
    • Ideal way: "100 usd to eur"
  2. Search for file
    • Alfred: "'_KEY->FILE_NAME" or "SPACE_KEY->FILE_NAME"
  3. Math calculation
    • Alfred: "=sin(30)+cos(60)"
    • Ideal: "sin(30)+cos(60)="
  4. And etc.

Why using late positioned commands is a much better approach?

I think that`s because of the way human brain recalls memories:


Human tends to put short memory easier to jot down than longer memory. So it will be more nature and easy to just simply put down the contents in our minds first, then later refine it with descriptive commands.
  • For example: If we want to do currency exchange, what in our mind will be "100", "usd", "eur" first. However, the current method make it quite unnatural to approach the problem.

The mind will go through these three steps as an result:

  1. "100", "usd", "eur"
  2. "Oh, I need to refine those terms with commands at the beginning first"
  3. Now I can add "100", "usd", "eur"

The same thing happens for almost all the commands --- just ask ourselves:

  • How many times have we forget to put a '_KEY or SPACE_KEY when we want to search for some files or directories?
  • How many times we wish that we can type query terms "what is XXX" and add "google" second?
  • How easy it will be to type "1h20m" then add "timer" second, instead of "timer 1h20m"?

The best approach ofcourse will be a both-way solution: By allowing both the leading or tailing commands interpretation.

Edited by circlecrystal
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I’m not intending to sound confrontational, but your claims on how the human brain works are nothing more than conjecture, and what you call “the ideal way” is nothing more than “the way you like it”. Many people prefer it the other way around, and it is actually a necessity. Your examples are quite weak and don’t take into account at all the power of workflows or how they work.

Most of the more powerful workflows don’t rely on you writing something: they take a keyword and present a list of options, they take nothing more than being called, or they iterate on your given text and present further options. Your suggestion is quite simply impossible without breaking a ton of workflows, and would be awful performance-wise and experience-wise.
Imagine every workflow with a Script Filter. If we write text first and pick what to do with it after, what happens? Does it run every Script Filter at once and mashes every result together? That’d be useless, and extremely confusing. Do we have to finish typing before we pick which Script Filter to run? Then now we just lost the real-time filtering capabilities; it’s no longer a Filter, and that makes it worse.

Your suggestion sounds good only because you limited yourself to extremely basic and hand-picked examples. For complex cases, which Alfred is here to allow, it needs to work as it does.

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As I said in my previous post, I’m not trying to be confrontational here, but informative. I feel the need to say this again, since you seemed a bit defensive of my comments, in your reply.

I`m not allowed to list any paper name here due to the intellectual property limitations.

You’re still allowed to name them and link to them. Also, fair use allows you to quote a portion, and no one is going to come after you for doing so in a forum unrelated to the matter. Worst case scenario, they’d ask you to take it down. Where does your quote come from, then?

My point stands. Many people (and of those, many Alfred users) prefer it the way it is. Generalising about all humans isn’t a good argument: not all humans use Alfred, but a subset that prefer this type of productivity tool.

Basic case scenario delivers the concept well enough.

No, they does not, and I showed examples of my argument. Alfred allows you powerful interactions that your examples do not take into account.

Why do I have to list those advanced usage cases for no good reason?

Because there is a good reason. You haven’t explained how advanced usage would work and I’ve detailed why it would not.

I see Implementation-wise late positioned command may look hard to implement for you

They’re not hard, they’re impossible without breaking what has been done.

(despite LaunchBar 6 did it, Spotlight did it, etc.).

They didn’t. They did so only for basic commands that don’t allow as powerful interactions. And when they do allow something more powerful they require you to put the keyword first. You even said so yourself Launchbar partially does what Alfred does. Yes, because it needs to.

Until you explain how advanced usage would work, you haven’t made a case. None of these launchers has the possibility of keyword-last for advanced usage because it is not (currently?) possible. Not only is it a nightmare performance-wise, it’s unfeasible experience-wise. The reasons aren’t purely technical; going back to your argument, humans don’t interact well with a jumble of information.

What I`m suggesting is simply

I know what you are suggesting.

So what`s the matter?

The matter is (once again) it doesn’t work for advanced cases and Alfred is about advanced cases.

But I don`t understand what you mean

Do this: take any Script Filter workflow, any of them at tell me how it’d work with your system. If you’re successful at even one (it would have to work at least as well as it does now), try to extrapolate to others. If you succeed, then this can be discussed further, because until then your examples are flawed, hand-picked, and cannot be used for anything more than the most basic tasks.

Now, it’s fine if you’re asking for Alfred to only work that way in only the most basic of tasks, but so far, that isn’t what you said. However, that would require Alfred to change gears a bit, and following the footsteps of Spotlight and Launchbar, implement a lot of stuff (like currency exchange) natively. That, to me (and I’m sure to many other workflow developers) would be a huge loss and waste of resources. Alfred’s power is exactly in it’s versatility to let us implement our own actions.

Finally, I’ll reiterate. I’m not trying to be confrontational, I’m trying to explain why your proposal doesn’t work where it matters (advanced cases) and asking you to clarify how it could.

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The rest part, I`m not going to say anything more. Because I don`t want to be defensive or too hash for you.


How ironic. I’m making an effort to make sure we’re having a civilised discourse and to make sure my tone isn’t misinterpreted as attacking you (since it wasn’t), and still you miss that and hand-pick what to reply to.

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Apply any AI search algorithm

I’m fairly certain you do not understand either the complexity of implementing what you just said, or how it’d work in practice (which you still haven’t detailed).

No, I don’t mean simply auto-completing, I mean filtering, as in seeing live updates of what you’re searching for. Like this:


Or like Searchio!. Live results, that’s what I’m talking about. To get live results as you type, you first need to instruct Alfred of what types of results you want. Writing first and saying what you want after makes this impossible and this is a good feature.


Again, describe (don’t throw buzzwords around) how it’d work from the user’s point of view.

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Hello, I've been an Alfred user for a long while and I completely agree with the OP. I don't understand why it seems like all of his posts were deleted. The issue OP stated is a big reason why I'm swayed to use the (supposedly) inferior Yosemite Spotlight or LaunchBar instead of Alfred. Is discussion of this not allowed here or something? This overzealous moderation certainly isn't tilting my opinion in Alfred's favor.

Edited by picky
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Apart from the fact this new picky user account was created today and has only one post: the one above, defending the original poster (not suspicious at all), I’m fairly certain the original poster was the one that deleted their own posts. I certainly wasn’t the one to do it, and I very much doubt anyone else has, since there was no one else in the conversation. Why would anyone even do that, while keeping my posts which quote the original ones? It makes absolutely no sense, and I’d postulate not only was the original poster the one to delete the posts, they also only didn’t delete the top one because they couldn’t (regular users can’t).

If you have any doubts, picky, perhaps we can ask Vero. She has all the administrative powers, so if IPBoard allows administrators to see who deleted a post, she’ll be able to do it.

In addition, I receive by email every reply to a post I’m subscribed to, so I have a record of every post by circlecrystal on this thread, before edits, even the ones posted after my latest reply that were already gone when I checked back. I will gladly post them, if integrity is at all in question. Here1. Unfortunately the emails don’t preserve all the formatting, but the content is all there. Github isn’t breaking lines automatically, so you might have to scroll or copy the text or download the files to read them in their entirety. I haven’t done the breaks myself because I wanted to post them exactly as I received them. They’re all accurate, including that last one which I found particularly weird and I have the emails from the forum to prove it.

Furthermore, no one here called Spotlight or Launchbar inferior, like your use of “supposedly” seems to suggest.

Lastly, I’ll reinforce circlecrystal posts weren’t deleted by moderators, and since like I said at the start this new picky account is a bit suspicious considering the conversation that took hold in this thread, I took the liberty to screenshot and save that post, in case it also mysteriously disappears.

Apologies if your account is indeed legitimate, but the timing is fishy and accusations of deleting user posts should not be taken lightly.




1 Link to posts was removed since it was confirmed bellow circlecrystal was really the one who deleted them.

Edited by Vítor
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Hi guys, 


I've been letting this discussion happen as it was all relatively civilised. However, I need to step in now; circlecrystal deleted their own posts on 6th August, as shown in my administrator logs. It's up to them if they've decided to remove themselves from the conversation, but I can confirm that circlecrystal's posts have NOT been deleted by any moderator.


We have community guidelines and encourage discussion, so long as it's productive and respectful of other users. Now that the discussion has devolved from the original point, I'll be locking this thread.


In response to the original poster's question, Alfred can be used to search by either File > Action or Action > File.


To search by File > Action:

Type the spacebar to expand the search scope (or switch on unintelligent search in Default Results), choose a file and press the right arrow to choose an action to be performed on the file.


To search by Action > File:

Choose your keyword or action, then filter down to the file you want.


Both options are possible with Alfred, and the flexibility to order items the way you want is there. If anyone needs help creating workflows or learning features, that's what the forum is here for, and we'll be happy to help. :)

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