Fear of scripting

Since starting my Twitter hiatus in January, I’ve spent more time on user forums (like those for Drafts, and the Automators podcast) and I’ve seen more evidence for something that’s always puzzled me: fear of scripting.

To be clear, I’m never puzzled when a “regular” user assumes that scripting is beyond them. Programming is so often presented as a complicated and daunting process that mere mortals should never attempt, so it’s not surprising that people who’ve never been exposed to it would think it’s beyond them. What surprises me is when people who know Shortcuts or Keyboard Maestro—people who develop long workflows with branches and loops and regular expressions—balk at a little JavaScript or Python or AppleScript.

I understand that there are only so many hours in a day and whatever time you invest in learning the rudiments of a new language takes time away from other things you’d like to do—or need to do. We all have to make decisions about what is worth our time and what isn’t. I feel this more strongly as I approach 60 and realize that there are things I’d like to learn but will never get to.

But it isn’t the “can I budget the time” objection that bothers me. It’s the “oh, I could never do that” objection. Believe me, most programmers aren’t that bright. Think of how many badly made websites you visit on an average day and realize that there’s a JavaScript programmer who is certainly no smarter than you behind every one of them. If you’re automating things using a visual tool like Shortcuts or Keyboard Maestro or Automator, you already are scripting.