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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Fantastical adds broader Shortcuts support

Fantastical shortcut

Back in January, I wrote about building an automation for my pal Lex that would generate a list of open meeting times for him to send to potential clients.

Lex and I both use the Fantastical calendar app, but at the time the app’s support for Shortcuts actions was pretty poor. To get our automation to work, we had to set up Apple’s default Calendar app and log it in to our Google calendars. For such a full-featured app, Fantastical’s lack of Shortcuts actions was really surprising.

Things have gotten better! Flexibits just released Fantastical 3.7.9, which adds a bunch of new Shortcuts actions, including the ability to filter events from a given Calendar Set in a given date range, and the ability to generate a simple schedule for a given day.

There’s still some more work to do here—I don’t think Fantastical can quite match the level of filtering that Apple’s Calendar actions offer—but I already see the benefit of using Fantastical for this work. Fantastical’s Calendar Sets, which are user-configurable groups of calendars, make it a lot easier to target a search for events depending on the context.

For example, I might search in a set that only contains my work events, or one that also contains broader family obligations. With Apple’s Calendar actions, I have to search one calendar at a time and concatenate the results. With Fantastical, I just target one of my Calendar Sets and it finds what I want across all the calendars in that set.

I’m happy that Flexibits recognized that its app was a bit behind on the user automation front and took steps to address the issue. Apple has said that Shortcuts is the future of automation on its platforms; I hope more app developers spend time considering how the functionality of their apps can also be used in concert with other apps.

Maybe they could take some time to consider it this month, for starters. It is Automation April, after all.

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