Sal Soghoian, the man who headed up user automation tools at Apple – including AppleScript and Automator – says that he left the company last month when Apple eliminated his position ‘for business reasons.’ Chicago Sun-Times tech columnist Andy Ihnatko broke the news yesterday, with Soghoian explaining more in a newly-added FAQ on his website.

It’s unclear whether other team members have also been let go, but Soghoian says those concerned about the future of user automation in macOS should ask Apple.

Ask Apple. Seriously, if you have any questions or concerns about the future of user automation, ask Apple. If user automation technologies are important to you, then now is the time for all good men and women to reach out, speak up and ask questions. The macOS user automation technologies include: UNIX CLI (shell, python, ruby, perl), System Services, Apple Events (JavaScript, AppleScript, AppleScriptObj-C, Scripting Bridge), Automator, Apple Configurator (AppleScript, Automator), and Application scripting support in Photos, iWork, Finder, Mail, and other Apple applications … 

The decision to lose Soghoian after almost 20 years in the role, together with a statement that makes the future of user automation tools seem uncertain, is bound to cause concern among those of us who depend on them on a daily basis. The fear will be that Apple may gradually cease support for power tools as part of an increasing consumer focus.

Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber said that the news ‘sounds ominous’ given that Apple has eliminated the position altogether rather than simply letting one individual go. (The more cynical among us might observe that it’s not unusual for a corporation to officially eliminate a position as a trouble-free way of letting someone go, before later replacing the position with one that – on paper – looks different. Gruber notes that Soghoian was ‘a bit of a rebel’ within the company, though notes that ‘you’ll never meet a warmer, nicer, more gregarious guy.’)

Soghoian says that he will continue to host automation information at his own website ‘for the foreseeable future.’

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and will update with any response.

Photo: Andy Ihnatko

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