Previously, AskDifferent has been confined to asking programming questions relating mostly to AppleScript, Bash, and Automator as per the help section. But recently Apple has released the Shortcuts app in iOS. The Shortcuts app has multiple actions that include other languages currently not on-topic. Should we start to allow questions relating to these new topics that were previously considered off topic? Here are some of the topics:

  • Creation and editing of JSON files
  • Creation and editing of XML Files
  • Python Programming language
  • JavaScript Programming languages
  • Connecting Shortcuts to APIs
  • API Key's

and much more...

If we agree on allowing these questions then this will turn into an additional feature request, requesting that we edit the help center.

  • 1
    Excellent question for discussion. Once we have consensus a second feature request to propose specific language for any change or clarification to the help if needed would be great.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


The relevant part in What topics can I ask here? says

Code-level programming questions (cocoa, LLVM, etc…) are off-topic here. We do encourage AppleScript, Automator, and UNIX shell scripting questions as well as how to use tools like Xcode for non-language specific tasks.

Extrapolating from here I would consider

  • questions which ask for how to code some specific task in Shortcuts,
  • questions about using specific aspects of Python, JavaScript etc. within Shortcuts,
  • answers which use any of the scripting languages available within Shortcuts

to be on-topic.

OTOH general questions about Python, JavaScript etc. are still off-topic for AD (at least in my opinion).

  • 1
    Hmm. So would a question like: How to pass the text inside an element by its id into a variable in Shortcuts? be allowed? Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 13:08
  • 1
    @jbis I would probably follow up with "This looks like an XY Problem, so can you describe in more details which problem you are trying to solve here?" first :-). Besides that: yes.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 13:24
  • 3
    This answer makes a lot of sense. Most of what was asked should be on topic here since json and xml are part of how the system saves and logs configurationa plots and log data. Swift Playgrounds is a sanctioned service and Apple app that guides scripting. As long as there’s a clear tie to some practical problem, interpreted languages like bash and swift and JavaScript/AppleScript seem to fall in with macOS scripting being on topic here.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 23:28

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