Now I’ve moved from TextExpander to Alfred and am creating new extension text snippets in Alfred, I encounter questions to solve dynamic content of snippets. Particularly with dates. Alfred’s dynamic snippet possibilities for dates are somewhat limited of themselves. Finding this tip from 2017 in the Alfred forum by one of the admins and following her pointer to this overview of unix date format patterns was very helpful.

Where Alfred only looks at the date and things relative to it, with those patterns you can do anything, as long as you remember Alfred starts from the date itself.

So getting the week number is {date: w} and last week’s number is {date -7d: w} (todays date minus 7 days, -1w won’t work). And getting the things like Q4 is {date: qqq}.

I use these snippets to create dynamic links in my Obsidian note files. E.g. I have a weekly review note, which ends with a link to the previous and the next weekly review file. The file names are along the lines of ‘W 2020-43 Review’. I create links dynamically with Alfred using the snippet, with the dynamic parts between {}:

[[W {date -7d:YYYY-w} Review | previous week review]]  [[W {date +7d:YYYY-w} Review | next week review]]

I have been using TextExpander for a long time to speed up typing by using keywords for often used and repeating snippets.

Things like .TZ to type my name Ton Zijlstra, .url to type my blog’s url, and .@blog for my blog’s mail That way filling out a comment form on a blog is .TZ .@blog .url, and then the comment.

With their latest release TextExpander has gone the route of so many software packages, and started charging a yearly subscription. I don’t mind buying software but paying yearly for the same package adds up quickly over the many software tools I use. I don’t mind the occasional payment for an upgrade (I happily pay Tinderbox $100 every time I do a major upgrade), but forcing a subscription on me is a form of economic tethering I fundamentally dislike.

So whenever a software tool moves away from ‘pay me once now, and pay again once you choose to upgrade’ to ‘let us set the frequency of payments’ I try to move away from that software tool. Currently I am moving my TextExpander snippets into Alfred, a tool that does the same thing next to doing a whole host of other things and that I also already had installed.