At Uncanny Owl, our team works hard to understand what people are doing with Automator…
Trying to explain everything that’s new with Uncanny Automator 3.1 in a short title is impossible. It’s a huge release that has something for everyone, especially users of our free plugin. It’s far more than a release with new integration, it rethinks the types of recipes that can be run, and it completely opens up options for users of the free version.
Anonymous is out, Everyone is in
The concept of “anonymous” recipes was always a confusing one in Uncanny Automator. Would anonymous recipes run for logged in users? If they were anonymous, why did they still have to have an associated user? Behind the scenes for developers it all made sense, and we could keep all of the anonymous code in the Pro add-on. But for practical use, we confused people.
That’s why, starting in 3.1, we’re replacing the concept of “anonymous” users with the idea that there are recipes that can run for everyone: logged in users as well as logged out users. “But wait”, you’re probably thinking. “Anonymous recipes are a Pro feature, and this announcement is about the Free version.” Well, with today’s release, users of the free plugin now get access to some triggers that anyone can run, even signed out users. But there’s more…
Userless recipes are here
Along with recipes that “everyone” can run, we’re making a big change that allows some recipes to run without an associated WordPress user. We’ve heard from countless users frustrated by that limitation in Automator; even working around it by routing data through a fake user, it was confusing.
By default, all “Everyone” recipes are now userless until an action is added that needs user data. Don’t worry, we’ll let you know when we need user data! If you choose an action with the “needs user data” label, we’ll pop up a user selector automatically.
Existing Pro users, you’ll notice that this is a very different workflow; instead of always doing user selection after trigger selection, now it’s done only if an action that requires user data is added to the recipe. If you’re just sending data to a webhook, you can now skip the process of user selection/creation entirely.
Why all of these changes, and why in the free release? We realized that Uncanny Automator’s value was pretty limited on sites that didn’t support ecommerce, elearning and/or membership functions. Moreover, users of the free plugin needed more value and a better demonstration of what Automator could do before investing in the Pro version.
Try out App integrations
This emphasis on ease of use in the free version now also extends to a brand new system to try out our app (API-based) integrations. That’s right, free plugin users can try out Slack, Mailchimp, Google Sheets and more in the 3.1 release, and we’ll be adding more of the API-based integrations to try out soon.
What’s the catch? We limit the number of times you can pass data to these integrations to 250, which should be plenty to realize the value offered by Uncanny Automator Pro. To set things up, we do also require an email address to set up a free Uncanny Automator account on our site.
New form triggers in the free version
You’re probably sensing a trend in adding more value to users of the free plugin, so here’s a big one: For all of the form integrations we support, we’re moving the former “anonymous” form submission triggers to the free version. There are no limits to usage here, if you use WPForms, Formidable Forms, Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, Fluent Forms and more, you can trigger recipes based on form submission even for users that are logged out.
New integrations: Facebook and Instagram!
In a break from talking about all the new core features, we have 2 huge new integrations to announce: Facebook and Instagram. That’s right, now you can publish posts, photos and links right from inside WordPress! (Did we just replace the need for a bunch of plugins that automatically post to social networks? Maybe…)
Here are the new actions for Facebook in Automator 3.1:
- Publish a post to a Facebook page
- Share a link with a message to a Facebook page
- Share a photo to a Facebook page
And here’s what’s new in Instagram:
- Publish a photo to an Instragram Business account
Yes, that is one catch with Instagram; due to limitations in the Facebook API you can post to a Business account only.
While we’re talking about social media, in 3.1 we added the ability for the Twitter post action to include an image in the Tweet. And don’t forget about our support for delayed and scheduled actions for Pro users! So, if you want, you can automatically have new posts reshared with different text and images in future, all automatically.
The new Facebook and Instagram app integrations are for Pro users, but free users can try them out with some of their 250 free app credits.
To make onboarding easier for new users, there’s a brand new Dashboard page that links to key resources. We hope this helps new users find what they need quickly, and it also includes a way for users of the free plugin to track their usage of app integrations. That will help them plan when they need to upgrade to Pro (if they do).
Improvements behind the scenes
Uncanny Automator 3.1 is mostly about core changes over new integrations, but they’re really important improvements that will benefit all plugin users. This update also adds new support for object caching and Redis. Support for PHP 8 is improved, but for now we still recommend staying on PHP 7.4 until our 3.2 releases.
That’s it for the highlights of the 3.1 update. For full details, don’t forget to check out https://automatorplugin.com/knowledge-base/uncanny-automator-changelog/