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In last week’s issue of MacStories Weekly, I explained how it’s possible to extract the underlying XML and JSON code of shortcuts, inspect the syntax, and use the technique to scrape information out of shortcuts. In my case, this experiment started because I wanted to figure out a way to programmatically extract the first ‘Comment’ action of my shortcuts, which is used as the description field for all the shortcuts I have on the MacStories Shortcuts Archive.
As I was finalizing last week’s story, I had another idea: if we had the XML syntax of a shortcut, could we, potentially, modify the XML code, save it as a .shortcut file, and re-add it to the Shortcuts app as a modified shortcut? Essentially, I wondered how far I could go in terms of modifying and writing shortcuts as code rather than using Shortcuts’ built-in visual editor.