Taran Bains

Script Kit

Scripting isn't so bad y'all

Taran "tearing it up" Bains • May 05, 2024 11 min read
An image of ai generated people using an anvil and blacksmiting scripts for my automation

Hey hey; I’m back again and today I wanna talk about Script Kit; I heard about it from Kent (in passing) whilst attending Epic Conf! In short, it’s primary purpose is to help developers automate tedious parts of their workflows with an easy to use scripting platform. All the scripts you write are in JS and TS (see ya later bash) and by virtue of making JS + TS first class citizens, you can do some real nifty things.

There are 4 reasons why I like Script Kit and I’ll be elaborating on each. If you’re too busy or too lazy to read the rest of the article (both of which are fine reasons to not read anything), here’s the tldr:

  1. It allows you to automate tedious tasks with its nifty scripting features.
  2. It’s super fun to learn (if you’re into that kinda thing, which I am).
  3. It lowers the barrier to entry for scripting to include people who mostly us JS + TS and not things like bash or python.
  4. Your scripts can run in a GUI or the CLI; great because you can’t really drag and drop things in the CLI.

Automate All the Things

I once heard of a developer that would automate any task that he had to repeat more than twice in a given week (or something to that effect). This man wrote a script that would send out a text to his wife at 5:00 pm if he has not logged off his work computer, giving her some randomized excuse for why he was running late. I mean, I’m not saying I would do that but I’m not saying that I wouldn’t either — although my script would give her the honest reason (work has been chaotic and chances are something is most likely on fire 😆). While I don’t think I’d ever go as far as automating something if I had to do it more than twice in a week, there is something to be said about the spirit of automating tedious tasks that have to get done but aren’t necessarily a good use of our time!

In my case, whenever we do a release to production at work, I, like a lot of folks, need to wait for our cache to invalidate before I can tell our QA Engineers to kick off regression tests. Ideally, there would be some sort of webhook that gets fired once the cache has been invalidated in our CI process but, like a lot of companies, we’ve got bigger fish to fry than improving our CI process and improving our developer experience. Prior to Script Kit, I would wait around for 10ish minutes and check the version manually because within that 10ish minutes, there was a pretty good chance (not an absolute chance) that the version would update. Essentially the flow looked like the below:

update prod
invalidate cache
Has prod
version updated?
Notify Qas
Wait longer

However, it was equally likely that the version could update within one minute or within ten minutes so the ten minutes I listed above is the upper bound for the longest time estimate. My coworker Daniele didn’t like that we had to manually check and you can imagine why: one can’t enter flow state because they’ve got the looming release on their mind and if they do enter flow state, they might accidentally forget to notify folks that the production release is ready for testing — I’m guilty of the latter where the cache invalidates within 5 minutes but because I was busy writing code for another feature, I ended up not telling folks until 30ish minutes later 😅.

Daniele wrote up a quick node script (him and Copilot I presume) that would ping the prod server for ten minutes and upon either timeout or successful version change, he’d get a notification on his phone (and apple watch) about the status of the change. I personally didn’t use his script — not because it wasn’t good but because it seemed like a hassle to set up another alias on my bash profile to execute some random node script. I’m lazy, I know 🙈. However, after Epic Conf, I decided to give Script Kit a try and tweaked his version checker script for Script Kit — which was pretty easy since his code was already written in JS. Not only did his script work, but I was also able to improve on it by removing some verbosity around fetch calls as Script Kit has nice little helpers like get and open available in the runtime! You can see the example here:

// Name: Version pinger
// Author: Taran Bains

import "@johnlindquist/kit";

const url = await arg("Set URL:", []);

// I use ntfy to subscribe to messages
const topic = await arg("Set ntfy topic:", [""]);

async function sendNotify(msg: string) {
  try {
    await $`curl -d "${msg}" ntfy.sh/${topic}`;
  } catch (error) {
    console.error("Notification Error:", error.message);

let firstVersion = (await get(url))?.data?.version;
let lastVersion = firstVersion;

const startTime = Date.now();
const timeLimit = 10 * 60 * 1000;

async function checkVersionChange() {
  try {
    const response = await get(url);
    const newVersion = response.data.version;
    if (newVersion !== lastVersion) {
      await sendNotify(`Version changed from ${lastVersion} to ${newVersion}`);
      lastVersion = newVersion;
      return false; // Stop checking after version change
    return true; // Continue checking
  } catch (error) {
    console.error("Error fetching version:", error.message);

async function startPinging() {
  const interval = setInterval(async () => {
    if (Date.now() - startTime > timeLimit) {
      await sendNotify("Timed out checking version");
    } else {
      const shouldContinue = await checkVersionChange();
      // log the date in a human readable way
      let prettyDate = new Date().toLocaleString();
        `${prettyDate} -  Pinging ${url}. Old Version: ${firstVersion}`,
      if (!shouldContinue) {
        notify("Finished running script");
  }, 3000);

I’ll be honest, after creating that first script, I got a little trigger happy and automated a few more tasks 😳. I automated opening up the URL for my deployed feature branches, I automated querying my open pull requests by Jira ticket number, and I automated opening the current running CI pipeline for specific feature branches — all these things were easy enough to do manually but they’d require me clicking around the browser a handful of times, which while not bad in and of itself, was definitely annoying.

Super Fun

If it isn’t abundantly clear to you by now, I absolutely love to learn (I also curse like a sailor). So when I say it was fun to learn about scripting and Script Kit, you shouldn’t be surprised.

What made it fun, at least for me, was that I had found a new way to improve upon my life! I’m constantly chasing progress and improvement — not because I’m not content, I am, but because getting better is incredibly invigorating. That feeling of being level 1 and getting to level 5, oof, it just hits different. Also, as y’all know, I am a Sikh and the world Sikh in Punjabi literally translates into to learn, so there’s a certain fulfillment I feel when I learn something new, irrespective of whether or not it’s related to faith.

ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰੀ ॥ Consider and contemplate upon knowledge, and you will become a benefactor to others.

-Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Plus, and I’ve said this before, variety is the spice of life! Try something new! Whether that’s scripting or trying to do a backflip, don’t allow yourself to fall into a rut — invoke that beginners mindset and what’s an easier way than, you know, trying something new 😃!

Scripting for All

Scripting felt like this magical far away skill reserved for linux system admins who had a profound and intimate knowledge of bash — not a full stack (but mostly frontend) developer such as myself. It legitimately felt like it was going to be way too much effort to get started learning how to script properly because it required me to learn bash and other tools. And yes, I know, I write TypeScript for a living (script is in the name) and yes, I know, tools like google/zx exist to help make scripting easier, but still, it didn’t feel like the friction I was going to face when getting started was going to be worth the eventual payoff. Unlike the traditional meme developer, I don’t like to spend 6 hours of my life automating a task that only takes me a minute to do.

Another thing about scripting and this is unrelated to anything really to do with the tooling, but I didn’t feel empowered to easily share my scripts/automations with my coworkers. As I mentioned above, the whole reason I didn’t want to use my coworkers node script is because I was lazy and not in the right way (but I guess maybe in the right way, because if I wasn’t this kind of lazy, then Scriptkit wouldn’t be a thing). But another reason is that I didn’t want to have to deal with the whole “well it works on my machine and my version of node” issue if I ever shared a script with a colleague. The whole point of scripting was to help make my life easier — not make it harder by having me answer and provide help to my colleagues when my tiny script to ping our prod server failed to work for them 😥.

Look how easy and small the script to empty your trash is! After the set up of Script Kit, it’s as easy as running empty-trash from the terminal to empty my Mac’s trash (or Windows Recycle Bin)!

// Name: Empty Trash
// Author: Ricardo Gonçalves Bassete

import "@johnlindquist/kit"
import emptyTrash from 'empty-trash'

await emptyTrash()

A Gui + Terminal Interface

Alright, y’all know it, I know it, my family even knows it — I love the terminal! I picked up neovim 2 years ago and haven’t looked back! However, that isn’t to say that I don’t use GUIs — GUIs definitely have their place in my toolbelt. GUIs are great… and that’s why it’s awesome that Script Kit includes a GUI and a CLI for us to use.

A screenshot of my terminal

One script I use pretty often is cloudinary upload. I already tried using it from the terminal and it doesn’t work 😅 since we don’t have a drag and drop interface for the terminal (at least not one that I’m aware of). That’s why it’s super great to have the GUI — if there are certain elements that require a GUI, we get that.

However, the chrome-bookmark script that I wrote can run in the terminal (it has no dependency on GUI elements) so I lovingly use it in the terminal. Check it out when you get a chance! Isn’t that so cool; You get the best of both worlds!

Closing Thoughts

Okay so, automation is great. Script Kit is great. However, if you’re not careful and don’t understand the inherent risks of scripting, hold off and ask for help! We don’t want to be willy nilly installing packages to our machines and executing the code.

Check it out and publish your scripts to the community; if you have any cool scripts that you’ve written, send them my way!