I am so happy to finally find an extremely simple way to automate the simple chore of creating a compressed zip copy of my development project folder. I do this daily as a backup of my work.
I've yet to master source code control systems. Even if I did, those systems are just as good at destroying source code as they are at saving it. So even with BitBucket & Mercurial, for example, I would still want some simple zip copies of my entire project folder copied over to flash drives or other storage place.
The answer is Automator. This tool is bundled with every Mac. Built on top of AppleScript, Automator has pre-built tasks that you are likely to perform in the real world. One of those tasks is Create Archive. Bingo!
Using Automator is shockingly easy. Just drag-and-drop your desired tasks into a list. The tasks automatically chain together, the previous feeding into the next.
The main downside of Automator is also its virtue: Simplicity. While the various task panels offer a few options, they are indeed few. For example, I might want to use UTC time rather than local time when time-stamping each archive. No go. The workaround would be to write AppleScript code, and call that as a task.
Here is a screen shot of what you want to end up with if, like me, you want to create an archive of a folder, append current date and time to the .zip file, and store it in a "backups" folder.