TweetFollow Us on Twitter

AppleScript Scorecard

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Scripting

The AppleScript Scorecard Guidelines

by Cal Simone and Bill Cheeseman

Is your application truly scriptable? These guidelines may help you find the answer

For users writing scripts in AppleScript, the number one challenge is the lack of intuitiveness in scripting implementations and consistency when moving among scriptable applications of different types. To aid potential users of scriptable applications in determining the suitability of particular products for their scripting scenarios and, more importantly, to promote these characteristics among developers of scriptable applications, a set of guidelines has been developed, in the form of an AppleScript "Scorecard".

By the time you read this, the Catalog of Scriptable Products should be available on the Web, tentatively at http://www.mainevent.com/scorecard/. The Catalog is a comprehensive directory of scriptable applications, and includes reviews and ratings. The guidelines put forth in this article were developed to form the basis for the reviews and ratings found in the Catalog.

Although the guidelines were developed primarily as an aid for users, they are offered here so that, as the developer of a scriptable product, you can see, in broad terms, what makes up an application that delivers the power of user scripting into the hands of users. Note that, at the time of writing this, we were close to completion, but the final point distribution had not been frozen.

Even if you don't submit your application for a rating, following the criteria of this scoring system will guide you to making your application more easily scripted and more consistent with other well-designed object model-based applications.

The Guidelines

These Guideline are Copyright 1997-1998, Cal Simone and Bill Cheeseman. Printed courtesy of MacTech Magazine, April 1998. The Guidelines may be freely used and distributed, provided that they are copied or distributed in complete form, without alteration, and provided this notice is included.

To promote full AppleScript support in the widest range of products, an application is rated in the AppleScript Scorecard in part for the full and proper implementation of specific scripting features, such as the object model and recordability. To promote the highest quality, an application is also rated on a more qualitative assessment of the design, completeness, transparency, stability and documentation of its AppleScript implementation. In the first phase of rating an application, a range of points is awarded for the presence of specific features, taking into account the extent to which each feature is implemented and its conformity to Apple standards and conventions. In the second phase, additional points are awarded on a sliding scale for specific overall qualities of the scripting implementation.

The AppleScript Scorecard rates an application's support for AppleScript on a scale of 0 to 100. The final score is converted to a scale of one to five "scripts", with half-scripts (1-10 = 1/2 script, 11-20 = 1 script, etc.). The "scripts" score is the primary rating for public distribution, but the points score can be published in parentheses (after converting it to a scale of 0.0 to 10.0 with one decimal place). An example: "3-1/2 scripts (7.2)".

An application is not considered scriptable, and it is not rated, if it has no dictionary or terminology ('aete') resource, or if it has a dictionary that supports only the Required Suite (the run, open, print and quit Apple events) and the "do script" event. Its Finder "scriptable" property may be true because it does respond to the Required Suite, but this by itself does not reach the threshold necessary to be rated.

To be considered for rating, therefore, an application must implement a meaningful and reasonably useful set of verbs in addition to those in the Required Suite (run, open, print and quit), although not necessarily in the form of additional, named suites. Even a small number of supported commands suffices, as long as they enable a scripter to take advantage of some significant and useful functionality of the application. The "do script" event, without more, does not qualify (because this is a rating of the application's AppleScript features, not of a proprietary internal scripting system.)

Phase 1 -- Scripting Features Supported

Points are awarded in Phase 1 for the presence of the specific AppleScript features described below. A range of points may be awarded for the presence of each feature to take into account the extent of its implementation and its conformity to Apple standards and conventions, but Phase 1 does not otherwise rate qualitative aspects of the application's AppleScript support.

Implementation of any of these AppleScript features in conformity to its description here merits awarding the maximum number of points for that feature. Points should be deducted from the maximum for failure to implement specific aspects of a feature where indicated. Points should also be subtracted for limiting a scripting feature such as the object model to a narrow subset of an application's functionality; the penalty should be roughly proportional to the fraction of the application's functionality that is not covered by the scripting implementation. The maximum score for complete implementation of all possible scripting features is 40 points.

Object Model Support -- supports the Apple event object model -- 0 to 25 points

The application supports the object model. It includes at least the essential verbs in the Core, or Standard, Suite ("make", "get" and "set," at a minimum). It also implements a meaningful set of objects that can contain other objects and that have properties. The elements contained in objects have a variety of reference forms (e.g., by index, by name, by unique ID) suitable to their intended use. Its supported commands, including new verbs devised for the application, can operate on various objects and properties in object model fashion. For example, instead of providing commands that are verb-noun hybrids like "GetColor", a graphics application might support objects of several classes, including "picture," which can have any of several properties, including "color," and commands that can operate flexibly on any of those objects and properties to allow a scripter to create complex statements such as "make new picture with properties {color:red}", "get the color of the first picture" and "set the color of picture 3 to red." The objects supported by an application must correspond to all of the conceptual structures of the application (windows, pictures and so on; not its internal programmatic objects). 5 points should be withheld if the application does not support the filter reference form ("whose" clauses).

Recordable -- supports recording -- 0 to 5 points

The application automatically generates the text of valid AppleScript statements when actions are recorded by a script editor. To receive the full 5 points, the generated script must be executable without editing when run under the same conditions under which it was recorded, and its statements should be in general form (for example, they should not refer to objects by unique id).

Attachable -- supports a "Scripts" menu -- 0 to 5 points

The application has a "Scripts" menu which lists AppleScripts written by the user and allows them to be run from the menu bar. An application typically installs the scripts in the Scripts menu when the user places them in a folder within the application's folder. Withhold 1 point if the Scripts menu does not support hierarchical menus (scripts installed in subfolders of the Scripts folder), and withhold 1 point if the Scripts menu is not updated "on the fly" when a new script is placed in the Scripts folder. Withhold 2 points if the menu has a name other than "Scripts" or its synonym in non-English systems.

Embeddable -- supports embedding of scripts in the user interface generally -- 0 to 5 points

The application provides a means to integrate user-written AppleScripts into the user interface in any of a variety of ways in addition to or instead of installing them in a "Scripts" menu. For example, scripts can be executed by clicking on buttons on a tool palette, or scripts can be run as background agents in response to events occurring in the application such as the launching of the application, the opening or closing of a window or the receipt of e-mail. The specific user interface and the manner in which these scripts are stored is not specified and is not relevant to the score. To receive the full 5 points, the manner in which embedded scripts are made available to the user should be creative, consistent with the user interface generally and easy to use.

Phase 2 -- Quality of Scripting Implementation

In addition to the points awarded in Phase 1 for specific scripting features, additional points are awarded in Phase 2 on the basis of the following qualitative assessments of specific aspects of an application's AppleScript support. In general, these categories rate the degree to which an application's AppleScript support forms a consistent and useful user interface in its own right.

An award of 0 points in any one category means that the implementation is abysmal in that respect; 2 or 3 points, that it is barely useful; 6 points, that it is average and therefore acceptable; 9 or 10 points, that it is very good; and 12 points, that it is nearly perfect. In general, a conservative approach is taken so that room will be left at the extreme ends of the scale to distinguish the worst and the best implementations. An average score is not bad, and the scores of most applications should cluster around 6. A score of 4 or 5 points will not be uncommon for slightly below average implementations, and 7 or 8 points should be considered appropriate for good implementations. The maximum score for quality is 60 points. To be awarded the full score, an application's AppleScript support should achieve all of the desired qualities in each category described here.

Design -- fidelity to the application's structure and function -- 0 to 12 points

The Application's commands, objects and properties, and the containment hierarchy and relationship of objects to one another, flow naturally from its subject matter and function instead of rigidly and slavishly mimicking its menu commands and dialogs. The richness of the application is reflected in a relatively large number of objects, or nouns, and a relatively small number of events, or verbs, that act upon them. Commands and objects from established suites, such as the Text Suite, are implemented faithfully if the application is one for which the suite is appropriate. For an application in an area that has no established suites, its commands and objects reflect an equally appropriate fidelity to the structure and function of the application. Consistency with good scripting implementations in the run of scriptable applications in a particular field is closely observed or, if a new and different approach is taken, it is creative, imaginative and, above all, natural and intuitive -- and still in keeping with the "look and feel" of standard AppleScript. Verbs and nouns that go beyond the standard features of established and well-designed suites must extend the language in a consistent and useful manner.

Completeness -- depth, breadth and thoroughness of scriptability -- 0 to 12 points

The application implements a large number of commands, a wide array of objects having a deep containment structure, and a rich and extensive set of properties, exposing the application's full complexity and overall functionality through its scripting interface. The AppleScript implementation is thorough, detailed and complete, making all appropriate functions of the application available to the scripter.

Transparency -- resemblance to plain English words and syntax -- 0 to 12 points

AppleScripts written with the application's dictionary are made up of simple English sentences. Common words in everyday use are employed in a familiar way to describe commands, objects and properties. The application's terminology and syntax are natural and intuitive, not awkward and obscure. A traditional computer programmer would think that an AppleScript statement written using the application's dictionary was a conceptual description of a script, not its executable code. A nonprogrammer would have a good chance of getting an AppleScript statement right the first time without looking at the manual, and scripters experienced with the application would have little difficulty remembering how to script it.

Stability -- absence of bugs -- 0 to 12 points

The application's AppleScript implementation is bug-free, and it works according to specification.

Documentation -- documentation and examples are provided -- 0 to 12 points

Instructions for most or all of the application's scripting features are provided, whether in print or on disk. The documentation is clearly written, well organized and thorough. A large number of useful examples are provided. Apple Guide help (or another help facility available within the application) covers the topic of scripting. The scripting dictionary ('aete' resource) within the application has comments sufficient to remind a user familiar with the application how to use its commands and objects without the need to resort to the external documentation.

Getting Your Product Rated

Send your application (including documentation), in a StuffIt archive, to review@script.org. Submitting to this address will cause the terms in your vocabulary to be added to the databases (both inside and outside of Apple) that are used to analyze and maintain the AppleScript language. This also submits your product for review in the Catalog of Scriptable Products. A submission form is also available in the Catalog's web area, tentatively http://www.mainevent.com/scorecard/. If your application is large, has printed manuals, or is packaged in a box, instructions can be found on the submission form for shipping your product, manuals, or other materials for review.

More Resources for Implementing Scriptability

A roadmap for achieving a thoughtfully designed and well-executed scripting implementation can be found in "According To Script: Steps to Scriptablility" in develop issue 24.

Many of the style guidelines, conventions, tips, and tricks (including the reasons for implementing the object model) are offered in "Designing a Scripting Implementation" in develop issue 21, and the rest of the "According to Script" series, issues 22-26 and 29.

Details of the Apple Event Manager and OSA (Open Scripting Architecture) API are described in Inside Macintosh: Interapplication Communication.


Cal Simone, cal@script.org, champion of AppleScript, is the President of Main Event Software mainevent@his.com and the designer of the Scripter authoring and development environment for AppleScript. In the first half of 1997, Cal spearheaded a 5-month effort to rescue AppleScript from the chopping block during Apple's "technology evaluation" (also known as the "spring cleaning") and to convince Apple's top management to commit to AppleScript in Rhapsody.

Bill Cheeseman, cheeseb@mediaone.net is a lawyer in Massachusetts, and he maintains The AppleScript SourceBook site at http://oasis.bellevue.k12.wa.us/cheeseb/index.html. A true-life legal experience of his is the subject of the best-selling book "A Civil Action," and it is being made into a Hollywood movie, starring John Travolta, to be released in late 1998. Bill has been programming Apple computers as a hobby since 1977.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Fission 2.3.2 - Streamlined audio editor...
Fission can crop and trim audio, paste in or join files, or just rapidly split one long file into many. It's streamlined for fast editing. Plus, it works without the quality loss caused by other... Read more
Drive Genius 5.0.3 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius gives you faster performance from your Mac while also protecting it. The award-winning and improved DrivePulse feature alerts you to hard drive issues before they become major problems.... Read more
iDefrag 5.2.0 - Disk defragmentation and...
iDefrag helps defragment and optimize your disk for improved performance. iDefrag Features Supports HFS and HFS+ (Mac OS Extended). Supports case sensitive and journaled filesystems. Supports... Read more
Things 3.1.1 - Elegant personal task man...
Things is a task management solution that helps to organize your tasks in an elegant and intuitive way. Things combines powerful features with simplicity through the use of tags and its intelligent... Read more
GraphicConverter 10.4.3 - $39.95
GraphicConverter is an all-purpose image-editing program that can import 200 different graphic-based formats, edit the image, and export it to any of 80 available file formats. The high-end editing... Read more
Google Chrome 60.0.3112.78 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
PDFpenPro 9.1 - Advanced PDF toolkit for...
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Create fillable forms and tables of content... Read more
PDFpen 9.1 - $74.95
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 7.1.3 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Amadeus Pro 2.4 - Multitrack sound recor...
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Mac for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its outstanding... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Mix and match magical brews in Miracle M...
Miracle Merchant, the charming fantasy card game by Tiny Touch Tales, is arriving next week. The development team, which also brought you Card Crawl and Card Thief, announced the game's launch with a pleasant little trailer that showcases the game'... | Read more »
Last Day on Earth: Zombie Survival guide...
Last Day on Earth: Zombie Survival is the latest big hit in the survival game craze. The gist of the game is pretty cut and dry -- try your best to survive in a world overrun by flesh-eating zombies. But Last Day on Earth justifies the hype... | Read more »
Eden: Renaissance (Games)
Eden: Renaissance 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Eden: Renaissance is a thrilling turn-based puzzle adventure set in a luxurious world, offering a deep and moving... | Read more »
Glyph Quest Chronicles guide - how to ma...
Glyph Quest returns with a new free-to-play game, Glyph Quest Chronicles. Chronicles offers up more of the light-hearted, good humored fantasy fun that previous games featured, but with a few more refined tricks up its sleeve. It's a clever mix of... | Read more »
Catch yourself a Lugia and Articuno in P...
Pokémon Go Fest may have been a bit of a disaster, with Niantic offering fans full refunds and $100 worth of in-game curency to apologize for the failed event, but that hasn't ruined trainers' chances of catching new legendary Pokémon. Lugia nad... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
There are quite a few truly superb games on sale on the App Store this week. If you haven't played some of these, many of which are true classics, now's the time to jump on the bandwagon. Here are the deals you need to know about. [Read more] | Read more »
Realpolitiks Mobile (Games)
Realpolitiks Mobile 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: PLEASE NOTE: The game might not work properly on discontinued 1GB of RAM devices (iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad... | Read more »
Layton’s Mystery Journey (Games)
Layton’s Mystery Journey 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $15.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: THE MUCH-LOVED LAYTON SERIES IS BACK WITH A 10TH ANNIVERSARY INSTALLMENT! Developed by LEVEL-5, LAYTON’S... | Read more »
Full Throttle Remastered (Games)
Full Throttle Remastered 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Originally released by LucasArts in 1995, Full Throttle is a classic graphic adventure game from industry legend Tim... | Read more »
Stunning shooter Morphite gets a new tra...
Morphite is officially landing on iOS in September. The game looks like the space shooter we've been needing on mobile, and we're going to see if it fits the bill quite shortly. The game's a collaborative effort between Blowfish Studios, We're Five... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Photographer Explains Choosing Dell Laptop Ov...
Last week photographer and video blogger Manny Ortiz posted a video explaining the five most important reasons he settled on a Dell XPS 15 laptop instead of a MacBook Pro for his latest portable... Read more
Sale! 10-inch iPad Pros for $50 off MSRP, no...
B&H Photo has 64GB and 256GB 10.5″ iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad... Read more
WaterField Designs Upgrades TSA-friendly Zip...
San Francisco based designer and manufacturer Waterfield Designs has unveiled an upgraded and refined Zip Brief. Ideal for the minimalist professional, the ultra-slim Zip laptop bag actually holds a... Read more
USB 3.0 Promoter Group Announces USB 3.2 Upda...
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced the pending release of the USB 3.2 specification, an incremental update that defines multi-lane operation for new USB 3.2 hosts and devices. USB Developer... Read more
Save on MacBook Pros with Apple Refurbished 2...
Apple recently dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros with models now as much as $590 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
13-inch 2.3GHz/256GB MacBook Pros on sale for...
B&H Photo has 13″ 2.3GHz/256GB MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/256GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (... Read more
Clearance 2016 13-inch MacBook Airs, Apple re...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $809. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: – 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
PHOOZY World’s First Thermal Capsules to Summ...
Summer days spent soaking up the sun can be tough on smartphones, causing higher battery consumption and overheating. To solve this problem, eXclaim IP, LLC has introduced the PHOOZY Thermal Capsule... Read more
2018 Honda Ridgeline with Android Auto and Ap...
The 2018 Honda Ridgeline is arriving in dealerships nationwide with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP1) starting at $29,630. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline was named North American Truck of the... Read more
comScore Ranks Top 15 U.S. Smartphone Apps fo...
comScore, Inc. recently released data from comScore Mobile Metrix, reporting the top smartphone apps in the U.S. by audience reach for June 2017. * “Apple Music,” as it appears in comScore’s monthly... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Poole -...
Job Summary The people here at Apple don't just create products - they create the kind of wonder that's revolutionised entire industries. It's the diversity of those Read more
SW Engineer *Apple* TV - Apple Inc. (United...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
Frameworks Engineering Manager, *Apple* Wat...
Frameworks Engineering Manager, Apple Watch Job Number: 41632321 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Jun. 15, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Summary Read more
Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.