TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 98 MacTech Online

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Subject to Interpretation

by Jeff Clites online@mactech.com

The Other Kind of Scripting

Here's the deal: Scripting languages are becoming a big thing these days, and the Macintosh is by no means being left out in the cold. Scripting languages integrate with Java, complement Java, provide alternatives to Java, and stand on their own. We're going to use this month's issue on Java as a jumping-off point for learning about some lesser-known languages for the Mac.

What Scripting Languages Are Not

Scripting languages are not newcomer replacements for AppleScript or Frontier. "Traditional" scripting languages (if there is such a thing) developed in the Unix world. Like AppleScript, they tend to stitch together pieces written in languages such as C and Pascal, but there is an important distinction: whereas AppleScript operates primarily on applications, these scripting languages operate primarily on data. They may rely on components (analogous to Scripting Additions, or OSAX), and they can be made to interface with AppleScript, but they are a different breed, grown up with a different focus in mind.

Scripting languages are usually interpreted, meaning that they run directly from human-readable programs, rather then first being compiled into machine-executable form. As a result, they require an interpreter to run -- the analog of the Java virtual machine. To an even greater extent than Java, this allows platform independence. For those who are not impressed by this, or who worry about execution speed, many scripting languages are developing compiled implementations.

To get started, check out the excellent article Choosing a Scripting Language on the SunWorld site, which does a great job of introducing the big players, Perl, Tcl, and Python, and of getting the reader excited about them. Then, check out Scripting: Higher Level Programming for the 21st Century, which explains in detail how and when scripting languages can be more powerful and convenient than system programming languages, like C++ or Java.

Choosing a scripting language - SunWorld - October 1997
http://www.sun.com/sunworldonline/swol-10-1997/swol-10-scripting.html
Scripting: Higher Level Programming for the 21st Century
http://www.sunlabs.com/~ouster/scripting.html

Perl

Perl (the Practical Extraction and Report Language) began as a language for manipulating text and extracting information from it, sporting such power features as built-in regular expression (a.k.a. grep) capabilities, and accordingly has become popular for writing CGI scripts to generate web pages on the fly. It is probably the most well-supported of the scripting languages on the Mac, with a CD and a forthcoming book from the Free Software Foundation, which hosts the MacPerl pages. Perl could be a nice teaching language -- the MacPerl book aims to serve as a guide for those learning Perl as their very first programming language, as well as introduce the language to experienced programmers. Don't let Perl's text-based roots put you off -- they are only one of its strengths. It is a large language with an emphasis on practicality and the motto "There's More Than One Way To Do It."

The MacPerl Pages
http://www.ptf.com/macperl/
The www.perl.com Home Page
http://www.perl.com/
The Perl Institute
http://www.perl.org/

Tcl/Tk

Tcl (the Tool Command Language) is being actively developed by Sun as a scripting companion to Java, complemented by Tk (the Tool Kit) which provides it with a GUI. Tcl is completely untyped -- "everything is a string." This may horrify long-time Pascal or C programmers, but it is a strength -- it gives Tcl a unique flexibility and an amazingly readable style. It follows Perl in its level of Mac support, as Sun has a separate page devoted to Tcl/Tk for the Mac. They even have a browser plugin which allows you to run Tcl scripts within web pages, complete with Tk interfaces. Of course, Tcl/Tk can readily be used in Java-free contexts, where it started. A great example is the popular shareware text editor Alpha, which uses Tcl as its internal scripting language, allowing users to customize Alpha by writing Tcl scripts. For instance, you can teach Alpha to syntax-color a new language; this is actually an excellent way to start experimenting with Tcl.

Sun's Overview of Tcl/Tk
http://sunscript.sun.com/about/
The Macintosh Tcl/Tk Project
http://sunscript.sun.com/mac/
Alpha Home Page
http://www.ict.uni-karlsruhe.de/Rutz/Apple/alpha.html

Python

Python (named, yes, after Monty Python) in many ways sits at the intersection of scripting and system programming languages. It is dynamic and object-oriented -- the types of variable are not determined until the last possible moment during execution, and programmers still stinging from the demise of Apple's Dylan project will be happy to hear that as in Dylan, everything in Python is an object. It is well suited to metaprogramming, easily generating executable code on the fly. It is also said to excel at group projects: it's highly modular, scales well, and its syntax makes it easy for one programmer to read another's code. In almost all ways, Python is a small language, but it packs power -- it has exception-handling facilities and high-level data structures, and the latest release has added Perl-like regular expressions. There is even JPython, a Java-based interpreter. The Python Language Home Page is the place to start. Also be sure to check out the SunWorld article Getting started with Python, which serves as a nice introduction, and then visit the Python Compared to Other Languages page to gain some perspective.

The Python Language Home Page
http://www.python.org/
Jack's MacPython Page
http://www.cwi.nl/~jack/macpython.html
JPython: Seamless Scripting for Java
http://www.python.org/jpython/
Getting started with Python - SunWorld - February 1998
http://www.sun.com/sunworldonline/swol-02-1998/swol-02-python.html
Python Compared to Other Languages
http://www.python.org/python/Comparisons.html

Just Do IT!

Scripting languages generate enthusiasm, and for more than just their power. They all reflect the personalities of their inventors, all are still evolving, and all are free (including the source code). Spend and hour or two playing with one -- it will be a pleasant experience. As you do, check out the following personal pages of a few Mac scripting experts, where you will find powerful tools as well as useful examples.

Mizutori Tetsuya's Scripting World (AppleScript and Perl)
http://www.bekkoame.or.jp/~mizutori/script/index.html
Vince's Tcl-Tk page
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~darley/Vince-TclTk.html
Joe's Python Code
http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~jstrout/python/index.html

This is an especially important month to visit our companion web pages at www.mactech.com/online/, where these links are supplemented by a wealth of other links about Perl, Tcl/Tk, and Python, as well as other programming resources.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Spotify 1.0.4.90. - Stream music, create...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
djay Pro 1.1 - Transform your Mac into a...
djay Pro provides a complete toolkit for performing DJs. Its unique modern interface is built around a sophisticated integration with iTunes and Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of... Read more
Vivaldi 1.0.118.19 - Lightweight browser...
Vivaldi browser. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind that users are... Read more
Stacks 2.6.11 - New way to create pages...
Stacks is a new way to create pages in RapidWeaver. It's a plugin designed to combine drag-and-drop simplicity with the power of fluid layout. Features: Fluid Layout: Stacks lets you build pages... Read more
xScope 4.1.3 - Onscreen graphic measurem...
xScope is powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting, and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. Its tools float above your desktop windows and can be accessed via a toolbar,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.7 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Labels & Addresses 1.7 - Powerful la...
Labels & Addresses is a home and office tool for printing all sorts of labels, envelopes, inventory labels, and price tags. Merge-printing capability makes the program a great tool for holiday... Read more
teleport 1.2.1 - Use one mouse/keyboard...
teleport is a simple utility to let you use one single mouse and keyboard to control several of your Macs. Simply reach the edge of your screen, and your mouse teleports to your other Mac! The... Read more
Apple iMovie 10.0.8 - Edit personal vide...
With an all-new design, Apple iMovie lets you enjoy your videos like never before. Browse your clips more easily, instantly share your favorite moments, and create beautiful HD movies and Hollywood-... Read more
Box Sync 4.0.6233 - Online synchronizati...
Box Sync gives you a hard-drive in the Cloud for online storage. Note: You must first sign up to use Box. What if the files you need are on your laptop -- but you're on the road with your iPhone? No... Read more

SoundHound + LiveLyrics is Making its De...
SoundHound Inc. has announced that SoundHound + LiveLyrics, will be one of the first third-party apps to hit the Apple Watch. With  SoundHound you'll be able to tap on your watch and have the app recognize the music you are listening to, then have... | Read more »
Adobe Joins the Apple Watch Lineup With...
A whole tidal wave of apps are headed for the Apple Watch, and Adobe has joined in with 3 new ways to enhance your creativity and collaborate with others. The watch apps pair with iPad/iPhone apps to give you total control over your Adobe projects... | Read more »
Z Steel Soldiers, Sequel to Kavcom'...
Kavcom has released Z Steel Soldiers, which continues the story of the comedic RTS originally created by the Bitmap Brothers. [Read more] | Read more »
Seene Lets You Create 3D Images With You...
Seene, by Obvious Engineering, is a 3D capture app that's meant to allow you to create visually stunning 3D images with a tap of your finger, and then share them as a 3D photo, video or gif. [Read more] | Read more »
Lost Within - Tips, Tricks, and Strategi...
Have you just downloaded Lost Within and are you in need of a guiding hand? While it’s not the toughest of games out there you might still want some helpful tips to get you started. [Read more] | Read more »
Entertain Your Pet With Your Watch With...
The Petcube Camera is a device that lets you use live video to check in on your pet, talk to them, and play with them using a laser pointer - all while you're away. And the Petcube app is coming to the Apple Watch, so you'll be able to hang out with... | Read more »
Now You Can Manage Your Line2 Calls With...
You'll be able to get your Line2 cloud phone service on the Apple Watch very soon. The watch app can send and receive messages using hands-free voice dictation, or by selecting from a list of provided responses. [Read more] | Read more »
R.B.I. Baseball 15 (Games)
R.B.I. Baseball 15 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: The legendary Major League Baseball franchise returns to the diamond. Make History. ** ALL iPOD Touch, the iPad 2 and the... | Read more »
Here's How You Can Tell if an App W...
The Apple Watch is pretty much here, and that means a whole lot of compatible apps and games are going to be updated or released onto the App Store. That's okay though, beacause Apple has quietly updated their app description pages to make things... | Read more »
Forgotten Memories : Alternate Realities...
Forgotten Memories : Alternate Realities 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: + REDUCED PRICE ONLY THE LAUNCHING WEEK + "The most exciting horror game of 2015." - AppSpy... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Intel Compute Stick: A New Mini-Computing For...
The Intel Compute Stick, a new pocket-sized computer based on a quad-core Intel Atom processor running Windows 8.1 with Bing, is available now through Intel Authorized Dealers across much of the... Read more
Heal to Launch First One-Touch House Call Doc...
Santa Monica, California based Heal, a pioneer in on-demand personal health care services — will offer the first one-touch, on-demand house call doctor app for the Apple Watch. Heal’s Watch app,... Read more
Mac Notebooks: Avoiding MagSafe Power Adapter...
Apple Support says proper usage, care, and maintenance of Your Mac notebook’s MagSafe power adapter can substantially increase the the adapter’s service life. Of course, MagSafe itself is an Apple... Read more
12″ Retina MacBook In Shootout With Air And P...
BareFeats’ rob-ART morgan has posted another comparison of the 12″ MacBook with other Mac laptops, noting that the general goodness of all Mac laptops can make which one to purchase a tough decision... Read more
FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone: Over 1.5 Mi...
FileMaker has announced that its FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone app has surpassed 1.5 million downloads from the iTunes App Store. The milestone confirms the continued popularity of the FileMaker... Read more
Sale! 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1099 – $200 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price for online orders only, in-... Read more
Minimalist MacBook Confirms Death of Steve Jo...
ReadWrite’s Adriana Lee has posted a eulogy for the “Digital Hub” concept Steve Jobs first proposed back in 2001, declaring the new 12-inch MacBook with its single, over-subscribed USB-C port to be... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $1234 w...
Adorama has the 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro in stock for $1234.99 ($65 off MSRP) including free shipping plus a free LG external DVD/CD optical drive. Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $999...
 Adorama has the 13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Software Support - Casper (Can work...
…experience . Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior . Mac OSX / Server . Apple Remote Desktop . Process Documentation . Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
*Apple* Software Support - Xerox Corporation...
…Imaging experience Full knowledge of Mac OS X and prior Mac OSX / Server Apple Remote Desktop Process Documentation Ability to prioritize multiple tasks in a fast pace Read more
*Apple* Support Technician IV - Jack Henry a...
Job Description Jack Henry & Associates is seeking an Apple Support Technician. This position while acting independently, ensures the proper day-to-day control of Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform 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.