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

Adobe Audition CC 2018 11.0.1 - Professi...
Audition CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Audition customer). Adobe Audition CC 2018 empowers you to create and... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2018 15.0.1 - Cre...
After Effects CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). The new, more connected After Effects CC... Read more
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 12.0.1 - Digi...
Premiere Pro CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Premiere Pro customer). Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 lets you edit... Read more
Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 19.1 - Professio...
Photoshop CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Photoshop customer). Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, the industry standard... Read more
Spotify 1.0.69.336. - Stream music, crea...
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
rekordbox 5.1.1.0001 - Professional DJ m...
rekordbox is the best way of preparing and managing your tracks, be it at home, in the studio, or even on the plane! It allows you to import music from other music-management software using the... Read more
Mactracker 7.7.1 - Database of all Mac m...
Mactracker provides detailed information on every Mac computer ever made, including items such as processor speed, memory, optical drives, graphic cards, supported OS X versions, and expansion... Read more
Printopia 3.0.6 - Share Mac printers wit...
Run Printopia on your Mac to share its printers to any capable iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Printopia will also add virtual printers, allowing you to save print-outs to your Mac and send to apps.... Read more
Luminar 2018 1.1.0 - Powerful, adaptive,...
Luminar 2018 is the new full-featured image editor that adapts to the way you edit photos. Over 300 essential tools to fix, edit, and enhance your photos with comfort. The future of photo editing is... Read more
Opera 50.0.2762.67 - High-performance We...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Jydge hints, tips, and tricks - Everythi...
Just released on iOS, Jydge is a prequel to Neon Chrome and is set in the same universe. Not just that, but the games play in pretty similar ways with them both being twin stick shooters full of surprises. As you might expect from a 10tons game,... | Read more »
World of Warships Blitz: A guide to tact...
Ahoy mates! It's time to set out on the high seas for some PvP battles, and ... sorry, actually, World of Warships Blitz has nothing to do with pirates. Let's start over. [Read more] | Read more »
Around the Empire: What have you missed...
Around this time every week we're going to have a look at the comings and goings on the other sites in Steel Media's pocket-gaming empire. We'll round up the very best content you might have missed, so you're always going to be up to date with the... | Read more »
Everything about Hero Academy 2: Part 4...
In this part of our Hero Academy 2 guide, we're going to have a look at some of the tactics you're going to need to learn if you want to rise up the ranks. We're going to start off slow, then get more advanced in the next section. [Read more] | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
Another week has flown by. Sometimes it feels like the only truly unstoppable thing is time. Time will make dust of us all. But before it does, we should probably play as many awesome mobile videogames as we can. Am I right, or am I right? [Read... | Read more »
The 7 best games that came out for iPhon...
Well, it's that time of the week. You know what I mean. You know exactly what I mean. It's the time of the week when we take a look at the best games that have landed on the App Store over the past seven days. And there are some real doozies here... | Read more »
Popular MMO Strategy game Lords Mobile i...
Delve into the crowded halls of the Play Store and you’ll find mobile fantasy strategy MMOs-a-plenty. One that’s kicking off the new year in style however is IGG’s Lords Mobile, which has beaten out the fierce competition to receive Google Play’s... | Read more »
Blocky Racing is a funky and fresh new k...
Blocky Racing has zoomed onto the App Store and Google Play this week, bringing with it plenty of classic kart racing shenanigans that will take you straight back to your childhood. If you’ve found yourself hooked on games like Mario Kart or Crash... | Read more »
Cytus II (Games)
Cytus II 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: "Cytus II" is a music rhythm game created by Rayark Games. It's our fourth rhythm game title, following the footsteps of three... | Read more »
JYDGE (Games)
JYDGE 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Build your JYDGE. Enter Edenbyrg. Get out alive. JYDGE is a lawful but awful roguehate top-down shooter where you get to build your... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Where to buy 13″ Apple MacBook Pros for up to...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (MPXQ2LL/A... Read more
Apple Refurbished 2017 iMacs available starti...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: – 27... Read more
Apple offers clearance 2016 13-inch MacBook A...
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
Clearance Apple refurbished iMacs available s...
Apple has previous-generation Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available starting at $849. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are... Read more
How to save $150-$420 on the purchase of a 20...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (... Read more
How to save $100-$180 on the purchase of a 20...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $50-$120 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MQD32LL/A): $899, $... Read more
Save on Beats: $30-$80 off headphones, earpho...
Walmart has Beats by Dr. Dre on sale on their online store for $30-$80 off MSRP, depending on the item: – Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones: $134, save $65 – BeatsX Earphones: $109, save $40 – Beats... Read more
Deals on clearance 15″ Apple MacBook Pros wit...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to $800 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
Apple restocked Certified Refurbished 13″ Mac...
Apple has restocked a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Airs starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: – 13″ 1.8GHz/8GB/128GB... Read more
How to find the lowest prices on 2017 Apple M...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ 2017 MacBook Pros available for $200 to $420 off the cost of new models. Apple’s refurbished prices are the lowest available for each model from any... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 113384559 Brandon, Florida, United States Posted: 10-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are you passionate about Read more
Security Engineering Coordinator, *Apple* R...
# Security Engineering Coordinator, Apple Retail Job Number: 113237456 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 18-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
*Apple* Data Center Site Selection and Strat...
# Apple Data Center Site Selection and Strategy Research Analyst Job Number: 83708609 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 18-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: Read more
Engineering Manager - *Apple* TV - Apple (U...
# Engineering Manager - Apple TV Job Number: 113305053 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 05-Dec-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Read more
AppleCare Support Engineer for *Apple* Medi...
# AppleCare Support Engineer for Apple Media Products Job Number: 113222855 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 14-Nov-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.