TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Satimages Smile

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Tools of the Trade

Satimage's Smile

by Tom Djajadiningrat

AppleScript IDE

Introduction

Smile is an AppleScript integrated development environment which is highly scriptable itself. It offers a fine text editor, pretty good documentation and the possibility to look up definitions from within the editor. But Smile's most amazing features are its ability to execute a script line-by-line from a seemingly ordinary text window and that its interface can be customized at will.

Since it is essentially free - all SatImage asks is your feedback to further improve Smile - it makes a great replacement for the standard Apple Script Editor. After a while you realize that Smile is much more than that. It brings together in a single application a combination of features which force you to rethink the possibilities of AppleScript.

Requirements

A Superior Editor

Despite its name, the editing features of Apple's Script Editor have always been somewhat poor. Especially its lack of drag-and drop and search-and-replace is rather annoying. Smile is worth getting just for these features. In addition, Smile features live scrolling, can compare files, has no 32k size limit, and implements Appearance. Command clicking the title bar of a window gives CodeWarrior-like access to its file's path (Figure 1). This in combination with support for Navigation Services makes organizing files much easier.


Figure 1. Smile provides easy access to a file's path.

If you are a keyboard animal then you will appreciate that keyboard navigation and selection are fully implemented. Jump word (option + left/right arrow key), jump start/end of line (command + left/right arrow key), page up/down (option + up/down arrow key) and home/end of document (command + up/down arrow key) and the selection equivalents with the shift key held down: it's all there.

Documentation

Smile comes with a guided tour in its own file format. It is clear and concise, taking about 10-15 minutes to work through. More elaborate documentation can be found within the Help menu. Smile's documentation makes use of Apple's Help Viewer and turns up as an option within the Help Center (Figure 2). If you get totally stuck with Smile you can subscribe to the Smile mailing list as described in the help.


Figure 2. Smile's help turns up in the Apple Help Center.

A Different Philosophy

If you like you can write scripts straight within a script window just as in the Script Editor. However, there is a far more powerful way to use Smile. Scripts can be written in a text window and a single line or piece of the code can be executed simply by selecting it and pressing enter (For those familiar with Mathematica this is somewhat similar to selecting cells and pressing enter after each one). This allows much flexibility during development as you can execute pieces of script in an order of your choosing. It also allows you to leave pieces of code hanging about without the need to comment them out. Once a script works to your satisfaction, you can copy it to a script window and save it in the usual variety of formats.

Apart from script windows and text windows Smile uses a worksheet and output windows, making four different types of window in total. Figure 3 shows all four at the same time. Let's have at each of them.

Worksheet

This is like a single page Scrapbook particular to Smile. Here you can store text and images which you use over and over again in different scripts, such as a copyright notice, those code samples you can never remember or logos. The result of executing a script in a script window is appended to the worksheet. The worksheet is saved automatically on quit and opened automatically when you start up Smile.

Text Window

During script development a text window is like a scratch pad. In a text window you can try out pieces of code in any order. You can have multiple text windows holding different versions of your code. When a piece of script in a text window is executed, the result shows up at the bottom of the same window. That is, unless you specify an...

Output Window

Selecting a text window and choosing Output window from the script menu creates a new window and redirects the output to that new window. You can also link an output window to a script window instead of to a text window. Then the output of the script window does not end up in the worksheet but in the output window.

Script Window

As mentioned before, you move your script to a script window once you wish to save it as an applet. The script window distinguishes itself visually by a comments area at the top, a coloured background, and a small toolbar at the bottom. Unlike a text window a script window does not allow execution of code line by line, it only allows you to run a whole script.


Figure 3. The four types of window in Smile: script window (top left), text window (top right), output window (bottom right) and worksheet (bottom left).

Decent Debugging

'Step-by-step' debugging

Let's go back to executing code in a text window. Putting the cursor on a line and pressing enter executes that line of code and advances the cursor to the start of the next line. So by pressing enter repeatedly you can step through the code. It even works properly with lines that are broken with option-return (¬). Note how we almost have step-by-step debugging here. Well, almost but not quite. You need to watch out for a few complications.

If you use a tell block to direct commands to a particular application you can't just step into the tell block: Smile will choke on the first line tell application "x" and display an error message (Figure 4). It does work if you select the whole tell block and press enter, but of course you loose resolution: if things go wrong you don't know which line within the block formed the culprit. Another option is to add tell application "x" to every line though this is a somewhat cumbersome solution.


Figure 4. Stepping into a tell block brings up an error message

This is where the tell command from the edit menu comes in (Figure 5). It lets you link a Smile text window to a particular application so that commands are directed at that application. Choosing the tell command makes a dialog box appear in which you can choose an application that is running on either the local or a remote machine (Figure 6). This turns on a small popup menu in the bottom left corner of a text window (Figure 7). Any script commands are now directed to the application you just linked to unless you speciÞcally ask them to be directed elsewhere. So you no longer need to wrap the commands for the linked app in a tell block or use a tell command on every line. Choosing logout from the popup menu breaks the link to the application (Figure 7).


Figure 5. Use the tell command to direct AppleScript commands to a particular applicaion.


Figure 6. Specify the application to link to. Here only the local host with its processes is shown.


Figure 7. The tell-related popup menu.

Variable watching

To further facilitate debugging Smile offers a variable watching window. After dragging or typing in a variable name in this window Smile will show its type and value during execution (Figure 8).


Figure 8. The variable watcher showing an integer, a real and a string.

Help with AppleScript Syntax

In addition to the open dictionary command familiar from Script Editor, Smile has got some extra features to help you with AppleScript syntax problems. First, you can select Find Definition from the Edit menu which will try to find the string in Smile's dictionary (or if you just linked to another app, that app's dictionary) or in a scripting addition. Second, if you need help with the AppleScript syntax of an application that you are linked to through the tell command you can choose Dictionary from the popup menu in the bottom left hand corner (Figure 7). I noticed that Smile chokes on the dictionary of Palm Desktop, while Script Editor has no problems with it. Finally, Smile's own dictionary is available under the Apple menu.

Advanced Stuff

Portability

Let's have a brief look at the somewhat more advanced stuff Smile has to offer. One nice feature is that it can assist you in writing portable code in which the normal English like AppleScript commands are replaced by raw codes. For example, if you want to script a particular application you may run into the problem that a particular user has a localized version of that app with a localized name (like SimpleText being called SimpelTekst in Dutch) or a version with a slightly different name (like BBEdit 5.x instead of 4.x). If you want the script to run smoothly and prevent a choose application dialog box from popping up you can look up the application by creator code instead of by name and resolve the name of the application at runtime. However, this means you cannot use the normal English-like commands as found in the app's dictionary, you will have to use the raw codes. If you first link to a particular application through the tell command you can then use the Copy Translate feature from the bottom left popup menu to change the selected text to raw codes (Figure 7).

Attachable and factored

Smile is not only scriptable and recordable, it also has those more rare AppleScript virtues: it is attachable, allowing scripts to be attached to its objects, and factored. What factored comes down to is that when the user chooses a certain command Smile sends an Apple event to itself instructing itself to execute the command rather than execute it directly. This ensures that Smile reacts in exactly the same way regardless of whether the Apple event originated from within or from outside Smile. This attachable and factored architecture is particularly powerful in combination with...

Custom interfaces

You can build your own custom interface for controlling Smile and AppleScripts. For example, you can add buttons to text windows to create so called Smile sheets and put up your own dialog boxes. Option-command clicking a button or dialolg opens the attached script. Pretty impressive stuff. Even the Variable Watcher is really a Smile sheet. When it comes to customization you are pretty much on your own though as the documentation concerning this feature is rather skimpy.

Interface Critique

Smile's interface could do with a little tidying up. Especially the script menu deserves some attention. At the moment it is a bit of a hodge-podge of all kinds of little tidbits provided by SatImage. As this is also the menu in which the user can place his own scripts, the structure of this menu can only get worse.

Then there is the linking of output windows to text or script windows. To me this seems a pretty essential component of the Smile philosophy, yet the command lives under the scripts menu. Since choosing output window essentially creates a special kind of text window the command would seem to be more at home under the file menu. I also found it a shame that the format of an output window is stubby and wide below the text window to which it is connected. The consequence is that any results quickly scroll out of view. I would prefer to have a tall and narrow output window, positioned to the side of the text window, so that older results remain visible and the most is made of the available screen real estate.

The Balance command's name does not do it justice. It suggests that the command is limited to indicating or closing unbalanced parentheses. However, it is in fact far more powerful than that. It can also suggest syntax, colourize indentation levels and assist you in writing tell statements, depending on what part of your script is selected before you activate it.

Finally, I find it a bit of a shame that a selection in a read-only document is not highlighted. The idea of having scripts embedded in read-only documents is quite tempting. It does not feel quite right though if you cannot see what you have selected before you press enter. Other applications, such as Tex-Edit Plus, do highlight selections within read-only documents.

More Information

While Smile seems to have gained quite a bit of momentum amongst hardcore AppleScript fans, it does not appear to be very well known among the Mac community at large. Here are some URLs to help you explore further:

Conclusion

They say you can't look a gift horse in the mouth but Smile easily stands up to scrutiny. Most of my gripes concern the interface which deserves some more attention. All in all this is a great addition to the AppleScript scene though. The editing features, powerful lookup functions, line-by-line execution and variable watching make Smile far superior to Apple's Script Editor. The idea of system wide control from scripts which happily live together with styled text and graphics in a single document is fascinating. More advanced scripters will appreciate the support for portable code, the possibilities to script Smile itself and the customizability of its interface through Smile sheets and dialogs. The nicest thing about Smile is probably its gradual but seemingly insaturable learning curve: it is easy to pick up but it is difficult to imagine exhausting its possibilities.


Since being involved in the re-design of the id-StudioLab web pages <http://www.io.tudelft.nl/id-studiolab/djajadiningrat/> Tom has got an even stronger opinion about layout and HTML. If you enjoy getting empty mail messages ask him for it with all four letter words left out at <J.P.Djajadiningrat@io.tudelft.nl>.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OmniOutliner Pro 4.2 - Pro version of th...
OmniOutliner Pro is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.2.1 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.1 - Multilingual wo...
Nisus Writer Pro is a powerful multilingual word processor, similar to its entry level products, but brings new features such as table of contents, indexing, bookmarks, widow and orphan control,... Read more
Tinderbox 6.2.0 - Store and organize you...
Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals... Read more
OmniOutliner 4.2 - Organize your ideas,...
OmniOutliner is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
Things 2.5.4 - 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
NeoOffice 2014.10 - Mac-tailored, OpenOf...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
iPhoto Library Manager 4.2 - Manage mult...
iPhoto Library Manager allows you to organize your photos among multiple iPhoto libraries, rather than having to store all of your photos in one giant library. You can browse the photos in all your... Read more
Web Snapper 3.3.8 - Capture entire Web p...
Web Snapper lets you capture Web pages exactly as they appear in your browser. You can send them to a file as images or vector-based, multi-page PDFs. It captures the whole Web page - eliminating the... Read more
TeamViewer 10.0.41404 - Establish remote...
TeamViewer gives you remote control of any computer or Mac over the Internet within seconds, or can be used for online meetings. Find out why more than 200 million users trust TeamViewer! Free for... Read more

The Apple Watch Could Revolutionize the...
It’s not here yet but there’s that developing sneaky feeling that the Apple Watch, despite its price tag and low battery life, might yet change quite a lot about how we conduct our lives. While I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight... | Read more »
Mad Skills Motocross 2 Version 2.0 is He...
Mad Skills Motocross 2 fans got some good news this week as Turborilla has given the game its biggest update yet. Now you'll have access to Versus mode where you can compete against your friends in timed challenges. Turborilla has implemented a... | Read more »
Kids Can Practice Healthy Living With Gr...
Bobaka is releasing a new interactive book called Green Riding Hood  in May. The app teaches kids about yoga and organic style of life through mini-games and a fun take on the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. | Read more »
Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night has...
It's time to put the Darkness back in its place now that Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night has officially made it to iOS. | Read more »
A World of Ice and Fire Lets You Stalk 2...
George R. R. Martin’s A World of Ice and Fire, by Random House, is a mobile guide to the epic series. The new update gives you the Journeys map feture that will let you track the movements of 25 different characters. But don't worry, you can protect... | Read more »
Gameloft Announces Battle Odyssey, a New...
Battle Odyssey, Gameloft's newest puzzle RPG, is coming to the App Store next week. Set in the world of Pondera, you will need to control the power of the elements to defend the world from evil. You'll be able to entlist over 500 allies to aid you... | Read more »
Here's How You Can Get 5 Free Pro D...
It's only been a couple of days since Gamevil released MLB Perfect Inning 15, so building up a decent roster could still take a little time. If you'd like to speed things up a bit, then we've got a deal for you. How does five free Pro drafts sound?... | Read more »
Fusion - HDR Camera (Photography)
Fusion - HDR Camera 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Fusion creates HDR (high dynamic range) photos by capturing different exposures and then combining them into one... | Read more »
Sago Mini Toolbox (Education)
Sago Mini Toolbox 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Come build with the Sago Mini friends! Use a wrench, try a saw, or hammer some nails. From sewing hand puppets to... | Read more »
You Should Probably Grab Hitman GO While...
Hitman GO is a surprisingly cool (yet also incredibly drastic) departure from the Hitman series. It's well worth playing for any puzzle game fans out there, and at the moment you can get your hands - or garrotte if you will - on it for a mere $0.99... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

TigerText Introduces First Secure Enterprise...
TigerText, a provider of secure, real-time messaging for the enterprise, has announced the launch of TigerText for the Apple Watch. TigerText for the Apple Watch enables users to securely send and... Read more
The Conservation Fund Partners with Apple To...
The Conservation Fund has announced that it will partner with Apple to help protect working forests in the United States. The Apple initiative will conserve more than 36,000 acres of working... Read more
Clearance 13-inch 2.6GHz Retina MacBook Pro a...
B&H Photo has clearance 2014 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pros now available for $1099, or $200 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch Retina MacBook...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off original MSRP, starting at $979. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP, NY tax...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 1.4GHz iMac: $1019 $80 off - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $1189 $110 off - 21″ 2.9GHz... Read more
Sale! 16GB iPhone 5S for $1 with service
Best Buy is offering 16GB iPhone 5Ss for $1.00 with 2-year activation at a participating cellular provider. Choose free home shipping and activation, or buy online and activate during in-store pickup... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs available starting at $679. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free. These are currently the... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2349, sav...
 Adorama has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2349 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $150 off MSRP. For a limited time, Adorama will... Read more
Save up to $380 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $2119 $... Read more
iFixIt Teardown Awards 12-IInch Retina MacBoo...
iFixIt has posted its illustrated teardown of the new 12-inch MacBook Retina. They note that this new MacBook is less than half the thickness of the last Apple notebook called just “MacBook” back in... Read more

Jobs Board

Event Director, *Apple* Retail Marketing -...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global engagement strategy and team. Delivering an overarching brand 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
Communication Manager - *Apple* Pay - Apple...
**Job Summary** This position works within the Apple Pay Merchant Solutions team to create, as well as oversee the development of, materials for use by Apple Pay Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
Marketing Program Manager, *Apple* Retail O...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.