TweetFollow Us on Twitter

More Fun With AppleScript

Volume Number: 20 (2004)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Programming

Getting Started

by Dave Mark

More Fun With AppleScript

In last month's column, we installed Script Menu to help us organize our scripts, and then started digging into the Finder's AppleScript dictionary. Fantastic stuff! Hopefully, you've had a chance to play. If not, launch Script Editor, select Library from the Window menu, then double-click on the Finder entry in the Library list. A Finder dictionary window should appear.

Click on the line in the left pane labeled Finder Basics. The classes and commands associated with the Finder Basics AppleScript suite will appear (see Figure 1). Notice that the Finder Basics are divided into Properties and Elements. Think of properties as class data and the elements as objects within the class.


Figure 1. The Finder Basics dictionary entries.

For example, go into the Script Editor and type this script:

tell application "Finder"
   get name
end tell

When you run this script, here's what appears in the results field:

"Finder"

This is the value of the name property of the Finder. If you are running Panther, here's the result of the command get version:

"10.3"

Here's an interesting one. First, do a get startup disk:

startup disk of application "Finder"

Now do a get name of startup disk:

"Macintosh HD"

See the difference? Startup disk is a reference to the startup disk, whereas name of startup disk is a string containing the name of the startup disk. If you look in Figure 1, you'll see that startup disk is of type disk. The disk class is defined in the Containers and folders suite. The class is shown in Figure 2. Notice that the dictionary shows the plural form of disk as disks. The dictionary also shows the elements and properties of the disk class.


Figure 2. The disk class entries of the Containers and folders suite.

Try the command get format of startup disk. Remember, format is a property of the disk class and startup disk is defined as being of class disk. Here's the result on my Mac:

Mac OS Extended format

Now try get journaling enabled of startup disk. Here's the result:

true

As you might expect, Boolean properties return either true or false. The command get ignore privileges of startup disk returns:

false

Finder Basics - Elements

Go back to Figure 1 and take a look at the elements in the Finder Basics suite. These are the objects that you might expect the Finder to encounter. What do you think the result will be of running this script:

tell application "Finder"
   get items
end tell

It helps to have a sense of the item class. An item is basically a generic object - pretty much anything that could exist in a Finder window or on the desktop. Here's the result I got when I ran the script on my Mac:

{startup disk of application "Finder", disk "Macintosh HD" of application 
"Finder", folder "AE Monitor 1.0" of desktop of application "Finder", document file 
"DSC_0751.JPG" of desktop of application "Finder", folder "InDesign CS Example Scripts" 
of desktop of application "Finder", folder "UI Element Inspector" of desktop of application 
"Finder", alias file "Warcraft III" of desktop of application "Finder", folder "wedding_pics" 
of desktop of application "Finder", document file "Xcode notes" of desktop of application "Finder"}

Look through this list of items. Note the curly braces, necessary to making this a proper list. Take a look at the nomenclature, especially the use of the word "of" all over the place. Think containers/enclosures, items within items within items.

Figure 2 shows the listing of the Finder items suite in a dictionary window. Check out the list of properties. Note that an item has an index. Look in the list of items in the previous list, returned by the get items command. What do you think will happen when I run the command get item 2. Here's my result:

disk "Macintosh HD" of application "Finder"


Figure 3. The item class in the Finder items suite.

As you might expect, get item 2 returns the second item in the list returned by get items. Now, what do you suppose you'd get from this command:

get container of item 2

In my case, I got:

folder "Dave Mark's Computer" of application "Finder"

Brave New Make

So far, all we've done is suck information out of the Finder. Let's try making something.

In the Finder's dictionary window, click on the Commands line in the Standard Suite. The commands supported by all subsequent suites are listed. One of these is the make command. The details are shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4. Details on the make command.

Here's a script to create a new folder at the current insertion location (the desktop).

tell application "Finder"
   make new folder with properties {name:"blap"}
end tell

This tells the Finder to create a new folder at the current insertion location (since I didn't specify a new location) with the specified properties. Since I only specified a single property, this will be pretty simple. I ran this script and a new folder named "blap" appeared on my desktop. Here's the result returned by my script:

folder "blap" of folder "Desktop" of folder "davemark" of folder "Users" 
of startup disk of application "Finder"

Does this make sense? You can see the containment hierarchy as it walks its way out from the new folder to the top of my hard drive and Finder itself.

Now that "blap" exists, let's try running the script again. Hrm. As you can see in Figure 5, we got an error, telling us that the folder already exists.


Figure 5. An error is reported when I try creating a folder that already exists. Hrm.

Having Script Editor report the error is very useful if you are testing your script or just playing. But if you deliver this script as a compiled entity to a user, you'll want the program to handle the errors itself. Here's a new version of the script:

tell application "Finder"
   try
      make new folder with properties {name:"blap"}
   on error error_message
      display dialog error_message
   end try
end tell

Running this script produces the dialog shown in Figure 6. Much better. Now the script uses a try block and a corresponding on error block to pass the incoming error message to the display dialog command.


Figure 6. A simple error dialog.

Here's the result of running this script (I clicked the OK button):

{button returned:"OK"}

Till Next Month...

Hopefully, you are getting a bit more familiar with the AppleScript Finder dictionary and the way you can take advantage of properties, elements, and commands. Now that you have a sense of the Finder, open up some other dictionaries. A great one to play with is the TextEdit dictionary. A lovely place to create text elements and copy them to the clipboard for use in other applications. Try your hand at manipulating TextEdit. See what you can do with it.

We will return to AppleScript at some point (I love it too much not to) but next month's column is going back to Cocoa. I am heading down to Atlanta to Aaron Hillegass' Big Nerd Ranch for a week of intensive Cocoa training. I am very excited about this. Model View Controller, Model View Controller. See you next month! J


Dave Mark is a long-time Mac developer and author and has written a number of books on Macintosh development, including Learn C on the Macintosh, Learn C++ on the Macintosh, and The Macintosh Programming Primer series. Be sure to check out Dave's web site at http://www.spiderworks.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Smultron 10.0.2 - Easy-to-use, powerful...
Smultron 10 is an elegant and powerful text editor that is easy to use. You can use Smultron 10 to create or edit any text document. Everything from a web page, a note or a script to any single piece... Read more
Capto 1.2.5 - $29.99
Capto (was Voila) is an easy-to-use app that takes capturing, recording, video and image editing to the next level. With an intelligent file manager and quick sharing options, Capto is perfect for... Read more
Cocktail 11.0.1 - General maintenance an...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Sketch 47.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
Slack 2.8.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.8.2: A small release containing nothing but another Electron... Read more
Path Finder 7.6.1 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder makes you a master of file management. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more
Sketch 47.1 - Design app for UX/UI for i...
Sketch is an innovative and fresh look at vector drawing. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and... Read more
Cocktail 11.0.1 - General maintenance an...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Path Finder 7.6.1 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder makes you a master of file management. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more
Slack 2.8.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.8.2: A small release containing nothing but another Electron... Read more

Dune! guide - how to toe the line and ge...
Publisher Voodoo is at it again with an all new high score chaser -- Dune! In this fast-paced arcade game, you have to propel yourself along sand dunes, gaining enough momentum to jump above the line to score points, while making sure you have... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Your favorite part of the week as officially arrived. It's time to take a look at the best deals in games. Things are admittedly a bit sparse, but there are a few diamonds in the rough to see you through if you're... | Read more »
Be the last person standing in Legacy of...
Yoozoo Games’ popular action MMO Legacy of Discord is getting a huge new update to celebrate its first anniversary. Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of an exciting survival mode titled Last Guardian. This new survival mode will pit you... | Read more »
Home Street guide - how to make friends...
From the creators of Food Street comes Home Street, a new simulation game that tasks you with building a social network and designing a beautiful home. It's a bit like The Sims, but you won't have to worry about the daily chores involved (feeding,... | Read more »
Color Ballz guide - how to bounce to the...
Color Ballz is an addictive new arcade title from Ketchapp Studios. It takes old school mechanics from games like Brickles and puts a fun twist on it. Your job? To catch balls with a paddle and send them back into a chute to be carried back to... | Read more »
Q&A: A-33 Studio explains why Combat...
When it comes to mobile FPS, it’s often tricky to get the fundamentals right on a platform lacking a physical controller, large display and hefty RAM. With Combat Squad: Project Wednesday, A-33 Studio bravely took on the challenge of making a... | Read more »
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter guide - ti...
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter launched this week to players all over the world. It's a beautiful mobile MMORPG that blends elements of Eastern and Western fantasy. It reminds us of a mix between World of Warcraft and Jade Empire. MMO's can have a... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Phew. It has been a week, but now it's time to relax, put your feet up, and enjoy some brand new mobile games. It was a bit of slow week, but there's still plenty of new titles to add to your collection. Here are four of our favorites. [Read... | Read more »
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop (Product...
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Yoink for iPad and iPhone lets you easily and quickly store items you drag, copy or share, for later use... | Read more »
Cottage Garden (Games)
Cottage Garden 1.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.11 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $120 off M...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook... Read more
15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off M...
B&H Photo has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2249, $150... Read more
Roundup of Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs,...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2017 21″ and 27″ iMacs available starting at $1019 and ranging up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
Sale! 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac for $2098, save $201...
Amazon has the 27″ 3.8GHz 5K iMac (MNED2LL/A) on sale today for $2098 including free shipping. Their price is $201 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model (Apple’s $1949... Read more
Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more
2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro on sale for $2799,...
B&H Photo has the 2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro (MD878LL/A) on sale today for $2799 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only . Their price is $200 off MSRP. Read more
12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook on sale for $11...
Amazon has the 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP Read more
Bare Bones Software Releases macOS High Sierr...
Bare Bones Software has announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 12.0, a significant upgrade to its professional strength text and code editor. BBEdit 12 introduces a new foundation... Read more
Yale Announces Availability of Apple HomeKit-...
Yale Locks & Hardware has announced that Apple HomeKit support for its Assure Lock family is available this month. The new Yale iM1 Network Module, which provides support for the Apple Home app... Read more

Jobs Board

Fraud Analyst, *Apple* Advertising Platform...
Job Summary Apple Ad Platforms has an opportunity to redefine advertising on mobile devices. Apple reaches hundreds of millions of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad Read more
*Apple* Information Security - Security Data...
Job Summary This role is responsible for helping to strengthen Apple 's information security posture through the identification and curation of security event data. Read more
Lead *Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple In...
…develop a team of diverse partner employees focusing on excellence to deliver the Apple story. Even when you're not present, you will maintain a consistent influence Read more
watchOS Frameworks Engineering Manager, *App...
Job Summary Join the team that is shaping the future of software development for Apple Watch! Apple is looking for an exceptional software engineering leader to Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.