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

Capo 3.2 - Slow down and learn to play y...
Capo lets you slow down your favorite songs so you can hear the notes and learn how they are played. With Capo, you can quickly tab out your songs atop a highly-detailed OpenCL-powered spectrogram... Read more
OmniOutliner 4.2.3 - 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
pwSafe 4.0.1 - Secure password managemen...
pwSafe provides simple and secure password management across devices and computers. pwSafe uses iCloud to keep your password databases backed-up and synced between Macs and iOS devices. It is... Read more
WALTR 1.5.4 - Drag-and-drop any media fi...
WALTR is designed to make it easy to upload and convert any music or video file to an iPad or iPhone format for native playback. It supports a huge variety of media file types, including MP3, MP4,... Read more
Audio Hijack 3.1 - Record and enhance au...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
PopChar 7.1 - Floating window shows avai...
We're also selling a 5-license family pack for only $25.99! PopChar helps you get the most out of your font collection. With its crystal-clear interface, PopChar X provides a frustration-free way to... Read more
BBEdit 11.1.1 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
Picasa 3.9.139 - Organize, edit, and sha...
Picasa and Picasa Web Albums allows you to organize, edit, and upload your photos to the Web from your computer in quick, simple steps. Arrange your photos into folders and albums and erase their... Read more
Mac DVDRipper Pro 5.0.5 - Copy, backup,...
Mac DVDRipper Pro is the DVD backup solution that lets you protect your DVDs from scratches, save your batteries by reading your movies from your hard disk, manage your collection with just a few... Read more
NetShade 6.2 - Browse privately using an...
This promotion is for NetShade and 1 year of Proxy and VPN services NetShade is an anonymous proxy and VPN app+service for Mac. Unblock your Internet through NetShade's high-speed proxy and VPN... Read more

Block Fortress has a Big New Update for...
Block Fortress is a survival-style game that's as fun as it is blocky. It's also just gotten a rather sizeable update that adds a lot more cool stuff. [Read more] | Read more »
Simple and Surreal Star Base Sim rymdkap...
I really like rymdkapsel. Not just because I'm a sucker for games that are cleverly simple or highly stylisitc, but because it's fun and challenging. Actually it's extremely challenging, which is why I was excited to learn that it's getting a couple... | Read more »
Check out the anticipated Angel Stone in...
Fincon has finally revealed Angel Stone in action in the first ever official gameplay trailer for the anticipated hack and slasher. Angel Stone is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity is in danger of being wiped out by the demonic... | Read more »
Moleskine Timepage is an All-New Calenda...
Moleskine Timepage is a bit of a departure for the notebook manufacturer (since it has little to do with notebooks), but it certainly carries their simple and elegant style quite well. [Read more] | Read more »
Jog on Over and Check Out the New Runtas...
Runtastic has put out a fair number of apps to help you sleep, track excercise, and train various parts of your body. Now it's time for your legs to have their own time in the spotlight with Runtastic Leg Trainer. [Read more] | Read more »
It's Lights Out in the Upcoming Pla...
Ember’s Journey is a stark puzzle platformer with a twist: the entire game is played in darkness. The only light you can see by is the one emanating from your own character. [Read more] | Read more »
MooVee - Your Movies Guru (Entertainmen...
MooVee - Your Movies Guru 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: MooVee helps you effortlessly manage your movies, on your iPhone. | Read more »
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (Games)
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Enjoy the next chapter in the award-winning Geometry Wars franchise and enjoy stunning, console-quality... | Read more »
CHAOS RINGS Ⅲ (Games)
CHAOS RINGS Ⅲ 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $19.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The newest addition to the popular smartphone RPG series is finally here! ・CHAOS RINGS Overview | Read more »
The Popular Insight Series of Travel Gui...
Getting around in a country when you can't understand the primary language can be tough. Fortunately there are several options available to help wold travellers with the important stuff like giving directions to a cab driver or asking where the... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz... Read more
13-inch 2.4GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has 2013 Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.4GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pros available for $879–$320 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s now available f...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2s for up to $140 off the price of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $80 off MSRP
Save up to $80 on the purchase of a new 2015 13″ or 11″ 1.6GHz MacBook Air at the following resellers. Shipping is free with each model: 11" 128GB MSRP $899 11" 256GB... Read more
Free Glide Live Video Messaging App Brings Ne...
Glide, an Israeli startup whose popular live video messenger has attracted more than 15 million users, has released significant updates to its free iOS app. Glide for iOS now gives users more control... Read more
Top Markets Saturation To Slow Global Smartph...
According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone shipments are expected to grow 11.3% in 2015 — down from 27... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (refurbished) avai...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.... 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
What Would the ideal Apple Productivity Platf...
For the past four years I’ve kept a foot in both the Mac and iPad camps respectively. my daily computing hours divided about 50/50 between the two devices with remarkable consistency. However, there’... Read more

Jobs Board

Senior Software Engineer - *Apple* SIM - Ap...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
*Apple* Pay Support Readiness Project Manage...
Changing the world is all in a day039s work at Apple . If you love innovation, here039s your chance to make a career of it. You039ll work hard. But the job comes with Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Program Manager, *Apple* Community Support...
**Job Summary** Apple Support Communities ( discussions. apple .com) helps customers get the most from their Apple products and services by providing access to Read more
Senior Data Scientist, *Apple* Retail - Onl...
**Job Summary** Apple Retail - Online sells Apple products to customers around the world. In addition to selling Apple products with unique services such as iPad Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.