TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Introduction to Scripting Address Book

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Programming

AppleScript Essentials

Introduction to Scripting Address Book

by Benjamin S. Waldie

If you have a large number of contacts in your contact management application, then you are probably already aware that maintaining your existing contacts, adding new ones, removing outdated ones, etc., can quickly become a time consuming process. Yet again, AppleScript is ready to come to your rescue. Using AppleScript and Address Book in Mac OS X, you can begin to automate the process of adding and removing contacts, creating groups, and even more.

Throughout this article, we will discuss a number of techniques for automating aspects of Address Book in Mac OS X. Once you have an understanding of these basic techniques, you can begin combining them together, in order to automate your contact management workflow on a larger scale.

Figure 1 shows an example of an Address Book person, which has been created and added to a new group, all with AppleScript. The code that was used to create this entry and group was developed using the example code snippets that are provided throughout this article.

Please note that all code specified in this article was developed using Address Book version 4.0.2 in Mac OS X 10.4.x Tiger. Due to AppleScript terminology changes between versions of Address Book, some code may be slightly different, or may not function properly if you are using an older version of Address Book.

Working with People

Making a New Person

To create a new person in Address Book, use the make command, which can be found in the Standard Suite in Address Book's AppleScript dictionary. While using this command, you may also specify values for various properties of the person. This is demonstrated in the following code, which will create a new person, while assigning values to the first name, last name, organization, and job title properties.


Figure 1. A Person Created by a Script in a Specific Group

tell application "Address Book"		
   set thePerson to make new person with properties 
   {first name:"Ben", last name:"Waldie", organization:"Automated Workflows, 
   LLC", job title:"President"}
end tell
--> person id "778C4D8D-0A22-4918-A5B6-73361FFF8779:ABPerson" of application "Address Book"

The result of the make command is a reference to the newly created class. In the example code above, we have captured this reference in a variable named thePerson. This variable may now be referenced in future code, so that we may add email addresses, phone numbers, and more to the newly created person.

When writing code that interacts with Address Book, you might notice that Address Book's display is not immediately updated. Rather, it may take several seconds for the new person to appear. To force Address Book to update its display immediately, you may use the save addressbook command. For example:

save addressbook

It is good practice to use this command regularly in an Address Book script, in order to ensure that the display always shows the current information, as well as to prevent data loss in the unlikely event of an application crash.

Adding Email Addresses

In Address Book, email addresses, URL's, phone numbers, and addresses are not properties of a person. Rather, they are classes themselves, and are contained as elements of a person. The following example code demonstrates how to add an email address to a specified person.

make new email at end of emails of thePerson with properties 
{label:"Work", value:"applescriptguru@mac.com"}

In the example code above, the label property of the email address indicates the label text that will precede the email address in the person's address card in Address Book's interface. For example, an email address label might read "Work", "Home", "Other", etc. As you will see in some additional examples throughout this article, many other classes in Address Book also possess a label property.

Adding URL's

The method for adding a URL to a person is generally the same as that for adding an email address. The following example code demonstrates how to add a work URL to a specified person in Address Book.

make new url at end of urls of thePerson with properties 
{label:"Work", value:"http://www.automatedworkflows.com"}

Adding Phone Numbers

The following example code demonstrates how to add a work phone number to a specified person in Address Book. Again, as you can see, this code is generally the same as that for adding email addresses or URL's to a person.

make new phone at end of phones of thePerson with properties 
{label:"Work", value:"610.935.0652"}

Adding Addresses

Adding an address to a person is slightly different than the process of adding an email address, a URL, or a phone number. While you can still specify a label property for an address, addresses also possess many other properties. For example, in an address entry, you may specify a street, city, state, zip code, and more. The following example code demonstrates how to add a work address to a specified person in Address Book.

make new address at end of addresses of thePerson with properties 
{label:"Work", street:"123 Anystreet", city:"Anytown", state:"PA", zip:"99999"}

Finding a Person

In some cases, you may not actually want to create a person. Rather, you may want to locate an existing person. One way to access an existing person is by accessing the selection property of the Address Book application. This will return a list of any selected people. The following example code demonstrates how to retrieve the selection.

set thePeople to selection
--> {person id "778C4D8D-0A22-4918-A5B6-73361FFF8779:ABPerson" of application "Address Book"}

However, you may not always want to access the selected person or people. There may be times when you need to locate a person by name, or by another criteria. The following example code demonstrates how to search for specific people by retrieving a list of people matching a given last name.

set thePeople to every person whose last name = "Waldie"
--> {person id "778C4D8D-0A22-4918-A5B6-73361FFF8779:ABPerson" of application "Address Book"}

Retrieving Information for a Person

Once you have retrieved a list of people in Address Book, you will more than likely want to retrieve information about those people, such as their names, email addresses, etc. For starters, the following code demonstrates how you can retrieve a list of all properties of a specified person.

properties of (item 1 of thePeople)
--> {first name:"Ben", maiden name:missing value, 
id:"E9A1B78D-AE19-46D1-98A8-76ADB82E4C49:ABPerson", modification date:..

You may also retrieve the properties of specific elements of a person. For example, the following example code will retrieve properties of any email addresses of a specified person.

properties of emails of (item 1 of thePeople) -->
{{id:"9495797E-3942-4CA2-9EB7-A85CC1420A40", 
class:email, label:"work",value:"applescriptguru@mac.com"}}

Similar to the previous example code, the following example code demonstrates how to retrieve the properties of any phone numbers of a specified person.

properties of phones of (item 1 of thePeople) -->
{{id:"5D411959-09F0-4A65-82FA-01449FD50268", class:phone, label:"work", value:"610.935.0652"}}

Working with Groups

In Address Book, groups are also an important part of contact management. Groups allow you to organize your contacts into sets of contacts, all related in some manner of your choosing. Like people, groups in Address Book are also accessible via scripting.

Making a New Group

In a manner similar to that for creating a new person, the make command may be used to create a new group. For example:

set theGroup to make new group with properties {name:"My Group"} --> group id
"D988FC9B-62FC-4ABA-9C70-E5F5821D2724:ABGroup" of application "Address Book"

As mentioned previously, the result of the make command is a reference to the newly created class. In the case above, this reference is placed into a variable named theGroup, which may be accessed later in your code.

Adding a Person to a Group

To add a person to a group in Address Book, you may use the add command. The following example code demonstrates how to add a person to a group that is referenced through the variable theGroup.

add thePerson to theGroup

Alternatively, you may choose to add a person to a group directly, rather than through the use of a variable. For example:

add thePerson to group "My Group"

Removing a Person from a Group

Removing a person from a group is just as straightforward as adding a person to a group. To remove a person from a specified group, you may use the remove command. The following example code demonstrates the proper use of this code.

remove thePerson from group "My Group"

Again, as mentioned in a tech block earlier in this article, be sure to use the save addressbook command regularly throughout your code, in order to ensure that Address Book's display is immediately updated when creating groups, adding people to groups, or removing people from groups.

Retrieving a List of Groups

There may also be times when you need to retrieve a listing of groups in Address Book. The following example code demonstrates how to retrieve a list of references to any existing groups.

groups -->
{group id "D988FC9B-62FC-4ABA-9C70-E5F5821D2724:ABGroup" of application "Address Book"}

If you prefer to retrieve only the names of the groups in Address Book, the following example code may be used.

name of every group 
--> {"My Group"}

Pulling It Together

Using the sample code and techniques that were discussed thus far throughout this article, you should now be able to start building some basic Address Book scripts, which can be expanded and integrated into a larger workflow. For example, you could develop a script that will extract contact information from a database or from an email message, and then use that content to automatically add or update contacts in your Address Book.

The example code below provides a basic demonstration of how code elements and techniques specified in this article can be pulled together to form a single script. The following example will create a new person, complete with a work email address, URL, phone number, and address.

tell application "Address Book"
   set thePerson to make new person with properties 
      {first name:"Ben", last name:"Waldie", organization:"Automated Workflows, LLC", 
      job title:"President"}
   tell thePerson
      make new email at end of emails with properties {label:"Work", 
         value:"applescriptguru@mac.com"}
      make new url at end of urls with properties 
         {label:"Work", value:"http://www.automatedworkflows.com"}
      make new phone at end of phones with properties {label:"Work", value:"610.935.0652"}
      make new address at end of addresses with properties 
         {label:"Work", street:"123 Anystreet", city:"Anytown", state:"PA", zip:"99999"}
   end tell
   make new group with properties {name:"My Group"}
   add thePerson to group "My Group"
   save addressbook
end tell

Address Book Plug-Ins

When browsing the Address Book Script Suite in Address Book's AppleScript dictionary, you may notice the action property, action title, perform action, and should enable action commands. See figure 2.


Figure 2. Address Book Plug-In Handlers

These commands are actually handlers, which may be added to a script in order to create an Address Book plug-in script. An Address Book plug-in script is a script that may be triggered from a rollover button. Rollover buttons are popup buttons, which appear when a user drags the mouse pointer over and clicks on certain labels, including phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, and more, on a person's Address Book card.

The following is example code for an Address Book plug-in. This plug-in will add a new menu item, called "Speak Phone Number" to the rollover button popup menu for each phone number of a person in Address Book. See figure 3.


Figure 3. Accessing an Address Book Plug-In Script

Whenever the "Speak Phone Number" menu item is selected, the corresponding phone number's digits will be spoken, using the say command.

The say command may be found in the User Interaction Suite of the Standard Additions scripting addition.

using terms from application "Address Book"
   on action property
      return "phone"
   end action property

   on should enable action for thePerson with theEntry
      if theEntry <> missing value then
         return true
      else
         return false
      end if
   end should enable action

   on action title for thePerson with theEntry
      return "Speak Phone Number"
   end action title

   on perform action for thePerson with theEntry
      set thePhoneNumber to value of theEntry
      repeat with a from 1 to length of thePhoneNumber
         set theCharacter to character a of thePhoneNumber
         if "0123456789" contains theCharacter then say theCharacter
      end repeat
   end perform action
end using terms from

We will now take a few moments to walk through the different handlers in the code above.

action property Handler

This handler is called when the mouse pointer first rolls over a label that serves as a rollover button, after Address Book has been launched. When triggered, the handler should return a string indicating the type of rollover button under which the script should be displayed. Options may include phone, email, address, and more.

should enable action Handler

This handler is invoked when the user actually clicks on the rollover button on a person's card. Once triggered, this handler should return a boolean value indicating whether the plug-in script may be available for the currently selected rollover. The example code above uses this opportunity to verify that the value of the phone number is not a missing value. If it is a missing value, then the menu item will not be enabled in the rollover button popup menu.

action title Handler

This handler is also triggered when the user clicks on the rollover button, but after the should enable action handler is triggered, if present. This handler should return as its result the name of the menu item that should be displayed in the rollover button popup menu.

perform action Handler

This handler is triggered when the user selects the menu item from the rollover popup menu. A reference to the selected person, as well as the selected data on which the rollover button was clicked, are passed to the handler as parameters. Add your processing code to this handler to perform the desired function.

Installing an Address Book Plug-In Script

Once you have written your Address Book plug-in script, save it as a compiled script into the Library > Address Book Plug-Ins folder at the local or user level of your hard drive. Next, re-launch the Address Book application to load the plug-in script and begin using it.

In Closing

As you are probably aware, there are other applications available for the Macintosh that provide contact management capabilities, many of which are AppleScriptable. Microsoft Entourage, Eudora, Now Up-To-Date & Contact are a few of such programs. If you are not an Address Book user, you are encouraged to explore your favorite contact management application, in order to determine whether it is scriptable. If it is scriptable, while the AppleScript terminology will be different, many of the tasks discussed in this article may still be possible to automate.

Regarding Address Book, the examples shown throughout this article should help you to begin automating some basic Address Book functions. You are encouraged to begin integrating these examples into your own custom scripts, and exploring some of the other possibilities for automating Address Book, which may not have been discussed in this article.

Until next time, keep scripting!


Ben Waldie is author of the best selling books "AppleScripting the Finder" and the "Mac OS X Technology Guide to Automator", available from http://www.spiderworks.com. Ben is also president of Automated Workflows, LLC, a firm specializing in AppleScript and workflow automation consulting. For years, Ben has developed professional AppleScript-based solutions for businesses including Adobe, Apple, NASA, PC World, and TV Guide. For more information about Ben, please visit http://www.automatedworkflows.com, or email Ben at applescriptguru@mac.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Scrivener 3.0 - Project management and w...
Scrivener is a project management and writing tool for writers of all kinds that stays with you from that first unformed idea all the way through to the first - or even final - draft. Outline and... Read more
SuperDuper! 3.0.1 - Advanced disk clonin...
SuperDuper! is an advanced, yet easy to use disk copying program. It can, of course, make a straight copy, or "clone" -- useful when you want to move all your data from one machine to another, or do... Read more
Parallels Desktop 13.2.0 - Run Windows a...
Parallels allows you to run Windows and Mac applications side by side. Choose your view to make Windows invisible while still using its applications, or keep the familiar Windows background and... Read more
VueScan 9.5.92 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
iFinance 4.3.4 - Comprehensively manage...
iFinance allows you to keep track of your income and spending -- from your lunchbreak coffee to your new car -- in the most convenient and fastest way. Clearly arranged transaction lists of all your... Read more
jAlbum Pro 15.0 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. You can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly... Read more
jAlbum 15.0 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results - Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Duet 1.6.9.3 - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a $14.99 iOS companion app. Version 1.6.9.3:... Read more
Duet 1.6.9.3 - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a $14.99 iOS companion app. Version 1.6.9.3:... Read more
iExplorer 4.1.10 - View and transfer fil...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

The mobile gamer's guide to Black F...
We're starting to catch wind of some exciting deals in the mobile gaming space for Black Friday. There are big discounts on mobile phones and accessories cropping up already, so you might want to get a move on things ahead of the big day. It's... | Read more »
The best pre-Black Friday deals - Novemb...
Black Friday will soon be upon us, but online retailers are already getting a headstart on the steep discounts. Don't wait until Friday—you'll find some pretty good deals all over the internet without waiting in lines or competing with other... | Read more »
Mighty Battles guide - how to build a so...
Mighty Battles, the latest title from Hothead Games, is set to take the App Store by storm. The game puts a welcome twist on lane battlers, adding FPS elements to spice things up a bit. You'll collect cards to put your own military unit to gether,... | Read more »
Rules of Survival guide - how to be the...
The PUBG craze makes its way to mobile, with more and more battle royale games debuting on iOS and Android. Rules of Survival joins the ranks of mobile PUBG-likes, offering a classic battle royale experiences that doesn't vary too much from its... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
The weekend is upon us friends, and it's time to take a look back and reflect on all of the wonderful games we've played over the past few days. This week was jam packed with new releases. There were some big, long awaited launches, some fun... | Read more »
Lineage II: Revolution guide - tips and...
At long last, Lineage II: Revolution has now come to western shores, bring Netmarble's sweeping MMORPG to mobile devices. It's an addictive, epic experience, but some of the systems in the game can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help... | Read more »
A Boy and His Blob (Games)
A Boy and His Blob 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Fight terrible monsters and collect epic...
Released on Western markets early last month, Dragon Project, created by Japanese developer COLOPL, brings epic monster hunting action to mobile for the very first time. Collect a huge array of weapons and armor, and join up with friends to fight... | Read more »
I Am The Hero (Games)
I Am The Hero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: I Am The Hero is a pixel art, beat 'em up, fighting game that tells the story of a "Hero" with a glorious but mysterious past.... | Read more »
Kauldron (Music)
Kauldron 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Kauldron is our warmest sounding, punchiest synth yet! A completely new modeling technology, combined with carefully designed... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $180 with Apple Certified Refurbis...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: – 13″ 1.8GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air (... Read more
Black Friday deals on Apple Macs now live at...
Amazon has MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, MacBooks, and iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP for Black Friday week. Shipping is free. Note that stock of some Macs may come and go during the week, so... Read more
Black Friday pricing on Macs and iPads now av...
B&H Photo has lowered prices on many Macs, iPads, and iPad Pros as part of their Black Friday week sale. Save up to $200 on MacBooks and iMacs and up to $150 on iPads. B&H charges sales tax... Read more
Best Apple iPad deals this weekend, up to $80...
Apple resellers are offering 9.7″ iPads and 10.5″ iPad Pros for up to $80 off MSRP this weekend as part of their early Holiday and Black Friday sales: Adorama is offering new 2017 9.7″ 32GB WiFi... Read more
Early Black Friday sale: Apple iMacs for up t...
B&H Photo has 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up $130-$150 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2149 $150 off... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis starting...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished Mac minis starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: – 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP – 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Save on 12″ MacBooks, Apple refurbished model...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Early Holiday sale: 12″ iPad Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has 12″ iPad Pros on sale today for up to $130 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H collects no sales tax outside NY & NJ: – 12″ 64GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749, save $50 – 12″ 256GB... Read more
Holiday sale prices on Apple 13″ MacBook Pros...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100-$150 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro... Read more
Sale: 13″ MacBook Airs starting at $899, $100...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Airs on sale today for $100 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MQD32LL/A): $899, $100 off... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
*Apple* Pro/Consumer Apps Support Engineer -...
…exemplify AppleCare's expert technical support paired with exceptional customer service for Apple 's software apps. This person is a problem solver, who understands Read more
Partner Marketing Manager, *Apple* Pay - Ap...
Job Summary The Apple Pay partner marketing team is looking for a Marketing Manager to develop and drive US programs. The right candidate will be passionate about Read more
*Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solution Consultant - Rochester, MN Job Number: 113037950 Rochester, MN, Minnesota, United States Posted: 19-Sep-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.