TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Mac in the Shell: Pashua: Helping the GUI Crowd

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 12
Column Tag: Mac in the Shell

Mac in the Shell: Pashua: Helping the GUI Crowd

Give your shell scripts a GUI

by Edward Marczak

Introduction

In the August 2006 issue of MacTech, I wrote an Mac in the Shell: Pashua: Helping the GUI Crowd, "GUI-up Your Script." It talked about ways to add a GUI to your shell script using AppleScript Studio, part of XCode. As we saw in that article, now on-line at http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/
Vol.22/22.08/GUI-upyourScript/index.html
, there are pros and cons to the shell scripter using this method. Since a year is an eternity in technology-time, I'm back to talk about some notable alternatives. My current fave? Pashua. Read on to see how you can use Pashua to add a GUI to your shell script.

What's Happening

The reasons for creating a GUI for a shell script remain the same: you're a shell scripter, but the person running the script is a GUI-type. Perhaps it's just a nicer way to ask for input. In any case, it's a powerful combination.

Before I get into Pashua, I'd like to mention some alternatives. Platypus (http://www.sveinbjorn.org/platypus) is a wrapper that will take a shell script and construct the necessary bundle structure to make the script a 'regular' double-clickable OS X ".app". Useful, in some cases, to create 'droplets' and to allow end-users to run shell scripts at login time via their Login Items. (Though, we'd never do that as good admins, we'd use launchd, right?). CocoaDialog (http://cocoadialog.sourceforge.net/), true to its name, allows the shell scripter to create dialogs. Not quite full windows. Think "error dialog" or "progress dialog." However, many times, that's precisely what you need, so, CocoaDialog exists, says what it does, and does a good job doing what it says.

However, Pashua is a bit more. Pashua will let you construct full windows, using most common GUI widgets. The best thing about Pashua is the ease in which you can get data in and out of the windows you create. Let's get started!

Good Times

First, go download Pashua itself at http://www.bluem.net/downloads/pashua_en/. From there, drop the distribution someplace logical (to your situation). We're shell people, right? So, get into Terminal, if you're not there already, and change into the new Pashua folder. From there, we'll dig into the Pashua.app bundle. Really, all you need to know is that from the shell you'll need the Pashua binary, located at Pashua.app/Contents/MacOS/Pashua. You may want to get this into your current $PATH so you can simply type Pashua from now on, but I'll leave that up to you. Go on and run that if you like - you'll receive the dialog show in figure 1.


Figure 1 - Ah, we need a config file.

As evidenced by the error dialog, Pashua is driven entirely by a config file. The config file is nothing esoteric - it's simply a text description that describes the window layout. Let's start with the easiest definition. Fire up your favorite text editor, and enter this:

uname.type = textfield
uname.label = Enter the user ID
uname.default = User ID
uname.width = 340

Save it as win_test.pash. This tells Pashua that we want a new element named "uname" to be created. The "uname" element will be a text field. It will have a label above the text field that says, "Enter the user ID", and will have default text of "User ID". Finally, we create the width of the field to be 340 pixels.

Enough chit-chat - let's run it. If you did get Pashua into your path, simply type:

Pashua win_test.pash

(If you didn't get it into your path, specify the full path to the Pashua binary instead. Something like: /Applications/Pashua/Pashua.app/Contents/MacOS/Pashua).

...and we're greeted with this:


Figure 2 - Our "Hello World" example.

Now, press the return key, or click the "OK" button. Notice what happens in the shell:

$ Pashua win_test.pash 
uname=User ID

That's right! Pashua simply takes the values of all elements and hands them to you on standard out. For shell scripters, this is a relief! Standard in and standard out: that's how shell scripting works! If you've tried to interface with AppleScript, you'll know that passing values back and forth is a huge pain in the patoot. Pashua is a shell-scripters GUI tool more than a GUI tool that simply has 'support' for scripting languages. So, onward!

Let's go for some eye candy. I'm going to put the MacTech logo in the header, and name the Window. Insert this above the lines already in win_test.pash:

# Set the window title
*.title=MacTech Utility
# Display an image
img.type = image
img.path = /Users/Shared/images/mt_logo.gif
img.border = 0

...and again, we display our window (Pashua win_test.pash) and see the results in figure 3.


Figure 3 - Ooooooh, fancy

After clicking OK, note that our output hasn't changed, as we haven't added any elements that accept input. You probably picked up that the hash mark ("#") denotes a comment, and Pashua will ignore any line beginning with one. Additionally, the "*" "element" affects the entire window itself. In addition to the title, so it's not "Pashua", you can also change the following window elements:

transparency: Sets the window's transparency, decimal value from 0 (invisible) to 1 (opaque)

appearance: Only allowed value is metal, which will create a "brushed metal" window. Under Leopard, "metal" creates a single, large "unified" window.

autoclosetime: If autoclosetime is set to an integer number larger than 1, the dialog will automatically close after the specified number of seconds have passed. Note that if a window auto-closes, no values are passed back.

floating: Setting floating to 1 will result in the window floating above other windows. (Note: does not work on Mac OS X 10.2)

x: Sets the horizontal position where the window should be opened on the screen (0 is the left border of the screen)

y: Sets the vertical position where the window should be opened on the screen (0 is the upper border of the screen)

Frankly, "title" is about all I use, as I like the auto-positioning on the screen, and I never seem to have need of the other attributes, but you may.

If you want to let a user bail out of an action, add a cancel button to the window:

cb.type = cancelbutton
cb.label = Cancel
cb.tooltip = Closes this window without taking action

Run our test window with this in the config file, but note the output when you cancel:

$ Pashua win_test.pash 
cb=1

If the cancel button is invoked - either by clicking or pressing the escape key, all values are discarded, and only the cancel button variable is returned.

The Love Boat

How about getting data in and out of our Window? Let's look at a few practical examples, starting with getting data out. We've already seen that Pashua returns its data on standard out. For the sake of it, let's add one more element, a checkbox. Add these lines beneath the textfield definition:

alter_account.type = checkbox
alter_account.label = Alter Account?
alter_account.tooltip = Checking this box will alter the account

Save, and now check out our window. Enter some data, and click the "OK" button. Notice the output:

$ Pashua win_test.pash 
uname=User ID
alter_account=1
cb=0

While that may be great for viewing on standard out in the shell itself, it doesn't help us too much in a script. To handle this gracefully, we really need to be in a script, which is where we want to be anyway. Let's look at a small, semi-robust wrapper script:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
if [ -N $1 ]; then
        echo "You need to supply the Pashua config file";
        exit 1
fi
result=`/Users/marczak/Applications/Pashua/Pashua.app/Contents/MacOS/Pashua $1 | sed 's/ /;;;/g'`
# Parse result
for line in $result
do
        key=`echo $line | sed 's/^\([^=]*\)=.*$/\1/'`
        value=`echo $line | sed 's/^[^=]*=\(.*\)$/\1/' | sed 's/;;;/ /g'`
        varname=$key
        varvalue="$value"
        eval $varname='$varvalue'
done

Save this a pwrapper.sh, and call it like this, with our sample window:

./pwrapper win_test.pash

Enter some data and click "OK". What happened? Seemingly nothing. No apparent output from Pashua. What's actually happening is that our wrapper script is capturing the output and assigning it to variables within the script. Those variables are now available to us directly. Now, the value passed back from uname is available in "$uname". While this wrapper script solves many problems for us, it doesn't go the distance if we need to dynamically create windows. For that, we need to use a little string creation and concatenation.

Fantasy Island

Following this article is a "complete" script that gathers local user accounts for a fictitious migration/alteration (Listing 1). The idea here is to show off Pashua, and not come up with a user-altering utility. The new bit here is that we create a drop-down menu that we populate dynamically at runtime.

The final window appears in figure 4. Note that the only output is generated purposefully by our script:

$ ./pwrapper.sh 
Converting user marczak
Also altering account


Figure 4 - Window with drop-down menu, generated dynamically.

The Gong Show

While this but scratches the surface of all that you can do with Pashua, I hope it was a helpful introduction that kick-starts your thoughts (and typing fingers!). Read the documentation included with the download for other elements that can be put into a window. Also, in the Examples folder, you'll find an application bundle that shows how to create a double-clickable app - all using your shell script and Pashua. If you're not a bash scripter, remember, Pashua accepts a text file as input, and sends its output via standard out. That's very friendly to any scripting language - Perl, Python, Ruby and more. There's even an AppleScript example.

Media of the month: Project management is my focus this month, and there are a lot of good books out there. Think about everything we do, and how many we could classify as "projects." Peruse your local bookstore's shelf for a project management title that suits you. I'm currently finishing up "The Zen Approach to Project Management: Working From Your Center to Balance Expectations and Performance" by George Pitagorsky. The "Zen" part of this title isn't to be taken lightly, and isn't being used as a fashion piece as many others do. This book won't teach you project management techniques per se, but it will teach you, using Zen "centering" exercises how to see the big picture when managing a project. Highly recommended, but only after you have some project management knowledge.

Here comes Macworld! One month away. I'll be presenting two (maybe three) topics this year. I'm leading a hands-on lab on Wednesday that teaches how to get started using the shell. So many people don't even know where to start at all, but know there's power at that cursor starting back at them. I'll also be presenting OS X Server Collaboration Tools, also on Wednesday along with Ben Greisler. This will talk about all the new features in Leopard server like iCal server, the new Wiki and more. Finally, I may be sitting in with Schoun Regan to talk about Kerberos on Tuesday in the Power Tools session, which will be informative if I'm there or not. Of course, don't miss the MacTech booth, where I'll be popping up at from time to time. Hope to see everyone in San Francisco!


Ed Marczak owns and operates Radiotope, a technology consulting practice. Think technology is dy-no-myte? Find out more at http://www.radiotope.com

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

BetterTouchTool 2.07 - Customize Multi-T...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.07 - Customize Multi-T...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
PDFpen 8.3.2 - $74.95
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.5.20 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Things 2.8.9 - 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
PDFpenPro 8.3.2 - $124.95
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Create fillable forms and tables of content... Read more
Things 2.8.9 - 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
DiskCatalogMaker 6.5.20 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
PDFpenPro 8.3.2 - $124.95
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Create fillable forms and tables of content... Read more
PDFpen 8.3.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs wi...
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Pokémon GO Generation 2 evolution guide
At long last, Niantic Labs finally unleashed the Generation 2 Pokémon into the wild. Pokémon GO trainers are scrambling to grab up this new set of 80 Pokémon. There are some special new tricks required to catch all of these new beasties, though.... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
It feels as though the New Year got off to a creaking start as far as mobile games go, but that's changed over the past few weeks. The last few days alone have seen the debut of a number of wonderful games, so we thought we'd take the time to... | Read more »
Recruit more scallywags and discover new...
Get ready to show off your sea legs all over again in Oceans & Empires’ new grand update, which aims to make the act of rising to the role of seven seas ruler even more fresh and appealing, thanks to a richness of new content on both iOS and... | Read more »
Mage the Ascension: Refuge (Games)
Mage the Ascension: Refuge 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The groundbreaking roleplaying game Mage: The Ascension manifests in our turbulent present with Refuge, an... | Read more »
Vampire: Prelude (Games)
Vampire: Prelude 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The classic roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade returns to digital games with a Prelude of things to come. Experience a... | Read more »
Digby Forever Guide: How to dig to the d...
Digby Forever is a sparkling homage to arcade classics, and while you may be tiring of the number of arcade games being thrown at you, this endless digger finds many ways to stand out from the rest of the pack. The game manages to be challenging... | Read more »
The best sales on the App Store this wee...
It's been quite the week in mobile games, but if the latest releases(there were some pretty darn good ones, in case you missed out) aren't really doing the trick, perhaps some of these discounted games will. Many of these premium games had their... | Read more »
Why the new Fire Emblem Heroes update sh...
It’s exciting to see Nintendo delving into the mobile sphere, regardless of whether it’s to give fans another platform to enjoy their fans or simply a sound business venture. Two of the company's announced mobile games have finally come to... | Read more »
New Fire Emblem Heroes update adds new h...
Fire Emblem Heroes received a sizeable update first thing this morning. The update features a batch of fresh content along with a few updates to the game's systems. [Read more] | Read more »
The Deep Paths (Games)
The Deep Paths 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 25% off launch sale!!! The Deep Paths: Labyrinth Of Andokost is a first-person, dungeon crawling RPG, with traditional grid-based... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $1...
B&H has 12″ 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1149 $150 off MSRP - 12″ 1.1GHz... Read more
InTouch Health Expands iOS And Windows Produc...
Specialty telehealth enterprise provider InTouch Health has announced an expanded range of FDA Class I listed medical devices and software solutions for ambulatory, non-acute and non-emergent... Read more
iMobie Airs World’s 1st iCloud Manager with M...
iMobie Inc., an Apple-related software company, announced their newly-updated iPhone manager AnyTrans with exclusive feature to sync and manage contents across multiple iCloud accounts. With it,... Read more
New Proactive Apple Support Professional Cert...
Watchman Monitoring has announced Proactive Support Professional Certification at MacTech Pro. Watchman Monitoring is a premier Proactive Support Software as a Service (SaaS) tool for IT... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished 13-inch Reti...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $360 off original MSRP, starting at $1099. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $559, $140 off MS...
Guitar Center has the 2.6GHz Mac mini (MGEN2LL/A) on sale for $559.99 including free shipping. Their price is $140 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
21-inch Apple iMacs on sale for $100-$150 off...
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1349 $150 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1189 $110 off MSRP - 21... Read more
Type Nine Keyboard 2.0 for iOS – World’s Firs...
Copenhagen, Denmark based indie developer Rasmus Porsager has released Type Nine Keyboard 2.0, an update to his keyboard utility for iOS devices. Type Nine Keyboard combines a t9 keypad layout with... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* macOS Systems Integration Administra...
…most exceptional support available in the industry. SCI is seeking an Junior Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Read more
*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
Lead Senior *Apple* (Mac) Administrator - S...
…but also to protect them. Position Summary: SC3 is actively seeking a Senior Apple (Mac) Administrator that will be responsible for providing Apple Mac Read more
*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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.