TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Mac in the Shell: Accessing AddressBook with PyObjC

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 08
Column Tag: Mac in the Shell

Mac in the Shell: Accessing AddressBook with PyObjC

Using a specific Cocoa API from Python

by Edward Marczak

Introduction

Last month, we covered some basic text parsing using Python. I personally love the topic, as it's really applicable across a wide range of problems. But it was also fairly generic: that code will run on any platform with Python installed. Better yet: we can combine the text processing of standard Python with the OS X-specific PyObj-C libraries that let us tie into Cocoa APIs. This month, we'll look at AddressBook.

Accessing Address Book

First thing to remember: PyObj-C support is only built-in to OS 10.5 and above and with Python v2.5 and greater. If you're on a 10.4 system, this will not work out of the box. You'll need to get pyobjc support installed for 10.4 for yourself (further information and instructions can be found at http://pyobjc.sourceforge.net/downloads.html). This works just fine under 10.5 and, ummmmm... a certain future operating system.

The AddressBook framework in OS X is well documented by Apple. The developer site has plenty of information. A good starting point can be found at http://developer.apple.com/documentation/userexperience/Conceptual/AddressBook/AddressBook.html. All of the code presented in this article was written based on this documentation.

The code we'll look at this month is a small snippet of code that I actually use. As Executive Editor for MacTech, I send out a 'nag' message each month to authors that due dates are coming up. (Yes, I'm looking to automate this, but honestly like the personal touch that sending it out manually provides). I keep a group in AddressBook with the authors that have requested that I send them a reminder. Sometimes I use Mail.app, but sometimes I'm using a web-based mail interface that does not contain my contacts. Thanks to the magic of MobileMe, I tend to have my AddressBook no matter which machine I'm logged into. So then, what I need each month is a list of each address in the group I call "MacTech Editorial".

Like last month, I marvel at how little code we need to accomplish this. Here's the entire listing:

Listing 1 – MTDumpABGroup.py

#!/usr/bin/python2.5
import sys
from AddressBook import *
def GetAllABGroups(abref):
  groupdict = {}
  abgroups = abref.groups()
  for abgroup in abgroups:
    groupdict[abgroup.name()] = [abgroup.uniqueId()]
  return groupdict
def GetAllABListEmails(abref, abgroupid):
  address_dict = {}
  abgroup = abref.recordForUniqueId_(abgroupid)
  card = abgroup.members()
  for entity in card:
    emails = entity.valueForProperty_(kABEmailProperty)
    if emails is not None:
      address_dict[entity.uniqueId()] = emails.valueAtIndex_(0)
  return address_dict
def main():
  ab = ABAddressBook.sharedAddressBook()
  groups = GetAllABGroups(ab)
  groupid = None
  for group in groups:
    if group == "MacTech Editorial":
      groupid = groups[group][0]
      break
  if groupid is None:
    print "Group not found"
    sys.exit(1)
  addresses = GetAllABListEmails(ab, groupid)
  for i in addresses:
    print addresses[i] + ",",
if __name__ == '__main__':
  main()

Analyzing the code

Despite the brevity of the code involved, there's still some explaining to do. I'll follow the code as it executes, rather than go line-by-line from the top to the bottom. The only exceptions to that is the import statement at the top of the file (which does execute first). We need to import the AddressBook library for any of this to work, which is what make our job easy: Apple has already done the grunt work and we just need to exploit it.

The first statement to execute is the second to last: "if __name__..." This is the standard Python-ism that we've discussed in the past. This allows another Python app to import our program without running it. If we are running stand-alone, though, main() gets called.

First, in main(), we need a reference to the system's shared AddressBook. We instantiate a new copy of the ABAddressBook class and assign it to ab. Next, that reference gets passed into our GetGroups() function.

GetGroups() is more of a convenience function than anything, as we're really only going to use it once, but it's a decent illustration on pulling out all groups listed in the current user's address book. How do we obtain the list of groups in the address book? We ask! The groups() method returns an array of each group. In turn, each group has properties that can be obtained. In our case, we only care about the name, because as humans, that how we tend to identify things, and the group's unique ID, as we'll need to use that to request the members of the group. This function simply defines a dictionary that we fill with the requisite information. Once filled, we return that value from the function.

Back in main(), we simply loop though the groups that were returned, by name, and look for the one we're interested in. In our case, as mentioned, we're after the group named "MacTech Editorial". Once we find what we're looking for, we break out of the loop.

You'll notice that we set groupid to None prior to entering the loop. This just makes it easier for us to test if groupid has a value or not. Since it only gets set if we found the group we're looking for we use that in an if conditional:

if groupid is None:
    print "Group not found"
    sys.exit(1)

If groupid is still None when we exit the loop, we haven't found the group we're looking for and print a message and then exit with an exit code. It's useful to set a proper exit code so you can test for this in a shell script.

As an aside, another way to accomplish this would be to use a try block, but I found that a little more cumbersome for this program. Using a try block would eliminate the need to set groupid to None prior to entering the loop:

try:
  groupid
except NameError:
  print "Group not found"
  sys.exit(1)

For this particular endeavor, either method will suffice, however, I've gone with the "define as None" method above.

Once we've found the unique ID for the group we want to dump, we pass that off to GetAllListEmails(). First, we define a dictionary, addressdict, that will hold the addresses. Next, retrieve the address book group record that matches the given unique ID with recordForUniqueId. From there, we can gather all of the members of the group. How? We ask! The AddressBook Group class reference documentation lists the member method. The remainder of this function relies on the results returned from this call. A simple Python for loop allows us access to each person retrieved. Now, an AddressBook card may contain an entry that does not have an e-mail address, which is all we're really interested in. So, we retrieve all e-mail addresses associated with the card with the line:

emails = entity.valueForProperty_(kABEmailProperty)

This returns a multi-value of e-mail addresses attached to the card. For the purposes here, I'm only interested in one, and I'll take the first that's returned. But first, we need to see if any addresses were returned at all. The if conditional checks for addresses, and if some were returned, we'll take the first and add it to our dictionary:

address_dict[entity.uniqueId()] = emails.valueAtIndex_(0)

Once we've looped through all people returned, we have the dictionary we need. Time to return that back to the calling function.

Delivering the Results

Now for the easy part: printing out the results. We've covered looping through a Python dictionary plenty of times before, and that's all that's happening here:

for i in addresses:
  print addresses[i] + ",",

So, time to run the application! Naturally, you'll need to substitute an appropriate group name on line 31 (if group == "MacTech Editorial":) for a group that you have in your address book. Don't forget to chmod it as executable (chmod 770 MTDumpABGroup.py), and then go for it:

./MTDumpABGroup.py

bob@example.com, scott@example.net, bruce@mactech.com, wendel@example.org, alice@example.co.uk,

Thanks to one of OS X's many integrations between the shell and GUI, we can make our lives easier by piping the output into pbcopy:

./MTDumpABGroup | pbcopy

...and then just paste it into the To: field in your e-mail application (if it does indeed accept the address-comma-address format. I'm hard pressed to think of an e-mail client that doesn't, but I won't say one doesn't exist). You may need to drop the trailing comma, but since I've been using Gmail which just ignores the trailing comma, I just past the whole thing in.

Conclusion

In just 43 lines, including the stylistic spacing, we have a script that will dump all of the e-mail addresses associated with a particular group in Address Book. This example should illustrate several things: first, it's not difficult to get Cocoa via Python. It's well documented. Second, you don't have to spend a lifetime trying to find a solution. My itch (getting a list of e-mail addresses from a particular group) was easily scratched.

Media of the month: My reading list has become incredibly long...so much to read! But I gravitated toward a particular book in my pile (by the way – I really do prefer books. As in the real, physical variety. Perhaps it's just tactile, but, no Kindle for me yet). "Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship" by Sam Calagione seemed to be beckoning. Now, this may be the first book that I'm recommending before I actually finish it. I'm about three-fifths of the way through. It's so far really enjoyable. It's targeted at people starting their own business, so, for the consultants and potential consultants out there, it seems like something that should be on your reading list.

Until next month, keep practicing Python!

References

Address Book Class Reference: http://developer.apple.com/documentation/userexperience/Reference/AddressBook/Classes/ABAddressBook_Class/Reference/Reference.html#//apple_ref/occ/instm/ABAddressBook/people

Address Book Group Reference: http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExperience/Reference/AddressBook/Classes/ABGroup_Class/Reference/Reference.html

Address Book Person Reference: http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExperience/Reference/AddressBook/C/ABPersonRef/Reference/reference.html


Ed Marczak is the Executive Editor of MacTech Magazine. He has written for MacTech since 2004.

 

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

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 »
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 »
IFTTT is Bringing Do Button and Do Note...
IFTTT has announced Do Button and Do Note for the Apple Watch. Do Button lets you make your own personalized button that can connect to things like your Google Drive, control the temperature in your home with Nest Thermostat, or turn the lights on... | Read more »
How Many Days, Hours, and Minutes Are Le...
Countdown, by Yves Tscherry, is now available on the App Store. The app keeps track of countdowns to your favorite things such as someones birthday or days till the New Year. You can display the time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months,... | Read more »
The All-New Misfit 2.0 App is Available...
Misfit has just given their app a complete overhaul. Misfit 2.0 now has a brand new interface with a sleek design and is easier to navigate. You'll be able to sync your Misfit device and look up health and fitness information faster than ever before... | Read more »
Halo: Spartan Strike (Games)
Halo: Spartan Strike 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Delve into 30 challenging missions through cities and jungles using a devastating arsenal of weapons, abilities and... | 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

*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
Engineering Manager for *Apple* Maps on the...
…the Maps App Team get to take part in just about any new feature in Apple Maps, often contributing a majority of the feature work. In our day-to-day engineering work, we Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.