December 10, 2003
"AppleScript: The Definitive Guide": The How, Where, and Why of Using AppleScript
Sebastopol, CA--Between the dawn of the Mac and Mac OS X, the most
innovative system revision was System 7, which brought with it Apple
events: an extraordinarily clever and powerful system-level method for
applications to ask each other questions and send each other commands.
AppleScript was then introduced as a means for users to take direct
advantage of Apple events. As Matt Neuburg, author of the just released
book AppleScript: The Definitive Guide (O'Reilly, US $39.95), explains,
"AppleScript was Apple's way of rendering Apple events as a user-readable,
user-writable scripting language. As time went by, many developers did a
better and better job of integrating AppleScript into their applications.
At the same time, AppleScript remained a kind of orphan in the Apple
world. Apple didn't quite seem to know what to do with it."
With Mac OS X, all that has changed and AppleScript is now perhaps
entering a kind of Golden Age. Finally embraced and acknowledged,
AppleScript is starting to take its place among Apple's star technologies.
"It's noticed on Apple's own web pages as a major aspect of Mac OS X,"
says Neuburg. "The Script Editor has been rewritten as a Cocoa
application. Scripts may be run from a system-wide menu. Integration with
Unix scripting has been provided. And users can actually write a genuine
application with a full-fledged Aqua user interface--windows, menus,
buttons, text fields, scrolling lists, and more--using AppleScript as
their programming language, thanks to the astounding AppleScript Studio."
AppleScript: The Definitive Guide explores and expounds the language
from the ground up. Unlike many books on AppleScript, Neuburg's book
doesn't focus on scripting one application or another, nor does it assume
that learning AppleScript is easy or obvious. Instead, the book teaches
and documents the language in a clear and rigorous manner, just as you'd
expect with any programming or scripting language.
According to Neuburg, there has long been a need for a complete,
systematic book about AppleScript. Even Apple's own manual for the
language is out of date and lacking in detail on certain key facts. The
biggest complaint Neuburg hears from AppleScript users is that there is no
way to learn the language! Neuburg gained his own knowledge of the
language from every resource available, including the Apple manual, but
ultimately resorted to experimenting with the language himself to see what
it could do.
"AppleScript is a fairly small language," says Neuburg, "but I was amazed
by how difficult it was to write this book! It took more than twice as
long as I'd expected. My approach, as readers of my Frontier and REALbasic
books know, is not to rely on documentation, but to bang away at the
language itself, testing and experimenting, trying to deduce the
underlying rules. Well, the underlying rules of AppleScript turn out to be
really strange. As a result, my book contains a great deal of material I
never knew before and have never seen documented elsewhere."
The book covers AppleScript 1.9.2 and the new Script Editor, released as
part of the new version of Mac OS X Panther. No prior knowledge of
AppleScript or previous programming experience is assumed, so that
complete beginners can use the book to learn AppleScript. At the same
time, the book provides such a degree of technical depth and completeness
that experienced AppleScripters will find it an invaluable reference to
use to check a point of syntax or gain a firmer understanding of such
advanced arcana as how the scoping rules operate, how terminology is
resolved, or what an Apple event really is.
AppleScript: The Definitive Guide not only teaches how the AppleScript
language works, but shows readers how to use it in all sorts of
contexts--in everyday scripts to process automation, as well as in
AppleScript Studio, in Cocoa, in CGI scripts, and in combination with Perl
and Ruby. Regardless of their level of experience, AppleScripters
everywhere will turn to this book again and again.
Praise for AppleScript: The Definitive Guide:
"Having worked with AppleScript for more than 12 years, I honestly thought
I knew it inside out. Matt's book proved me wrong. It does a bang-on job
of telling you how to get the most out of AppleScript."
--Mark Alldritt, president, Late Night Software Ltd., Script Debugger
"Matt Neuburg knows AppleScript's ins and outs thoroughly, and is not
afraid to point out problems and how to work around them, as well as its
strengths. This book will be of great interest both to programmers coming
to AppleScript from other languages and to scripters who are already adept
at AppleScript but puzzled by its many oddities."
AppleScript: The Definitive Guide
ISBN 0-596-00557-1, 453 pages, $39.95 US, $61.95 CA
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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