TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 98 MacTech Online

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Subject to Interpretation

by Jeff Clites online@mactech.com

The Other Kind of Scripting

Here's the deal: Scripting languages are becoming a big thing these days, and the Macintosh is by no means being left out in the cold. Scripting languages integrate with Java, complement Java, provide alternatives to Java, and stand on their own. We're going to use this month's issue on Java as a jumping-off point for learning about some lesser-known languages for the Mac.

What Scripting Languages Are Not

Scripting languages are not newcomer replacements for AppleScript or Frontier. "Traditional" scripting languages (if there is such a thing) developed in the Unix world. Like AppleScript, they tend to stitch together pieces written in languages such as C and Pascal, but there is an important distinction: whereas AppleScript operates primarily on applications, these scripting languages operate primarily on data. They may rely on components (analogous to Scripting Additions, or OSAX), and they can be made to interface with AppleScript, but they are a different breed, grown up with a different focus in mind.

Scripting languages are usually interpreted, meaning that they run directly from human-readable programs, rather then first being compiled into machine-executable form. As a result, they require an interpreter to run -- the analog of the Java virtual machine. To an even greater extent than Java, this allows platform independence. For those who are not impressed by this, or who worry about execution speed, many scripting languages are developing compiled implementations.

To get started, check out the excellent article Choosing a Scripting Language on the SunWorld site, which does a great job of introducing the big players, Perl, Tcl, and Python, and of getting the reader excited about them. Then, check out Scripting: Higher Level Programming for the 21st Century, which explains in detail how and when scripting languages can be more powerful and convenient than system programming languages, like C++ or Java.

Choosing a scripting language - SunWorld - October 1997
http://www.sun.com/sunworldonline/swol-10-1997/swol-10-scripting.html
Scripting: Higher Level Programming for the 21st Century
http://www.sunlabs.com/~ouster/scripting.html

Perl

Perl (the Practical Extraction and Report Language) began as a language for manipulating text and extracting information from it, sporting such power features as built-in regular expression (a.k.a. grep) capabilities, and accordingly has become popular for writing CGI scripts to generate web pages on the fly. It is probably the most well-supported of the scripting languages on the Mac, with a CD and a forthcoming book from the Free Software Foundation, which hosts the MacPerl pages. Perl could be a nice teaching language -- the MacPerl book aims to serve as a guide for those learning Perl as their very first programming language, as well as introduce the language to experienced programmers. Don't let Perl's text-based roots put you off -- they are only one of its strengths. It is a large language with an emphasis on practicality and the motto "There's More Than One Way To Do It."

The MacPerl Pages
http://www.ptf.com/macperl/
The www.perl.com Home Page
http://www.perl.com/
The Perl Institute
http://www.perl.org/

Tcl/Tk

Tcl (the Tool Command Language) is being actively developed by Sun as a scripting companion to Java, complemented by Tk (the Tool Kit) which provides it with a GUI. Tcl is completely untyped -- "everything is a string." This may horrify long-time Pascal or C programmers, but it is a strength -- it gives Tcl a unique flexibility and an amazingly readable style. It follows Perl in its level of Mac support, as Sun has a separate page devoted to Tcl/Tk for the Mac. They even have a browser plugin which allows you to run Tcl scripts within web pages, complete with Tk interfaces. Of course, Tcl/Tk can readily be used in Java-free contexts, where it started. A great example is the popular shareware text editor Alpha, which uses Tcl as its internal scripting language, allowing users to customize Alpha by writing Tcl scripts. For instance, you can teach Alpha to syntax-color a new language; this is actually an excellent way to start experimenting with Tcl.

Sun's Overview of Tcl/Tk
http://sunscript.sun.com/about/
The Macintosh Tcl/Tk Project
http://sunscript.sun.com/mac/
Alpha Home Page
http://www.ict.uni-karlsruhe.de/Rutz/Apple/alpha.html

Python

Python (named, yes, after Monty Python) in many ways sits at the intersection of scripting and system programming languages. It is dynamic and object-oriented -- the types of variable are not determined until the last possible moment during execution, and programmers still stinging from the demise of Apple's Dylan project will be happy to hear that as in Dylan, everything in Python is an object. It is well suited to metaprogramming, easily generating executable code on the fly. It is also said to excel at group projects: it's highly modular, scales well, and its syntax makes it easy for one programmer to read another's code. In almost all ways, Python is a small language, but it packs power -- it has exception-handling facilities and high-level data structures, and the latest release has added Perl-like regular expressions. There is even JPython, a Java-based interpreter. The Python Language Home Page is the place to start. Also be sure to check out the SunWorld article Getting started with Python, which serves as a nice introduction, and then visit the Python Compared to Other Languages page to gain some perspective.

The Python Language Home Page
http://www.python.org/
Jack's MacPython Page
http://www.cwi.nl/~jack/macpython.html
JPython: Seamless Scripting for Java
http://www.python.org/jpython/
Getting started with Python - SunWorld - February 1998
http://www.sun.com/sunworldonline/swol-02-1998/swol-02-python.html
Python Compared to Other Languages
http://www.python.org/python/Comparisons.html

Just Do IT!

Scripting languages generate enthusiasm, and for more than just their power. They all reflect the personalities of their inventors, all are still evolving, and all are free (including the source code). Spend and hour or two playing with one -- it will be a pleasant experience. As you do, check out the following personal pages of a few Mac scripting experts, where you will find powerful tools as well as useful examples.

Mizutori Tetsuya's Scripting World (AppleScript and Perl)
http://www.bekkoame.or.jp/~mizutori/script/index.html
Vince's Tcl-Tk page
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~darley/Vince-TclTk.html
Joe's Python Code
http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~jstrout/python/index.html

This is an especially important month to visit our companion web pages at www.mactech.com/online/, where these links are supplemented by a wealth of other links about Perl, Tcl/Tk, and Python, as well as other programming resources.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Geekbench 4.4.0 - Measure processor and...
Geekbench provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand,... Read more
CleanMyMac X 4.4.4 - Delete files that w...
CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more
TeamViewer 14.4.2669 - 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 non... Read more
Paperless 3.0.6 - $69.95
Paperless is a digital documents manager. Remember when everyone talked about how we would soon be a paperless society? Now it seems like we use paper more than ever. Let's face it - we need and we... Read more
BetterTouchTool 3.141 - Customize multi-...
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
TextMate 2.0.rc.29 - Code/markup editor...
TextMate is a versatile plain text editor with a unique and innovative feature set which caused it to win an Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Developer Tool in August 2006 A rapidly growing... Read more
Little Snitch 4.4.1 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Little Snitch 4.4 - Alerts you about out...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
MPlayer OSX Extended 16 - Multimedia pla...
MPlayer OSX Extended is the future of MPlayer OSX. Leveraging the power of the MPlayer and FFmpeg open source projects, MPlayer OSX Extended aims to deliver a powerful, functional and no frills video... Read more
Google Chrome 75.0.3770.142 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

TEPPEN guide - Tips and tricks for new p...
TEPPEN is a wild game that nobody asked for, but I’m sure glad it exists. Who would’ve thought that a CCG featuring Capcom characters could be so cool and weird? In case you’re not completely sure what TEPPEN is, make sure to check out our review... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World guide - Other games that...
We now live in a post-Dr. Mario World world, and I gotta say, things don’t feel too different. Nintendo continues to squirt out bad games on phones, causing all but the most stalwart fans of mobile games to question why they even bother... | Read more »
Strategy RPG Brown Dust introduces its b...
Epic turn-based RPG Brown Dust is set to turn 500 days old next week, and to celebrate, Neowiz has just unveiled its biggest and most exciting update yet, offering a host of new rewards, increased gacha rates, and a brand new feature that will... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World is yet another disappoin...
As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late. [Read more] | Read more »
Retro Space Shooter P.3 is now available...
Shoot-em-ups tend to be a dime a dozen on the App Store, but every so often you come across one gem that aims to shake up the genre in a unique way. Developer Devjgame’s P.3 is the latest game seeking to do so this, working as a love letter to the... | Read more »
Void Tyrant guide - Guildins guide
I’ve still been putting a lot of time into Void Tyrant since it officially released last week, and it’s surprising how much stuff there is to uncover in such a simple-looking game. Just toray, I finished spending my Guildins on all available... | Read more »
Tactical RPG Brown Dust celebrates the s...
Neowiz is set to celebrate the summer by launching a 2-month long festival in its smash-hit RPG Brown Dust. The event kicks off today, and it’s divided into 4 parts, each of which will last two weeks. Brown Dust is all about collecting, upgrading,... | Read more »
Flappy Royale is an incredibly clever ta...
I spent the better part of my weekend playing Flappy Royale. I didn’t necessarily want to. I just felt like I had to. It’s a hypnotic experience that’s way too easy to just keep playing. | Read more »
Void Tyrant guide - General tips and tri...
Void Tyrant is a card-based dungeon-crawler that doesn’t fit in the mold of other games in the genre. Between the Blackjack-style combat and strange gear system alone, you’re left to your own devices to figure out how best to use everything to your... | Read more »
Webzen’s latest RPG First Hero is offici...
You might be busy sending your hulking Dark Knight into the midst of battle in Webzen’s other recent release: the long-anticipated MU Origin 2. But for something a little different, the South Korean publisher has launched First Hero. Released today... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Amazon drops prices, now offers clearance 13″...
Amazon has new dropped prices on clearance 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros by $200 off Apple’s original MSRP, with prices now available starting at $1099. Shipping is free. Be sure to... Read more
2018 15″ MacBook Pros now on sale for $500 of...
Amazon has dropped prices on select clearance 2018 15″ 6-Core MacBook Pros to $500 off Apple’s original MSRP. Prices now start at $1899 shipped: – 2018 15″ 2.2GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Silver: $1899.... Read more
Price drop! Clearance 12″ 1.2GHz Silver MacBo...
Amazon has dropped their price on the recently-discontinued 12″ 1.2GHz Silver MacBook to $849.99 shipped. That’s $450 off Apple’s original MSRP for this model, and it’s the cheapest price available... Read more
Apple’s 21″ 3.0GHz 4K iMac drops to only $936...
Abt Electronics has dropped their price on clearance, previous-generation 21″ 3.0GHz 4K iMacs to only $936 shipped. That’s $363 off Apple’s original MSRP, and it’s the cheapest price we’ve seen so... Read more
Amazon’s Prime Day savings on Apple 11″ iPad...
Amazon has new 2018 Apple 11″ iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $250 off Apple’s MSRP as part of their Prime Day sale (but Prime membership is NOT required for these savings). These are... Read more
Prime Day Apple iPhone deal: $100 off all iPh...
Boost Mobile is offering Apple’s new 2018 iPhone Xr, iPhone Xs, and Xs Max for $100 off MSRP. Their discount reduces the cost of an Xs to $899 for the 64GB models and $999 for the 64GB Xs Max. Price... Read more
Clearance 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core MacBook Pros a...
Focus Camera has clearance 2017 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB non-Touch Bar Dual-Core MacBook Pros on sale for $169 off Apple’s original MSRP. Shipping is free. Focus charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents... Read more
Amazon Prime Day deal: 9.7″ Apple iPads for $...
Amazon is offering new 9.7″ WiFi iPads with Apple Pencil support for $80-$100 off MSRP as part of their Prime Day sale, starting at only $249. These are the same iPads found in Apple’s retail and... Read more
Amazon Prime Day deal: 10% (up to $20) off Ap...
Amazon is offering discounts on new 2019 Apple AirPods ranging up to $20 (10%) off MSRP as part of their Prime Day sales. Shipping is free: – AirPods with Charging Case: $144.99 $15 off MSRP –... Read more
Amazon Prime Day deal: $50-$80 off Apple Watc...
Amazon has Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 3 models on sale for $50-$80 off Apple’s MSRP as part of their Prime Day deals with prices starting at only $199. Choose Amazon as the seller rather than a... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Systems Architect/Engineer, Vice Pre...
…its vision to be the world's most trusted financial group. **Summary:** Apple Systems Architect/Engineer with strong knowledge of products and services related to Read more
*Apple* Graders/Inspectors (Seasonal/Hourly/...
…requirements. #COVAentryleveljobs ## Minimum Qualifications Some knowledge of agricultural and/or the apple industry is helpful as well as the ability to comprehend, Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**710003BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000171-Winchester Road-Store **Job Description:** Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**709786BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000430-Orange Park-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**709918BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 000106-Palmdale-Store Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.