TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Satimages Smile

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Tools of the Trade

Satimage's Smile

by Tom Djajadiningrat

AppleScript IDE

Introduction

Smile is an AppleScript integrated development environment which is highly scriptable itself. It offers a fine text editor, pretty good documentation and the possibility to look up definitions from within the editor. But Smile's most amazing features are its ability to execute a script line-by-line from a seemingly ordinary text window and that its interface can be customized at will.

Since it is essentially free - all SatImage asks is your feedback to further improve Smile - it makes a great replacement for the standard Apple Script Editor. After a while you realize that Smile is much more than that. It brings together in a single application a combination of features which force you to rethink the possibilities of AppleScript.

Requirements

A Superior Editor

Despite its name, the editing features of Apple's Script Editor have always been somewhat poor. Especially its lack of drag-and drop and search-and-replace is rather annoying. Smile is worth getting just for these features. In addition, Smile features live scrolling, can compare files, has no 32k size limit, and implements Appearance. Command clicking the title bar of a window gives CodeWarrior-like access to its file's path (Figure 1). This in combination with support for Navigation Services makes organizing files much easier.


Figure 1. Smile provides easy access to a file's path.

If you are a keyboard animal then you will appreciate that keyboard navigation and selection are fully implemented. Jump word (option + left/right arrow key), jump start/end of line (command + left/right arrow key), page up/down (option + up/down arrow key) and home/end of document (command + up/down arrow key) and the selection equivalents with the shift key held down: it's all there.

Documentation

Smile comes with a guided tour in its own file format. It is clear and concise, taking about 10-15 minutes to work through. More elaborate documentation can be found within the Help menu. Smile's documentation makes use of Apple's Help Viewer and turns up as an option within the Help Center (Figure 2). If you get totally stuck with Smile you can subscribe to the Smile mailing list as described in the help.


Figure 2. Smile's help turns up in the Apple Help Center.

A Different Philosophy

If you like you can write scripts straight within a script window just as in the Script Editor. However, there is a far more powerful way to use Smile. Scripts can be written in a text window and a single line or piece of the code can be executed simply by selecting it and pressing enter (For those familiar with Mathematica this is somewhat similar to selecting cells and pressing enter after each one). This allows much flexibility during development as you can execute pieces of script in an order of your choosing. It also allows you to leave pieces of code hanging about without the need to comment them out. Once a script works to your satisfaction, you can copy it to a script window and save it in the usual variety of formats.

Apart from script windows and text windows Smile uses a worksheet and output windows, making four different types of window in total. Figure 3 shows all four at the same time. Let's have at each of them.

Worksheet

This is like a single page Scrapbook particular to Smile. Here you can store text and images which you use over and over again in different scripts, such as a copyright notice, those code samples you can never remember or logos. The result of executing a script in a script window is appended to the worksheet. The worksheet is saved automatically on quit and opened automatically when you start up Smile.

Text Window

During script development a text window is like a scratch pad. In a text window you can try out pieces of code in any order. You can have multiple text windows holding different versions of your code. When a piece of script in a text window is executed, the result shows up at the bottom of the same window. That is, unless you specify an...

Output Window

Selecting a text window and choosing Output window from the script menu creates a new window and redirects the output to that new window. You can also link an output window to a script window instead of to a text window. Then the output of the script window does not end up in the worksheet but in the output window.

Script Window

As mentioned before, you move your script to a script window once you wish to save it as an applet. The script window distinguishes itself visually by a comments area at the top, a coloured background, and a small toolbar at the bottom. Unlike a text window a script window does not allow execution of code line by line, it only allows you to run a whole script.


Figure 3. The four types of window in Smile: script window (top left), text window (top right), output window (bottom right) and worksheet (bottom left).

Decent Debugging

'Step-by-step' debugging

Let's go back to executing code in a text window. Putting the cursor on a line and pressing enter executes that line of code and advances the cursor to the start of the next line. So by pressing enter repeatedly you can step through the code. It even works properly with lines that are broken with option-return (¬). Note how we almost have step-by-step debugging here. Well, almost but not quite. You need to watch out for a few complications.

If you use a tell block to direct commands to a particular application you can't just step into the tell block: Smile will choke on the first line tell application "x" and display an error message (Figure 4). It does work if you select the whole tell block and press enter, but of course you loose resolution: if things go wrong you don't know which line within the block formed the culprit. Another option is to add tell application "x" to every line though this is a somewhat cumbersome solution.


Figure 4. Stepping into a tell block brings up an error message

This is where the tell command from the edit menu comes in (Figure 5). It lets you link a Smile text window to a particular application so that commands are directed at that application. Choosing the tell command makes a dialog box appear in which you can choose an application that is running on either the local or a remote machine (Figure 6). This turns on a small popup menu in the bottom left corner of a text window (Figure 7). Any script commands are now directed to the application you just linked to unless you speciÞcally ask them to be directed elsewhere. So you no longer need to wrap the commands for the linked app in a tell block or use a tell command on every line. Choosing logout from the popup menu breaks the link to the application (Figure 7).


Figure 5. Use the tell command to direct AppleScript commands to a particular applicaion.


Figure 6. Specify the application to link to. Here only the local host with its processes is shown.


Figure 7. The tell-related popup menu.

Variable watching

To further facilitate debugging Smile offers a variable watching window. After dragging or typing in a variable name in this window Smile will show its type and value during execution (Figure 8).


Figure 8. The variable watcher showing an integer, a real and a string.

Help with AppleScript Syntax

In addition to the open dictionary command familiar from Script Editor, Smile has got some extra features to help you with AppleScript syntax problems. First, you can select Find Definition from the Edit menu which will try to find the string in Smile's dictionary (or if you just linked to another app, that app's dictionary) or in a scripting addition. Second, if you need help with the AppleScript syntax of an application that you are linked to through the tell command you can choose Dictionary from the popup menu in the bottom left hand corner (Figure 7). I noticed that Smile chokes on the dictionary of Palm Desktop, while Script Editor has no problems with it. Finally, Smile's own dictionary is available under the Apple menu.

Advanced Stuff

Portability

Let's have a brief look at the somewhat more advanced stuff Smile has to offer. One nice feature is that it can assist you in writing portable code in which the normal English like AppleScript commands are replaced by raw codes. For example, if you want to script a particular application you may run into the problem that a particular user has a localized version of that app with a localized name (like SimpleText being called SimpelTekst in Dutch) or a version with a slightly different name (like BBEdit 5.x instead of 4.x). If you want the script to run smoothly and prevent a choose application dialog box from popping up you can look up the application by creator code instead of by name and resolve the name of the application at runtime. However, this means you cannot use the normal English-like commands as found in the app's dictionary, you will have to use the raw codes. If you first link to a particular application through the tell command you can then use the Copy Translate feature from the bottom left popup menu to change the selected text to raw codes (Figure 7).

Attachable and factored

Smile is not only scriptable and recordable, it also has those more rare AppleScript virtues: it is attachable, allowing scripts to be attached to its objects, and factored. What factored comes down to is that when the user chooses a certain command Smile sends an Apple event to itself instructing itself to execute the command rather than execute it directly. This ensures that Smile reacts in exactly the same way regardless of whether the Apple event originated from within or from outside Smile. This attachable and factored architecture is particularly powerful in combination with...

Custom interfaces

You can build your own custom interface for controlling Smile and AppleScripts. For example, you can add buttons to text windows to create so called Smile sheets and put up your own dialog boxes. Option-command clicking a button or dialolg opens the attached script. Pretty impressive stuff. Even the Variable Watcher is really a Smile sheet. When it comes to customization you are pretty much on your own though as the documentation concerning this feature is rather skimpy.

Interface Critique

Smile's interface could do with a little tidying up. Especially the script menu deserves some attention. At the moment it is a bit of a hodge-podge of all kinds of little tidbits provided by SatImage. As this is also the menu in which the user can place his own scripts, the structure of this menu can only get worse.

Then there is the linking of output windows to text or script windows. To me this seems a pretty essential component of the Smile philosophy, yet the command lives under the scripts menu. Since choosing output window essentially creates a special kind of text window the command would seem to be more at home under the file menu. I also found it a shame that the format of an output window is stubby and wide below the text window to which it is connected. The consequence is that any results quickly scroll out of view. I would prefer to have a tall and narrow output window, positioned to the side of the text window, so that older results remain visible and the most is made of the available screen real estate.

The Balance command's name does not do it justice. It suggests that the command is limited to indicating or closing unbalanced parentheses. However, it is in fact far more powerful than that. It can also suggest syntax, colourize indentation levels and assist you in writing tell statements, depending on what part of your script is selected before you activate it.

Finally, I find it a bit of a shame that a selection in a read-only document is not highlighted. The idea of having scripts embedded in read-only documents is quite tempting. It does not feel quite right though if you cannot see what you have selected before you press enter. Other applications, such as Tex-Edit Plus, do highlight selections within read-only documents.

More Information

While Smile seems to have gained quite a bit of momentum amongst hardcore AppleScript fans, it does not appear to be very well known among the Mac community at large. Here are some URLs to help you explore further:

Conclusion

They say you can't look a gift horse in the mouth but Smile easily stands up to scrutiny. Most of my gripes concern the interface which deserves some more attention. All in all this is a great addition to the AppleScript scene though. The editing features, powerful lookup functions, line-by-line execution and variable watching make Smile far superior to Apple's Script Editor. The idea of system wide control from scripts which happily live together with styled text and graphics in a single document is fascinating. More advanced scripters will appreciate the support for portable code, the possibilities to script Smile itself and the customizability of its interface through Smile sheets and dialogs. The nicest thing about Smile is probably its gradual but seemingly insaturable learning curve: it is easy to pick up but it is difficult to imagine exhausting its possibilities.


Since being involved in the re-design of the id-StudioLab web pages <http://www.io.tudelft.nl/id-studiolab/djajadiningrat/> Tom has got an even stronger opinion about layout and HTML. If you enjoy getting empty mail messages ask him for it with all four letter words left out at <J.P.Djajadiningrat@io.tudelft.nl>.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

BetterTouchTool 3.401 - 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
Vienna 3.5.6 :e12c952d: - RSS and Atom n...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
WhatsApp 2.2031.5 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
Day One 4.16 - Maintain a daily journal.
Day One is an easy, great-looking way to use a journal / diary / text-logging application. Day One is well designed and extremely focused to encourage you to write more through quick Menu Bar entry,... Read more
VMware Fusion 11.5.6 - Run Windows apps...
VMware Fusion and Fusion Pro - virtualization software for running Windows, Linux, and other systems on a Mac without rebooting. The latest version includes full support for Windows 10, macOS Mojave... Read more
Alfred 4.1 - Quick launcher for apps and...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
Dashlane 6.2032.0 - Password manager and...
Dashlane is an award-winning service that revolutionizes the online experience by replacing the drudgery of everyday transactional processes with convenient, automated simplicity - in other words,... Read more
Skype 8.63.0.76 - Voice-over-internet ph...
Skype is a telecommunications app that provides HD video calls, instant messaging, calling to any phone number or landline, and Skype for Business for productive cooperation on the projects. This... Read more
Mellel 5.0.3 - The word processor for sc...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard for long form documents since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 11.20 - File, pho...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Motorball is a car football game from No...
A few years back Noodlecake Studios announced that they would be dipping in the multiplayer gaming realm with two different games. The first of those, Golf Blitz, released a while back and has proven to be very popular. Now, the second has arrived... | Read more »
SINoALICE's latest update introduce...
SINoALICE's latest update has now arrived, adding several fan-favourite characters from popular RPG series NieR. Young Nier, Kaine, and Young Emil are available in-game as part of a limited-time crossover event set to run until August 20th. [Read... | Read more »
Rocat Jumpurr is an intense roguelite pl...
Rocat Jumpurr is a roguelite platformer from developer Mousetrap Games. You might already be familiar with it if you follow the Big Indie Pitch, where it won first place during this year's Pocket Gamer Connects London competition. Following its... | Read more »
PUBG Mobile's Play As One campaign...
Back in mid-July, we reported that PUGB Mobile had teamed up with Direct Relief to help raise money for the charity's COVID-19 response project. It focused on an in-game running challenge for players, which lead to the PUBG Mobile donating $2... | Read more »
Marvel Contest of Champions' latest...
Marvel Contest of Champions' latest motion comic has arrived, and it shows off new fighters Air-Walker and Dragon Man. Both characters are set to arrive in-game this month. [Read more] | Read more »
Clash Royale: The Road to Legendary Aren...
Supercell recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and their best title, Clash Royale, is as good as it's ever been. Even for lapsed players, returning to the game is as easy as can be. If you want to join us in picking the game back up, we've put... | Read more »
Global Spy is an intriguing 2D spy sim f...
Developer Yuyosoft Innovations' Global Spy launched last month for iOS and Android, though if you missed it at the time, we're here to tell you why it's well worth a go. This one's all about international espionage, tracking down elusive spies,... | Read more »
Distract Yourself With These Great Mobil...
There’s a lot going on right now, and I don’t really feel like trying to write some kind of pithy intro for it. All I’ll say is lots of people have been coming together and helping each other in small ways, and I’m choosing to focus on that as I... | Read more »
Hyena Squad is sci-fi turn-based strateg...
Wave Light Games has just revealed its latest release, Hyena Squad, a turn-based RPG set in a space station infested by gross aliens and the living dead. The announcement was first reported on by Touch Arcade. [Read more] | Read more »
Idle Guardians: Never Die is a pixel art...
SuperPlanet has been fairly prolific with game releases so far this year with both Evil Hunter Tycoon and Lucid Adventure releasing earlier this year. Now, they've released another idle RPG called Idle Guardians: Never Die, which you can download... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Woot offers numerous 2018-2020 MacBook Pros a...
Amazon-owned Woot has many open-box return MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros available today at prices starting at $879. Shipping is free for Prime members. Here’s what they have as of this post, and... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 2020 13″ MacBook A...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2020 13″ MacBook Airs starting at only $849 and up to $200 off the cost of new Airs. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with a standard Apple one-... Read more
Apple restocks clearance 2019 13″ 2.4GHz MacB...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2019 13″ 2.4GHz 4-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros starting at $1359 and up to $560 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, shipping is free,... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished iPhone XR models s...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished, unlocked, iPhone XR models in the refurbished section of their online store starting at $539. Each iPhone comes with Apple’s standard one-year warranty,... Read more
Price drops! $100-$200 off clearance 27″ 5K i...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on clearance, previous-generation 27″ 5K iMacs by up to $200 off Apple’s original MSRP: – 27″ 3.0GHz 6-Core 5K iMac: $1699 $100 off original MSRP – 27″ 3.1GHz 6-Core... Read more
Woot offers Apple Watch and iPhone models fro...
Amazon-owned Woot has refurbished Apple Watch and iPhone models available from $99-$749 through August 6th. According to Woot, the items may show some wear, but they have all been fully tested and... Read more
Apple’s Phil Schiller Steps Down As SVP OF Wo...
NEWS: 08.05.20 – Former Apple senior Vice President of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, is stepping down from his long time role at the company in order to focus on spending more time with family... Read more
Expercom offers $320 discount on the 6-core 1...
Apple reseller Expercom has the Silver 16″ 6-core MacBook Pro on sale for a limited time for $2079 shipped. Their price is $320 off Apple’s MSRP for this model, and it’s the cheapest price currently... Read more
Apple announces Education pricing for new 202...
Purchase a new 2020 iMac or iMac Pro at Apple using Apple’s Education discount, and take up to $400 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution with a .edu email... Read more
Apple reseller Expercom offers $256 discount...
Expercom has Apple’s new 2020 10-core iMac Pro available for order and on sale for $4743 shipped. Their price is $256 off Apple’s MSRP for this new model, and it’s the cheapest price we’ve seen so... Read more

Jobs Board

Cub Foods - *Apple* Valley - Now Hiring Par...
Cub Foods - Apple Valley - Now Hiring Part Time! United States of America, Minnesota, Apple Valley New Retail Post Date 3 days ago Requisition # 122305 Sign Up Read more
Executive Team Leader GM Sales (Assistant Man...
…(Assistant Manager General Merchandise and Operations) - Apple Valley, CaliforniaApply NowJob ID:R0000082364job family:Store Managementschedule:Full Read more
Cub Foods - *Apple* Valley - Now Hiring Par...
Cub Foods - Apple Valley - Now Hiring Part Time! United States of America, Minnesota, Apple Valley New Retail Post Date 2 days ago Requisition # 122305 Sign Up Read more
Part-time Geek Squad *Apple* Consultation P...
**770829BR** **Job Title:** Part-time Geek Squad Apple Consultation Professional-Store 384(Ithaca) **Job Category:** Store Associates **Store Number or Department:** Read more
Product Manager, *Apple* Commercial Sales -...
Product Manager, Apple Commercial Sales Austin, TX, US Requisition Number:77652 As an Apple Product Manager for the Commercial Sales team at Insight, you Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.