TweetFollow Us on Twitter

More Fun With AppleScript

Volume Number: 20 (2004)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: Programming

Getting Started

by Dave Mark

More Fun With AppleScript

In last month's column, we installed Script Menu to help us organize our scripts, and then started digging into the Finder's AppleScript dictionary. Fantastic stuff! Hopefully, you've had a chance to play. If not, launch Script Editor, select Library from the Window menu, then double-click on the Finder entry in the Library list. A Finder dictionary window should appear.

Click on the line in the left pane labeled Finder Basics. The classes and commands associated with the Finder Basics AppleScript suite will appear (see Figure 1). Notice that the Finder Basics are divided into Properties and Elements. Think of properties as class data and the elements as objects within the class.


Figure 1. The Finder Basics dictionary entries.

For example, go into the Script Editor and type this script:

tell application "Finder"
   get name
end tell

When you run this script, here's what appears in the results field:

"Finder"

This is the value of the name property of the Finder. If you are running Panther, here's the result of the command get version:

"10.3"

Here's an interesting one. First, do a get startup disk:

startup disk of application "Finder"

Now do a get name of startup disk:

"Macintosh HD"

See the difference? Startup disk is a reference to the startup disk, whereas name of startup disk is a string containing the name of the startup disk. If you look in Figure 1, you'll see that startup disk is of type disk. The disk class is defined in the Containers and folders suite. The class is shown in Figure 2. Notice that the dictionary shows the plural form of disk as disks. The dictionary also shows the elements and properties of the disk class.


Figure 2. The disk class entries of the Containers and folders suite.

Try the command get format of startup disk. Remember, format is a property of the disk class and startup disk is defined as being of class disk. Here's the result on my Mac:

Mac OS Extended format

Now try get journaling enabled of startup disk. Here's the result:

true

As you might expect, Boolean properties return either true or false. The command get ignore privileges of startup disk returns:

false

Finder Basics - Elements

Go back to Figure 1 and take a look at the elements in the Finder Basics suite. These are the objects that you might expect the Finder to encounter. What do you think the result will be of running this script:

tell application "Finder"
   get items
end tell

It helps to have a sense of the item class. An item is basically a generic object - pretty much anything that could exist in a Finder window or on the desktop. Here's the result I got when I ran the script on my Mac:

{startup disk of application "Finder", disk "Macintosh HD" of application 
"Finder", folder "AE Monitor 1.0" of desktop of application "Finder", document file 
"DSC_0751.JPG" of desktop of application "Finder", folder "InDesign CS Example Scripts" 
of desktop of application "Finder", folder "UI Element Inspector" of desktop of application 
"Finder", alias file "Warcraft III" of desktop of application "Finder", folder "wedding_pics" 
of desktop of application "Finder", document file "Xcode notes" of desktop of application "Finder"}

Look through this list of items. Note the curly braces, necessary to making this a proper list. Take a look at the nomenclature, especially the use of the word "of" all over the place. Think containers/enclosures, items within items within items.

Figure 2 shows the listing of the Finder items suite in a dictionary window. Check out the list of properties. Note that an item has an index. Look in the list of items in the previous list, returned by the get items command. What do you think will happen when I run the command get item 2. Here's my result:

disk "Macintosh HD" of application "Finder"


Figure 3. The item class in the Finder items suite.

As you might expect, get item 2 returns the second item in the list returned by get items. Now, what do you suppose you'd get from this command:

get container of item 2

In my case, I got:

folder "Dave Mark's Computer" of application "Finder"

Brave New Make

So far, all we've done is suck information out of the Finder. Let's try making something.

In the Finder's dictionary window, click on the Commands line in the Standard Suite. The commands supported by all subsequent suites are listed. One of these is the make command. The details are shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4. Details on the make command.

Here's a script to create a new folder at the current insertion location (the desktop).

tell application "Finder"
   make new folder with properties {name:"blap"}
end tell

This tells the Finder to create a new folder at the current insertion location (since I didn't specify a new location) with the specified properties. Since I only specified a single property, this will be pretty simple. I ran this script and a new folder named "blap" appeared on my desktop. Here's the result returned by my script:

folder "blap" of folder "Desktop" of folder "davemark" of folder "Users" 
of startup disk of application "Finder"

Does this make sense? You can see the containment hierarchy as it walks its way out from the new folder to the top of my hard drive and Finder itself.

Now that "blap" exists, let's try running the script again. Hrm. As you can see in Figure 5, we got an error, telling us that the folder already exists.


Figure 5. An error is reported when I try creating a folder that already exists. Hrm.

Having Script Editor report the error is very useful if you are testing your script or just playing. But if you deliver this script as a compiled entity to a user, you'll want the program to handle the errors itself. Here's a new version of the script:

tell application "Finder"
   try
      make new folder with properties {name:"blap"}
   on error error_message
      display dialog error_message
   end try
end tell

Running this script produces the dialog shown in Figure 6. Much better. Now the script uses a try block and a corresponding on error block to pass the incoming error message to the display dialog command.


Figure 6. A simple error dialog.

Here's the result of running this script (I clicked the OK button):

{button returned:"OK"}

Till Next Month...

Hopefully, you are getting a bit more familiar with the AppleScript Finder dictionary and the way you can take advantage of properties, elements, and commands. Now that you have a sense of the Finder, open up some other dictionaries. A great one to play with is the TextEdit dictionary. A lovely place to create text elements and copy them to the clipboard for use in other applications. Try your hand at manipulating TextEdit. See what you can do with it.

We will return to AppleScript at some point (I love it too much not to) but next month's column is going back to Cocoa. I am heading down to Atlanta to Aaron Hillegass' Big Nerd Ranch for a week of intensive Cocoa training. I am very excited about this. Model View Controller, Model View Controller. See you next month! J


Dave Mark is a long-time Mac developer and author and has written a number of books on Macintosh development, including Learn C on the Macintosh, Learn C++ on the Macintosh, and The Macintosh Programming Primer series. Be sure to check out Dave's web site at http://www.spiderworks.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Day One 4.15.3 - Maintain a daily journa...
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
Backblaze 7.0.1.450 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $6 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Visual Studio Code 1.47.0 - Cross-platfo...
Visual Studio Code provides developers with a new choice of developer tool that combines the simplicity and streamlined experience of a code editor with the best of what developers need for their... Read more
Apple Pages 10.1 - Apple's word pro...
Apple Pages is a powerful word processor that gives you everything you need to create documents that look beautiful. And read beautifully. It lets you work seamlessly between Mac and iOS devices, and... Read more
Shimo 5.0.2 - VPN client for everyone.
Shimo is the most versatile VPN client for OS X and it enables really everybody to master secure network. It supports more protocols than any other VPN application out there! CiscoVPN, AnyConnect,... Read more
Yasu 6.0.1 - System maintenance app.
Note: Yasu is not being sold anymore and is listed only for people who had purchased it in the past. Yasu was created with system administrators who service large groups of workstations in mind, Yasu... Read more
Keynote 10.1 - Apple's presentation...
Easily create gorgeous presentations with the all-new Keynote, featuring powerful yet easy-to-use tools and dazzling effects that will make you a very hard act to follow. The Theme Chooser lets you... Read more
Numbers 10.1 - Apple's spreadsheet...
With Apple Numbers, sophisticated spreadsheets are just the start. The whole sheet is your canvas. Just add dramatic interactive charts, tables, and images that paint a revealing picture of your data... Read more
Capture One 13.1.1.24 - RAW workflow sof...
Capture One is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 400 high-end cameras -- straight out of the box. It offers... 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

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Marvel Duel, NetEase's promising ca...
Marvel Duel, NetEase's collectable card battler, has now opened for pre-registration in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. [Read more] | Read more »
PUBG Mobile teams up with Yamaha for a l...
PUBG Mobile has had various collaborations with various companies since it first burst onto the scene. The latest sees the popular battle royale title teaming up with vehicle and marine products company Yamaha, meaning players can take one of... | Read more »
Marvel Super War launches its third seas...
Marvel Super War, NetEase's popular MOBA, has kicked off its third season today, introducing its Zone Invasion beta and an all-new playable superhero. [Read more] | Read more »
Brave Dungeon, Unlock Games' idle-R...
Brave Dungeon, Unlock Games' idle-RPG and auto chess title, has been downloaded over 1 million times since it launched last week. To commemorate reaching this milestone the developers have decided to host a series of in-game events. [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 »
Steam Link Spotlight - Disco Elysium
Steam Link Spotlight is a feature where we look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry was Signs of the Sojourner Read about how it plays using Steam Link over here. | 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 »
Pokemon Go's July Community Day wil...
Pokemon Go developers have announced the details concerning the upcoming Gastly Community Day. This particular event was selected by the players of the game after the Gas Pokemon came in second place after a poll that decided which Pokemon would... | 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 »
Detective Di is a point-and-click murder...
Detective Di is a point-and-click murder mystery set in Tang Dynasty-era China. You'll take on the role of China's best-known investigator, Di Renjie, as he solves a series of grisly murders that will ultimately lead him on a collision course with... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend Sale: Woot offers clearance MacBook,...
Amazon-owned Woot is blowing out a wide range of MacBooks, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Pros starting at only $389. All models are open-box returns, and according to Woot, “these MacBooks are in New-... Read more
Apple’s 2020 Mac minis on sale for up to $100...
B&H Photo has Apple’s 2020 Mac minis on sale today for $40-$100 off MSRP, each including free expedited delivery for many US addresses. These are the same Mac minis sold by Apple in their retail... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 10.5″ iPad Airs fo...
Apple has restocked 10.5″ WiFI iPad Airs models for up to $100 off MSRP, Certified Refurbished. Each iPad comes with Apple’s standard one-year warranty and includes a new outer case. Shipping is free... Read more
B&H Photo offers $200-$300 discounts on A...
B&H Photo has new 16″ MacBook Pros on sale today for $200-$300 off Apple’s MSRP, starting at $2149. Expedited shipping is free to many addresses in the US: – 2019 16″ 2.6GHz 6-Core MacBook Pro... Read more
Clearance 2019 15″ MacBook Pros on sale today...
Amazon-owned Woot is blowing out Apple refurbished, clearance 2019 15″ MacBook Pros starting at only $1579 and up to $950 off Apple’s original MSRP. According to Woot, “These MacBooks are Refurbished... Read more
Apple Refurbished iMac Pros available for $35...
Amazon-owned Woot is selling Apple refurbished 27″ 3.2GHz 8-Core iMac Pros for $3599.99 shipped. That’s $1400 off Apple’s original MSRP for this model. According to Woot, these iMac Pros are “Factory... Read more
Clearance 2019 13″ 2.4GHz/256GB MacBook Pro o...
B&H Photo has dropped their price on the clearance 2019 13″ 2.4GHz/256GB Quad-Core Silver MacBook Pro by $500 off Apple’s original MSRP to a new low of only $1299. Expedited shipping is free to... Read more
$219 Apple AirPods Pro are back at Verizon, s...
Verizon has Apple AirPods Pro on sale again for a limited time for $219.99 on their online store. Their price is $30 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s the lowest price we’ve seen for AirPods Pro. Available... Read more
Apple’s $779 13″ MacBook Air deal returns to...
Apple has clearance, Certified Refurbished, 2019 13″ MacBook Airs available again starting at $779. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with a standard Apple one-year warranty, and is... Read more
$200 13″ MacBook Pro discounts are back at Am...
Amazon has 2020 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pros on sale again today for $150-$200 off Apple’s MSRP. Shipping is free. Be sure to purchase the MacBook Pro from Amazon, rather than a third-party seller, and... Read more

Jobs Board

Geek Squad Advanced Repair *Apple* Professi...
**769390BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Advanced Repair Apple Professional **Job Category:** Store Associates **Store Number or Department:** 000580-Reading-Store 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
Executive Team Leader Assets Protection (Assi...
…Assets Protection (Assistant Manager Loss Prevention) - Apple Valley, CaliforniaApply NowJob ID:R0000082365job family:Store Managementschedule:Full Read more
*Apple* Computing Sales Professional - Best...
**768543BR** **Job Title:** Apple Computing Sales Professional **Job Category:** Store Associates **Store Number or Department:** 002509-Riverdale-Store **Job 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.