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From the Back Cover

Beginning AppleScript

AppleScript is being embraced as a key technology component in Mac OS® X. This powerful scripting language is designed primarily to help coordinate the operation of other programs, and is an ideal solution to general programming problems. In this comprehensive tutorial, expert author Stephen Kochan presents you with all the information you need to understand and efficiently write programs in AppleScript.

As you progress through the book, sample programs accompany the introduction of each new concept, enabling you to write scripts, run them, and then examine the results. In addition, exercises at the end of each chapter test your knowledge. This hands–on guide will show you just how AppleScript′s unique way of doing things differs significantly from any other programming language you′ve used.

What you will learn from this book

  • How to start up the Script Editor application, type a program, and run it
  • Various ways to work with strings, lists, records, and files
  • How AppleScript enables you to communicate easily with other applications
  • How to write scripts for iLife® applications such as iTunes®, iPhoto , and iDVD
  • Ways to plan for errors, and how to handle them when they do occur
  • How to use AppleScript Studio, which is the bridge between AppleScript and GUI applications

Who this book is for

This book is for novice programmers who want to learn how to use AppleScript for general programming applications and to automate time–consuming tasks or experienced programmers who are interested in saving time and money by using this powerful scripting tool.

About the Author

Stephen G. Kochan has been developing software and writing books for over 20 years. He is the author and coauthor of several best–selling titles on the C language, including Programming in C and Programming in ANSI C (both from Sams Publishing) , Programming C for the Mac (Macmillan Computer Publishing) , and Topics in C Programming (Wiley Publishing), as well as several Unix titles, including Exploring the Unix System and Unix Shell Programming (both Sams Publishing) , and Unix System Security (Hayden Books) . His most recent title on Mac programming is Programming in Objective–C (Sams Publishing), which is a tutorial on the primary programming language used on the Mac for application development.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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The AppleScript language evolved from a revolutionary language called HyperTalk, which was developed in 1987 by Bill Atkinson. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Finally a book about AppleScript 22 Dec. 2004
By A Mac Hobbyist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Finally a book about AppleScript that's not just for professionals. This book is for all Mac users that want to have some fun and learn how to write AppleScript programs. Kochan uses tons of examples and shows how to do some fun things, like write a guessing game, or write a program that says "Good morning" (or whatever is appropriate for the time of day). His iLife chapter shows how to write iTunes programs, and how to do things like make a photo album or DVD from a folder full of photos. This book rocks!

- A Mac Hobbyist
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A competent, well-written, friendly textbook 12 April 2007
By Eric Schonblom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm a tough grader, and four stars from me is doing very well! The bottom line is that this book is well organised, written clearly, and discusses a moderately difficult subject pleasantly and with competency.

The book fitted my background. I started programming in 1959, became proficient in FORTRAN by the mid 60's, added BASIC and LOGO when I bought my first computer a decade later, used HyperCard while it was being supported, dabbled in PASCAL, and learned too little C before retiring in 1996. When I bought this book, my last programming was ten years behind me, and modern computer languages weren't in my repertory at all.

I like a textbook approach -- clear exposition with plenty of examples, followed by problems to solve -- and Kochan provided just that. Often the examples preceded the exposition, and that worked fine, too. I prided myself on solving all the chapter-ending problems without looking at any of the solutions, and the book equipped me to do that, although a few problems in the later chapters took me a long time. Very occasionally I encountered typographical errors, but, almost always, what I had learned from the book allowed me to proceed. The point is not that there were typos here and there -- what technical manual is without them -- but that the book itself kept them from becoming an obstacle.

From the end of Chapter 4 I was able to begin using what I had learned, actually putting AppleScript to work. That provided motivation to go on and finish the book, which took three months, incidentally.

The book has an attractive layout and is blessed with an excellent table of contents, a comprehensive index, and a short list of other resources, all features of a well-written text, and all too often omitted.

Still, four stars, not five. Why? Had I bought the book when it was published in 2005, rather than in January of 2007, I might well have given five stars, but writing about current programming techniques, especially when referring to other programs -- essential in teaching AppleScript -- is aiming at a moving target, and as the author indicated would happen, the target had moved on. An example in Chapter 11 using iDVD that a 2005 reviewer praised doesn't work on the newer version of iDVD on my computer, and the gap was too big for me to bridge. Kochan warned that two web-service examples in Chapter 13 might not remain available, and one of them is gone now. Despite these glitches, both Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 are well worth reading and studying, but each has lost a useful example.

The book was unable to teach me the crontab feature in Chapter 13. I have not figured out whether a misprint, something outdated, or my own incompetence is responsible.

The publisher, Wiley, provides an errata list for the textbook on line and provides a place there to post questions; however, the site is also dated and did not help me. Most of the errata listed there came from me.

A principal purpose of AppleScript is to enable users to make more efficient use of other programs, such as Adobe PhotoShop and Apple iTunes, to name just two. This cannot be done in an elementary textbook, and Kochan illustrates what might be attempted without pretending to teach you to do it. On page 556 he cites "AppleScript, the Definitive Guide," by Matt Neuburg, saying: "This book explains many of the intricacies of the AppleScript language and is the recommended follow-up to the book you hold in your hands." I plan to find out. Neuburg's book, incidentally, wasn't suited to introduce me to AppleScript when I attempted to read it first.

The bits of outdated material listed above should not discourage you from buying and profiting from "Beginning AppleScript." I do not know a better place to start.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Good, up-to-date starting point 10 Jan. 2005
By Jack D. Herrington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Frankly the pickings for Applescript books is pretty slim. To have a new book on the subject is a welcome surprise. I would have preferred that the book had more exposition in relation to the amount of code, but that's a small gripe with what is otherwise a well written book. The basics are covered from the syntax of the language and the tools, to file management and logging. Then the author discusses scripting the common iLife applications. This is where I appreciated the up-to-date information as the other book on Applescript from O'Reilly is badly in need of an update.

I would have preferred some additional information on Applescript Studio, as this is an exciting new development for Applescript. But that is also a minor grip.

A must buy for those interested in a starting point for scripting their OS X box.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The best book out there for learning Applescript 9 Mar. 2008
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
AppleScript evolved from an 80's language called Hypertalk. AppleScript has always been the realm of only a few hardcore enthusiasts until Mac OS X came along, which made many computing solutions highly scriptable and boosted the popularity of Applescript. Of all the books I've seen on the language this is the best, especially if you're new to the language.

This book can be a bit of fun too, as it is not simply about business solutions. Instead the author shows you how to use AppleScript to make an iTunes player and create a DVD slideshow. The book teaches the language by a series of short examples, each o which demonstrates a particular programming concept - how to write a loop, how to get a list of files, etc. Each chapter ends with a series of exercises to reinforce what you've just learned with solutions in the back of the book. The following is a chapter-by-chapter run down of the book:

1. Writing Your First AppleScript Program - Covers the basics via a simple program that displays a dialog.
2. Variables, Classes, and Expressions - The nuts and bolts of writing simple AppleScript expressions.
3. Making Decisions - Deals with control flow and getting input from the user.
4. Program Looping - A guessing game program demonstrates the use of the "repeat" statement and its various forms.
5. Working with Strings - The basics of constructing, deconstructing, and inquiring about strings.
6. Working with Lists and Records - How to use the two fundamental data structures of AppleScript. Also discusses more complex structures built from these two fundamental data types.
7. Working with Files - Talks about opening, closing, and modifying files in the AppleScript language.
8. Handlers - Handlers are what you'd call functions or methods in other languages. You'll learn how to write them, how to pass and return variables, and proper form for handlers.
9. Error Handling - How to handle errors via event handling. Known as exception handling in other languages.
10. Working with Applications - Talks about the "tell" statement, which is how AppleScript communicates with application programs. This is a very important chapter, since the primary use of AppleScript is to communicate with other applications.
11. Scripting iLife Applications - A fun chapter. You write programs that interface with iPhoto, iTunes, and iDVD, three of the applications in the iLife suite.
12. Script Objects - You learn how to craft data types that are compatible with object-oriented programming concepts.
13. Loose Ends - Miscellaneous topics covered include web services, the Script Menu, GUI scripting, and recording scripts.
14. Introducing ApplesScript Studio - Learn to use AppleScript Studio to develop a fancy user interface with AppleScript as the underlying code.
Appendix A - Exercise Answers
Appendix B - Language Reference
Appendix C - Resources

Highly recommended for the beginning AppleScript programmer, but that doesn't mean you'll come away with from this book with just beginner's skills.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
It's About Time, and It's a Good Book 29 Jan. 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's interesting to see just how powerful AppleScript has become. Initially scripting languages were not well suited for general purpose programming because they lacked too many features and/or were too inefficient. Both of these constraints have gone away. Computers are so powerful, the inefficiency doesn't matter. And the languages have gotten enough features that in many cases AppleScript works just fine as a solution to a general programming problem.

It's about time for this book. Up until now the information about AppleScript has been thin. Now this tutorial has been published to explain the use of the language. I like Mr. Kochan's writing style. He starts off having you write a program. If you type it the way he says, the program has a bug in it. (Kind of like my programs.) That way, about the first thing you see is how AppleScript reports an error. With that out of the way, you can move on to learning the language.

It's quite a comprehensive book, talking about things like classes of variables, there's quite a bit on string manipulation. Of course all the usual things like logic, loops, files and so on. He saves the description of AppleScript Studio until the end of the book, that way you learn more about the language itself and are ready when Studio comes in to help make the task so much easier.
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