Here I Am At MACWORLD, Where’s AppleScript?

| Editorial

MACWORLD New York-the booths are packed, I see a new product everywhere I turn, and I can feel everyoneis excitement; however, something is missing: AppleScript.

One of the big reasons I came to the show was to get the scoop on the latest AppleScript news. I have to admit that Iim a bit disappointed with the presence of AppleScript at the Expo.

I only saw one demo of AppleScript Studio while browsing through Appleis booth. I was hoping this new tool for development would be featured at this show. Aside from the workshops and conferences, which simply donit have the capacity for many people to attend, AppleScript Studio was rarely mentioned. AppleScript has been promoted as an alternate user interface for Mac OS X, so I expected to see how AppleScript would interact with Jaguar, iChat, iCal, and iSync but rarely was AppleScript mentioned.

I was excited to learn of the return of Folder Actions (the ability to attach a script to a folder) but when I asked Apple representatives about the feature they only gave me a puzzled look and asked, "Oh, do you mean spring loaded folders?"

Fortunately, Sal Soghoian, Appleis AppleScript Product Manager, gave me an intensive overview of folder actions and reassured me that all of its features from Mac OS 9 are now on Mac OS X. However, it would have been nice for anyone to have been able to ask anyone demoing Jaguar -- it would be reassuring to know that Apple wanted to make sure everyone knew about this feature.

Another aspect of Jaguar I was excited to learn more about was Appleis digital hub. When you plug in your iPod, camera, or hard drive, it will appear or your desktop ready to be used. In Jaguar, the user could attach an AppleScript to the device that would be run when it appears. This would be very useful to automatically download photos, transfer music, or make a quick backup. Unfortunately, I learned this feature had been taken out hopefully to be released in a later version. Perhaps it wasnit ready for show time or Apple didnit see a need for it. I hope the reason for its removal was not the latter. If you think this would be a feature you would use, write to Apple via feedback and tell them.

Of Appleis new "i" applications, iCal is the only one that is scriptable. While this is a step forward, I do not believe it is a big enough step. I will continue to use AOLis AIM client instead of iChat because of AOLis wonderful AppleScript support. When a friend signs on, I can have it recorded in a log file, have the screen name be spoken, automatically send a message, or put up an away notice. I find this extremely useful and donit understand why a company cannot incorporate its own technology into its software. Again with iSync, yes you can schedule synchronizations, but with AppleScript you could have your program make decisions and exercise control that a regular scheduled sync would not have.

In my search for AppleScript news, I discovered some very good news about AppleScript and iDVD. Check out http://www.apple.com/applescript/idvd/. There you will find a multitude of scripts that will create custom shows and templates based on your files. You will also be able to align, arrange, and precisely move buttons in iDVD using AppleScript. All these features are completely controlled by AppleScript and enhance the program that came with your Mac. These are feature that users have asked Apple to include in iDVD, and itis good to know that Apple decided to use AppleScript to quickly and cleanly add these features. This clearly demonstrates the power of AppleScript and Appleis support for the technology.

AppleScriptis presence, or lack thereof, was also felt when I visited other vendors. Donit hold your breath for AppleScript support in the next version of Tech Tool Pro. While people should be able to take advantage of AppleScript if they were trying to do routine maintenance on a network of hundreds of machines, they cannot because Tech Tool Pro does not support AppleScript. It is one of the features Micromat is planning to add but when and how thoroughly are still questions with no answers.

Luckily, the publishing industry is still a huge advocate of AppleScript. File Maker Pro 6is AppleScript support helps it keep its position as one of the top database programs around. It is easy to make records, store information, and put the data from the database into a document. Adobe and Macromedia, two of the largest Mac developers, were not at the show. These two major companies left a large gap in the publishing and design process and hence the automatic workflow where AppleScript shines. There was no one demoing on the show floor a workflow process using AppleScript. Unless people are told how AppleScript works with these applications, they arenit going to experiment with scripting.

While AppleScript is hiding out in the corners of this expo, its not nearly being promoted as much as needed. I donit believe this because of a lack of interest from Macintosh users. When I asked people if they use AppleScript, many people said they did, even if it was just a simple script they recorded to move files. Others wished every application they owned was scriptable. I think that exhibitors have Many features to demo and AppleScript often is pushed aside, which is a shame. If people are going to take advantage of this alternate interface, they need to be given scripts that work with iChat, iCal, and iSync such as the ones provided for iDVD. They need to know about folder actions, attaching scripts to their digital devices, and AppleScript Studio. They need to have AppleScript support in 3rd party products. If AppleScript isnit promoted, supported, or made easy to use, one of Appleis best technologies will simply sit on a hard drive neglected while the owner slaves away. If you were able to uncover AppleScript at the expo, I would love to hear about any news you found.

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