Category Archives: Cocoa

how to script with Objective-C



Is it me, or is AppleScript experiencing something of an Indian Summer? It seems everywhere I go, people are talking more about macOS automation, AppleScript and even Apple’s curious hybrid syntax AppleScriptObjC (ASObjC).

Of course, some people have suffered miserably at the hands of AppleScript in the past, and even though the thought of scripting with access to Cocoa APIs through Objective-C is tempting, they fear the AppleScript side of it.

If that’s you, bear in mind that AppleScriptObjC isn’t really “AppleScript + Objective-C” at all. It is actually just a dialect of Objective-C that will be accepted in the (Apple)Script Editor and can be run by an instance of the AppleScript component. In plainer English, you can use Objective-C in an AppleScript without any AppleScript whatsoever!

The point of doing so would be that one could package Objective-C code in a .scpt file (or scptd bundle or AppleScript .app), and also mix whatever scripting language you prefer with calls to Cocoa’s APIs.*

The problem that using ASObjC presents anyone familiar with Objective-C is how to translate ‘pure’ Objective-C into the dialect that Script Editor (and other applescript runners like FastScripts, Keyboard Maestro, Automator, etc) can understand. If you use LateNight Software’s Script Debugger for scripting, you’ll already know that the work is done for you by the app’s built-in code completion. If you’re battling on in Apple’s default Script Editor, you’ll need to do the translation manually.

By way of example, then, here’s some original Objective-C, and below it, a translation that would work in Script Editor:

Objective C
NSString *aString = @"hello";
NSString *bString = @" world";

aString = [aString stringByAppendingString:bString];

NSUserNotification *notif = [[NSUserNotification alloc] init];
notif.informativeText = aString;
[[NSUserNotificationCenter defaultUserNotificationCenter] deliverNotification:notif];


AppleScriptObjC
set aString to NSString's stringWithString:"hello"
set bString to NSString's stringWithString:" world"

set aString to aString's stringByAppendingString:bString

set notif to NSUserNotification's alloc's init
set notif's informativeText to aString
NSUserNotificationCenter's defaultUserNotificationCenter()'s deliverNotification:notif


As you can see, there’s a direct 1-to-1 correspondence, with the 6 statements in Objective-C paralleled by the 6 statements in AppleScriptObjC.

The main peculiarity is the use of possessive word forms and that variable attribution is done by using "set X to Y" rather than "X = Y". Type declaration is done via the idiom 'set <var> to <NSObject>'s <class init method>', which returns an instance of the object just as it would normally. You call instance methods by putting the instance in front of the method just as you would in regular Objective-C (e.g, see line 3 of the examples).

As you can see in the screenshot below showing Xcode and Script Editor, they work in the same way. You’ll notice in Script Editor there is a 'use' statement (equivalent to Objective-C’s ‘import’), and there’s also a whole load of property statements. These latter are peculiar to the ASObjC translation, and don’t have a counterpart in pure Objective-C. All you need to know about these is for each kind of Objective-C object you want to use (NSString, NSArray, whatever*), you’ll want a property statement for it at the beginning of the script. The statement always has the same form:

property <NSObject> : a reference to current application's < NSObject>

I think the best way to think of ASObjC was recently summed up by Sal Saghoian, when he said that ASObjC is “…the ultimate duct tape. You can do anything you want with ASObjC. You own the computer.”

Enjoy! 🙂

*not all Cocoa frameworks nor all Objective-C objects can be bridged to, but pretty much all the most useful ones are available.



Further reading:

– Applehelpwriter’s review of Script Debugger 6
how to quickly toggle Swift Compiler warnings



Picture credits: Top image adapted from MilleniumBirdge by lesogard

applescript: get item number of list item

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 21.45.31

One of the annoying ‘missing features’ in AppleScript is the lack of any way to get the item number of an item in a list.

Fortunately, since Cocoa does of course include an ‘indexOfObject’ function, we can leverage Cocoa in our AppleScript to write a nice little handler (you could add this to my list and string handlers library I posted here or just add it directly in your own scripts).

First, make sure your script or library already has two lines like these to import the Foundation framework and declare an NSArray:

use framework "Foundation"

property NSArray : a reference to current application's NSArray

Then after that add the handler:

on getIndexOfItem:anItem inList:aList
set anArray to NSArray's arrayWithArray:aList
set ind to ((anArray's indexOfObject:anItem) as number) + 1 # see note below
if ind is greater than (count of aList) then
display dialog "Item '" & anItem & "' not found in list." buttons "OK" default button "OK" with icon 2 with title "Error"
return 0
else
return ind
end if
end getIndexOfItem:inList:

You can now call the code like this:

# example
set thisList to {"I", "see", "a", "red", "door", "and", "I", "want", "to", "paint", "it", "black"}
set aNum to its getIndexOfItem:"paint" inList:thisList
(* Result --> 10 *)
if aNum is not 0 then
-- do something
end if

# Note: Remember AppleScript lists are indexed from 1, unlike Cocoa arrays which start at index 0.

Enjoy! 🙂

Hack That Mac 2: Bash & Root

Hack That Mac 1: Who’s who

Using Cocoa in AppleScript

news: sqwarq app updates

Just a quick post to let y’all know of a couple of updates to my apps.

1. OSXClock v1.8 has got a few new features including a handy ghost mode and variable transparency. Even better, I’ve removed the time-limit on the demo version, so you can now use OSXClock for free indefinitely (well, if that’s not an excuse to download it I don’t know what is… 🙂 ).

2. DetectX v1.21 now has the ability to trash files found in the search. I didn’t really want to add this, but so many users were having problems finding the invisible files belonging to MacKeeper I didn’t really have much choice. Note that the “Trash” function may require entering an admin password for each and every file that is outside of the user domain. DetectX is, of course, free to download and use, though donations are appreciated if you find it useful.

3. App Fixer is now out of beta and into first public release, version 1.0. Along the way it’s added a couple of extra fixes for Safari browser hijacks.

Enjoy! 🙂

how to learn more about error codes

OSStatus.com


Scripters and coders are forever battling errors, and access to information on Apple’s error codes is always a bit of a hunt and dig around header files or documentation. Now thanks to Seth Willits from Araelium group, there’s a handy free search tool to spare us the effort.

I’ve already got osstatus.com bookmarked. Thanks Seth! 🙂


Cocoa: how to show a popover under selected text

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 20.49.31

Showing a popover underneath a piece of selected text is a trick widely made use of across OSX, not least in Xcode itself, but also in many other apps. In this post we’re going to look at a simple way to achieve this effect.

1. First of all, in IB drag out a Popover and View Controller and drop them in the Document Outline area. Drag a custom view to the canvas, and hook them all up thus:

Popover’s Outlets
delegate –> App Delegate (or class that will control the Popover)

Popover View Controller’s Outlets
view –> Custom View

Click the Popover object in the Outline area, and in the Attributes Inspector, set the Behaviour to Transient.

In the appDelegate.h file, or the .h file of the class that will control your popover, include the PopoverDelegate in the @interface declaration:

@interface AppDelegate : NSObject <NSApplicationDelegate, NSPopoverDelegate>

2. Still in the header file, you need to make sure the window that the NSTextView is in has a View outlet in its header file.

@property (weak) IBOutlet NSView *aView;

For my purposes, I just have a single window in the appDelegate class, so I just created a view property by control-dragging out of the Window’s view object to the header file. You’ll need to switch to the dual-view Assistant editor to do this:

viewProperty

While you’ve got the Assistant editor open, drag out an outlet from the Popover to the .h file and name it ‘popover’. Finally, in the same way create a similar outlet for your TextView.

4. Next, go into the implementation .m file for the appDelegate (or you class). You’ll need an IBAction to trigger the showing of the popover. In my case, I have an ‘Enter’ button the user hits after making a selection attached to a method I called enterSelection:(NSButton *)sender.

In this method, I first get the rect for the user’s selection with:

NSRect rect = [_textView firstRectForCharacterRange:[_textView selectedRange] actualRange:NULL];

That will return a rect in screen coordinates for the selected text. However, I need to convert that into the window’s coordinates with:

NSRect converted = [_window convertRectFromScreen:rect];

Now we’re ready to call the popover by supplying this rect to the first parameter and the View property we created earlier to the second parameter:

[self.popover showRelativeToRect:converted ofView: _aView preferredEdge:NSMinYEdge];

And that’s it. Your popover should show underneath the selected text whenever your method gets called. If you want to see how this is done step by step in Xcode, check out the video:


 

How to track app use with OSXClock

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 17.45.36
OSXClock just got a major update, adding a productivity log that helps you to track how much time you spend actively using each app on your mac.

I wrote an ad-hoc AppleScript to do this sometime ago that proved pretty popular, but I wasn’t satisfied with either the code or the interface. OSXClock improves on that by tapping directly into Cocoa’s API and by offering a more attractive display.

OSXClock is currently on offer for only $2.99. Lots more exciting features are planned for future updates, so now’s a good time to get with the program, folks! 🙂

*OSXClock requires OSX Yosemite

how to view nib files as xml (or not)

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.19.50



Xcode being the vast IDE that it is, it’s sometimes the simplest things that flummox you. It’s rare that I ever want to look at the XML code for any of my interface files, unless I’m copying one from one project to another or hunting down some forgotten outlet that’s throwing a warning. But when I do, I invariably forget how to get back to IB view.

If that’s you, fortunately it’s easy to return to the Interface Builder view from the source code view. Just right-click (aka ‘Control click’) on your nib file in the project navigator sidebar and choose “Open as…” and “Interface Builder XIB Document”. Unlike myself, you’ll remember that for next time, too (me, I’ll be looking for this post again in six months time! 🙂 ).



Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 08.25.23


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