Category Archives: Developer

Script Debugger 6: the complete review

SD Shot 2

It feels like cheating. When you’ve spent pretty much your entire AppleScripting life behind the wheel of Apple’s austere Script Editor application, taking Script Debugger 6 out for a 20-day spin feels like someone’s let you in on a secret you’re not supposed to know. Hurdles you’ve taught yourself to clear – through considerable effort, frustration and no small amount of bloody-minded tenacity – are removed before you get to them; obstacles you’ve habitually steered around or avoided have disappeared, and dark holes of AppleScript mystery appear, in the light shone on them by SD6, to be not the menacing entities you once feared but new friends that offer ways to do things faster and more effectively. The secret that Script Debugger seems to lay bare is that AppleScripting doesn’t have to be as painful as we’ve been conditioned to believe. And that does feel like a cheat. Read the full review…

learning the Terminal: Part Three

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 15.24.53
It’s been a while since we last posted about Terminal tips and tricks, but a question popped up today about how to discover what tools are available on the command line.

Most of the tools you use in Terminal are located in /usr/bin, and we can use a nifty little tool from there to find out about all its friends. The whatis tool gives you a one-liner description of what a tool does. If it looks interesting, you can find out more about the tool by typing man and the tool’s name on the command line to see its help manual.

On my current machine, there’s over 1000 tools in /usr/bin, and life is just too short to go through them all doing whatis on each and every one, so we’ll combine a bit of command line power with some AppleScript magic, and produce a nice, easy-to-scroll output of all the summaries like the one in the screenshot above.

Copy the script below (or from my pastebin here) and paste it into the Script Editor (/Applications/Utilities/Script Click the ▶︎ button to run it.

This script took about 1m 30 seconds to run on my machine, but you only need to run it once then save the output. Browse or search through it at your own convenience. 🙂

The script will choose TextWrangler for display if you have it installed; if not, it’ll default to TextEdit. The display is much nicer in TextWrangler, but if you’re stuck with TextEdit, turning off ‘Check Spelling’ in TextEdit will aid readability.

# start 


This script produces a summary of all the CLI tools 

in /usr/bin and displays it in a text document 


set noDocsList to {}

on extractDescription(aText)

repeat with i from 1 to count of items in aText

set this_item to item i of aText

if this_item contains "NNAAMMEE" then

set r to item (i + 1) of aText


set o to offset of "" in r

set short_r to text (o + 1) thru -1 of r

set r to short_r

end try

return r

end if

end repeat

end extractDescription

set theDescriptions to return & return & "**********************************" & return & "SUMMARY OF CLI TOOLS (Version 2)" & return & "**********************************" & return & return & return

tell application "System Events"

set theItems to name of every file of folder "bin" of folder "usr" of startup disk

end tell

repeat with i from 1 to count of theItems

set this_item to item i of theItems

set n_item to length of this_item


set what_is to do shell script "whatis " & this_item

if text 1 thru n_item of what_is is this_item and what_is does not contain "nothing appropriate" then

set theDescriptions to theDescriptions & return & what_is & return



set getMan to paragraphs of (do shell script "man " & this_item)

set desc to extractDescription(getMan)

set what_is to this_item & tab & tab & tab & tab & desc

set theDescriptions to theDescriptions & return & what_is & return

on error

set end of my noDocsList to this_item & return

end try

end if

end try

end repeat

set theApp to "TextEdit"

tell application "Finder"

if exists POSIX file "/Applications/" then

set theApp to "TextWrangler"

end if

end tell

set theDescriptions to theDescriptions & return & return & return & "The following tools do not have any documentation: " & return & return & noDocsList

tell application theApp


make new document

set front document's text to my theDescriptions

end tell

# EOF 

WWDC: get it for free (OSXClock)

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 20.31.55

Apple’s WWDC 2016 conference is about to start. Is it the end of OSX? Rumours are widespread that the venerable old operating system is about to change its name to macOS.

Right or wrong, commiserate or celebrate, we thought we’d mark the occasion by giving away free copies of the full-paid version of our

The offer is already up and live and will continue to be available until WWDC 2016 closes on the 17th.

We’ve also just released an update to OSXClock yesterday adding world time zones, so there’s no better time to take advantage of this giveaway.

Enjoy! 🙂

how to learn more about error codes

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 bookmarked. Thanks Seth! 🙂

how to get Eclipse and Java to play on Yosemite


If you’re trying to launch the Eclipse IDE with Apple’s old 1.6 JDK installed and find that you’re having trouble updating your Java installation, try the following procedure.

1. Remove Apple’s JRE
First up, let’s get rid of the end user plug in. In Terminal, do

sudo rm -rf /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin

2. Remove Apple’s JDK
Next, we need to uninstall the Java Development Kit. Do not mess about in the System’s Frameworks/JavaVM.framework folders. You’ll need those. Rather, in Terminal do

sudo rm -rf /System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk

If you’ve got later versions of the JDK (like 1.7), change the file name in the above command appropriately.

3. Install Oracle’s JDK for Mac
Next go to the Oracle Java page and look for the latest JDK. It’s important that you get the JDK for developers and NOT the JRE for end-users if you want to use Eclipse.

Download and run the installer. You should now be able to launch Eclipse without problems. 🙂

Picture: Eclipse by A4size-ska

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:


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 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

how to sit down safely

osxclock 1

Well, Tim Cook says sitting is the new cancer…and since I don’t envisage myself in the market for an iWatch, but do need to be reminded to get up and take a break from the desk every 60 minutes, I wrote OSXClock.

I also need a clock for displaying the time on a large screen on occasion when conducting timed-based tests. In the past, I’ve used for this, but it has a couple of disadvantages: first, you have to be connected to the internet; second, it doesn’t have an alarm or timer.

Hence, OSXClock was born, Applehelpwriter’s answer to the Apple Watch :p, and considerably cheaper! 😀

Xcode: wrap code in comment tags

While AppleScript’s Script Editor has long had a built-in function for wrapping or unwrapping code with comment tags, for some reason this seems to be missing in Xcode.

Not to worry, nothing a bit of AppleScript and Automator can’t sort out. This will work in most text editors as well as in Xcode. Here’s what it does:

Install the Service by double-clicking on the downloaded .workflow file and clicking through the dialog boxes. When it’s installed, you can assign it whatever hotkey you want in System Preferences | Keyboard | Shortcuts.

Download Toggle Comments for Selection

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 12.28.59

If you want to use it for languages that have different comment tags you can adjust the code in Automator. Likewise, it would be fairly simple to have the script detect a number of different tags and respond appropriately, but here I’ve just stuck with the /* …. */ tags.

A note on usage: when uncommenting, it’s best to ensure that the selection begins at the leading forward slash and ends at the trailing forward slash (in other words that there’s no whitespace at either end of the selection). I have built in some attempt to strip leading and trailing whitespace, but an accurate selection will always be the most reliable.

Download Toggle Comments for Selection

Enjoy 🙂

App Fixer beta now available! 💥

app fixer
I’ve just released the first beta 0.1 version of App Fixer over on my software distribution site,

App Fixer aims to help you remove corrupt preference files and window Saved States that can sometimes cause apps to crash on launch or during normal operation. Traditionally, we have to go hunting through the user library hoping to identify the correct files to remove. Now, App Fixer does it for you.

If you have an app that won’t launch or that’s behaving badly, or you just want to start with a clean slate by removing user defaults/preferences (I’m looking at you Photoshop!), App Fixer will do it for you in a click.

Grab a free copy of the beta from here:


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