Blog Archives

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

Navigation markers added to SD6

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-20-53-02

The recent update to Script Debugger 6 added a subtle, but much-needed new feature.

Now, scripters can take advantage of the same kind of navigation markers familiar to users of Xcode (pragma marks) to quickly navigate to user-defined sections of the script.

Scripters can now create a marker with a double-dash and double arrow marker, followed by whatever label they choose.

-->> myMarker here!

For me, this is a great boon, and I’ve changed all the section headings in my templates to the new navigation marker syntax, meaning I can easily jump to the various sections from the Navigation bar at the top of the script.

Nice! 🙂

Further Reading:
Script Debugger 6: The Complete Review


applescript: remove characters from a string

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 18.01.54

One of the things I’m often finding myself doing is trying to remove characters from strings, particularly html codes and other markdown clutter. Rather than laboriously messing around with offsets and the like, we can make our lives simpler by making a quick handler that leverages Cocoa’s stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString method.

For example, suppose you’ve got a sourceString containing something like this

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 18.08.57

We can strip all the tags out by calling our handler like this, once for the opening tags and again for the closing tags. Note how the variable names have changed in the second call:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 18.13.06

The beauty of this is it doesn’t just remove one instance of the tag, it removes all occurrences of them, so this handler is a real life-saver when you’ve got a whole page of markdown to clean.

To achieve this you’ll need to add a couple of declarations to the top of your script, as well as the handler:

Here’s the declarations you’ll need:

use scripting additions
use framework "Foundation"
property NSString : a reference to current application's NSString

Here’s the code for the handler:

on remove:remove_string fromString:source_string
set s_String to NSString's stringWithString:source_string
set r_String to NSString's stringWithString:remove_string
return s_String's stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:r_String withString:""
end remove:fromString:

Enjoy! 🙂

ejecting some, all or just specified disks

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 13.06.32

We posted this one liner some time ago in response to the fact that you can’t actually get the Finder to eject all volumes on multiple drives at the same time.

However, I thought it’d be good to have a slightly more useful version. In this version, you can choose individual volumes or all volumes from a list. Optionally, you could also include collections.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 13.36.56
Suppose for example you wanted to eject one volume from one physical drive along with one from another and two from a third? To do that, just uncomment these two lines and supply your own volume names in the collection_1 list:

--if you want to create an item that groups some volumes together uncomment the following two lines:
# set collection_1 to {"Archive 1.5TB", "BUFFALO 500GB", "This disk", "That disk", "Another disk"} -- supply as many disks names you want to group together here
# set diskList to {"All Disks", "Disk Group 1"}
Then, when you run the script, choose ‘Disk Group 1’ to eject that collection of volumes. You could of course adapt the script to include more than one collection.

You can get the full script from my pastebin here.

Enjoy! 🙂

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! 🙂

Using Cocoa in AppleScript

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…


how to see active internet connections

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 15.55.56.png

I was playing around with some ways of detecting active network connections to add as a function in one of my apps — didn’t really work out, so far — but as I was prototyping the code in AppleScript I came up with this little ditty which some of you might be able to make use of:

1. Open the Script Editor

2. Paste the code below into it and hit ‘Run’

#start of script

on getConnections()

set theCmd to "lsof +c 0 -i -n | grep -i established | cut -d \" \" -f 1 | awk '!_[$0]++'"

set theMsg to (do shell script theCmd)

display dialog "The following apps & processes are actively using your internet connection: " & return & return & theMsg with title "Net Tattler" buttons {"Refresh", "OK"} default button "OK"

set theRes to button returned of the result as string

if theRes = "Refresh" then

getConnections()

end if

end getConnections

getConnections()

#eof

 

If you need more information than just the names of the process, you can play around in Terminal with lsof -iHere’s a great little tutorial.

For something a bit more heavy-duty, check out either Little Snitch or Charles Web Debugging Proxy, both of which are paid-apps but offer free trials. If even those aren’t enough to satisfy your network monitoring desires, head on over to MurusFirewall.com and check out their packet filter GUI offerings for the Mac.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the folks over at Etresoft for additional suggestions.

how to use AppleScript to help you use AppleScript!

AppleScript search tool


Learning AppleScript can be frustrating. You need a good book, lots of patience, and core documentation like the AppleScript Language Guide and the annual release notes, but most of all you’re going to need access to instant advice. It’s in this last respect that we’re going to build a helpful little AppleScript tool to help us solve AppleScript problems.

The two best places to get help from are Apple’s AppleScript mail list and MacScripter. So, basically, we’re going to combine a couple of tools that you’ve already got (or can get for free) on your mac into a single keystroke-activated, dedicated search engine. When finished, we’ll be able to do something as simple as pressing cmd-ctl-S, type in a short search term like “display dialog” and get specific results for AppleScript.

Our tool basically relies on that fact that in Google you can do site specific searches by using the site: keyword. We’ll then add a couple of AppleScript-specific choices and use a free tool, Red Sweater’s FastScripts, to allow us to assign an easy shortcut (you could assign the keyboard shortcut without FastScripts using Mac’s Services menu, but FastScripts is a great tool you should have anyway if you’re using AppleScript, so now’s a good time to go get it!).

To get started, let’s open Script Editor and start a new script. Our script is really short, and not very complicated, here it is:


set theChoices to display dialog "Search for what?" default answer "" with title "AppleScript Search" buttons {"Cancel", "ASUsersList", "MacScripter"} default button "MacScripter"

set searchTerm to the text returned of the theChoices
set theSite to button returned of theChoices
tell application "Safari"

  activate

  if theSite = "ASUsersList" then
   search the web for "site:http://lists.apple.com/archives/applescript-users " & searchTerm
  else
   search the web for "site:http://macscripter.net " & searchTerm
  end if
end tell

Run the script now, and try a couple of searches. I’ve plugged in MacScripter and ASUsers List, you might like to play with a “choose from list” and add stackOverflow, OS X Technologies or any other sites you know of. Not sure how to do that? OK, try searching for “choose from list” with your new tool, and you’ll soon find out how!

Once you’re finished with the script, use FastScripts or Services to create a shortcut. Now, the next time you’re working in Script Editor and get stuck writing a script or keep stalling over some persistent error message, just hit your shortcut and type in an appropriate search term.

Fast and simple! Automation, that’s what it’s all about!

Addendum: If you’re feeling very ambitious and want to combine several sites into one set of search results, Google allows you to set up your own personal search engine for free.


how to easily import images into new Photos.app

scripting Photos



So with 10.10.3 and Apple’s new Photos’s app, people have been asking how to easily import whole folder’s worth of images into it. Here’s a nice little AppleScript that’ll do it for you very easily. Just plonk the code into Script Editor and hit the run button. 🙂



Click the image below to get the code ꜜ Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 20.08.31

Here’s the unformatted code that you can cut and paste into Script Editor, or get if from my pastebin here:

--import images from a folder into Photos.app
-- by Applehelwriter 2015 -- requires Yosemite 10.10.3

set importFolder to choose folder

set extensionsList to {"jpg", "png", "tiff"}
tell application "Finder" to set theFiles to every file of importFolder whose name extension is in extensionsList

if (count of theFiles) < 1 then
display dialog "No images selected!" buttons "OK"
else
display dialog "Create a new album with name" default answer "Imports"
set albumName to text returned of the result
set timeNow to time string of (current date)
set today to date string of (current date)
set albumName to albumName & " " & timeNow & " " & today
set imageList to {} repeat with i from 1 to number of items in theFiles
set this_item to item i of theFiles as alias
set the end of imageList to this_item
end repeat

tell application "Photos"
activate
delay 2
import imageList into (make new album named albumName) skip check duplicates yes
end tell

end if

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