AppleScript Studio has been bundled with the Mac OS X Developer Tools CD supplied with every new Mac shipped since January.
It’s a powerful tool: an easy-to-use, English-like language that can be used to automate common actions performed on the Mac. But it also offers a great deal more. Macworld UK spoke with Apple’s AppleScript Product Manager Sal Soghoian.
Soghoian loves AppleScript: “AppleScript Studio is, I think, the most ground-breaking thing Apple’s done in eight years,” he said.
“What we’ve done is make OS X a peer language of AppleScript and Java – so you can now make whole OS X applications entirely in AppleScript, or in a combination of Java, Objective C, and AppleScript.
“The power of AppleScript is now exponentially increased. It has the ability to call any API (Application Programming Interface) in the operating system – it can call Java, control the Command Line – and it’s the interface for Web services via XML. What we’ve also done is given it the ability to create any kind of Mac OS X interface using Aqua. All your Aqua buttons, lists and sliders are now available to you in AppleScript.
“We have Apple events over Internet Protocols; we also have Web services built into Apple Script – it’s phenomenal, and we have more coming up,” he promised.
Scripting powerhouse AppleScript has evolved into a powerful tool. At Macworld Expo, Tokyo last week, Apple released a number of AppleScripts for its iPod digital device. These introduce more funtionality to the product. Address Book to iPod and Entourage to iPod are both available for download from Apple’s AppleScript Studio Web site. There’s a host of other example AppleScripts online, too.
Looking forward, Soghoian revealed: “We are planning more of a push for AppleScript studio with the 1.1 release that’s forthcoming, because that’s really where we fix some of the initial problems it faced, and where we expand its abilities some.”
Apple has been collecting end-user feedback regarding the application. Version 1.1 promises to introduce a number of key features to it, Soghoian said: “Automated list controllers, more support for the QuickTime APIs and movies, and more ability to trigger events from movies. Under-the-hood kind of things – we’re looking at putting all of that stuff in there.”
AppleScript Studio is also an interface in Apple’s WebObjects application (updated yesterday). Both applications can work together to create automated Web-publishing services.
Soghoian confirmed the company’s plans to release more AppleScripts for end-users: “They will be getting more and more Apple Scripts,” he explained.
Consumers and developers Despite the application’s potential, the company has faced challenges getting its AppleScript message across: “One of the challenges Apple’s had with AppleScript is that here you have this powerful, innovative technology – but how do you get the message out to the various types of people who could benefit from it?
“A consumer user could use it one way, and we make collections of scripts available to them. For example: iTunes scripts; Toolbar scripts; iPhoto scripts – all available online, so people can use them without having to know AppleScript.
“More sophisticated users get into using it to automate their workflows – for example, Showtime Networks just automated the production of 800-1,000 video titles per month using Media 100 and Apple Script – you’re looking at major savings there. AppleScript can be used at any level.”
The AppleScript product manager is particularly pleased with Apple’s recently posted iPhoto tour AppleScript. He said: “One of the things we’ve been able to post online for people to download is a floating iPhoto talking-head application that can do stuff on your computer, based on your feedback. It understands your environment, understands your commands, and can do things like find an application, open a folder, or tell you about a particular object.” The script is available for download.
“AppleScript on OS X really is the best we’ve ever shipped,” explained Soghoian. “We’ve been waiting for this for so long – now we’re a core OS technology.”
“It’s time for people that have been interested in AppleScript to really seriously look at it”, he said.