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Issue 2.6


Book: AppleScript: The Definitive Guide

Issue: 2.6 (July/August 2004)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,210
Starting Page Number: 9
Article Number: 2605
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Full text of article...

AppleScript is often closer to a torture device than a programming language, but sometimes you just have to use it. That essentially means you need a book, because AppleScript is incomprehensible without a guide. REALbasic guru (and frequent RBD contributor) Matt Neuburg to the rescue.

Like Matt's other "Definitive Guides" (Frontier and REALbasic), this book is not a tutorial. It is a reference book designed for using when you need help.

One of the key problems with AppleScript is that much of the language is defined by individual applications: the syntax for scripting Word may not work for Quark XPress. Many books attempt to teach you how to script specific applications; you are therefore lost when you try to script an application not explained in the book. Matt takes a different approach, teaching how AppleScript itself works so that once you've mastered the language, figuring out the specifics of scripting each application isn't as difficult.

One negative of this approach is that it's hard to show practical examples of scripts if you don't script applications; a beginning user is likely to be more frustrated and impatient, just wanting to be shown "how to X" when the book's explaining arcane language details.

That isn't to say that Matt doesn't demonstrate real-world scripts -- he does, using programs like the Finder and MailSmith -- but just don't think of this book as a library of scripting routines you can just use in your own projects, the way many other AppleScripts books are written. This book teaches you to fish; it doesn't just plop the fish on your plate.

In short, this book is for those who've been confused by AppleScript. If you really want to understand the fundamentals or advanced features of the language (like how many "tell" structures you can nest), this is the book for you. If you only have the occasional need for AppleScript and prefer being given already-written scripts you can tweak, this is not the book for you.

End of article.