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AppleScript: The Missing Manual Paperback – Feb 10 2005

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About the Author

Adam Goldstein got his programming start in Kindergarten, when he first played around with Logo on an old Apple II. Through middle school, Adam wrote useless but amusing HyperCard programs. Nowadays, he runs GoldfishSoft, a shareware company that makes games and utilities for Mac OS X. Adam was a technical editor for O'Reilly's best-selling Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, and an editor for Mac OS X Panther Power User. When he's not writing books or code, Adam attends MIT.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Another Missing Manual Hit Feb. 9 2005
By Mary Norbury-Glaser - Published on
Format: Paperback
[...]AppleScript: The Missing Manual by Adam Goldstein is part of the Missing Manual series of beginner/intermediate books published by Pogue Press/O'Reilly and Associates. The focus of this book series is on computer products that have been released without adequate printed manuals (Mac OS X, iLife '04, Google, iPod and iTunes, Windows XP, Windows 2K among others). Their newest release, AppleScript: The Missing Manual, is a welcome addition to their catalog of smart, funny and user-friendly books.
AppleScript is a scripting language that mimics the syntax of English. As such, it's extremely similar to how sentences are structured and, as a result, is very intuitive and simple to use. However, this doesn't belie the fact that it's a very powerful tool for automation.
Goldstein's Missing Manual is an exciting newcomer to the meager collection of AppleScript introductory volumes. This book covers the current Mac OS 10.3 (Panther) release of AppleScript and includes multimedia support, GUI scripting and AppleScript Studio. While it is intended for the beginner and intermediate user, power-hounds will also find many tricks, tips and hidden tools within its pages.
The book is divided into four parts: "AppleScript Overview", "Everyday Scripting Tasks", "Power-User Features" and "Appendixes".
Part One begins with the usual suspects: where to find the AppleScript folder in Mac OS X, how to enable the script menu and the surprising number of useful scripts you'll find there. In just a few pages, Goldstein hands the reader a collection of valuable scripts that were hiding in OS X Panther all along (I particularly like the "ransom note" script).
Part Two is the main core of the book and covers "Everyday Scripting Tasks". The seven chapters in this section run the gamut of increasing difficulty: manipulating text, controlling files, creating lists, organizing and editing graphics, playing sound and video, internet and network scripting and organizing information in databases. The author quickly takes the reader through a series of simple scripts designed to illustrate AppleScript syntax.
Once the reader whips through the example scripts in Parts One and Two, it's time to get down and geeky. Part Three titled "Power-User Features", is the section of the book for geeks and wanna-be geeks. Goldstein shoves enough advanced techniques in five chapters to make these alone worth the price of the book. The reader learns how to enable folder actions, attach built-in folder actions to specific folders, view and edit these built-in folder actions and run his or her own actions.
My favorite chapter in this section is Chapter 13, Mixing AppleScript and Unix. Goldstein gives a quick terminal lesson followed by a neat trick to display the Expose button ("the blob"). Other helpful actions: use do shell script to run Unix programs straight from AppleScript, run shell scripts with admin privileges, run AppleScripts from Unix thus saving time by bypassing the Script Editor and schedule commands (use an AppleScript to run cron every day, use iCal to schedule scripts). Even users who normally shy away from the terminal will want to try some of these.
Part Four contains the Appendix A through C: "AppleScript Support in Common Programs" (a very useful set of tables of applications, their level of AppleScript support, price and where to get them), "Moving from Hypercard to AppleScript" (options and advice for converting Hypercard stacks to AppleScript and major syntax differences between HyperTalk and AppleScript) and "Where to Go from Here" (AppleScript sources: Web sites, discussion lists and books).
Goldstein's style of writing is exceptionally clear with just a dash of humor that humanizes the experience of reading a technical or "how-to" manual. The reader won't find anything confusing, lacking in detail or dull. This book is eminently satisfying on many levels: the writing style is conversational and humorous (I would imagine this is a pre-requisite for writing for David Pogue), the style of this book series is consistently pleasant to read and the level of technical difficulty satisfies the range of readers from beginner through power-user. The "valuable information:price" ration is, hands-down, in the buyer's favor.
A final note about Adam Goldstein, the author of Applescript: The Missing Manual...he is the teenage founder of GoldfishSoft ([...] a Mac OS X games and utilities software company (my 7 year-old son loves AlgeKalk and FrakKalk, geek that he is). By "teenage", I mean Adam Golstein is 17-ish. He began contributing to this Pogue/O'Reilly series several years ago by writing a few sections of Mac OS X Panther Edition: The Missing Manual (FileVault, journaling and Disk Restore). I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more from Mr. Goldstein...and I'm looking forward to it.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
More like a travel guide Oct. 21 2005
By MacDesigner - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is not a "manual" in any sense of the word. A manual tells you how, where, and when. This is more like a tour guide of Applescript. Sure there are scripts, but few of them make the Mac easier to use than its own OSX interface. The information is presented in such a scattered form, that it is hard to follow for very long, and therefore hard to learn. It's like trying to learn to be a chef by watching the Cooking Channel.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A bit off the mark... Sept. 19 2005
By J. Rudolph - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a long time hobbyist, im not really impressed. This book doesn't really touch on too many of the 'hard' issues one would face when first getting started with applescript. The languages syntax, for example, is not as intuitive as its description suggests. Its english like, but its not english, and english takes a decade or so to master.

The book says little about the language, and a disproportionately large part of it is just a series of example scripts categorized by the programs being scripted.

This book is more like the answers to the test than the course that would prepare you for the test. I learned close to nothing from it.

Im sure it has its place, but as someone pretty familiar with programming, I find that practical examples _aswell as_ some deeper, language directed discussion is nessesary to get anything other than a weak grasp on any language. Especially a language as slippery as applescript. But I guess I got what I paid for... its a pretty cheap book.
41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Not for you if you are a programmer.... Aug. 3 2005
By Alan G. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ok, I confess it. I am a programmer. My desire was pretty simple. I wanted a book that would show me all of the parts of Applescript and how to use them.

This is NOT that book. You can see the sample scripts but very little explains how to take that information to make scripts of your own.

This book has lots of sample scripts, but since I am not interested in scripting those applications, it isn't helpful to me.

Perhpas I just wanted too much, but I sent this book back.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
AppleScript Book that Fills the Gap Feb. 14 2005
By RKM - Published on
Format: Paperback
AppleScript: The Missing Manual by Adam Goldstein succeeds in avoiding the failing of most computer books. The problem with the typical computer book is that it falls into one of two types: a tutorial, too short on information to be worth the price, or a lengthy tome (usually written by a computer programmer) that is far too detailed to be readable. AppleScript: The Missing Manual excels in providing a wealth of information in an easily readable manner and lives up to the "the missing manual" identifier.

AppleScript is generally described as a simple but powerful script programming language that reads like simple English. While this is true, the simple, short but powerful, and easy to read example scripts lulls many users. The truth is that while the finished product is easy to read, AppleScript is a "finicky" language that requires exact wording. There has been a lack of good books on AppleScript and even a shortage of online information on the Internet. Inexplicably, unlike the Apple norm, Apple's documentation on AppleScript is very poorly organized and generally cryptic. Mr. Goldstein's book is welcome relief in the large void.

Many computer books just provide information that can easily be encompassed in a short tutorial. So why bother paying the price of the book when you can easily access similar information for free on the Internet? On the other side of the scale, other computer books fail by including too much esoteric information in far too technical language. How many times do you need to read a discussion on whether a programming item fit the academic criteria of being "object-oriented"? Mr. Goldstein' book contains more information and is more complete than a tutorial while not overloading you with too much information. Any moderately computer literate Mac user should be able to easily read AppleScript: The Missing Manual.

This book comprises three sections: Part One: AppleScript Overview. Part Two: Everyday Scripting Tasks. Part Three: Power User Features. Broken down here is what is provided. The first part introduces and explains the use of AppleScript and the tools available. The second part provides a comprehensive review of the typical uses of AppleScript (i.e. Manipulating text, working with files, etc.). Finally, part three adds additional examples of more sophisticated use of AppleScript to control your computer.

Throughout the book, Mr. Goldstein offers script program examples that effectively illustrate ideas but are short enough to be easily understandable. I am sure that you will refer to these well after reading the book. The book also documents many hidden features and gems available in Mac OS X and AppleScript. How else would you discover the hidden "Image Events" application that allows you to script image file conversions easily? Another example is the book contains a very concise and good explanation of the difference between POSIX and alias file path naming conventions used by AppleScript.

The one shortcoming of AppleScript: The Missing Manual is the lack of a reference to the AppleScript script language. The book does a wonderful job of incrementally adding AppleScript statements and operators from chapter to chapter to aid learning AppleScript. But if you need to look up a specific syntax of AppleScript command you may be out of luck.

I highly recommend this book to any Apple Mac user. For the newly initiated AppleScript writer the many examples will introduce the opportunities to write simple and powerful scripts that automate repetitive tasks or accomplish more complex task. For experienced AppleScripter's, I am confident you will learn hidden features that will make your scripting tasks easier. A big plus of AppleScript is that it a great tool for some tasks. After reading this book you will easy recognize tasks that can benefit for a little AppleScript.