Applescript: The Missing Manual, by Adam Goldstein, is one of over 25 missing manuals written, edited, or inspired by David Pogue. It is a humorous introduction to AppleScript, an easy to learn programming language that comes with your Macintosh. It is also a valuable resource for anyone who uses AppleScript or wants to learn more about it.
If you’re curious, as I was, about the value of learning AppleScript, this missing manual shows some of the time saving uses and fun things you can do. It shows how to automatically rename all of the files in a folder, save all of your open TextEdit documents at once, and optimize pictures for a website. Some of the fun uses include turning your Macintosh into a metronome, see all of your fonts at once, and downloading email messages to listen to on your iPod while jogging. In short, you can program AppleScript to do “just about anything you can do yourself.”
In Part 1, AppleScript Overview, Goldstein teaches the reader the grammar of AppleScript by showing how to manage the script editor and how to use it to dissect and modify existing scripts that come with the computer. He also shows how to build scripts from scratch and use the Script Dictionaries. In Part 2, Everyday Scripting Tasks, he shows how to automate typical jobs in programs including TextEdit, Microsoft Word, iPhoto, Photoshop, iTunes, QuickTime, Safari, Filemaker, et-cetera.
In Part 3, Power User Features, Goldstein shows how to mix AppleScript commands right into Unix programs, and vice versa, and how to use the GUI Scripting feature to work with programs that don’t support AppleScript. Finally, the Appendices show a list of programs that do support AppleScript, how to convert HyperCard stacks to AppleScript, and a list of additional internet and print resources.
Corrections and updates are available for all of the missing manuals at www.missingmanuals.com. This should, theoretically, include any changes do to the release of system 10.4. We shall see.
I usually don’t buy computer books. I usually learn how to use new software by exploring the windows to discover features. Once in a while I need to do something that I can’t discover on my own. When that happens I do one of two things. I first use the help feature on the Mac, which rarely helps. When that doesn’t work, I ask the tech guy at my school, which almost always helps. As far as Applescript goes, I’ve discovered a third option. Now I’ll have to check out the other Missing Manuals.
One final thought about Adam Goldstein and the publishing industry:
What is most incredible, and cool, is that Applescript: The Missing Manual was written by a 16 year old. I’m not so shocked that he is capable. I teach high school and I believe our society vastly underestimates our youth. I was pleasantly surprised that the publishing industry gave him the chance. I will definitely be patronizing the Missing Manual series, Pogue Press and O’Reilly Media.
Goldstein’s other accomplishments include being a technical editor and contributor to Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, editor for Mac OS X Power Hound and founder of GoldfishSoft at GoldfishSoft, a software company specializing in games and utilities.