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by Jerry Lee Ford, Jr.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Course Technology PTR; 1 edition (October 31, 2006)
This book focuses on teaching the reader how to program using AppleScript, the language that controls and automates applications on Mac OS X. Unlike other books on AppleScript, AppleScript Studio Programming for the Absolute Beginner focuses on AppleScript's role in supporting the development of AppleScript Studio applications. AppleScript Studio comes free with Mac OS X and provides the framework and integrated development environment for creating applications that include fully functional graphical user interfaces. Throughout the book, users will learn the key functionality of both the AppleScript language and the AppleScript Studio application development framework by developing graphical game-based applications that are actually fun to create. Topics covered include values, variables, classes, conditional logic, loop building, strings, lists, records, handlers, and much more. Although intended for readers new to programming, there is also additional coverage of more advanced topics; users will learn to work with drives, files and folders, how to control applications, and how to debug programs and handle errors. The companion CD-ROM includes all of the source code from the book.
The stated aim of this text is to introduce the reader to both AppleScript and AppleScript Studio simultaneously, assuming no prior knowledge of either. It achieves this goal quite well. The reader is gently led through three chapters covering the daunting maze of Xcode and Interface Builder with good discussion, description, and diagrams of what the salient parts are when developing an AppleScript based application. Mr. Ford is able to explain things in a clear and understandable manner that make this book a fairly easy and enjoyable read. He then spends four chapters on the basic fundamentals of AppleScript before jumping into the final chapters.
Very few topics throughout the book are explored in great detail, which is appropriate considering the target audience. And although I am personally not a fan of learning things by building some specific application, the author does a better job than most in this work. The reader is taught how to use nearly every type of object in Interface Builder in the various projects that are presented throughout the volume. And even though each is only treated superficially, the explanations are superior to what I have read in other books.
I found two things to my disliking. First, numerous references are made throughout the book to the companion web site to download projects, files, etc. As of this writing (15 November 2006), no such data exists for download. I would love to try a couple of the projects, and see what I could learn by modifying them, but I'm not typing all that stuff in myself. Second, I have personally been wanting to learn more about customizing the main menu bar in an AppleScript Studio application, and was very excited when I hit the pages in this book that discuss this very topic. Unfortunately, Mr. Ford's discussion was just a little TOO superficial. The explanations for making the changes were very good and clear, but exactly zero information is available about how to link a custom menu choice to the actual AppleScript to make something happen.
The final chapter is an excellent introduction to using Xcode's built in Debugger, and even though it is also presented in a cursory fashion, I still found it informative and got some good ideas for debugging my own projects.
I think this is a great starter text for the scripter with minimal AppleScript experience and no AppleScript Studio understanding. I think it is satisfactory for an average or above average scripter wanting to jump into Studio.
Well, this is amusing. As of 3 December 2006, the companion web site indeed has a ZIP download for this book.
It expands into a .exe file.
I used a Windows based machine to download the zipped .exe file (on 12 January 2007), expanded it, and transferred all the folders to my Mac. They seem to work just fine.