AppleScriptObjC in Xcode Part 2 - TableView

GUI Building Video Complete!
Watch it here

Creating a “Book List” Project
In this tutorial we are going to create an application that displays a list of books with title, author and read or unread status. We will be using mostly Objective-C methods written in AppleScriptObjC. Here is a look at the finished project.

Final Project

a) You have read AppleScriptObjC Release Notes.
b) You have read AppleScriptObjC Part 1

About this Tutorial
I am going to list out the entire code upfront and go through it a line at a time. You can watch a short video, a little over eight minutes, that walks you through creating the GUI, making all the connections, setting the bindings, adding the images to the project and adding the image cell to the table view.


Download Source Code

On to the Code!

	We will be using both NSMutableArray and NSImage classes
	so we create a reference to them here.
	Any Objective-C class you wish to access in your code
	must be set up as a property.
property NSMutableArray : class "NSMutableArray"
property NSImage : class "NSImage"

script PartTwoAppDelegate
	-- Inheritance
	-- Our class is a sub-class of NSObject
	property parent : class "NSObject"
	-- IBOutlets
	-- Interface Builder considers an outlet as any
	-- property with "missing value" as its initial value
	property aTableView : missing value
	property aWindow : missing value
	property bookTitleField : missing value
	property authorField : missing value
	property statusField : missing value
	-- Bindings
		We connect these in the bindings inspector
		to the corresponding text field values.
			You cannot connect bindings directly
			to the NSTextFields above so we create
			new properties to hold the "value" of
			the NSTextFields.
	property theAuthor : ""
	property bookTitle : ""
	property theStatus : ""
	-- Other properties
		theDataSource will be an NSMutableArray
		We set this up in the awakeFromNib handler
	property theDataSource : {}
	-- IBActions (button clicks)
	-- Interface Builder considers an action as any
	-- single parameter method ending with an underscore
	on addData_(sender)
			Here we are creating a normal AppleScript record but we are using
			bindings to gather the information from text fields and
			radio buttons.
				I don't know if this is a bug or not.
				When you launch the application the radio
				button for value "Read" is checked but its
				value is "". Only after you click "Unread"
				and then "Read" again does it have the value
				of 0. 
				This poses a problem when we want to sort by
				theStatus field and one or more of the items
				contains an empty string instead of an integer.
				We fix that by setting the value here before
				adding it to our array.
		if theStatus is "" then
			set theStatus to 0
		end if
		set newData to {bookTitle:bookTitle, theAuthor:theAuthor, theStatus:theStatus}
			This next method is calling the addObject_() method of NSMutableArray.
			We are adding the newData record to the NSMutableArray "theDataSource"
			as an array of dictionaries.
		theDataSource's addObject_(newData)
			Here we call the reloadData method of NSTableView
		aTableView's reloadData()
		-- Clear fields
			Clear the text fields for next data entry
		bookTitleField's setStringValue_("")
		authorField's setStringValue_("")
			If you comment out the following line, the author field
			will have focus after entering data. This is not the
			expected behavior.
			In IB I set bookTitleField as first
			responder by control dragging from the
			window to the text field and choosing
			"initialFirstResponder" but this method is
			required here if we want this behavior
			to continue.
				This function requires a pointer to the
				window and ours is "aWindow."
		aWindow's makeFirstResponder_(bookTitleField)
	end addData_
	# TableView
		Below are three NSTableView methods of which two are mandatory.
		Mandatory methods: 
			These can be found in NSTableViewDataSource.
		Optional method:
			This is found in NSTableViewDelegate.
	on tableView_objectValueForTableColumn_row_(aTableView, aColumn, aRow)
			Check theDataSource's array size. If it is 0 then no need
			to go further in the code.
			Notice the use of "|" around count. Count is an AppleScript
			reserved word so we surround it with vertical bars.
		if theDataSource's |count|() is equal to 0 then return end
			The column identifier is the value you set IB
		set ident to aColumn's identifier
			NSMutableArray methods
				objectAtIndex_ returns the "record" from the array at
				the current iteration of aRow.
				objectForKey_ returns the specified item from the
				record. If ident is "age" then what is returned
				is the value of age.
				The nice thing about this is that it is dynamic.
				We can add or remove as many columns as we like
				and never have to visit this code. The only
				unique area is where we are inserting an image.
				Take that out and this is boiler plate code.
		set theRecord to theDataSource's objectAtIndex_(aRow)
		set theValue to theRecord's objectForKey_(ident)
			isEqualToString_ is required to test the equivalency
			of ident against "theStatus."
		if ident's isEqualToString_("theStatus") then
				Same thing goes with testing theValue against 1.
				We need the intValue of theValue. Radio button
				groups return integer values.
					How many of you have wanted to insert images
					into your AppleScript Studio table views?
					Look how easy it is to do now!
				Don't forget:
					To use an Objective-C class you must make
					a property reference first. We did this at
					the top with the following:
					property NSImage : class "NSImage"
					You can find the "red.tiff", and "green.tiff"
					inside the project source folder.
					To add the images to your project right click
					on the "Resources" folder, choose "Add..." then
					"Existing files..." 
					After choosing the files make sure the 
					check box at the top of the window saying
					"Copy items into destination group's folder (if needed)"
					is checked.
			if theValue's intValue() = 0 then
				set theValue to NSImage's imageNamed_("green")
				set theValue to NSImage's imageNamed_("red")
			end if
		end if
			Return the "value" of theValue to the table view for display. 
		return theValue
	end tableView_objectValueForTableColumn_row_
	on numberOfRowsInTableView_(aTableView)
			This is a mess but it works. When we get sample projects
			from Sal we will see a better way.
			if theDataSource's |count|() is equal to null then
				return 0
					Required method. Simply returns the integer value
					representing the number of items in our array "theDataSource."
				return theDataSource's |count|()
			end if
		on error
			return 0
		end try
	end numberOfRowsInTableView_
	on tableView_sortDescriptorsDidChange_(aTableView, oldDescriptors)
			When a user clicks on the table column headers this method
			is called. You can find it in the documentation under NSTableViewDelegate.
			For this to work you must set the "Sort Key" and "Selector" in the
			Table Column Attributes in IB.
				Common Selectors are "compare:" and "caseInsensitiveCompare:"
				The colon is part of the name.
		set sortDesc to aTableView's sortDescriptors()
		theDataSource's sortUsingDescriptors_(sortDesc)
		aTableView's reloadData()
	end tableView_sortDescriptorsDidChange_
	# Application
	on awakeFromNib()
			To use NSMutableArray we must initialize an instance of it.
			In Objective-C it looks like this:
				NSMutableArray *theDataSource = [[NSMutableArray alloc] init];
				Remember, we can do this because we set a property at the top
				providing us access to the NSMutableArray class.
				property NSMutableArray : class "NSMutableArray"
		set theDataSource to NSMutableArray's alloc()'s init()
			Create a normal AppleScript list of records object
		set theData to {{bookTitle:"A Christmas Carol", theAuthor:"Charles Dickens", theStatus:1}, {bookTitle:"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", theAuthor:"Mark Twain", theStatus:1}, {bookTitle:"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", theAuthor:"Mark Twain", theStatus:0}, {bookTitle:"War and Peace", theAuthor:"Leo Tolstoy", theStatus:0}}
			Call NSMutableArray's method addObjectsFromArray_() and
			add our list of records to it.
				Once we add our "list of records" to theDataSource
				it is no longer a list of records, it is an
				Objective-C mutable array of dictionary objects.
		theDataSource's addObjectsFromArray_(theData)
		aTableView's reloadData()
	end awakeFromNib
	on applicationWillFinishLaunching_(aNotification)
		-- Insert code here to initialize your application before any files are opened 
	end applicationWillFinishLaunching_
	on applicationShouldTerminate_(sender)
			Since we allocated memory for the NSMutableArray
			we clean up after ourselves when we are done.
		theDataSource's release()
			As pointed out by Shane Stanley
			my NSTerminateNow causes an error
			Easy fix it to return true instead
		return true
	end applicationShouldTerminate_
end script

Writing AppleScriptObjC is basically writing Objective-C using AppleScript syntax. My first suggestions is get “Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X Third Edition” by Aaron Hillegass and learn how to read the documentation. I really don’t see a way to create meaningful applications using AppleScriptObjC without knowing Objective-C. I reserver the right to be wrong on this point though after we see some sample projects from Sal. :slight_smile:

Until next time. Happy coding!

Download Source Code

I really don’t see a way to create meaningful applications using AppleScriptObjC without knowing Objective-C.

I’m not convinced. It will require some Obj-C, but bindings really can avoid the need for lots of UI glue code.

Hi Craig,

Nice video too. Your’e the pioneer so far. I tried using a list of lists rather than a record to add to the datasource with no luck. Does the NSMutableArray only accept records. Ok if so, I am just used to using the list approach in ASS.

Looking forward to User defaults and saving of the book list. Normally I would try to figure all this out but am still over my head. I know the basics only of OBJ-C but am reading up on it and Cocoa…

Thanks, Rob

No, NSMutableArray will accept objects, other arrays, dictionaries, etc. The reason you use an array of dictionaries ( “records” ) is that the columns always have the same data even when the user rearranges their columns. That is why you match up the column identifier with the “key” in the record. As an example, say the user moved the “Status” column in our app to the far right. If you were using an array instead of a record, the app would crash. Column 1 no longer has an NSImage cell to receive our image. Column 1 is now the “Book Title.” Make sense?

Part 4 will include saving the book list but I am not sure yet whether it will have User Defaults. I think User Defaults will be one on its own.

Cool. I noticed you had to release the memory at the end. Does that mean AppleScriptObjC can’t work with garbage collection? Or is that just your choice of programming-style?

I believe AppleScriptObjC does work with Garbage Collection.

Yep, that’s my style. :cool:

I have not been able to get this to work - the Author’s name fails to show up in the TextView when I add new books.

When I tried building the project downloaded from MacScripter there was the same defect. I am wondering if there is something wrong with the way I have XCode set up, because I suspect the code, bindings etc. is correct.

Any ideas would be very welcome - I don’t want to move on to the next part until I can get this to work.

Model: MacMini
AppleScript: 2.1
Browser: Safari 6531.9
Operating System: Mac OS X (10.6)

Have a look at Craig’s Part 4. There is the bug fixed.


Thanks Heiner,

My head was hurting after building this example so many times, and I will go on to the next tutorial with relief.


I just downloaded the source and it works fine. Not sure what issue is causing your error.
Are there any errors being logged to the console?

In the downloaded example, when I entered a new book title, then the author, the Author name did not get carried into the text view. The problem is that the app was not “getting” the title until I had exited the second Text Field.

When I added the line
tell bookTitleField to selectText_(me)
(taken from PartFour) the change made the PartTwo project behave as it should.

An alternative fix (which Craig gave me offline) is to adjust the bindings of the Text Field to ‘Continuously Updates Value’.

This sequence of tutorials is very helpful - it’s pretty much all new to me - and Craig’s willingness to keep helping is welcome and generous. For my part, I am used to being an expert contributor (Excel VBA) and the switch to total bozo here is awkward.

I’m confused. The “WATCH VIDEO HERE” link takes you to a video about project “read from file”.


Hi Carl,

I created a new website since this tutorial was made and my re-direct is not working properly. I have updated the links in this tutorial to the new location so please try again.



OK, now it works. Thanks


I’m getting the following from console log, though this does compile pretty much ok

2011-03-25 12:24:27.900 ColorTable[59123:a0f] *** -[ColorTableAppDelegate tableView:objectValueForTableColumn:row:]: The variable theValue is not defined. (error -2753)

The Status column doesn’t set the picture. At one point it stopped compiling and I narrowed it down to this section

on tableView_objectValueForTableColumn_row_(aTableView, aColumn, aRow)
		if theDataSource's |count|() is equal to 0 then return end
		set ident to aColumn's identifier
		set theRecord to theDataSource's objectAtIndex_(aRow)
		set theValue to theRecord's objectForKey_(ident)
		if ident's isEqualToString_("theStatus") then
			if theValue's intValue() = 0 then
				set theValue to NSImage's imageNamed__("green")
				set theValue to NSImage's imageNamed__("red")
			end if
		end if
		return theValue

but then it started compiling again :confused:

Any help?

AppleScript: xcode 3.2.6
Browser: Safari 534.16
Operating System: Mac OS X (10.6)


Apparently Lion and xcode 4.1 aren’t playing well with this script. It crashes out of the box now.

See posts about this here:


Is the video still being updated?

@tempistraven - That site is also no longer maintained and I have not updated the video or located the original. If I do locate the original, I will post a link here.

Hi, Craig Williams…

found a Video
which links to i am not sure if this is your missing Original…? unfortunatly its just part I - First part…

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Browser: Safari 537.36
Operating System: Mac OS X (10.8)

FYI: Some of the links to videos in this thread appear to possibly be redirecting to malware. I clicked on one of the allencraig links, and it immediately downloaded a flash installer dmg without my authorization. No, thanks.