GUI Scripting Tool: RECOMMENDATIONS? (Smile, FaceSpan, A/S Studio)

I’m looking to invest in a better GUI scripting tool for AppleScript. What would you recommend? I’ve found three major products recommended in an AppleScript book by Rosenthan, but I want to see how they fare in the real world.

AppleScript Studio

What is your experience with any of those? What are their pros/cons? Are there any glitches or special coding required when going from A/S to the GUI tool?

I will be automating catalog production primarily using InDesign CS3 and FileMakerPro. I will aim to use the selected program to create a complex UI window (with tabs?) so that all the information can be gathered and reviewed in one place.


Model: Intel Mac
AppleScript: Editor: 2.1.1 (81), AppleScript: 1.10.7
Browser: Firefox
Operating System: Mac OS X (10.4)

Hi evan_dana,

Just out of curiosity, since you are already using FileMaker Pro, is there a specific
reason you are not using it to display your gathered information?




Perhaps I wasn’t clear with my wording. The “gathered information” I was referring to is a dialog box that will allow the user to specify what fields and records from FMP should come together to make the catalog. I will be using FMP as the basis for information that will drive the catalog. The user will still have to specify what information should make it into the catalog, and what shouldn’t.

Does that clarify your question?


I took a look at AppleScript Studio and FaceSpan when I went looking for a development tool, and everyone thought I was nuttier than a fruitcake to pay for Facespan when Studio is free. But I didn’t have time to “try both” because I needed to start a project ASAP.

After examining the two products by reading, looking at screen shots, and carefully following threads here, I decided to use FaceSpan. It’s “Rapid Development” focus has turned out to be quite nice. After a couple of learning hurdles I’ve been adding dialog boxes, progress bars, and more to a couple of projects. I felt overall FaceSpan would be easier and clearer to use for a noice-to-intermediate user like myself in need of being able to make applications quick and easy.

So I’m obviously going to recommend FaceSpan, with the caveat that I never actually tried AppleScript Studio, and never considered Smile.


Thanks for your recommendation!

One question for you, what were the “hurdles” you faced with FaceSpan?


Not really. I understand that the information is coming from FMP but is their a specific reason
you would not choose to build your app using FMP. An example would be that your users do
not have access to FMP themselves so you need to build the app separate from FMP.

If not, from what you have stated your process to be, this seems a viable solution and
might be significantly easier and faster than the alternatives.

Just a suggestion. :slight_smile:

For the others, FaceSpan will win out especially when v5 is released.



Craig, I think I see what you’re saying.

I agree that consolidating as much info as possible into FMP would simplify the UI process… Perhaps it will be possible to keep the AppleScript/FaceSpan (etc…) UI to a minimum and pull most of the info from a complex FMP table/record?

Thanks for the recommendation! That makes two for FaceSpan, all others, zip.


Mostly just learning the syntax for some commands, and learning that you can’t always just take an AppleScript and dump it as-is into FaceSpan and expect it to work. Some coersions and expectations are different. On the plus side, when I hit those snags and sent support e-mails to the developer, he personally responded!

After such quick, personal service, I was sold. I had a hard time imagining Apple doing that. :wink:

I also recall one thing that spooked me away from Studio, right or wrong: as I cruised these forums and gathered information, it seemed like Studio forced you to know too much about all the “«»” stuff, which I undertsand is the more direct underpinnings of AppleScript. I much preferred sticking with the AppleScript abstraction, and FaceSpan seems to put “AppleScript plain English” on top ot stuff Studio forces you to know the “«»” code for.

(I wish I could explain it better, since I don’t know the proper terminology for those «» entities…maybe one of the gurus can make it more clear.)

Studio also seemed to have many “modules” and didn’t seem to work together as a whole like FaceSpan does. I did however get the impression Studio is more robust and may be capable of doing more than FaceSpan, but for a person like me, that’s likely nothing I’d ever run into (and may not be true, it’s just a feeling I get).

I’ve never tried Smile, and I don’t plan on doing so in the future.

I haven’t tried the current version of FaceSpan, but I have tried the v5 alpha; However, I’m not sure how I feel about it. (More specifically, I’m not sure who FaceSpan is made for.) I have no problem using AppleScript Studio when it’s the appropriate, so I really don’t see myself buying FaceSpan in the future. If I ran into some kind of technical limitation with AppleScript Studio, then I would rather learn how to use Cocoa.

Given your three choices, I’d vote for AppleScript Studio.


There was some discussion about such topics that added to my confusion about the target market for FaceSpan.

Given that both AppleScript Studio and FaceSpan have their own idiosyncrasies, I’ll take the one that doesn’t cost me more money.

Perhaps an AS Studio user could verify that these “<<>>” refer to classes? I like getting into the nuts and bolts of the coding (as long as it’s still a similar framework), and it sounds like AS Studio would then work well for me.

I am concerned with the idiosyncrasies of AS Studio and about having to “redo” code. How much of a problem is this? Or, is it just as simple as reworking the way user entered text/variables enter into the script? This would make sense because, after all, I’m looking for a way to improve the user interface and would expect to have to rewrite that part. Ideally the subroutines and such, would still work perfectly fine.


Where can I get AS Studio? I tried searching for it through with no luck. I only found a broken page. I read that you have to register as a developer and then get it as part of a Dev Tools package… Is this still the case?

Also, Smile is available free on the Apple site. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.

It’s part of Xcode now. The Developer Tools should be included on your Mac OS X disc(s), but you can also download the package from Apple.

You can go to the Apple Developer Connection (ADC) here:
and sign up for the ADC Free Online membership.

Once you are a member you log into the ADC and you
will be presented with a download option for tools and such.

Clicking that will take to a page with lots '0 stuff. In the list of downloads, click on
Developer tools.

Then scroll down the page to find the latest version of Xcode Developer Tools for your system.
If you are running Leopard, get the 3.0 version.
If you are running Tiger you must get the 2.5 version.

Download and install.

Next go to
This is home base for applescript help.

I found the AppleScript Studio Programming Guide to be a good place to start.
Here is a link to it:

It takes you step by step through the whole process.

Thanks everyone who contributed!

I just dove in head first into the pool of coding and learning to try to get an understanding of how it all comes together. I don’t anticipate needing much Cocoa/Perl/else but I find it helpful to understand what’s out there and how it all relates as I begin planning a complex automation.

Thanks for all your advice. I will heavily research AS Studio (and Cocoa/Perl’s part in that) and likely choose this path. If it doesn’t seem applicable, I may choose to then explore Smile and FaceSpan.

Thanks again!