Scripting Apple Data Detectors

Apple Data Detectors Scripting Scripting Addition and Actions

Apple Data Detectors (ADD) is a technology that was introduced with Mac OS 8. It was described in my report on AppleScript 1.1.2, which also includes links to third-party resources. ADD is not included on the Mac OS 8.5 installation CD, but version 1.0.2 is available for download on Apple’s AppleScript site and works correctly under Mac OS 8.5. (It disappeared from the web site briefly at one point, causing alarm, but promptly reappeared.)

Basically, ADD lets you use contextual menu commands to perform actions on all instances of text within a selection that meet pattern criteria specified by installed detectors. The Apple Data Detectors Extension enables ADD to work in applications that do not directly support the Contextual Menu Manager, such as Apple’s Script Editor. An example of ADD is Internet Address Detectors (IAD), a collection of detectors from Apple which recognize internet addresses beginning with http://, ftp:// and the like. ADD actions are nothing more than AppleScript scripts with special handlers. For example, there is a third-party action to let you use the contextual menu manager to add a nickname to Eudora Pro’s address book by selecting text containing an email address. 10/10/99

To write scripts that work with ADD, you must have the Apple Data Detectors Scripting scripting addition, which supplies some required new terminology. To write custom detectors (which are simple text files), download the Apple Data Detectors SDK, which includes the Detector Editor and a manual. The process is quite simple. I wrote the first version of the AppleScript Terminology detector and some actions for getting help with AppleScript in a weekend.

The Apple Data Detectors control panel application has a scripting dictionary, but it is not in fact scriptable.