Workflows in AppleScript

Greetings, all. Please pardon the new gal. This post is long, rambling, and somewhat off-topic, but I do have actual questions I hope you can address. Hopefully, you will be able to find them among my invectives. :wink:

I’m a Mac user currently stuck in a Windows work environment. I’m a lowly temp doing page production for a very large company. Our documents have to be perfect when done; else, lawsuits may happen. The work is seasonal, but, personally, I think it’s very stupid to hire a small army of temps to produce these books when they’re so important. I think I’m the only temp ever who has had previous experience in publishing. The managers were, frankly, amazed at how quickly and accurately I could lay out a multi-page document.

Out of every production job I’ve had (4 or 5 now), this is the worst workflow I’ve had the misfortune to be at the end of–even worse than the one I was in during the crash-happy System 7.5/Quark 3.x era. This workflow is also the one that can benefit most from automation. It could save them loads of money. However, we’re using Windows (2000 and NT 4) and, horror of horrors, PainMaker 7, er, PageMaker.

I haven’t written any heavy-duty AppleScripts for about 3 years and none under OS X, but I am confident I could work up to that level fairly quickly. I have looked into PageMaker scripting and found it seriously lacking. Thankfully, now that Adobe has axed PageMaker, our company will move to InDesign CS sometime in the near future. That part of the problem is looking better, but the other part is much more difficult to deal with.

Windows–I hate it. Before I was forced to use it, I was mostly indifferent. Now I am more of a Mac bigot than ever, and I’ve been a MacHead since 1988. One of my questions is does Windows have any equivalent to AppleScript? I know of VB Script. I don’t know what it can do. More importantly, what can’t be scripted in Windows? Is there even anything like Finder AppleScripts? My project coordinator was floored when I showed her the OSA Menu in OS 9. “You mean it can rename files for you? Why can’t we do that with Windows?” she asks. I have no idea. If there is a way, it’s not obvious to me. I’ve only been using Windows since June of last year, and I know more than most of these folks do.

Not that I want to learn to script Windows, quite the contrary. I’m just a low paid temp. I don’t consider it worth the effort to learn how. I’d rather just get another job, one with Macs. (Anyone here hiring?) However, if I could convince the management to move to Macintosh for production, I’d be very interested in writing AppleScripts to speed the workflow. (Our tools are/would be Word, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat.) There are two dual 833 G4s in our office just sitting there neglected. It sickens me. It would be cheaper for them to buy Panther and software for the Macs and set me loose than to hire another army of temps when the season picks up again. But, as you can see, I am ignorant of Windows and have no hard figures with which to make a Mac sales pitch.

Also of note, this division of the company is under scrutiny from their home office because they are not turning a profit. I think they’ve got a year and a half to turn that around or their jobs may be eliminated/given to people at HQ. There is definite incentive for them to improve.

I know this has been a very unfocused call for assistance so thanks to all who read it. Virtual punch and pie for you. End rant.

Good luck on your quest. :slight_smile:

The good news is that all the applications you mention contain fairly robust AppleScript support, so it should be possible to build some fairly sophisticated solutions with them.

You’re right in that VBScript is the closest equivalent Windows has to AppleScript, but there are significant differences. From what I recall (it’s been a while since I’ve played with it), it’s very linear meaning it’s very good for replaying boilerplate actions, but not so good at being flexible or interactive. Its syntax is something only a mother could love (and even then only under duress), and most importantly it works well enough withing an application, but not across applications - it’s hard to get your MS Word VBScript to talk to InDesign.

For a few pointers, check out AppleScript’s Success Stories site at especially which relates to a large UK-based design house…

Saving time and money are two things any manager can understand.

Most of Adobe apps have now implemented JavaScript as its scripting language (both mac and win). I don’t have experience using them (I prefer AppleScript), so I can’t tell you how powerful is it.
And I know that a simple re-name utility (or similar) can be done using a .bat archive (a little program which runs in a DOS environment, barely similar to a *nix shell, but less powerful). And I think there is also an “equivalent” (which must not be really equivalent, of course), but I can’t remember its name… Wait! I’ve found it. You can find more info here:

Hi PageMonkey,

Rather than quote you, just know that we all feel your agony. RageMaker?? ick. :cry:

There are tons of great links out there, and I’m sure that others will get on board with this thread who will have those handy. If I don’t see any come across right away, I’ll reply again.

What immediately comes to mind in regard to Billy Boxes, is the fact of their expense and upkeep. There are many articles that explain how much cheaper Macs are to support. Some time ago I helped a fellow who was in the same shape you’re in, and I wrote a long paper on many of the issues that plague PC users doing desktop. While Microsoft has admittedly remedied some of them, PC’s still ain’t a Mac. :wink:

I’ll see if I can find it.

Just for the sake of throwing it out there … I recognize you probably have already considered some of these topics.

  1. Having those two G4’s sitting close by helps.
  2. In recognizing your ‘temporary’ status, you have to ask yourself if going through this exercise will be worth it for you, in the short, and long term. The positive side effect of following through may reward you a solid position with this firm. $$$
  3. Try to formulate a groovy gameplan to present to the powers-that-be. IMHO this gameplan should include the cost to migrate. This should not only include the purchase of Panther, but the software too.
  4. Paying attention to detail will be worth your effort. There would be nothing worse than going through the motions, do your presentation only to discover you missed that $1000 widget after the fact. In short, do your homework.
  5. If the company you work for is in a education market, you may be able to purchase the software at a much cheaper price. JourneyEd comes to mind in that regard.
  6. Assuming you could handle much of the production on your own [and obviously the deal ‘went-thru’], the company would probably save $$ by retaining you, and thereby not having to hire on new temps.
  7. In General, Macs will accept more Font types than PC’s will. OSX will allow you to install and run just about any font you throw at it. In fact, Font support is much easier on Mac.
  8. Let’s face it, doing desktop on a Mac is just that much better. :lol:
  9. You mentioned OSA Menu. Since the Mac [and most apps] are scriptable, it should be very easy to do other things that much more efficiently. As an example, I have a script that I use everyday that builds up job folders. While on the surface it doesn’t look like much, that saves time. Having just a few of these kind of general utility scripts handy when you do your presentation can only serve to help promote your cause.

I haven’t the time now to do an all inclusive, but will try to add more when I can. I am sure there will be others who will chime in who can provide you with much more info than I was able to at this time.

Good luck!

Hi PageMonkey,

Your post is very timely. I’ve just posted a new article on the unScripted section of our site that is a transcript from a talk I gave at the Richmond chapter of AIGA that talks about the benefits of workflow automation. It may be very heavy ammo in convincing your company to move to Mac.

Here’s the link

Good Luck,
Scott Lewis
MacScripter Staff


If you’re interested, I have recently posted some success stories on my web site about my use of AppleScript. Please feel free to use these as examples of how AppleScript can save time and money in a business environment. You will find the stories in the “Success Stories” section of my web site at

Also, another useful document may be the AppleScript ROI Study, which was created by Gistics several years ago. While still outdated, this document provides some very useful facts and figures for those needing to justify AppleScript usage. You can find a link to this document in the “Return on Investment” section of my web site.

Hope this helps, and good luck!


Benjamin S. Waldie
President & CEO
Automated Workflows, LLC

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