What’s happened to AppleScript? Doing a search for “scripts” on MacUpdate last night returned not much. A few very good freebie scripts, a handful of shareware scripts, and a ton of scripts that hadn’t been updated in a couple of years.
What’s wrong with AppleScript?
It’s a dearth of valuable scripts probably brought about by two basic reasons. Economic and technical.
Amazingly, this nifty, built-in technology (that’s been with the Mac since nearly forever) is just too complex for most folks. Yes, there’s Dummy and Idiot-like books for AppleScript. There’s even a Visual QuickStart Guide.
Too little, too late. AppleScript is going nowhere. Fast. Why?
For the average Mac user who doesn’t know there’s a context sensitve menu (right-click on two-button mouse, control-click on one-button mouse), AppleScript is way beyond usable. It’s close to worthless.
That being said, Apple provides a small bucket of AppleScripts with Mac OS X. They’re in the Example Scripts directory on my Mac. Some I use, some I don’t. Most, well, I don’t. I’m certain most Mac users don’t use many AppleScripts either.
Why? It’s a pain to deal with scripts unless the developer or writer provides an installer, as most Mac users will get lost trying to find out where to put the scripts.
I have a few favorite Apple Scripts. One for iTunes and one set for Mail. They’re updated regularly and work great. I also have a few scripts that I’ve created and kept through the years. They perform certain utility functions that I like to have done, but would be worthless to anyone else.
The Apple Scripts directory Example Scripts has a little for everyone, ostensibly to help extend the functionality of Mac OS X, and to personalize the use of each person’s Mac. Hopefully, they’re provided to get people better acquainted with Apple Scripts, if that’s even possible.
Frankly, the average or better than average Mac user probably finds creation of an Apple Script just too daunting. After all, it’s a language of sorts, and not for the faint of heart; “recording” capability not withstanding.
Those provided with Mac OS X include AddressBook scripts (handy), ColorSync scripts (handy only to those who know, use, and love Colorsync; a distinct minority), Folder Action scripts, (very hand if you take time to set them up) and others.
There’s some Internet Services scripts that will connect to the web and get Current Temperature by Zipcode. That’s handy, huh? Another does Stock Quotes. Another set provides assistance to the Finder; Add to Folder Names, Replace Text in Item Names, etc.
Useful? Not much. There’s probably 10 ways to do any one thing on a computer these days (that’s what Windows is all about—choice). AppleScript, for all the coolness of the technology, ends up being cool only for a very small minority of Mac users.
My Favorite AppleScripts
Do you have favorite Apple Scripts? Here’s two of mine.
The first is Mail Scripts by Andreas Amann. Click Here to see why they’re 4 Star worthy (like “spongeworthy” only minus one star).
This series of scripts contains a multitude of uses, even the average Mac user will find beneficial. The Add Addresses function is particularly noteworthy. Yes, Mail lets you “Add Sender to AddressBook” but doesn’t pull info from the email’s header fields: To, Cc, Bcc. That’s very handy.
There’s also Change SMTP Server. I have waaaay too many email accounts but this one save me time when I’m on the road and forced to use EarthLink and their SMTP mail server.
There’s more. Create Rule (does what it says without having open Preferences). Remove Duplicates (guess what that does), and Archive Messages (export to a standard mbox so they can be imported again, later).
Those are nice but so is Search LyricTracker. Why? Man, I love to crank up the volume on my Mac while playing iTunes and sing along. I’m not much on karaoke but this is the next best thing—and private, too.
Search LyricTracker is simple AppleScript that takes whatever song you’ve selected in iTunes and gets the lyrics for it. Then you can sing along even if you don’t know all the lyrics.
Click Here for a look at free AppleScript that comes with a 5 Star rating.
The problem is, that’s about the best set of AppleScripts I’ve dug up, including some I’ve paid for.
AppleScript Economic Problems
Simple put, there’s not much money in writing AppleScripts. If you’re savvy enough to write a solid script that does something special for you, chances are good there’s not many other Mac users out there who need the exact same function.
Scripts, by nature, don’t cost much (thousands of very powerful PHP script applications cost surprisingly little) so there’s not real economic incentive to put specialized scripts on the market.
AppleScripts, for the average Mac user, are too difficult to customize, even when starting from a fully developed script. Most Mac users want to point and click, not get under the hood and tinker with lines of script code.
Yes, work flow scripts, and specific business scripts have their place in the Mac world, but it’s a tiny place.
My guess is that Apple must maintain a built-in scripting language to keep the few high-end business users they have that would be lost without professionally developed workflow script applications.
Head over to MacUpdate and do search on “scripts” or AppleScripts, or “apple scripts” and take a look at the list. There’s not much there.
AppleScript is sufficiently complex that most users won’t bother getting into it. For those that do, there’s little economic reward so not much in ongoing development. The exception will be workflow applications, developed by the pros within a business or for a specific industry, that can save much time, money, effort.
For the rest of us, we’ll nibble on the few AppleScript freebies and hope that the next great thing will automate our Macs even more. Hmmmm. Automate? Can you say, “Tiger?”
What about you? Do you use AppleScripts? What are your favorites? Do you create your own, use freeware, or shareware? What would you like to see improved in AppleScript? What’s the best thing about AppleScript? Share your experience, concerns, worries, and problems with other Mac users, and click the Comments link below.