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Scripting Glossary


Apple Event Terminology Resource; contains the low-level information for the AppleScript Dictionary.

Apple Event
Used for communication between applications (and other processes), part of System 7. The Open Scripting Architecture is an extension of the Apple Event System that provides the foundation for AppleScript, but can also be used by other scripting languages, e.g. Frontier.

Apple Computer's OSA language, with English, French & Japanese dialects. The language is somewhat similar to HyperTalk, and very different than traditional programming languages. The best description I can think of is "English-like". Like English, AppleScript is easy to get into, but some find it difficult to master. AppleScript is an object-oriented language, with inheritance and delegation.

The codename for the free release of UserLand Frontier (available from UserLand's web site, CompuServe forum & AOL section).

A scriptable application that can attach scripts to standard objects, e.g. a custom scripts menu or buttons. See Scriptable, Recordable, Tinkerable. See Menu Sharing.

Commands define actions upon objects. They are defined by AppleScript, scriptable applications, scripting additions or by the user. User commands and some application commands can be defined by handlers.

Language used in the script editor, currently available dialects are English, French and Japanese. Needs the appropriate extension in the Scripting Additions Folder.

commands and objects of a scriptable application or scripting addition. The dictionary is stored in the AETE resource and can be opened with a script editor .

See UserLand Frontier.

A collection of statements that define a command. Command handlers modify an application command whereas subroutines define a user-defined command.

An environment that is scriptable with its own native HyperTalk or with any OSA language.

Short for Interapplication communication.

Interapplication Communication
(Duane Mitchell points out that IAC could also stand for, in reverse order, my mantra on scripting: Customize, Automate, Integrate.)

Menu Sharing
An open protocol for adding custom menus which call scripts. A free developers toolkit is available from UserLand. Currently, Frontier and Frontier Runtime are the only menu-sharing servers (they support scripts written in AppleScript as well as UserTalk), though in theory anyone could write a standalone server.

Anything that can respond to commands. The characteristics of an object are defined by its properties. Objects can contain other objects (elements) and be contained by another object (container).

Open Scripting Architecture
(To Apple's credit, Macintosh scripting is an open, documented standard. Anyone can create their own OSA language. Unfortunately Apple hasn't created an open debugging API...)

Short for Open Scripting Architecture.

Short for Scripting Addition.

A characteristic of an object. In contrast to an element, a property always has a single value and a label. Unless global variables, script properties are saved with scripts.

A scriptable application that can record some or all of its actions as an OSA script. See Scriptable, Attachable, Tinkerable.

A user-defined object that responds to a run command. Scripts can be saved as text document, compiled script, application or droplet - a script that runs when Finder items are dropped on its icon.

A scriptable application can respond to user-defined
commands and contains a dictionary. Some applications are recordable, attachable or tinkerable.

Scriptable Finder
Finder version 7.1.3 and higher plus the Finder Scripting Extension (current version is 1.2). The Scriptable Finder fully supports the Object Model and is recordable.

Script Editor
Apple Computer's (non-scriptable) editor, included with System 7.5 etc. It will edit any OSA language. The pre-release codename was Toy Surprise. If you do serious scripting, invest in one of the many commercial alternatives.

Scriptable Text Editor
from Apple Computer, included with System 7.5 etc.

Scripting Addition
A code resource (written in a traditional compiled language) that extends AppleScript's capabilities. The short name is osax (plural osaxen), has to be located in the Scripting Additions Folder in the Extensions Folder. Most Scripting Additions can be automatically converted to a UCMD with a script available from UserLand. Most UCMDs can be manually converted to an OSAX by adding an AETE resource and a few other goodies.

A scriptable application that lets you alter (tinker with) its basic functionality, e.g. intercept or replace the "Open" or "Save" menu selection. Very few apps are tinkerable. See Scriptable, Recordable, Attachable.

A code resource (written in a traditional compiled language) that extends Frontier's capabilities. A free UCMD toolkit is available from UserLand. Most OSAXen can be automatically converted to a UCMD with a script available from UserLand. Most UCMDs can be manually converted to an OSAX by adding an AETE resource and a few other goodies. Frontier also supports many XCMDs & XFCNs.

UserLand Frontier
A scripting environment that supports any OSA language, hosts menu sharing, offers persistent storage of scripts and data in its Object Database, is fully scriptable and attachable, includes built-in scriptable outliner and word processor, and a powerful debugger for UserTalk scripts.

UserLand Frontier's native OSA language. They often describe it as C-like, which doesn't do it justice. It's a very clean, very high-level but also very traditional language, in the broad family which includes Pascal and structured BASIC. (To a language historian, I could just say "Algol descendent".) A unique and powerful feature is tight integration with outlining: blocks of the language are blocks of the outline, so no extra punctuation or words are required to define the beginning and end of a block. UserTalk handles datatypes extremely well; they are there when you need them, and converted automatically when you don't want to worry about them.

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Updated 8/21/95 (format revised slightly 3/25/96).

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