Book Review:
AppleScript in a Nutshell

AppleScript In A Nutshell by Bruce W. Perry. 526 pp. O’Reilly Press, 2001. $29.95.

AppleScript has been a free part the Macintosh operating system since system 7.5, but most people have used it little if at all. AppleScript is a scripting language that can tell the Finder and other applications to carry out a series of operations with the click of your mouse. Unlike a programming language, it uses English language dialect for most commands. AppleScript works with system 7 or higher.

How does one learn AppleScript? By reading a book like AppleScript In A Nutshell. AppleScript in a Nutshell is written for the novice to advanced AppleScript user. It can be used for its extensive reference section, which lists all the AppleScript functions, operations, etc. Or, it can be used as a complete tutorial on how to write AppleScripts to automate almost any application that runs on the Macintosh.

AppleScript in a Nutshell is laid out in six parts with each part broken down into two or more chapters. Part one is for those who have used AppleScript little or not at all. Part two is an AppleScript language reference for those who want to jump right in and start writing scripts. Part three is specifically for scripting OS 9 applications (most of this information can also be applied to earlier systems). Part four is about scripting OS 9 Control Panels and Extensions, part five is titled “Scripting the MAC OS X System.” Finally, part six holds appendixes, about scripting additions and AppleScript resources.

The book is very well written with copious notations of important features, many illustrations and screen shots and animal themed bullets to indicate “valuable or timesaving information” or warnings of “programming pitfalls or…a procedure that might be dangerous if not carried out in a specific way” (dangerous to the program being run and/or the application being affected).

I found AppleScript in a Nutshell to be a great help in understanding and extending my knowledge of AppleScript. The reference section alone would be worth the price of the book but one gets a whole lot more. The book is written with a sense of humor, which is always appreciated when dealing with a dry subject. The only complaint I have is that AppleScript in a Nutshell should have a spiral binding because of all the use it will be getting.

This is no walnut shell of good information. It’s a coconut!

–Jay Manning
Copyright ©2002 by James Manning. This article originally appeared in the March 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.