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Mac DevCenter

Run with the Mac Pack!


Automating Mac OS X
Matt Neuburg, TidBITS

Track: Programming
Date: Tuesday, October 01
Time: 10:45am - 11:30am
Location: Lafayette/San Tomas/Lawrence

Wishing your Mac would help you with some repetitious or tedious or specialized task, or that you could get different programs working in automated harmony? You can, and with Mac OS X you've got more options than ever. There are macros; the Unix shell; scripting with AppleScript, JavaScript, or Perl; and writing an application. And you can combine them!

Matt Neuburg demonstrates the options for automating Mac OS X, what sorts of task each option is good for, and what investment of time, effort, and learning might be required. Real-world examples illustrate QuicKeys, Terminal, BBEdit, Script Debugger, REALbasic, and Cocoa; applications driven will include FileMaker Pro, Eudora, Microsoft Word, and Excel.

What does Neuburg think is especially interesting about his talk? "The Mac has always been cool, but as a programmer I initially felt it wasn't a real computer because I couldn't program it. Users need to do more than waggle the mouse and type keys; they need to be able to make the computer do their bidding. Apple started to correct this in 1988 with HyperCard, a kind of software construction kit for the rest of us. Then, with System 7, AppleScript started to arrive, letting us write little programs that give commands to scriptable applications.

"With Mac OS X, though, Apple has completely changed its attitude. Instead of being hard to program, Mac OS X is easy: a major application framework, Cocoa, is built right into the system - and Apple simply *gives* you the tools to write programs with Cocoa! Plus, Mac OS X is Unix, so Perl is built in, you can write shell scripts and so forth.

"When you add all this to AppleScript, macro programs such as QuicKeys, and the other great appliation framework, REALbasic, it's easier than ever to find a way to program your computer at whatever level suits you, when you've got Mac OS X."

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