Manila Envelope – Part 6

I didn’t update about Manila Envelope yesterday because I didn’t do a lot of successful things with it. I hit a few snags in AppleScript Studio, some having to do with getting data or states from controls and some having to do with lack of visibility in the debugger in certain situations.

However, I do have news items working (albeit with one major hack). One snag I ran into: “title” is now an AppleScript Studio reserved word (along with “password” and “URL”). This means that if you are populating a SOAP structure that has “title” as one of the element names, you have to escape it using vertical bars (e.g. |title|:myTitleVariable) or else AppleScript Studio just plain doesn’t include it as an element in the structure. I had learned this with password and URL the hard way before, but title is a new one. I could say something learned and witty about the importance of avoiding namespace conflicts in published interfaces, but (a) I’m too groggy from fighting this thing and (b) after all, Dave et al didn’t have AppleScript naming standards in mind when they were writing the interface.

Good morning!

Quick progress update. School: last paper is in. I have an ongoing project with a professor I’m still working on, but that’s OK, I get paid for that. Manila Envelope: more work last night. Rolling in News Item support. I have it supporting posting to the home page now. Some UI changes this afternoon. And I want to try to support categories in News Items — will have to play with the Manila RPC definition to see how that works. There are some interesting UI questions too — do I support adding new categories? If not, how does the user refresh categories from the browser?

All for now. I have to go see a movie about a hobbit. 🙂

Mumia’s death sentence overturned

This is huge. Mumia Abu-Jamal, possibly the most famous inmate in America’s criminal justice system, was released from his death sentence today. The state has 180 days to re-sentence him. If you haven’t heard of Mumia, crawl out from under the rock you’ve been living under, or come to Richmond and see the graffiti dedicated to him that covers the city’s walls. He’s a legend — revered and defiled — larger than life. I’m not an expert on the case, so I won’t post my opinion on him here, but I definitely have one.

Reminiscent for the Blonde

No scripting news, petit, just music. I’m listening to Concrete Blonde this afternoon. “And I’ve been running all this time and I’m running out of places to go…and I am just so sick and tired of every face that I know…every thing I do, everything I say, every thing in my head, every night, every day, I been east, I been west, I been north, I been south, I feel your arms, I hear your voice, I see your eyes, I kiss your MOUTH and I am walking in London…” Awesome song. No one did lovelorn angst in the early 90’s like Johnette Napolitano.

Manila Envelope – Part 5

I withdraw my previous objection about password text fields. It is pretty well hidden, but here’s how you make a text field into a “secure text field” (one that hides the user’s input behind bullet characters): select the field, in the Show Info window select Custom Class from the drop down menu at the top of the window, and click NSSecureTextField in the list of available classes. Build and run–the field now shows bullets as you type.

Well, that’s one kind of feedback!

I was so busy with classwork, I almost didn’t notice. But I got one of Dave‘s nominations for the Scripting News Awards, in the category of Best Scripting Weblog. I guess that’s further validation that what I’ve been doing is valuable.

I don’t really feel worthy to be on the same list as Suck, Blogdex, Adam Curry, Doc Searls, and all the rest of the talented nominees. I have no illusions about my worthiness relative to Mark Pilgrim, Sjoerd Visscher, or View from an Iowa Homestead. But I’m putting up a “Vote for me” link anyway.

Thanks and keep the feedback coming

I kind of paused this morning after I wrote the last entry. I’m surprised looking back at it that I’m still working on these scripts. I mentioned the first script I was going to write in July, half joking, in an email to Dave when Apple announced they were going to be baking in SOAP support in 10.1. I wrote the script when I got 10.1 more as a proof of concept than anything else. It works reasonably well. Why am I going forward?

Well, I never had the time to learn all the stuff I wanted to know to program in Cocoa, for one thing, and this is a quick way to learn Interface Builder and some of the other tools in the free Dev Tools IDE. There have been other features that I’ve wanted to add to my existing scripts–it bugs me, for instance, that you type your password in plain text in a dialog box, and that there’s no interface for clearing your stored information.

But mainly I’ve had feedback from a number of people who have convinced me that this stuff is worth investing time in. One, the server guy at a major state university, wanted help in getting his faculty to use the web for knowledge management. (I still haven’t added his feature. Soon, hopefully.) A few scripters have thanked me for the effort I had put in because they use the tool every day.

It’s great to know people are out there reading and blogging. If you find my tools useful and you have suggestions for how to improve them, or just want to drop me a line, please do. My mailbox is open, and as soon as this last paper’s done I’m going back to do some more scripting.

Manila Envelope – Part 1

I started writing the next generation of my Applescript-based tool for posting to Manila last night using AppleScript Studio. The first pass was just to host some of the existing scripts in an AppleScript Studio based application and get them to work. I got it working partway but I think ASStudio (I won’t fully abbreviate that, for reasons that should be obvious) uses different mechanisms for accessing functions contained in separate script files. I need to dig a little more deeply.

By the way, the name of the tool will be Manila Envelope (sorry for the bad pun). I plan to wrap as much functionality to access Manila inside the tool as possible while still making it pretty seamless to use.

AppleScript Studio vs. old AppleScript, take 1

I’m digging deeper into AppleScript studio this morning. It’s really starting to blow my mind. The basic concept is simple: take the power of Cocoa applications, object oriented applications that can tap all the built in frameworks to add lots of power to your application, and build an application on top of them — specifying the actions to be executed using the English like syntax of AppleScript. This is so much more powerful than just providing GUI for AppleScript. It’s like getting PowerBuilder, my old programming language, dropped into my lap all over again.

I’m going through the tutorial now and am noting differences between “old-school” AppleScript under Mac OS X and the new AppleScript Studio. Some starters:

  • You write AppleScript Studio applications in Project Builder and do the user interface in Interface Builder. This gives you access to a lot of features, like…
  • …a built in debugger!
  • It looks like it’s now up to the developer to make source for AppleScript Studio applications available as a separate file. Under old AppleScript, you could distribute an AppleScript “application” that was doubleclickable but could also be opened by Script Editor if the recipient wanted to see how you did something.
  • A small point: the “display dialog” command now creates a window that has a proper title bar.

Over the next few days I’ll be going through this stuff in more detail (while I’m writing my last paper of the semester) and will post my findings.