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Applescript Pro Sessions Gallery

May 2-6, 2005
Monterey, California, USA

Once again, Shane Stanley and I were pleased to host an outstanding group of scripters in Monterey. This was an exceptionally bright, fun, and nice group of people, as often is the case when Macintosh users gather. The spring weather, as always in Monterey in May, was beautiful. Several class members got to see a family of otters who spent a lot of time just off of Fisherman's Wharf.

As in the past, we had some beginning scripters, and some with many years of experience on complex projects. Shane and I appreciated the overwhelming feedback that the course exceeded the expectations of the participants.

One of this year's highlights was a special dinner hosted by Sal Soghoian, AppleScript Product Manager. With Tiger just released, Sal brought down the AppleScript engineering team from Cupertino to discuss the future direction of AppleScript. Although Shane, Matt Neuburg and myself talked a good deal, I thought the most significant comments came from our class members.

Many topics were discussed and opinions shared, but by far the consensus of the group was that AppleScript needs to remain a user-friendly language reliant upon English-like syntax. Much of the feedback concerned the need to make AppleScript and AppleScript Studio easier, with better documentation and more helpful dictionaries.

This group represented real-world scripters, most of whom held full-time jobs in the publishing industry and come from a non-programming background. As one participant stated, his main job was to get out a publication on time, not spend huge amounts of time learning to script. He might often go extended periods of time without writing or editing a script, so AppleScript's English syntax made it more approachable for the occasional scripter.

Another participant had pursued a full-programming degree, but left after learning it would in fact be the second year before they even began to look at developing a GUI. AppleScript and AppleScript Studio offer a much, much quicker timeline for getting up and running.

Overall, I thought the Apple team left with this impression: regular users want AppleScript syntax to undergo no radical changes, preferring the English equivalents instead of the structured syntax which some programmers insist is easier. Most participants stated they never would have gotten started if AppleScript did not look approachable. We are hoping that the team will pursue making AppleScript even more user-friendly, a goal which they have certainly met with Automator.

Now, we are turning our attention to hosting an AppleScript Pro in Chicago this fall. This will be our first event in the Midwest.

--Ray Robertson

Ray and Shane in front of the group. Ray is wearing his Daily Show t-shirt, a beloved gift from Newport attendee Kevin Gepford of Comedy Central. Gifts for the leaders are *always* strongly encouraged. ;-) Ray on Day 1 trying to hammer home the importance of the various types of AppleScript references for files. If attendees had remembered every word, they would have easily passed the "File Reference Quiz" on Thursday. Shane on Day 1 covering handlers and scope. It was early enough in the day that most attendees were still fascinated with the Australian accent, except for Margaret Hilliard from Sydney.
Rich Collyer from Adobe gave a quick overview of InDesign CS2 Server, which fully supports AppleScript. The product looks very interesting. Have fun with your Adobe sales rep today by calling and asking, "So what does the server version cost?" Ole Kvern laughs during Ray's "Olav Kvern History Quiz," which was run from a script, of course. Unfortunately, Ray and Shane were the only ones who remembered the name of Ole's original column for Aldus Magazine: Desktop Science. Ray, Ole, and Shane, the day after Ole covered scripting XML in InDesign CS2. Here in this FCC-censored shot, Ray reveals the naked truth: he is wearing a QuarkXPress t-shirt underneath, the only thing free he has ever received from the company.
AppleScript Product Manager Sal Soghoian covers new features in Tiger, including scripting XML, and using AppleScript to create SQLlite databases. Very cool stuff! And he showed some neat features of Automator as well. The group mingles before the Apple-sponsored dinner on Thursday night. In the center, Matt Neuburg accosts, er, discusses things with AppleScript engineer Chris Nebel. It is time for some serious eating of an Italian meal before the AppleScript feedback discussion begins. See above for notes about that discussion.
Matt Neuburg reacts as Ray presents him with a special "Master of Scope" award at the dinner. The award reads, "Matt Neuburg, Master of Scope" and at the top says, "Kills Germs, Freshens Breath, Cleanses Subroutines." Robert Holmes looks on as Matt shows off the extremely valuable award. This is the calm-relaxed-my-project-solved Robert on Thursday, as opposed to the tense-and-worried-let-me-talk-to-you-about-my-problems-with-XML Robert from earlier in the week. Matt gives his excellent and always animated talk on using AppleScript Studio, which this year included information on how to create Automator Actions. Once again, the session was excellent and enjoyed by all.
Our smallest group was on Friday, but we finally remembered to gather outside for a quick picture. As usual, the flowers in bloom on the Casa Munras property were outstanding. Was this THE seagull? Perhaps. Meeting on a top floor room of the Casa Munras, a seagull attempted to squack over the session leaders, perhaps to impart more information about AppleScript. Just not the kind of thing you can get at a typical airport hotel. This attendee remain fixated on each session throughout the week, showing that anyone indeed can learn AppleScript.
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