The unlikely persistence of AppleScript

By John Gruber, Macworld |  Software, AppleScript

First, a little history:

Apple acquired NeXT at the end of 1996, with the plan of using that companys OpenStep operating system as the foundation for the future of Mac OS. The first plan for that OS was called Rhapsody, and the basic idea was that it was OpenStep with a Mac-like appearance.

The idea was to keep all the NeXT stuff and throw out all the Mac stuff. That idea did not flyparticularly with existing Mac developers. This forced Apple into a new plan, Mac OS X, which was a hybrid of NeXT and Mac technologies. That plan was more complicated and took significantly more time to implementMac OS X 10.0 didnt ship until March 2001, and arguably wasnt truly usable until 10.2 in May 2002but it garnered the support of developers and Mac users.

Over the course of the intervening years, though, Mac OS X has evolved in a decidedly NeXT-skewed direction. Mac OS X technologies that began life at NeXT (such as Cocoa and Services) have thrived; technologies from the classic Mac OS (such as Carbon) have been deprecated and eliminated.

AppleScript, however, is an exception to that evolutionary patternand, in many regards, an exceptionally surprisingly one.

Not the only one

AppleScript first appeared in System 7.1 in October 1993, as the first and eventually canonical Open Scripting Architecture (OSA) scripting language. The idea was that OSA would provide a low-level architecture for both inter- and intra-application scriptingin other words, a consistent, system-wide mechanism for multiple applications to communicate and exchange data with each other, and for users to automate tasks within any scriptable application. Instead of each application creating its own incompatible macro language, thered be one universal way for Mac apps to be automated.

AppleScript was not originally intended to be the only OSA scripting language, but it was. The idea was that OSA was language-agnostic, and the plan was for there to be several of them eventually. AppleScript was the friendly language, derived from HyperCards HyperTalk (therein another story entirely) and intended for use by non-programmers. The theory being that a programming language that looked like prose rather than code might enable a broad swath of non-programmers to, well, program.


Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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