Sessions shine light on AppleScript, a key to business automation in Mac OS X

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Amidst the success of the iPhone and iPad, a growing base of businesses using Mac OS X may be overlooking a proven way to save money: AppleScript, an automation technology bundled with the Macintosh operating system. AppleScript Pro Sessions, offered April 12-16, 2010, in St. Pete Beach, Florida, offer in-depth coverage of AppleScript. Discount pricing, available through March 29, starts at $1500 for any three days.

There's an app for that. It's called AppleScript, and it’s already on your Mac.

Amidst the success of the iPhone and iPad, a growing base of businesses using Mac OS X may be overlooking a proven way to save money: AppleScript, an automation technology bundled with the Macintosh operating system.

"AppleScript is one of Apple's best kept secrets, and it's saving smart businesses millions of dollars," said Shane Stanley. Stanley and Ray Robertson will be co-hosting their 12th AppleScript Pro Sessions training event April 12-16, 2010, in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

"Perhaps the greatest proof of the value of AppleScript and our in-depth training sessions is the number of companies who send employees back year after year," said Robertson. "Unfortunately, many businesses consider it such a competitive advantage that published success stories are rare."

This unique event has drawn attendees from New Zealand, Europe, and Central America, in addition to the U.S. and Canada. The classes are suitable for both new and experienced scripters, with the emphasis on practical skills that can be used across a range of applications. "Exposure to a variety of applications gives users the skills and confidence to explore further," said Robertson. "Students tell us that our collection of scripts alone is worth much more than the price of the course."

The upcoming AppleScript Pro Sessions will be the first to cover Apple's groundbreaking AppleScriptObjC technology, which gives unprecedented access to the power of Mac OS X.

"Our emphasis has always been on practical applications of AppleScript automation, focusing on the Adobe Creative Suite applications and tools such as BBEdit, Microsoft Excel and FileMaker Pro," said Shane Stanley, session co-leader. "AppleScriptObjC opens yet more doors for scripters, both in terms of sophisticated interfaces and expanded capabilities generally. The result is greater opportunities for companies and individuals to automate time-consuming tasks."

"AppleScript has been quietly extending its reach, and this is another huge step," said Robertson, session co-leader. "Automation is the key to improving productivity, and AppleScript is the publishing industry's most versatile and powerful automation technology."

AppleScript is a mature technology, having been introduced in the early 1990s. Its English-like syntax makes it an approachable language for users, and that's often the key to its success. "So often the people who understand best where automation can help a particular business are the people intimately involved in the processes, not outsiders or IT specialists," said Robertson. "AppleScript puts the power to automate in the hands of those who know best where to wield it for maximum savings. It's not unusual for a scripter's first project to save a company more than $10,000."

The sessions offer a full introduction to AppleScript, including the changes in Snow Leopard, the latest version of the Mac OS operating system. Attendees will not only learn about Apple's built-in AppleScript Editor, but also Late Night Software's Script Debugger, an advanced third-party editing and debugging environment. "Almost all of our students end up using Script Debugger," said Robertson. "So we try to highlight its excellent features by using it as much as possible during the week."

Although the sessions focus on publishing automation, AppleScript support is also found in consumer-oriented applications, such as iTunes and iPhoto, as well as some of Apple's business-oriented tools, including Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. Casual users typically begin by automating tasks in the Finder, such as renaming large numbers of files to avoid repetitive tasks.

"People tend to take a very narrow view of automation, seeing it strictly as labor-saving, but there's often more to it than that," said Robertson. "Repetitive and mundane processes are also prone to error. In many cases a company will automate a process to save time, only to find that the biggest savings come from the resulting reduction in errors."

So many applications support AppleScript that there is no way one course could cover them all. "We concentrate on publishing applications, because the potential productivity gains there are enormous," said Stanley. "But we also emphasize how to apply basic scripting techniques in automating any scriptable application or process."

"It is AppleScript's ability to drive multiple applications in a single workflow that has long made it attractive," said Robertson. "Imagine an application that can clean-up and sort items in an Excel document and use the data to produce high-quality charts in Illustrator; import text from Word or FileMaker or other data sources, and do massive search and replace; drive Photoshop or built-in OS imaging services to edit photos; then merge all of those items into an InDesign layout, produce a PDF, and drive an e-mail and/or FTP clients to send out the files.

"There's an app for that. It's called AppleScript, and it’s already on your Mac."

The five-day sessions will be held at Dolphin Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida. A special conference rate offers a limited number of hotel rooms starting at $99/night.

Pricing starts at $1500 for any three days, with a special discounted package of $1800 for all five days. The early bird rate is available through March 29, unless sold out earlier.


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