Applescript for the Internet (Visual QuickStart Guide)

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9780201353594: Applescript for the Internet (Visual QuickStart Guide)
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Mac power users have long turned to AppleScript to automate repetitive tasks in apps such as QuarkXPress and FileMaker. But in the past few years, AppleScript has evolved beyond its desktop origins into the second most popular language for CGI development (after Perl). This new focus on the Internet opens a world of possibilities--if you know how to make the most of the latest version of AppleScript. Whatever your prior scripting experience, AppleScript for the Internet: Visual QuickStart Guide will have you adding dynamic features to your Web site and other Internet apps in no time. The book's clear, step-by-step instructions are augmented with sample scripts that you can adapt to your own needs. Want to learn how to use AppleScript to create files and images for your Web site? To manage your mailing list for you? To build a simple custom Web browser? You'll find all this and more in AppleScript for the Internet: Visual QuickStart Guide.

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About the Author:

Ethan Wilde bought his first computer, an Apple II, in 1979 after taking a programming class at San Francisco's Exploratorium science museum. The experience changed his life, and Apple computers have been close to Ethan ever since. Now a principal in Mediatrope, an award-winning multimedia company, Ethan has a whole family of Macs to script and care for, when he is not writing books and giving workshops on AppleScripting.

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CGI... ICG... GCI... GIC... do we care where this strange acronym came from? We do. The mysteries of its parent words hold the key to understanding how these Web-enabled scripts work. "Common gateway interface" is the phrase that was coined to describe the manner in which local scripts on a server receive data from an Internet client and return results at the end of their execution. A group of standards describes the way CGIs communicate on each platform. On UNIX, script and server sometimes share data via environment variables. On the Mac, the natural avenue for CGIs is Apple Events, which makes AppleScript a natural choice for handling the passing of data. CGIs on the Mac are often AppleScript script applications or FaceSpan applications. Most Mac Web servers, including WebSTAR and Apple's built-in Personal Web Sharing, are set up out of the box to support the .acgi and .cgi file suffixes to run AppleScript applications that support the standard CGI event handler we're about to meet. Mac OS 8.5 and CGIs A standard event to allow AppleScripts to communicate with Web servers has existed for some time. This event was previously known as on event WWWsdoc. It lacked an English equivalent until OS 8.5 arrived. AppleScript 1.3.x gives us a simple and complete on handle CGI request handler. AppleScript automatically returns server variables to any on handle CGI request handler. With this new handler plus the improvements to speed and language you'll see how easy CGI scripting is in PPC-native AppleScript 1.3.x.4

FaceSpan is often used in creating AppleScript CGIs to take advantage of its built-in FIFO (first in first out) capabilities. When multiple CGI calls are sentto a normal script application, the last person to call the application gets their results first (this is called LIFO, or last in first out). This order of execution isn't desirable in a CGI environment, so it's often worthwhile to save your CGI script applications as FaceSpan stand-alone applications to get FIFO performance.

Save your script as a stay-open application, never showing the startup dialog. When choosing between file suffixes, .acgi is most often is right choice over .cgi. Why? The a in .acgi stands for "asychronous," meaning that the web server will continue to work on other tasks while waiting for the CGI to return results. If you use the .cgi suffix for your CGI, the web server will wait for your CGI to get back to it before doing anything else! Not usually a good thing. Understanding GET data All data that goes to your AppleScript CGI application for processing comes from a Web client, and is submitted to the server using either the GET or POST methods. Forms submitted using the GET method will generate their name-value pairs and add them to the end of the submitted URL. For example, when you submit an HTML form with user-entered data of "John Doe" in the field named "name", the URL sent to the server will have the values of the form filed encoded into it like this: http://www.domain.com/'script.acgi?name=John%20Doe.Figure 11. shows the results returned for this Code 11.1 as a CGI.To parse the URL reply string:

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