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sADOBE®
INTRODUCTION TO SCRIPTING

© Copyright 2007 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Introduction to Scripting for Windows® and Macintosh®. NOTICE: All information contained herein is the property of Adobe Systems Incorporated. No part of this publication (whether in hardcopy or electronic form) may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written consent of Adobe Systems Incorporated. The software described in this document is furnished under license and may only be used or copied in accordance with the terms of such license. This publication and the information herein is furnished AS IS, is subject to change without notice, and should not be construed as a commitment by Adobe Systems Incorporated. Adobe Systems Incorporated assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or inaccuracies, makes no warranty of any kind (express, implied, or statutory) with respect to this publication, and expressly disclaims any and all warranties of merchantability, fitness for particular purposes, and noninfringement of third party rights. Any references to company names in sample templates are for demonstration purposes only and are not intended to refer to any actual organization. Adobe®, the Adobe logo, Illustrator®, InDesign®, and Photoshop® are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. Apple®, Mac OS®, and Macintosh® are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. Microsoft®, and Windows® are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. JavaScriptTM and all Java-related marks are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries. UNIX® is a registered trademark of The Open Group. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. If this guide is distributed with software that includes an end user agreement, this guide, as well as the software described in it, is furnished under license and may be used or copied only in accordance with the terms of such license. Except as permitted by any such license, no part of this guide may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Adobe Systems Incorporated. Please note that the content in this guide is protected under copyright law even if it is not distributed with software that includes an end user license agreement. The content of this guide is furnished for informational use only, is subject to change without notice, and should not be construed as a commitment by Adobe Systems Incorporated. Adobe Systems Incorporated assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or inaccuracies that may appear in the informational content contained in this guide. Adobe Systems Incorporated, 345 Park Avenue, San Jose, California 95110, USA.

Contents
1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 5
Isn’t scripting difficult to learn?................................................................................................................................................. 5 Why use scripting? ......................................................................................................................................................................... 5 How do I know when to use scripting? .................................................................................................................................. 5 What about actions or macros?................................................................................................................................................. 5 Okay, so—what exactly is scripting? ....................................................................................................................................... 6 AppleScript................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 JavaScript .................................................................................................................................................................................... 6 VBScript ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 7 How do I begin? .............................................................................................................................................................................. 7

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Scripting basics ............................................................................................................................ 9
The building blocks of scripting................................................................................................................................................ 9 Understanding objects, properties, methods, and commands..................................................................................... 9 Using Objects................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 DOM Concepts.......................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Variables ....................................................................................................................................................................................10 Object references make life better............................................................................................................................11 Variables provide a nice shortcut ..............................................................................................................................12 Naming variables .............................................................................................................................................................13 Object collections or elements as object references ................................................................................................13 How elements and collections number subsequent items..............................................................................14 Referring to the current or active object .......................................................................................................................15 Using properties ...........................................................................................................................................................................16 Understanding read-only and read-write properties ...............................................................................................19 Using alert boxes to show a property’s value .......................................................................................................19 Constant values and enumerations ................................................................................................................................20 Using variables for property values.................................................................................................................................22 Using methods or commands .................................................................................................................................................23 Command or method parameters...................................................................................................................................23 Required parameters......................................................................................................................................................23 Multiple parameters .......................................................................................................................................................24 Tell statements (AS only) ...........................................................................................................................................................25 Notes about variables.................................................................................................................................................................26 Changing a variable’s value ...............................................................................................................................................26 Using variables to refer to existing objects ..................................................................................................................27 Making script files readable......................................................................................................................................................27 Commenting the script........................................................................................................................................................27 Continuing long lines in AppleScript and VBScript...................................................................................................29 Using Arrays ...................................................................................................................................................................................29 Creating objects............................................................................................................................................................................30 More information about scripting..........................................................................................................................................30

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Finding an object’s properties and methods .......................................................................... 31
Using scripting environment browsers................................................................................................................................31 AppleScript data dictionaries ............................................................................................................................................31
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Displaying the AppleScript dictionaries..................................................................................................................31 Using the AppleScript dictionaries............................................................................................................................31 JavaScript object model viewer........................................................................................................................................33 VBScript type libraries ..........................................................................................................................................................33 Displaying the VBScript type libraries ......................................................................................................................34 Using the VBScript type libraries................................................................................................................................34 Using Adobe scripting reference documents....................................................................................................................39 Working with an object’s elements table (AS only)...................................................................................................39 Working with an object’s properties table ...................................................................................................................40 Working with an object’s methods table ......................................................................................................................41

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Advanced scripting techniques................................................................................................ 43
Conditional statements..............................................................................................................................................................43 if statements ............................................................................................................................................................................43 if else statements .............................................................................................................................................................44 Loops ..........................................................................................................................................................................................45 More information about scripting..........................................................................................................................................46

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Troubleshooting ........................................................................................................................ 47
Reserved words.............................................................................................................................................................................47 AppleScript Script Editor error messages............................................................................................................................47 ESTK error messages ...................................................................................................................................................................48 VBScript error messages ............................................................................................................................................................49

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Bibliography .............................................................................................................................. 50 Index ........................................................................................................................................... 51

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Introduction
Scripting is a powerful tool that can be used to control and automate many features of many Adobe applications—saving you so much time and effort that it can completely change the way you approach your work.

®

Isn’t scripting difficult to learn?
Scripting isn’t programming. You don’t need a degree in computer science or mathematics to write basic scripts that automate a wide variety of common tasks. Each scripting item corresponds to a tool or a palette or menu item in an Adobe application. In other words, each scripting element is something you already know through your Adobe expertise. If you know what you’d like your Adobe applications to do, you can easily learn to write scripts.

Why use scripting?
Your work is characterized by creativity, but many of the actual hands-on tasks are anything but creative. Most likely, you spend a lot of time doing the same or similar procedures over and over again. Wouldn’t it be great to have an assistant—one that happily does the mind-numbing tasks, follows your instructions with perfect and predictable consistency, is available any time you need help, works at lightning speed, and never even sends an invoice? Scripting can be that assistant. With a small investment of time, you can learn to script the simple but repetitive tasks that eat up your time. However, while it’s easy to get started, modern scripting languages provide the necessary depth to handle very sophisticated jobs. As your scripting skills grow, you may move on to more complex scripts that work all night while you’re sleeping.

How do I know when to use scripting?
Think about your work—is there a repetitive task that’s driving you crazy? If so, you’ve identified a candidate for a script. Next, you simply figure out:
● ●

What are the steps involved in performing the task? What are the conditions in which you need to do the task?

Once you understand the process you go through to perform the task manually, you are ready to turn it into a script.

What about actions or macros?
If you have used Actions or written macros, you have some idea of the efficiency of using scripts. But scripting goes beyond the capability of Actions or macros by allowing you to manipulate multiple documents and multiple applications in a single script. For example, you can write a script that manipulates an image in Photoshop and then tells InDesign to incorporate the image. Additionally, your script can very cleverly get and respond to information. For example, you may have a document that contains photos of varying sizes. You can write a script that figures out the size of each photo and creates a different colored border based on the size, so that icons have blue borders, small illustrations have green borders, and half-page pictures have silver borders.
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If you like using Actions, keep in mind that your script can execute Actions within the application.

Okay, so—what exactly is scripting?
A script is a series of statements that tells an application to perform a set of tasks. The trick is writing the statements in a language that the applications understand. Scriptable Adobe applications support several scripting languages. If you work in Mac OS®, your choices are:
● ●

AppleScript JavaScript VBScript (Visual Basic and VBA will also work) JavaScript

If you work in Windows®, your choices are:
● ●

The brief descriptions below can help you decide which language will work best for you.

AppleScript
AppleScript is a "plain language" scripting language developed by Apple. It is considered one of the simplest scripting languages to use. To write AppleScript scripts, you can use Apple’s Script Editor application, which, in a default Mac OS installation, is located at: system drive:Applications:AppleScript:Script Editor For information about using Script Editor, please refer to Script Editor Help.

JavaScript
JavaScript is a very common scripting language developed originally to make Web pages interactive. Like AppleScript, JavaScript is easy to learn. Note: Adobe has developed an extended version of JavaScript, called ExtendScript, that allows you to take advantage of certain Adobe tools and scripting features. As a beginner, the difference between these two languages will not affect you. However, you should get in the habit of giving your JavaScript scripts a .jsx extension, rather than the usual .js extension. JavaScript has a few small advantages over AppleScript and Visual Basic:


Your scripts can be used in either Windows or Mac OS. If there’s a chance you’ll want to share or use your scripts on both platforms, you should learn to use JavaScript. In Illustrator and InDesign, you can access scripts in any of the supported languages from within the application. However, in Photoshop, you can access only .jsx files from within the application. You must run AppleScript or Visual Basic scripts from outside the application. This is not a major drawback, but it does require a few extra mouse clicks to run your scripts. You can set up .jsx scripts to run automatically when you open the application by placing the scripts in the application’s Startup Scripts folder. For information on startup script folders, refer to the scripting guide for your application.





To write scripts in JavaScript, you can use any text editor, or you can use the ESTK (ExtendScript Tool Kit) provided with your Adobe applications. The ESTK has many features that make it easier to use than a text editor, including a built-in syntax checker that identifies where the problems are in your script and tries to

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explain how to fix them, and the ability to run your scripts right from the ESTK without saving the file. This second feature can save you a lot of time, especially in the beginning when you may have to test and edit a script more than a few times to get it to work. In a default Adobe installation, the ESTK is in the following location:


In Mac OS: system drive:Applications:Utilities:Adobe Utilities:ExtendScript Toolkit 2 In Windows: system drive:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Utilities/ExtendScript Toolkit 2



For details, see the JavaScript Tools Guide.

VBScript
VBScript is a scaled-down version of the Visual Basic programming language developed by Microsoft. VBScript talks to host applications using ActiveX Scripting. While VBScript is the Visual Basic language version officially supported by CS3, you can also write scripts in VBA and Visual Basic itself. You can find several good VBScript editors on the Internet. If you have any Microsoft Office applications, you can also use the built in Visual Basic editor by selecting Tools > Macro > Visual Basic Editor.

How do I begin?
It’s time to write your first script. Note: If you have problems running your script, see Chapter 5, “Troubleshooting” on page 47.

AS
1. Open the Script Editor and type the following (substituting any Adobe application name in the quotes): tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" make document end tell

2. Press Run.

JS
1. Open the ESTK and select an application from the drop-down list in the upper left corner of a document window. 2. In the JavaScript Console palette, type the following: app.documents.add() 3. Do any of the following:
● ● ●

Click the Run icon in the toolbar at the top of the Document window. Press F5. Choose Debug -> Run.

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VBS
1. In a text editor, type the following (substituting any Adobe application in the quotes in the second line):
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") appRef.Documents.Add()

2. Save the file as a text file with a .vbs extension (for example, create_doc.vbs). 3. Double-click the file in Windows Explorer.

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Scripting basics
This chapter covers the basic concepts of scripting in both Windows and Mac OS. For product-specific directions, see the scripting guide for your Adobe application.

The building blocks of scripting
Your first script, which created a new document, was constructed like an English sentence, with a noun (document) and a verb (make in AS, add() in JS, and Add in VBS). In scripting, a noun is called an object, and a verb is called a command (in AS) or a method (in JS and VBS). Just as you can modify a noun using adjectives, you can modify a script object using properties. To modify a command or method, you use parameters.

Understanding objects, properties, methods, and commands
When you use an Adobe application, you open a file or document, and then, within the document, you create or manipulate layers, text, frames, channels, graphic lines, colors, and other design elements. These things are objects. To create a script statement, you create an object or refer to an existing object, and then you do one of the following:


Define values for the object’s properties. For example, you can specify a document’s name, height, or width. You can specify a layer’s name, color, or opacity. Specify commands or methods that tell the script to do what to your objects. For example, you can open, close, save, and print a document. You can merge, move, or rasterize a layer.



The thing to remember when writing a script is that you can use only the properties or methods/commands that are allowed for the object. How do you know which properties and methods go with which object? For the most part, it’s logical. Generally, if you can specify something in your Adobe application, you can specify it in a script. However, Adobe also spells it out for you in great detail in scripting resources that contain the information you need to create, define, and manipulate scripting objects. For information on locating and using these resources, see Chapter 3, “Finding an object’s properties and methods” on page 31.

Using Objects
The main concept to understand when using objects in scripts is how to refer to an object. How do you let the application know which object you want your script to change? In the application’s user interface, you can simply select the object by clicking it. In a script, there’s a little bit more to it.

DOM Concepts
Scripting languages use something called a Document Object Model (DOM) to organize objects in a way that makes the objects easy to identify. The principle behind a DOM is the containment hierarchy. In other words, top level objects contain next level objects, which contain the subsequent level of objects, and so on.

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For example, the top level object in any Adobe application DOM is the application object. Next is the document object, which contains all other objects, such as layers, channels, pages, text frames, and so on. These objects can contain objects that the document cannot contain directly. For example, in InDesign or Illustrator, a text frame can contain words. A document cannot contain words unless it has a text frame. Similarly, in Photoshop, a document can contain a layer, and a layer can contain a text frame, but a document cannot contain a text frame unless the document contains a layer. Note: An object’s containing object is also called its parent object. In your first script, you first named the application object (or selected it in the ESTK), and then you created the document within that application. If, as your next step, you wanted to create a layer, your script would need to identify the document in which you want to create the layer. If your script does not tell the application exactly where to create an object, your script fails. Note: To view a chart of the DOM for a specific application, please refer to the application’s scripting guide. So, using your DOM principle, how would you add a layer in a document? (To modify this script for Photoshop, please note that a layer is called art layer in AS; and layers are called artLayers in JS or ArtLayers in VBS).

AS tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" make document make layer in document end tell

JS app.documents.layers.add() VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") docRef.Documents.Add appRef.Documents.Layers.Add

If you try to run these scripts, you get an error because the application does not know which document you mean. Sure, you have only one document open, but that won’t always be the case. Therefore, scripting languages have strict requirements that all objects be explicitly identified in every script statement. This guide introduces three ways to refer to objects:
● ● ●

Variables Collection or element numbers The "current" object or "active" object property

Variables
A variable is a thing that you create to hold data in your script. The data, called the variable’s value, can be an object in your script, or it can be a property that describes an object. You could almost think of a variable as a nickname that you give to an object or other data. Using a variable to contain an object makes an object easy to refer to. Most scripters create a variable for each object in their script.

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The following scripts create a document, just as you did in your first script. However, this version of the script creates a variable named myDoc to contain the document. Take a look at these scripts, and then compare them to your first script. (See “How do I begin?” on page 7.)

AS
To create a variable in AS, you use the command set, followed by the variable name. To assign a data value to the variable, you use to followed by the value. tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document end tell

JS
To create a variable in JS, you use var, followed by the variable name. To assign a data value, you use an equal sign (=) followed by the value. Spaces do not matter on either side of the equal sign. var myDoc = app.documents.add()

VBS
To create a variable in VBS, you use the command Set, followed by the variable name. To assign a data value, you use an equal sign (=) followed by the value. Spaces do not matter on either side of the equal sign.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add

Object references make life better
Now that you have a way to refer to the document object created in the script, it’s easy to add the layer. (To modify this script for Photoshop, please note that a layer is called art layer in AS; and layers are called artLayers in JS or ArtLayers in VBS).

AS tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document make layer in myDoc end tell

Even better, we could create another variable to hold the layer. That would allow us to easily refer to the layer if we wanted to define its properties or add an object to the layer. tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc end tell

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JS var myDoc = app.documents.add() myDoc.layers.add()

The same script again, this time creating a variable to hold the layer. var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add()

VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add docRef.Layers.Add

The same script again, this time creating a variable to hold the layer.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add Set layerRef = docRef.Layers.Add

Variables provide a nice shortcut
Variables that hold objects also hold the entire containment hierarchy that identifies the object. For example, to refer to myLayer, you don’t need to refer to the document that contains the layer. The following scripts create a text frame in myLayer. Notice that, when you use myLayer, you don’t need to provide any containment hierarchy information about the layer. Note: The following script uses the contents property to add text to the frame. For now, don’t worry about the mechanics of using properties. The following script uses objects and properties defined in the Illustrator CS3 object model, so it does not work, for example, in InDesign or Photoshop.

AS tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc set myTextFrame to make text frame in myLayer set contents of myTextFrame to “Hello world!” end tell

JS var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add() var myTextFrame = myLayer.textFrames.add() myTextFrame.contents = “Hello world!”

VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add Set layerRef = docRef.Layers.Add Set frameRef = layerRef.TextFrames.Add myTextFrame.Contents = “Hello world!”

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Naming variables
Your scripts will be easier to read if you create descriptive names for your variables. Variable names such as x or c aren’t helpful when you revisit a script. Better names are those that indicate the data the variable contains, such as theDocument or myLayer. Giving your variable names a standard prefix helps your variables stand out from the objects, commands, and keywords of your scripting system. For example:


You could use the prefix “doc” at the beginning of any variables that contain Document objects, such as docRef, or “layer” to identify variables that contain Art Layer objects, such as layerRef and layerRef2. You could use the prefix "my" to add a personal element that separates your variables from script objects. For example, myDoc or myLayer or myTextFrame. Variable names must be a single word (no spaces). Many people use internal capitalization (such as myFirstPage) or underscore characters (my_first_page) to create more readable names. The variable name cannot begin with an underscore character. Variable names can contain numbers but cannot begin with a number. Variable names cannot contain quotation marks or punctuation other than the underscore character. Variable names in JavaScript and VBScript are case sensitive. thisString is not the same as thisstring or ThisString. Variable names in AppleScript are not case sensitive. Each variable in your script must have a unique name.



All variable names must conform to the following rules:


● ● ●



Object collections or elements as object references
Scripting languages put each object in a collection (JS or VBS) or an element (AS), and then assign the object a number, called the index, within the element or collection. The objects in an element or collection are identical types of objects. For example, each channel object in your document belongs to a channels element or collection; each art layer object belongs to an art layers element or an artLayers collection. In English, you could refer to a document by saying, "Give me the first document in the collection." Scripting languages allow you to identify an object in similar fashion, using its element or collection name and index.
● ●

In AS, you refer to the first document in the documents element as document 1. In JS, the first document is documents[0], (note the square braces surrounding the index) because (and this is hard to remember at first) JavaScript begins numbering collection objects at 0. In VBS, the first document is Documents(0), (note the parentheses around the index). VBS begins numbering collection objects at 1.



The following scripts reference the document and layer objects by index in order to add new objects. Note: Because the following script does not use variables, entire containment hierarchy is required in each object reference. For example, in the statement that adds a layer, the script must identify the document to which the layer will be added. To add a text frame to the layer, the script must provide the index not only of the layer that will contain the frame, but it must also identify the document that contains the layer.

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AS tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" make document make layer in document 1 make text frame in layer 1 of document 1 end tell

Note: Beginning scripters using AppleScript are not encouraged to use element numbers as object references when the element contains more than one object. For details as to why, see “How elements and collections number subsequent items” on page 14.

JS
In JavaScript, you indicate an item’s index by using the collection name followed by the index in square brackets ([]). app.documents.add() app.documents[0].layers.add() app.documents[0].layers[0].textFrames.add()

Note: Remember, in JS, index numbers within a collection start at 0.

VBS
In VBScript, you indicate an item’s index by using the collection name followed by the index in parentheses. appRef.Documents.Add appRef.Documents(1).Layers.Add appRef.Documents(1).Layers(1).TextFrames.Add

How elements and collections number subsequent items
Here’s how the scripting languages handle the automatic numbering if you add a second object to a collection or element:


AS assigns number 1 to the new object and renumbers the previously existing object so that it is now number 2. AppleScript object numbers shift among objects to indicate the object that you worked with most recently. This can become confusing in longer scripts. Therefore, beginning scripters are encouraged to use variables as object references and avoid using indexes. JS collection numbers are static; they don’t shift when you add a new object to the collection. Object numbering in JS indicates the order in which the objects were added to the collection. Because the first object you added was assigned the number 0, the next object you add to the collection is number 1; if you add a third object, it is number 2. For example, when you add a document, the document automatically contains a layer. The layer’s index is [0]. If you add a layer, the new layer’s index is [1]; if you add a second layer, its index is [2]. If you drag layer [2] to the bottom position in the Layers palette, it still has index [2]. VBS collection numbers are also static and the numbering performs exactly as described for JS collections, with the exception that the first object in the collection is always (1) in VBS.





Tip: In JS and VBS scripts, you’ll find index numbers very useful as object references. For example, you may have several files in which you want to make the background layer white. You can write a script that says “Open all files in this folder and change the first layer’s color to white.“ If you didn’t have the capability of referring to the layers by index, you’d need to include in your script the names of all of the background layers in all of the files.

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Note: Scripts are compulsive organizers. They place objects in elements or collections even when there is only one object of that type in the entire collection. Note: Objects can belong to more than one collection or element. For example, in Photoshop, art layer objects belong to the art layers element or collection, and layer set objects belong to the layer sets element or collection, but both art layer objects and layer set objects belong to the layers element or collection. Similarly, in InDesign, rectangle objects belong to the rectangles element or collection and text frame objects belong to the text frames element or collection. However, both rectangle objects and text frame objects also belong to the page items element or collection, which contains all sorts of items on a page such as ellipses, graphic lines, polygons, buttons, and other items.

Referring to the current or active object
When you ran your first script and created a new document, the application opened, and then it created a document. If you wanted to modify that document in the application’s user interface, you could have just gone to work with your mouse, menus, toolbox, and palettes, because the document was automatically selected. This is true for all objects you create in a script. Until the script does something else, the new object is the active object, ready for modifications. Conveniently, many parent objects contain properties that allow you to refer easily to the active object. (You’ll learn about properties in detail a little later in this guide. For now, you can just copy the script statements in this section and watch how they work without understanding completely why they look the way they do.)


In AS, the property that refers to an active object consists of the word current and the object name. Some examples are: current document current layer current channel current view



In JS, the property name is a compound word that combines active with the object name, in standard JS case usage:
● ●

The first word in the combined term is lower case. The second word (and all subsequent words) in the combined term use initial caps. activeDocument activeLayer activeChannel activeView

Some examples are:



VBS is exactly the same as JS, except that all words in the combined term use initial caps. Some examples are:
ActiveDocument ActiveLayer ActiveChannel ActiveView

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The following scripts create a document and then use this principle to create a layer in the new document.

AS tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" make document make layer in current document end tell

JS app.documents.add() app.activeDocument.layers.add()

Note: Be sure to type activeDocument without an s at the end.

VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") docRef.Documents.Add appRef.ActiveDocument.Layers.Add

Note: Be sure to type ActiveDocument without an s at the end.

Using properties
To define or modify a property of an object, you do three things: 1. Name the object. 2. Name the property. 3. Specify the value for the property. The value can be any of the following datatypes:


A string, which is alphanumeric text that is interpreted as text. You enclose strings in quotes (""). Strings include such values as an object’s name. Numeric, which is a number value that can be used in mathematical operations like addition or division. Mathematical numbers include the length of one side of a frame or the space between paragraphs, the opacity percentage, font size, stroke weight, and so on. Note that some values that look like numbers are really strings. For example, a phone number or social security number are numbers, but you would format them as strings (enclose them in quotes) because the data would not be considered mathematical numbers. Within the numeric category, there are different types of numbers:
● ●



Integer, which is a whole number without any decimal points Real, fixed, short, long, or double, which are numbers that can include decimal digits, such as 5.9 or 1.0.

Note: These differences may not seem important now, but keep them in mind for later.


A variable. When you use a variable as a property value, you do not enclose the variable in quotes as you would a string.

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A Boolean value, which is either true or false.

Note: In many cases, Boolean values act as an on/off switch.


A constant value (also called an enumeration), which is a pre-defined set of values from which you can choose. Using constant values for a property is conceptually similar to using a drop-down menu in an Adobe application. Constants, and how and when to use them, are explained in “Constant values and enumerations” on page 20. A list (AS) or an array (JS and VBS). Some properties require multiple values, such as the page coordinates of a point location (x and y coordinates), or the boundaries of a text frame or geometric object. Multiple values for a single property are called a list in AS and an array in JS or VBS. Each language specifies formatting rules.




The list or array must be enclosed as follows:
● ● ●

In AS, the list is enclosed in curly braces: {} In JS the array is enclosed in square brackets: [] In VBS, the array is enclosed in parentheses and follows the keyword Array : Array()



Values are separated by a comma (,). You can include or omit spaces after the commas; it doesn’t matter.
● ● ●

AS: {3,4,5} or {"string1", "string2", "string3"} JS: [3,4,5] or ["string1", "string2", "string3"] VBS: Array(3,4,5)or Array("string1", "string2", "string3")



A list or array can included nested lists or arrays, such as a list of page coordinates. In the following samples, notice that each nested array is enclosed individually, and that the nested arrays are separated by commas.
● ● ●

AS: {{x1, y1}, {x2, y2}, {x3, y3}} JS: [[x1, y1], [x2, y2], [x3, y3]] VBS: Array(Array(x1, y1), Array(x2, y2), Array(x3, y3))

AS
To use properties in AS, you use the set command followed by the property name, and then type of followed by the object reference. The following script defines the name property of the layer object tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc set name of myLayer to "My New Layer" end tell

You can set several properties in a single statement using the properties property. You format the multiple properties as an array, enclosed in curly braces. Within the array, separate each property name/property value pair with a colon (:). The following script uses properties to define the layer’s name and visibility state. tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc set properties of myLayer to {name:"My New Layer", visible:false} end tell

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Note: Notice in the preceding script that only the string value "My New Layer" is enclosed in quotes. The value for the visible property, false, may look like a string, but it is a Boolean value. To review value types, see “Using properties” on page 16. You can define an object’s properties in the statement that creates the object, as in the following scripts. tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc with properties {name:"My New Layer"} end tell tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc with properties {name:"My New Layer", visible:false} end tell

JS
To use a property in JS, you name the object that you want the property to define or modify, insert a period (.), and then name the property. To specify the value, place an equal sign (=) after the property name, and then type the value. var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add() myLayer.name = "My New Layer"

To define multiple properties, you can write multiple statements: var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add() myLayer.name = "My New Layer" myLayer.visible = false

Note: Notice in the preceding script that only the string value "My New Layer" is enclosed in quotes. The value for the visible property, false, may look like a string, but it is a Boolean value. To review value types, see “Using properties” on page 16. JS provides a shorthand for defining multiple properties, called a with statement. To use a with statement, you use the word with followed by the object whose properties you want to define, enclosing the object reference in parentheses (()). Do not type a space between with and the first parenthesis. Next, you type an opening curly brace ({), and then press Enter and type a property name and value on the following line. To close the with statement, you type a closing curly brace (}). var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add() with(myLayer){ name = "My New Layer" visible = false }

Using a with statement saves you the trouble of typing the object reference followed by a period (in this case, myLayer.) for each property. When using a with statement, always remember the closing curly bracket. JS also provides a properties property, which allows you to define several values in one statement. You enclose the entire group of values in curly braces ({}). Within the braces, you use a colon (:) to separate a property name from its value, and separate property name/property value pairs using a comma (,). var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add() myLayer.properties = {name:"My New Layer", visible:false}

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VBS
To use properties in VBS, you name the object, insert a period (.), and then name the property. To specify the value, place an equal sign (=) after the property name, and then type the value.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add Set myLayer = myDoc.Layers.Add myLayer.Name = "My First Layer"

You can define only one property per statement. To define multiple properties, you must write multiple statements:
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add Set myLayer = myDoc.Layers.Add myLayer.Name = "My First Layer" myLayer.Opacity = 65 myLayer.Visible = false

Note: Notice in the preceding script that only the string value "My New Layer" is enclosed in quotes. The value for the Visible property, false, may look like a string, but it is a Boolean value. To review value types, see “Using properties” on page 16.

Understanding read-only and read-write properties
When defining property values, you can write a script statement with perfect syntax, but the statement does not produce any results. This can happen when you try to define a property that is not "writeable"; the property is read-only. For example, the name property of the document object in most Adobe applications is read-only; therefore, you cannot use a script to define or change the name of an existing document (although you can use a save as command or method; see “Using methods or commands” on page 23 for information). So why bother to have a property that you can’t set, you might ask. The answer is that read-only properties are valuable sources of information. For example, you may want to find out what a document’s name is, or how many documents are in the Documents collection.

Using alert boxes to show a property’s value
A good way to display information in a read-only property is to use the alert box, which is a small dialog that simply displays information. You can use alert boxes to display the value of any property: read-write or read-only.

AS
To display an alert box in AS, you type display dialog, and then type the dialog content in parentheses (()). To find out how many objects are in an element, use the count command with any element name. Note: The element name is the plural form of the object. For example, the document object’s element is the documents object. The following script displays an alert box that tells you how many documents are in the documents element, then adds a document and displays a new alert with the updated number. tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" display dialog (count documents) set myDoc to make document display dialog (count documents) end tell

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To get a string value to display in an alert box, you must store the string value in a variable. The following script converts the document name to a variable named myName, and then displays the value of myName. tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" set myDoc to make document set myName to name of myDoc display dialog myName end tell

JS
To display an alert box in JS, you use the alert() method by typing alert, and then typing the dialog content in parentheses (()). Do not type a space between alert and the first parenthesis. To find out how many objects are in a collection, use the (read-only) length property of any collection object. The following script displays an alert box that tells you how many documents are in the documents collection, then adds a document and displays a new alert with the updated number. Note: The collection object name is the plural form of the object. For example, the document object’s collection object is the documents object. alert(app.documents.length) var myDoc = app.documents.add() alert(app.documents.length)

The following script displays the document’s name in an alert box. var myDoc = app.documents.add() alert(myDoc.name)

VBS
To display an alert box in VBS, you use the MsgBox method by typing MsgBox, and then typing the dialog content in parentheses (()). Do not type a space between MsgBox and the first parenthesis. To find out how many objects are in a collection, use the (read-only) Count property of any collection object. The following script displays an alert box that tells you how many documents are in the Documents collection, then adds a document and displays a new alert with the updated number. Note: The collection object is the plural form of the object. For example, the Document object’s collection object is the Documents object.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") MsgBox(appRef.Documents.Count) Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add MsgBox(appRef.Documents.Count)

The following script displays the document’s name in an alert box.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add MsgBox(myDoc.Name)

Constant values and enumerations
Some properties’ values are pre-defined by the application. For example, in most applications, the page orientation can be either landscape or portrait. The application accepts only one of these two values; it will not accept "vertical" or "upright" or "horizontal" or "on its side". To make sure your script provides an acceptable value for a document’s page orientation property, the property has been written so that it can accept only a pre-defined value. In scripting, these pre-defined values are called constants or enumerations. Using a constant or an enumeration is similar to using a drop-down list in the application’s user interface.

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Note: To find whether you must use an enumeration for a property’s value, look up the property in one of the scripting references provided by Adobe. For information, see Chapter 3, “Finding an object’s properties and methods” on page 31.

AS
In AS, you use constants as you would any other property definition. Do not enclose the constant in quotes. The following script uses the constant value dark green to set the layer color of a new layer. tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc set layer color of myLayer to dark green end tell

Note: If dark green were a string value rather than an constant, the value would be enclosed in quotes: set layer color of myLayer to "dark green"

JS
In JS, you type the enumeration name, a period (.), and then the enumeration value. You must use the exact spelling and capitalization as defined in the scripting references provided by Adobe. Formatting is different in different Adobe applications. For example:


In InDesign:


Each enumeration begins with an upper case letter, and all words within the combined term also begin with an upper case letter. The enumeration value begins with a lower case letter. The following example uses the UIColor enumeration to set the layer color to dark green. var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = mydoc.layers.add() myLayer.layerColor = UIColor.darkGreen





In Illustrator:


Each enumeration begins with an upper case letter, and all words within the combined term also begin with an upper case letter. Some enumeration values begin with an upper case letter and then use lower case letters. Others use all upper case. You must be sure to use the value exactly as it appears in the scripting reference. The following example uses the RulerUnits enumeration to set the default unit to centimeters. var myDoc = app.documents.add() myDoc.rulerUnits = RulerUnits.Centimeters



The next script uses the BlendModes enumeration, whose values are expressed in all upper case letters. var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add() myLayer.blendingMode = BlendModes.COLORBURN


In Photoshop:


Each enumeration begins with an upper case letter, and all words within the combined term also begin with an upper case letter.

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Enumeration values are all upper case. The following example uses the LayerKind enumeration to make the layer a text layer. var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = mydoc.artLayers.add() myLayer.kind = LayerKind.TEXT

VBS
In VBS, you use numeric values for constants.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add Set layerRef = docRef.ArtLayers.Add layerRef.Kind = 2

Using variables for property values
You can use variables to contain property values. This can help you update a script quickly and accurately. For example, you may have a publication in which all photos are 3 x 5 inches. If you use a variable to set the photo height and the photo width, and then the measurements change, you only have to change the values in one variable, rather than the measurements for each photo in the document. The following script creates variables to contain the values of the document’s width and height, and then uses the variables as values in the statement that changes the width and height.

AS tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to make document with properties {height:10, width:7} set docHeight to height of myDoc set docWidth to width of myDoc set myDoc with properties {height:docHeight - 2, width:docWidth - 2} end tell

JS var myDoc = app.documents.add(7, 10) var docHeight = myDoc.height var docWidth = myDoc.width myDoc.resizeCanvas((docHeight - 2), (docWidth - 2))

VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add(7, 10) docHeight = myDoc.Height docWidth = myDoc.Width myDoc.ResizeCanvas docWidth - 2, docHeight - 2

Note: The MsgBox method does not work when you open a script from the Scripts menu in some Adobe applications. To properly display the message box, double-click the script file in Windows Explorer® .

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Using methods or commands
Commands (in AS) and methods (in VBS and JS) are directions you add to a script to perform tasks or obtain results. For example, you could use the print/print()/PrintOut command/method to print a document.

AS
AS commands appear at the beginning of a script statement as an imperative verb. The command is followed by a reference to the object upon which you want the command to act. The following script prints the active document: tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" print current document end tell

JS
You insert methods at the end of JS statements. You must place a period before the method name, and then follow the method name with parentheses (()). app.activeDocument.print() VBS
You insert methods at the end of VBS statements. You must place a period before the method name.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") appRef.ActiveDocument.PrintOut

Command or method parameters
Some commands or methods require additional data, called arguments or parameters. Commands or methods can also have optional parameters.

Required parameters
The following scripts use the merge command, which requires some indication of the layers you want to merge into the selected layer. Just like properties, command parameters are enclosed in curly braces ({}). However, you include only the parameter value, and not the parameter name, within the braces. Note: This script is for InDesign. There is no merge operation in Illustrator. To modify this script for Photoshop, please note that a layer is called art layer in AS; and layers are called artLayers in JS or ArtLayers in VBS.

AS tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc set myLayer2 to make layer in myDoc merge myLayer2 with {myLayer} end tell

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JS
The method parameter is enclosed in the parentheses that follow the method name. var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.layers.add() var myLayer2 = myDoc.layers.add() myLayer2.merge(myLayer)

VBS
Notice that the method parameter is enclosed in parentheses after the method name. Do not type a space before the first parenthesis.
Set appRef = CreateObject("InDesign.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add Set myLayer = myDoc.Layers.Add Set myLayer2 = myDoc.Layers.Add myLayer2.Merge(myLayer)

Multiple parameters
When you define more than one parameter for a command or method, you must follow specific rules.

AS
There are two types of parameters for AS commands:
● ●

A direct parameter, which defines the direct object of the action performed by the command Labeled parameters, which are any parameters other than direct parameters

The direct parameter must follow the command directly. In the following statement, the command is make and the direct parameter is document. make document

You can insert labeled parameters in any order. The following script creates two layers, and defines the location and name of each layer. Notice that, in the statements that create the layers, the location and name parameters appear in different orders. tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" set myDoc to make document tell myDoc set myLayer to make layer at beginning of myDoc with properties {name:"Lay1"} set myLayer2 to make layer with properties {name:"Lay2"} at end of myDoc end tell end tell

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JS
In JS, you must enter parameter values in the order they are listed in the scripting reference resources so that the script compiler knows which value defines which parameter. Note: For information on scripting reference resources, see Chapter 3, “Finding an object’s properties and methods” on page 31. To skip an optional parameter, type the placeholder undefined. The following statement creates a Photoshop CS3 document whose width is 4000 pixels, height is 5000 pixels, resolution is 72, name is "My Document", and document mode is bitmap. app.documents.add(4000, 5000, 72, “My Document“, NewDocumentMode.BITMAP)

The next statement creates an identical document except that the resolution is left undefined. app.documents.add(4000, 5000, undefined, “My Document“, NewDocumentMode.BITMAP)

Note: Use the undefined placeholder only to "reach" the parameters you want to define. The following statement defines only the document’s height and width; placeholders are not needed for subsequent optional parameters. app.documents.add(4000, 5000)

VBS
In VBS, you must enter parameter values in the order they are listed so that the script compiler knows which value defines which parameter. To skip an optional parameter, type the placeholder undefined. The following statement creates a Photoshop CS3 document whose width is 4000 pixels, height is 5000 pixels, resolution is 72, name is "My Document", and document mode is bitmap.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add(4000, 5000, 72, "My Document", 5)

The next statement creates an identical document except the resolution is left undefined.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add(400, 500, undefined, "My Document", 5)

Note: Use the undefined placeholder only to "reach" the parameters you want to define. The following statement defines only the document’s height and width; placeholders are not needed for subsequent optional parameters.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Documents.Add(4000, 5000)

The undefined placeholder is not case-sensitive.

Tell statements (AS only)
You may have noticed that AppleScript examples start and end with the statements: tell application "Application Name" end tell

A tell statement names the default object that performs all commands contained within the statement. In the preceding sample, the tell statement targets the application object. Therefore, any commands contained within the statement must be performed by the application object unless another object is explicitly named in a script statement within the tell statement.

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The following script carefully outlines the full containment hierarchy of each object to indicate which object the command must work upon: tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc set myLayer2 to make layer in myDoc end tell

You can create a shortcut by changing the command target. To do so, you add a nested tell statement. The following script performs the exact same operation as the previous script. Because the nested tell statement targets the document object, it is not necessary to refer to the document object in the statements that create the layers. tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" set myDoc to make document tell myDoc set myLayer to make layer set myLayer2 to make layer end tell end tell

Notice that each tell statement must be closed with its own end tell statement. You can nest as many tell statements as you wish.

Notes about variables
This section provides additional information about using variables.

Changing a variable’s value
You can change a variable’s value at any time. To do so, you simply use the variable name followed by the assignment operator (to in AS; = in JS or VBS) and the new value. The following scripts create the variable layerRef to contain a new layer, and then immediately create a second layer and assign it as layerRef ’s new value.

AS
To change a variable’s value in AS, you use the set command. tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set docRef to make document set layerRef to make layer in myDoc with properties {name:"First Layer"} set layerRef to make layer in myDoc with properties {name:"Second Layer"} end tell

JS
To change a variable’s value in JS, you use the variable name followed an equal sign (=) and the new value. Do not begin the reassignment statement with var; you use var only when creating a new variable. var docRef = app.documents.add() var layerRef = myDoc.layers.add() layerRef.name = "First Layer" layerRef = myDoc.layers.add() layerRef.name = "Second Layer"

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VBS
To change a variable’s value in VBS, you use the Set command.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add Set layerRef = docRef.Layers.Add layerRef.Name = "First Layer" layerRef = docRef.Layers.Add layerRef.Name = "Second Layer"

Using variables to refer to existing objects
You can also create variables to contain existing objects.

AS tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" set myDoc to current document end tell

JS var myDoc = app.activeDocument

VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Illustrator.Application") Set docRef = appRef.ActiveDocument

Making script files readable
This section covers two options that help make your script files more readable:
● ●

Comments Line breaks

Commenting the script
A script comment is text that the scripting engine ignores when it executes your script. Comments are very useful when you want to document the operation or purpose of a script (for yourself or for someone else). Most programmers, even the most advanced, take the time to insert comments for almost every element in a script. Comments may not seem important to you when you are writing your scripts, but you will be glad you included comments a month or a year later when you open a script and wonder what you were trying to do and why.

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AS
To comment all or part of a single line in an AS, type two hyphens (--) at the beginning of the comment. To comment multiple lines, surround the comment with (* and *). tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" --This is a single-line comment print current document --this is a partial-line comment --the hyphens hide everything to their right from the scripting engine (* This is a multi-line comment, which is completely ignored by the scripting engine, no matter how many lines it contains. The trick is to remember to close the comment. If you don’t the rest of your script is hidden from the scripting engine!*) end tell

Note: The only thing this script does is print the current document.

JS
To comment all or part of a single line in JS, type two forward slashes (//) at the beginning of the comment. To comment multiple lines, surround the comment with /* and */.
//This is a single-line comment app.activeDocument.print() //this part of the line is also a comment /* This is a multi-line comment, which is completely ignored by the scripting engine, no matter how many lines it contains. Don’t forget the closing asterisk and slash or the rest of your script will be commented out...*/

Note: The only thing this script does is print the active document.

VBS
In VBS, type Rem (for “remark”) or ' (a single straight quote) at the beginning of the comment. VBS does not support comments that span more than one line. To comment several lines in a row, start each line with either comment format.
'This is a comment.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application")

Rem This is also a comment. appRef.ActiveDocument.PrintOut 'This part of the line is a comment.

' ' ' '

This is a multi-line comment that requires a comment marker at the beginning of each line.
This is also a multi-line comment. Generally, multi-line comments in VBS are easier for you to identify (and read) in your scripts if they begin with a single straight quote (') rather than if they begin with Rem, because Rem can look like any other text in the script

Rem Rem Rem Rem

' The choice is yours but isn’t this more easily ' identifiable as a comment than the preceding ' four lines were?

Note: The only thing this script does is print the active document.

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Continuing long lines in AppleScript and VBScript
In both AppleScript and VBScript, a carriage return at the end of a line signals the end of a statement. When your script lines are too long to fit on one line, you can use special continuation characters— characters that break a line but direct the script to read the broken line as a legitimate instruction. Note: You can also expand the scripting editor window to continue the statement on a single line.

AS
Type the character ¬ (Option+Return) to break a long line but continue the statement. tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make layer in myDoc with properties {name:"My First Layer"} at the¬ beginning of myDoc (* without the line break character, AS would consider this line an incomplete statement*) (* note that line continuation characters are not required in a multi-line comment such as this one*) set myLayer2 to make layer in myDoc with properties {name:"My Other Layer"} ¬ before myLayer end tell

VBS
Type an underscore (_) followed by a carriage return to break a long line but continue the statement. Note: In both languages, the continuation character loses its functionality if it is placed inside a string (that is, within the quotes). If the line break occurs within a string value, place the break character before the string and insert the line break early. Note: In JavaScript, statements can contain carriage returns, so there is no need for a continuation character. However, the ExtendScript interpreter interprets each line as a complete statement. In general, therefore, it’s best to insert returns only at the ends of statements.

Using Arrays
In VBScript and JavaScript, arrays are similar to collections; however, unlike collections, arrays are not created automatically. You can think of an array as a list of values for a single variable. For example, the following JavaScript array lists 4 values for the variable myFiles: var myFiles = myFiles[0] myFiles[1] myFiles[2] myFiles[3] new Array () = "clouds.bmp" = “clouds.gif” = “clouds.jpg” = “clouds.pdf”

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The following sample includes the same statements in VBScript:
Dim myFiles (4) myFiles(0) = “clouds.bmp” myFiles(1) = “clouds.gif” myFiles(2) = “clouds.jpg” myFiles(3) = “clouds.pdf” appRef.Open myFiles(1)

Note: While indexes in VBS collections always begin numbering at (1), you can stipulate in your VBS scripts whether arrays that you create begin numbering at (1) or (0). To find out how to set the array index starting number, refer to any VBScript text book. For information on collections and index numbers, see “Object collections or elements as object references” on page 13.

Creating objects
Your first script demonstrated how to create an object using the make command (AS), add() method (JS), or Add method (VBS) of the object’s collection object. For example:

AS tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" make document end tell

JS app.documents.add() VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") appRef.Documents.Add()

However, some objects do not have a make command (AS), add() method (JS), or Add method (VBS). To create objects of these types, refer to the section “Creating new objects” in the chapter for your scripting language in the Adobe scripting guide for your application.

More information about scripting
At this point you have enough knowledge to create simple scripts that perform basic tasks. To further your scripting skills, use any of the following resources:
● ● ●

“Advanced scripting techniques” on page 43. The Adobe scripting guide for your application. “Bibliography” on page 50.

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Finding an object’s properties and methods
Adobe provides the following resources to help you find and use the objects, methods or commands, properties, enumerations, and parameters you need to create effective scripts.


Object dictionaries or type libraries. Each scriptable Adobe application provides a reference library or dictionary within your script editor environment. The Adobe scripting reference documents (in PDF format), which are located on your installation CD. (Scripting reference documents are not provided for all Adobe applications.)



Using scripting environment browsers
This section explains how to display and use the scripting environment object browsers for each scripting language.

AppleScript data dictionaries
The AppleScript dictionaries are available through Apple’s Script Editor application.

Displaying the AppleScript dictionaries
Note: The default location for the Script Editor application is Applications > AppleScript > Script Editor. 1. In Script Editor, choose File > Open Dictionary. Script Editor displays an Open Dictionary dialog. 2. Choose your Adobe application, and then choose Open. Script Editor opens the Adobe application and then displays the application’s dictionary.

Using the AppleScript dictionaries
The AS dictionary divides objects into suites. Suite names are indicative of the type of objects that the suite contains.
➤ To view an object’s properties:

1. In the upper left pane of the data dictionary screen, select the suite that contains the object. 2. Select the object in the upper middle pane. Note: Objects are indicated by a square icon: ; commands are indicated by a round icon: .

The object description appears in the lower viewing pane. The object’s elements and properties are listed below the description. Each element name is a hyperlink to the element’s object type.

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3. Each property listing contains the following:
● ●

The property name The data type in parentheses
● ●

If the data type is an object, the data type is a hyperlink to the object. If the data type is an enumeration, the data type is "anything". The valid values are listed after the property description and separated by forward slashes (/), and are preceded by the notation "Can return:". If the object is read-only, r/o appears after the data type. If the object is read-write, no access value is given.
1. Select a suite to display the suite’s objects and commands in the upper middle pane 2. Select the object



The access value:
● ●



A description of the property.

3. View the object’s information in the lower pane: object description links to the object’s elements

properties list

data types and access values are parenthesized following the property name Note: The access value appears only when the property is read-only

enumerated values are preceded by "Can return:"

Viewing commands and command parameters
Note: The data dictionary lists the objects you can use with a command. However, it does not list the commands you can use with an object. To view a list of commands you can use with an object, refer to the AppleScript scripting reference for your application. See “Using Adobe scripting reference documents” on page 39 for more information.
➤ To view commands in the data dictionary:

1. In the upper left pane of the data dictionary screen, select the suite that contains the command. The upper middle pane lists the commands and objects contained in the suite.

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2. Select the command in the upper middle pane. Note: Commands are indicated by a round icon: ; objects are indicated by a square icon: .

The command description appears in the lower viewing pane.
● ●

Below the description, the objects with which you can use the command are listed. Below the list of supported objects, the parameters are listed.
● ●

If the parameter is optional, it is enclosed in square brackets ([ ]). If no brackets appear around the parameter name, the parameter is required. If the data type is an object, the data type is a hyperlink to the object. If the data type is an enumeration, the valid values are preceded by the notation "Can accept:" and then listed, separated by forward slashes (/).
1. Select a suite to display the suite’s commands and objects in the upper middle pane



Each parameter name is followed by the data type.
● ●

2. Select the command

3. View the command’s information in the lower pane:

command description list of objects that use the command parameters, with data types and descriptions

optional parameters are enclosed in square brackets ([ ])

Note: When the parameter value is an enumeration, the enumerated values are preceded by "Can accept:"

JavaScript object model viewer
You can use the ExtendScript Tools Kit (ESTK), which is installed with your Adobe applications, to display the JavaScript objects and methods available for your Adobe application. For information on displaying and using the JavaScript object model viewer for your Adobe application, see the JavaScript Tools Guide.

VBScript type libraries
You can use the Visual Basic editor in any Microsoft Office application to display the VBScript objects and methods available for your Adobe application. Note: If you use a different editor, refer to the editor’s help system to find out how to display type libraries.

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Displaying the VBScript type libraries
➤ To view the VBS object library:

1. Start any Microsoft Office application, and then choose Tools > Macro > Visual Basic Editor. 2. In the Visual Basic editor window, choose Tools > References. 3. In the References dialog’s Available References list, select your Creative Suite application, and then click OK. 4. In the Visual Basic editor window, choose View > Object Browser. 5. Select your Adobe application in the drop-down list in the upper left corner of the Object Browser window.

Select your CS3 application in the drop-down list

Classes pane

Members of pane

Using the VBScript type libraries
The VBS object type library displays objects and constants in the Classes pane on the left side of of the Object Browser window. In the Classes pane:
● ●

Objects are indicated by the following icon: Constants are indicated by the following icon:

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

35

To display an object’s properties and method, you select the object type in the Classes pane. The properties and methods are listed in the Members of pane to the right of the Classes pane.
● ●

Properties are indicated by the following icon: Methods are indicated by the following icon:

Understanding property listings in the Object Browser When you select a property in the Members of pane, the property’s information is displayed in the information pane at the bottom of the Object Browser window as follows:


The property name is followed by the data type.


If the data type is a constant, the constant appears as a hyperlink to the constant’s values. Constant names begin with a prefix that matches the Adobe application’s abbreviated name. For example:


The prefix Ps is used for enumerations in Photoshop CS3. Examples: PsColorProfileType, PsBitsPerChannelType The prefix id is used for enumerations in InDesign CS3. Examples: idRenderingIntent, idPageOrientation The prefix Ai is used for enumerations in Illustrator CS3. (Ai = Adobe Illustrator) Examples: AiCropOptions, AiBlendModes





● ●

If the data type is an object, the object name is a hyperlink to the object type.

The access value appears only if the property is read-only. If the property is read-write, no access value appears.

The data type appears next to the property name The access value is listed only when access is read-only The property description appears at the bottom of the information pane

1. Select the property in the Members of pane

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

36

Finding an enumeration’s numeric value In VBS, you use an enumeration’s numeric value as a property value. For example, in the following script, the layer type, represented by the Kind property in the last line of the script, is defined by the numeric value 2, which represents the TextLayer constant value.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add Set layerRef = docRef.ArtLayers.Add layerRef.Kind = 2 'PsTextLayer

➤ To find an enumeration’s numeric value:

1. Click the link to the enumeration’s information.

Click the link to the enumeration’s information

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

37

2. Click the enumeration value to display the numeric value in the bottom pane.

Click the enumeration value in the right pane to display its numeric value in the bottom pane

Understanding method listings When you select a method in the Members of pane, the method’s information is displayed in the information pane at the bottom of the Object Browser window as follows:


The method name is followed by the parameters.
● ●

Optional parameters are enclosed in square brackets ([ ]). If no brackets appear around a parameter name, the parameter is required. If the data type is an object, the data type is a hyperlink to the object. If the data type is an enumeration, the enumeration name begins with the application’s initials and is a hyperlink to the enumeration’s information. If a default value exists for a parameter, the value is listed after the datatype after an equal sign (=).



Each parameter name is followed by the data type.
● ●



Note: The default value is used if you do not define a value for the parameter. Only optional parameters have default values.

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

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1. Select the method in the Members of pane The data type is listed after the method name; if the datatype is an enumeration, the enumeration name begins with the application’s initials and is a link to the enumeration’s information The parameters are listed in parentheses after the method name, with optional parameters enclosed in square brackets ([ ]) If a default value exists, it follows an equal sign (=) Note: Any data type can have a default value

The method description appears at the bottom of the information pane

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

39

Using Adobe scripting reference documents
Adobe provides scripting references for many applications. The references are located on your installation CD. In the scripting references, each language is documented in a separate chapter. Within each chapter, the objects are listed alphabetically. For each object, the following tables are provided:
● ● ●

Elements (AS only) Properties Methods, commands, or functions

Additionally, most object sections contain a scripting sample using the object and some of its properties and methods or commands. You can use any sample script as an example or a starting point for your script, in which you may change properties or methods.

Working with an object’s elements table (AS only)
Elements are the object collections contained by an object. When object contains elements, a table shows the various ways in which you can refer to the elements. For beginning scripters, the main thing to understand about the Elements table is the Name or Element column, which tells you which objects are just below the object in the containment hierarchy. For example, the following Elements table is taken from a document object in InDesign. Name character style layer story Refer to by index, name, range, relative, satisfying a test, ID index, name, range, relative, satisfying a test, ID index, name, range, relative, satisfying a test, ID

The information you can get from this table is that, in document objects that you create for this application, you can create character style, layer, and story objects. For example: tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" set myDoc to make document set myCharStyle to make character style in myDoc with properties {name:"Bold"} set myLayer to make layer in myDoc set myStory to make story in myDoc end tell

The following script statement would produce an error, because stroke style is not an element of this application’s document object. tell application "Adobe InDesign CS3" set myDoc to make document set myStrokeStyle to make stroke style in myDoc with properties {name:"Erratic"} end tell

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

40

Working with an object’s properties table
The properties table for an object lists the following:
● ●

The properties you can use with the object The value type for each property When the value type is a constant or enumeration, the value is a presented either as a list of valid values or as a hypertext link to the constant’s listing. When the value type is another object, the value is a presented as a hypertext link to the object’s listing. The property’s input status: Read-only or Read-write A description, which includes the following:
● ● ●

● ●

An explanation of what the property defines or does Ranges for valid values Dependencies on other properties

The following sample Properties table for an art layer object in Photoshop contains samples of each type of data.
Property bounds kind name opacity textItem Value Type What it is

Array of 4 numbers Read-only. An array of coordinates that describes the bounding

rectangle of the layer in the format [y1, x1, y2, x2].
LayerKind string number (double) TextItem object

Read-only. The type of layer. Read-write. The name of the layer. Read-write. The opacity as a percentage. (Range: 0.0 to 100.0) Read-only. The text item that is associated with the layer. Note: Valid only when kind = LayerKind.TEXT.

visible

Boolean

Read-write. If true, the layer is visible.

For example:

AS tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" set myDoc to make document set myLayer to make art layer in myDoc set properties of myLayer to {kind:text layer, name:"Captions", opacity:45.5, ¬ visible:true} set contents of text object in myLayer to "Photo Captions" end tell

Note: You cannot define the bounds of the layer because the bounds property is read-only.

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

41

JS var myDoc = app.documents.add() var myLayer = myDoc.artLayers.add() alert(myLayer.bounds) // can’t set the property because it is read-only myLayer.kind = LayerKind.TEXT myLayer.name = "Captions" myLayer.opacity = 45.5 // can use a decimal point because the type is not integer myLayer.textItem.contents = "Day 1: John goes to school" //see the properties table for the textItem object to find the contents property myLayer.visible = true

VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set docRef = appRef.Documents.Add Set layerRef = docRef.Layers.Add msgBox(layerRef.Bounds) ' can’t set the property because it is read-only layerRef.Kind = 2 layerRef.Name = "Captions" layerRef.Opacity = 45.5 // can use a decimal point because the type is not integer layerRef.TextItem.Contents = "Day 1: John goes to school" //see the Properties table for the TextItem object to find the Contents property layerRef.Visible = true

Note: In JS and VBS, collection objects are kept in properties of the containing object. To determine an object’s containment hierarchy, you must locate the object or objects that use the object’s collection object (that is, the object’s plural form) as a property. For example, documents.layers, or layers.textFrames.

Working with an object’s methods table
The Methods table for an object lists the following:
● ●

The methods you can use with the object The parameter(s) for each method


When a parameter type is a constant or another object, the value is presented as a hypertext link to the constant or object’s listing. In the Methods table sample below, the parameter types NewDocumentMode and DocumentFill are constants. Parameters can be required or optional. Optional parameters are indicated by square brackets ([]).

● ●

Return value type(s), which is what the method produces When a return is a constant or another object, the value is presented as a hypertext link to the constant or object’s listing. In the Methods table sample below, the return value Document is an object.



A description, which defines what the method does

Introduction to Scripting

Finding an object’s properties and methods

42

The following sample Methods table lists the parameters for the add method for a Photoshop CS3 document.
Method add
([width] [, height] [, resolution]) [, name] [, mode]) [, initialFill] [, pixelAspectRatio])

Parameter Type
UnitValue UnitValue number (double) string NewDocumentMode DocumentFill number (double)

Returns
Document

What it does

Adds a document object. (pixelAspectRatio Range: 0.10 to 10.00)

In the preceding table:
● ●

All of the parameters are optional, as indicated by the square brackets. The width and height parameters default to the current ruler units, and therefore the data type is listed as UnitValue. In other words, if the current vertical ruler unit is inches and the horizontal ruler unit is centimeters, the following statement will create a document that is 5 inches wide and 7 centimeters tall:


AS make document with properties {width:5, height:7}



JS app.documents.add(5, 7)



VBS appRef.Documents.Add(5, 7)



mode and initialFill take constant values.

The following script statements define values for each of the parameters listed in the sample methods table.

AS make documement with properties {width:5, height:7, resolution:72,¬ name:"Diary", mode:bitmap, initial fill:transparent, pixel aspect ratio: 4.7}

JS app.documents.add(5, 7, 72, "Diary", NewDocumentMode.BITMAP, DocumentFill.TRANSPARENT, 4.7)

VBS appRef.Documents.Add(5, 7, 72, "Diary", 5, 3, 4.7 )

4

Advanced scripting techniques
Most scripts do not proceed sequentially from beginning to end. Often, scripts take different paths depending on data gleaned from the current document, or they repeat commands multiple times. Control structures are the script language features that enable your scripts to do such things.

Conditional statements if statements
If you could talk to your Adobe application, you might say, “If the document has only a single layer, then create another layer.” This is an example of a conditional statement. Conditional statements make decisions—they give your scripts a way to evaluate something, such as the number of layers, and then act according to the result. If the condition is met, then the script performs the action included in the if statement. If the condition is not met, then the script skips the action included in the if statement. Each of the following scripts opens a document and then checks whether the document contains a single layer. If only one layer exists, the script adds a layer and sets the new layer’s fill opacity to 65%.

AS
An if statement in AS begins with the word if, followed by the comparison phrase in parentheses, followed by the word then. You must close the if statement with end if. tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" --insert the name of your hard drive at the beginning of the filepath set myFilepath to alias "Hard Drive Name:Applications:Adobe Photoshop CS3:¬ Samples:Ducky.tif" open myFilepath set myDoc to current document tell myDoc if (art layer count = 1) then set myLayer to make art layer with properties {fill opacity:65} end if end tell end tell

Note: AS uses a single equal sign (=) for comparing values. Now close Ducky.tif and try the script again, but change the if statement to the following: if (art layer count < 1) then

43

Introduction to Scripting

Advanced scripting techniques

44

JS
An if statement in JS begins with the word if, followed by the comparison phrase in parentheses. Enclose the action in the if statement in curly braces ({}). var myDoc = app.open(File("/c/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS2/Samples/Ducky.tif")); if(myDoc.artLayers.length == 1){ var myLayer = myDoc.artLayers.add() myLayer.fillOpacity = 65 }

Note: JavaScript uses a double equal sign (==) for comparing values, as opposed to the single equal sign (=) used for assigning values to properties or variables. Now close Ducky.tif and try the script again, but change the if statement to the following: if(myDoc.artLayers.length < 1){

VBS
An if statement in VBS begins with the word If, followed by the comparison phrase, followed by the word Then. You must close the if statement with End If.
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Open("/c/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop_ CS2/Samples/Ducky.tif") If myDoc.ArtLayers.Count = 1 Then Set myLayer = myDoc.ArtLayers.Add myLayer.FillOpacity = 65 End If

Note: VBS uses a single equal sign for both comparing and assigning values. Now close Ducky.tif and try the script again, but change the if statement to the following:
If myDoc.ArtLayers.Count < 1 Then

if else statements
Sometimes, you might have a slightly more complicated request, such as, “If the document has one layer, set the layer’s fill opacity to 50%—but if the document has two or more layers, set the fill opacity of the active layer to 65%.” This kind of situation calls for an if else statement.

AS tell application "Adobe Photoshop CS3" --insert the name of your hard drive at the beginning of the filepath set myFilepath to alias "Hard Drive Name:Applications:Adobe Photoshop CS2:¬ Samples:Ducky.tif" open myFilepath set myDoc to current document tell myDoc if (count of art layers < 2) then set fill opacity of current layer to 50 else set fill opacity of current layer to 65 end if end tell end tell

Introduction to Scripting

Advanced scripting techniques

45

JS var myDoc = app.open(File("/c/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS3/Samples/Ducky.tif")); if(myDoc.artLayers.length < 2){ myDoc.activeLayer.fillOpacity = 50 } else{ myDoc.activeLayer.fillOpacity = 65 }

VBS
Set appRef = CreateObject("Photoshop.Application") Set myDoc = appRef.Open("/c/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS3/_ Samples/Ducky1.tif") If myDoc.ArtLayers.Count < 2 Then myDoc.ActiveLayer.FillOpacity = 50 Else myDoc.ActiveLayer.FillOpacity = 65 End If

Loops
You may want your script to find and change all objects of a certain type. For example, your document may have some visible layers and some invisible layers, and you want to make all of the layers visible. You would like this script to work for several documents, but your documents have varying numbers of layers. This is a situation in which a repeat statement (AS) or a loop (JS and VBS) comes in handy. A loop "walks" through a collection of objects and performs an action on each object. To use the scripts in this section, open your Adobe application and create a document that has at least nine layers. Make some of the layers visible, and hide other layers. Save the document, and then run the script, substituting the name of your application and the layer object name in your application’s DOM. The basic principle behind each of these loops is that the script identifies the first layer in the element or collection and sets the layer’s visibility to true, then identifies the next layer and repeats the action, and then identifies the following layer until each layer has been acted upon.

AS
This script uses two variables, myLayerCount and myCounter, to identify a layer and then increment the layer number until all layers in the document have been identified. tell application "Adobe Illustrator CS3" set myDoc to current document tell myDoc set myLayerCount to (count layers) set myCounter to 1 repeat while myCounter

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