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AppleScript Basics by Jerry Stratton
AppleScript Language Guide Apple Computer, Inc.
AppleScript Studio Programming Guide Apple Computer, Inc.

Non-Book Resources
Apps & More Software Design, Inc. Home of Script Timer, an easy to use AppleScript scheduling application.
Focus on Macs Excellent source of Mac articles and resources.
AppleScript Freeware Insightful blog written by Thomas Kuehner

AppleScript is a scripting language devised by Apple, Inc., and built into Mac OS. More generally, AppleScript is the word used to designate the Mac OS scripting interface, which is meant to operate in parallel with the graphical user interface.

The AppleScript project was an outgrowth of the HyperCard project. HyperCard had an English language-based scripting language called HyperTalk, which could be used for embedding logic and behavior into a HyperCard stack. Apple engineers recognized that a similar scripting language could be designed to be used with any application, and the AppleScript project was born. The Mac OS required extensive upgrades to implement AppleScript. (See below for details). Much of the underlying technology changes were made as part of the massive System 7 release, notably the Apple events concept. AppleScript was vying for developer attention along with many other new technologies introduced at the same time (balloon help, publish and subscribe, etc.). For some applications, AppleScript was among the most difficult of the System 7 technologies to implement, requiring a re-write of major portions of the "low level" code in an application. Apple's own application framework, MacApp, did not directly support Apple events for some time.

AppleScript was released in October 1993 as part of System 7.1.1 (System 7 Pro, the first major upgrade to System 7). QuarkXPress (ver. 3.2) was one of the first major software applications that supported AppleScript, and as a result, AppleScript was widely adopted within the publishing segment of the Apple market. It is arguable that the main reason that the Mac remained a powerhouse in the publishing market after Quark (and other applications) were ported to Microsoft Windows, was that Mac users could automate complex workflows.

The move to Mac OS X and its Cocoa frameworks has seen AppleScript come into its own. Cocoa applications offer basic scriptability with no effort on the part of the developer, and are "well-scriptable" for the cost of writing a text file. AppleScript Studio, released with Mac OS X v10.2, allows users to build entire applications using AppleScript and Cocoa objects.