I am planning on using AppleScript and FileMaker Pro exports to build a reference book for ASObj-C. I call this a “reference book” because it would not start at the absolute beginning level. I would assume the reader is familiar with the things covered in Shane’s “Everyday ASObjC” and then build on that. Shane’s book is a great intro wth a lot of runnable scripts. By now I have a lot of more advanced information added to the ASObj-C database which can be used to build on Shane’s book.
Once I create a system to export things from the database to book form then I can continue to build the database and just create new “up to date books”. I spent many years doing that for a living and once the original system is build the updates aren’t that bad as the database grows in size. A book and a database should cover just about everybody’s needs. The book form can be used to do copy and pastes from the reference book to an ASObj-C wiki if someone wishes to do that.
I’m definitely not planning on working with anything to create a full export of the database to be used as input into a different kind of database. I have done that in the past and it is massively more complex then what I am planning on doing.
My thought to is to create the book in Apple’s pages with no copy protection. It is a very cheap program that a lot of Mac users already have. I already have all the software I need to do all of this. The Pages book would be like the database in that it is free for all people to use as long as they don’t try to sell the information in the reference book. Once the money thing comes in then people end up having to pay to get information that can be had for free. I’ve seen that happen too many times.
What I am asking for is thoughts on what what this book would need to include to make it useful. AppleScript is used in many, many ways and I am sure I don’t know all the ways it is used. My goal is that a person with Shane’s book and the book I am talking about along with a knowledge of plain AppleScript will be able to use ASObj-C to build great and useful thing.
I don’t care if the knowledge gained from the book is used to make things to sell and make money. I just don’t want the reference book, or parts of the reference book, to end up being sold by someone for money.
My preference would be PDF, for these reasons:
- Easy to add comments/annotations without changing source text.
- PDFs offer a great, expandable, TOC (called bookmarks) in the left panel which makes navigation very easy.
- Mac Preview.app offers great searching of PDFs.
- More people are likely to know how to use PDFs with their favorite PDF tool that with Pages (which I haven’t used for nearly a decade).
Please make good use of internal hyperlinks, so while reading one section, the user can quickly jump to another if need be.
I was planning on producing a Pages document because it is trivial and quick to convert that into a pdf, while converting a pdf into a word processing file is not that easy. Pages can covert to other file formats, MS Word, RTF, etc. Does it cause a problem creating a pdf from from Pages?
I wasn’t planning on putting in hyper links. That needs to be done by hand and I just don’t have time to do that. That would take many weeks at best, and in some causes when people send in requests for new links, it can get into months or worse. Adding links alone is a lot of intensive work. But if someone else wants to add links they can do it. I would just produce formatted text that could used in whatever helps the most.
I am looking for a way to easily make a document from my most current database. I do realize that trying to extract information from the database interface for a documents would be ridiculously tedious. If someone does want to to create a document or a wiki I can take requests for specifications on the export. That can be done easily from inside the database.
It does take a lot of time to figure this stuff out before it can go into a database or document. That is where most of my time goes. To add links would mean stopping further development on figuring out ASObj-C. People could take a very long time to settle on a the links used.
It does if one does not have the Pages app, like me. I have no use for it, and removed it long ago.
PDF is the widely accepted media for documentation. Everyone can read, annotate, comment, search a PDF with the built-in Mac app Preview.
You asked for suggestions. That’s mine. Of course, it is worth every penny you paid for it, so please feel free to ignore. LOL
Exemples would be welcome.
If your book is in Pages, somebody will find a way to export it as PDF, eventually add links, etc. So I would not worry too much on the format for the moment. But I would try to make sure that the export from the DB to Pages is automatic so that the process can be refined to either export to other formats or improve on the Pages document.
Also, there are plenty of licenses that allow copy/modifications/improvements by others and allow you to be remunerated for your work. You can publish the sources of the book and sell the finished product. It is not incompatible.
With older versions of Pages that can be scripted. (Not sure about the most recent versions).
Also Pages integrates well with iBooks.
Exporting from pages to PDF is the way I’d do it, and if you include hyperlinks they’ll survive the transition.
I’m still able to script Pages except for “get or setting” the current location for text insertion. That seems to be broke. But that is not needed for an export from FMP and import to Pages.
I’m planning on an RTF export to save the text formatting inserted in FileMaker. FileMaker Pro is pretty powerful in that it can take various parts of the database and assemble them in a designated order and then save the text to a disk file. Mostly what I have to do is to come up with the code in FileMaker to fit the pieces together.
Then I would import the data into Pages and create a table of contents. Then I would be done with it. People might not like the way I put the parts together at first. So that might take a few tries. Once I get that figured out then the process will be automatic so it will not be a problem to produce more frequent updates.
I can probably come up with some scripts to automate the insertion of links. I can scan the pages text and look for patterns to perhaps make link insertion in the future automatic. If I can do that then only new links would have to be inserted into the text. In this case the problem with not being able to figure out the current insertion point in the pages text might cause some problems but I can probably come up with something.
Basically links are most often links in particular pieces of text that cause the viewable text to be altered depending on what link is clicked. I would guess the if a word appears in a chapter one time it would most likely be marked all the other times in the chapter. While there is a tendency for the same to be the case for the book as a whole it seems to be even more so for chapters.
So my thought is to see if I can come up with a script that takes a list of “words to link, and document locations to move to” and words would automatically be tuned into links. Such specifications could be for anywhere in the document or only in particular chapters, … I have not tried this yet so I don’t know if it is possible yet. It might not work at all or it might work pretty well and perhaps a few links would need to be corrected or removed. Perhaps it would work great. But no matter how successful this idea is someone needs to come up with works to link.
Whoever helps with the book part will of course have their names mentioned in the book. There will almost certainly be some needed reformatting here and there. Somethings that worked in the database might not make sense in the book. The aesthetic issues in a database format and a book format are not always the same. Someone might want to add something in the book that is not in the database. There are a lot of things that going into making a book from a database. That’s why I don’t have time to do both.
The book is separate from the database. The book is what is called a derivative work where the current copyright owner of the data gives permission for the book to use it. What that all means is whoever puts the book together gets credit for the book. I would only be mentioned as the contributor of the data that granted permission to use the data in the book.
The links part is a big job. Perhaps multiple people can work on links for different chapters.
Sorry, I forgot to answer this part of your message. I am going to export the examples in the database along with the rest of the data.
In older versions I was able to name text boxes and set their values (just as I’ve done in Quark way back and InDesign currently). In one update that and a bunch of other scripting functionality disappeared. I have to keep an old version on my mac and address it by location.
I’m wondering if the latest version has fixed that.