Hiring guide for AppleScript Engineers

AppleScript Developer Hiring Guide

AppleScript is a high-level scripting language developed by Apple Inc., first introduced in the System 7.1.1 update in 1993. It is designed to automate tasks within the Mac OS environment, utilizing an English-like syntax to simplify the programming process. The language interfaces with many system and application functions, including file manipulation, data entry, and even complex task automation. AppleScript's integration with macOS allows it to control and exchange data between different applications. Its ease of use and broad functionality have made it a staple tool for Mac users seeking to streamline their workflows.

Ask the right questions secure the right AppleScript talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of talent.

First 20 minutes

General AppleScript app knowledge and experience

The first 20 minutes of the interview should seek to understand the candidate's general background in AppleScript application development, including their experience with various programming languages, databases, and their approach to designing scalable and maintainable systems.

What are the basic data types in AppleScript?
The basic data types in AppleScript are string, number, list, record, date, and boolean.
How would you declare a variable in AppleScript?
In AppleScript, you can declare a variable using the 'set' keyword. For example, 'set myVar to 10'.
Describe the difference between a list and a record in AppleScript.
A list is an ordered collection of items that can be of any data type. A record is similar to a list but it is an unordered collection of properties, where each property has a name and a value.
What is the use of 'tell' statement in AppleScript?
The 'tell' statement is used to specify the application that will receive the commands enclosed within the 'tell' block.
How would you handle errors in AppleScript?
Errors can be handled in AppleScript using 'try' and 'on error' statements. The 'try' block contains the code that may cause an error, and the 'on error' block contains the code to handle the error.
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What you’re looking for early on

Does the candidate have a strong foundational understanding of AppleScript?
Has the candidate demonstrated problem-solving abilities?
Has the candidate shown a good understanding of the Mac OS environment?
Does the candidate have experience with other scripting languages?

Next 20 minutes

Specific AppleScript development questions

The next 20 minutes of the interview should focus on the candidate's expertise with specific backend frameworks, their understanding of RESTful APIs, and their experience in handling data storage and retrieval efficiently.

What are handlers in AppleScript and how would you create one?
Handlers are similar to functions or procedures in other programming languages. You can create a handler using the 'on' keyword followed by the handler name and parameters. The code block is enclosed between 'on' and 'end' keywords.
How would you interact with the file system using AppleScript?
AppleScript provides several commands to interact with the file system, such as 'open for access', 'read', 'write', 'close access', etc. These commands can be used to perform operations like reading from a file or writing to a file.
What is the purpose of 'run script' command in AppleScript?
The 'run script' command is used to execute an AppleScript code from a string, a file, or a script object. It allows dynamic execution of AppleScript code.
Describe the difference between 'copy' and 'set' commands in AppleScript.
'Set' command creates a reference to the original value, so changes to the variable will affect the original value. 'Copy' command creates a separate copy of the value, so changes to the variable will not affect the original value.
How would you use AppleScript to automate a task in a Mac application?
You can use the 'tell' statement to send commands to the application. The specific commands depend on the application's AppleScript dictionary, which defines what commands the application can respond to.
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The ideal back-end app developer

What you’re looking to see on the AppleScript engineer at this point.

At this point, a skilled AppleScript engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in AppleScript programming language, and knowledge of software development methodologies. Red flags include lack of hands-on experience, inability to articulate complex concepts, or unfamiliarity with standard coding practices.

Digging deeper

Code questions

These will help you see the candidate's real-world development capabilities with AppleScript.

What does this simple AppleScript code do?
tell application "Finder"
    display dialog "Hello, World!"
end tell
This code displays a dialog box with the message 'Hello, World!' using the Finder application.
What does this AppleScript code do?
set myVar to 5
if myVar is greater than 3 then
    display dialog "The variable is greater than 3."
end if
This code sets a variable 'myVar' to 5 and then checks if 'myVar' is greater than 3. If it is, it displays a dialog box with the message 'The variable is greater than 3.'
What does this AppleScript code do?
set myList to {"apple", "banana", "cherry"}
repeat with myItem in myList
    display dialog myItem
end repeat
This code creates a list with three items: 'apple', 'banana', and 'cherry'. It then loops through each item in the list and displays a dialog box with the current item.
What does this AppleScript code do?
using terms from application "Finder"
    on open myFiles
        repeat with myFile in myFiles
            do shell script "open -a 'TextEdit' " & quoted form of (POSIX path of myFile)
        end repeat
    end open
end using terms from
This code defines a script that will be run when files are dropped onto the script's icon. It loops through each file and opens it in TextEdit using a shell script.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for AppleScript Developer role questions

The final few questions should evaluate the candidate's teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, assess their knowledge of microservices architecture, serverless computing, and how they handle AppleScript application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

What is the use of 'property' keyword in AppleScript?
The 'property' keyword is used to declare a variable that retains its value between different runs of the script. It's similar to a static variable in other programming languages.
How would you use AppleScript to interact with a web page in Safari?
You can use the 'do JavaScript' command in a 'tell' block for Safari. The JavaScript code can interact with the web page elements.
What is the purpose of 'osascript' command in macOS?
'osascript' is a command-line tool in macOS that executes AppleScript and other OSA language scripts. It allows running AppleScript from the terminal or from a shell script.

AppleScript application related

Product Perfect's AppleScript development capabilities

Beyond hiring for your AppleScript engineering team, you may be in the market for additional help. Product Perfect provides seasoned expertise in AppleScript projects, and can engage in multiple capacities.