Learn To Speak AppleScript, Part 3: Coding Like Picasso

If you’re just joining us, here are Parts One and Two of the “Learn To Speak AppleScript” Series!

Familiar with that quote by Pablo Picasso “Good artists copy, great artists steal”?

Well… let’s just say this:
We’re going to make you into a Great AppleScript Artist with this lesson! 😉

Who Says That There’s No Honor Among Thieves?

With painting, music, writing – it’s a tradition to acknowledge the people that came before you. After all, without their contributions, you’d still be twiddling your thumbs. The best artists may have big egos, but they know that they aren’t starting from scratch — and programming is no different.

Realize this — The very act of writing an AppleScript immediately makes you a part of the Mac Community. It is a deep well where you can draw from the wisdom and insights of its long-standing members, benefit from its strong tradition of mentoring newcomers, and also share **your** insights back with those creative, smart people — all over the world.

As we discussed in Part Two of “Learn To Speak AppleScript”, “good programming” is a by-product of good thinking. Your head and your ego need to be situated properly to think clearly and to do your best work. It’s no different that a batter stepping up to the plate, a singer stepping up to a microphone, etc. — you should do what you have to do in order to “settle in” before game time.

Here’s one thing that I’ve been doing before writing or programming lately: I re-read Liz Danzico’s post (a.k.a., @Bobulate) about “The Currency of Enthusiasm”. Her post is a reminder that I can encourage more good work in the world by just taking a moment to acknowledge it when I see it. (BTW — Nice job, Liz! )

And believe it or not, I can make the world a better place by using someone else’s code bits in my AppleScript.

The Art of The Steal

Picasso made a distinction between “copying” and “stealing” — “stealing” being the road to artistic greatness.

Is “stealing” just copying more? No.
It’s quite literally the act of taking something that belongs to someone else — and making it your own.

After all, chances are that if you’re facing a programming challenge (hell, if you’re facing any kind of challenge in life), some one else has been through it. Thankfully, programmers as a group tend to talk in great detail about the “code dragons” that they’ve slain — and they often publish the source code that they used to do it.

So I say find that code. Use it. And, ultimately, make it your own.

And that, my friends, is “The Art of the Steal” and an essential key to Learning to Speak AppleScript. Find those smart people who have generously shared their solution to your problem, use it not only to solve your immediate problems but also to learn, and then acknowledge that their good work was a help to you. If you can, find ways to improve their bits and make them your own — and share your contribution back with the community so that other people can benefit from it.

Take a penny. Leave a penny.

“Internet etiquette” isn’t some esoteric thing: If you do it correctly, you’ll learn how to be a better programmer, you’ll make new friends, and you’ll get to help people. Your enthusiasm will shine a light on the contributions of others — and encourage new people to add water to the collective well of ideas and not just drink it dry.

Do it wrong — and you’ll be a pariah.

On the Next Page — We Begin to Code!