I’m posting chunks of the Applescript as I develop it. This will encourage me to add more explanatory comments in the script than I might otherwise do.

My aim is to share things I’ve discovered about Applescript.

I already have a working version of the Applescript Jekyll assistant. This series of posts record the process of refactoring the working script as I discover ways of making the Applescript simpler.

For example, today’s chunk addresses using macOS’s plist to persist the user’s preferences / settings between blog post creation sessions.

I’ll also publish


These Apple web pages (Mac Automation Scripting Guide) are a really nice resource to start with.

This comprehensive AppleScript Language Guide is essential, and quite unusually and frustratingly organised until you get to know your way around it.

Today’s chunk

Open in Script Editor

	We keep three persistent settings in 'makepost.plist':
	'chosenBlogPath' is the path to the folder where Jekyll expects blog posts to be.
	This is typically the '_posts' subdirectory in the Jekyll project files.
	'chosenCategories' is a list of the user's Categories from which the user can choose
	and which will appear in the frontmatter of the newly-to-be-created blog post's 'markdown'
	'chosenScriptFilePath' is the path to where the user has stored ''
	which is written to be used as a shell command for creating new Jekyll blog posts
global chosenBlogPath, chosenCategories, chosenScriptFilePath

	The plist, and thus the three settings may not yet exist
	in which case we bootstrap them with some sensible values.
	AppleScript aliases have to refer to existing files
	POSIX files and paths need not refer to existing files
property homeFolder : the POSIX path of (path to home folder) -- as string
property scriptFilePath : the POSIX path of (homeFolder & "bin/")
property plistPath : the POSIX path of (homeFolder & ".makepost.plist")

-- the Title for the blog will  chosen by the user imminently 
-- (US users will choose their Title momentarily ;-)
global chosenTitle


to initialisePersistentSettings()
	if not FileExists(plistPath) then
		-- create the plist with bootstrap settings now, and for recording the user's choices later
		tell application "System Events"
			-- Have a look at the 'Mac Automation Scripting Guide' for more on this 'tell' block
			-- Create an empty property list dictionary item
			set theParentDictionary to make new property list item with properties {kind:record}
			-- Create a new property list file using the empty dictionary list item as contents
			set thePropertyListFilePath to plistPath
			set thePropertyListFile to make new property list file with properties {contents:theParentDictionary, name:thePropertyListFilePath}
			tell property list items of thePropertyListFile
				-- create bootstrap settings
				-- Add a list key for accessing the users' blog categories
				make new property list item at end with properties {kind:list, name:"catsList", value:{"Blog", "Scripting"}}
				-- Add a string key for accessing the path to the user's blog posts
				make new property list item at end with properties {kind:string, name:"blogPath", value:homeFolder}
				-- Add a string key for accessing the path to the python script ''
				make new property list item at end with properties {kind:string, name:"scriptFilePath", value:scriptFilePath}
			end tell
		end tell
		log "plist available for reading"
		tell application "System Events"
			-- Have a look at the 'Mac Automation Scripting Guide' for more on this 'tell' block
			tell property list file plistPath
				set chosenBlogPath to value of property list item "blogPath"
				set chosenCategories to value of property list item "catsList"
				set chosenScriptFilePath to value of property list item "scriptFilePath"
			end tell
		end tell
		log "chosenBlogPath: " & chosenBlogPath
		log "chosenScriptFilePath: " & chosenScriptFilePath
		repeat with n from 1 to the length of chosenCategories
			log "chosenCategories (" & n & "): " & item n of chosenCategories
		end repeat
	end if
end initialisePersistentSettings

on FileExists(theFile) -- (String) as Boolean
	-- Convert the file to a string
	set theFile to theFile as string
	tell application "System Events"
		if exists file theFile then
			return true
			return false
		end if
	end tell
end FileExists

Python access to plist

At a later stage will want to read the .plist file.

Here’s a proof of concept showing how the Python plistlib can be used to access it.


import os
import plistlib


if os.path.exists(fileName):

	with open(fileName, 'rb') as fp:
		pl = plistlib.load(fp, fmt=None, use_builtin_types=False)

	print("\nThe plist's contents \n{}\n" .format(pl))

	if 'blogPath' in pl:
		print('blogPath value is "{}"\n'.format(pl['blogPath']))
		print('There is no blogPath key in the plist\n')

	print("{} does not exist".format(fileName))