AppleScript XML-RPC

My mind was fairly well blown this morning to learn that for more than ten years, AppleScript on Mac OS X has included a built-in command for communicating with XML-RPC and SOAP endpoints on the web.

XML-RPC is a well-known semi-standard method for communicating between processes over the internet. As it happens, a large number of blogging APIs including the WordPress API and many others, were also designed around XML-RPC. For this reason, XML-RPC is a major component of MarsEdit, my Mac-based blogging application.

The funny thing is, I knew that Apple had developed built-in support for SOAP: one of my teammates at Apple was responsible for it! But I either blocked out the XML-RPC support, or disregarded it as uninteresting at the time. And I don’t think I ever knew that the support had been extended to AppleScript in such a native fashion.

XML-RPC isn’t, as they say, rocket science. However, it’s pretty cool that with an off-the-shelf Mac one can throw together a simple script to, for example, grab the latest post off your blog, build a link to it by its title, and copy the HTML to the pasteboard:

set myBlogUsername to "sweatertest"
set myBlogPass to "xxx"

tell application ""
	set myPosts to call xmlrpc {method name:"wp.getPosts", parameters:{"1", myBlogUsername, myBlogPass, "1"}}

	set myPost to item 1 of myPosts

	set theLink to link of myPost
	set theTitle to post_title of myPost
	set myPostLink to "<a href='" & theLink & "'>" & theTitle & "</a>"
end tell

set the clipboard to myPostLink

Wire it up with a FastScripts keyboard shortcut and you’re really cooking! This example may be a bit contrived, but one can imagine writing similar scripts to query a blog for information, or even to fire off short blog posts after prompting for content. (Note that if you do automate something like this you will probably want to store the password securely in the keychain).

People love to hate AppleScript, but this is one example of how many nifty little treats lurk within it. The fact that it’s omnipresent on Mac OS X makes it an excellent resource for providing simple solutions, when a simple solution will do.