An AppleScript Quine

A few days ago, out of morbid curiosity, I went looking for a a quine written in AppleScript. To my surprise, I couldn’t find one.

I’d never actually written a quine before, so this was a good ‘excuse’ to make one (and brush up on some computability theory — use it or lose it).

Well, here it is. When run it will make Script Editor create a new window containing the source code.

This might seem like a strange way of printing. But AppleScript doesn’t have a printf function per-se. I thought about using display dialog to show the source, but the text wouldn’t be copyable, making bootstrapping difficult. Letting the source-string be the result of evaluating the script wasn’t a good solution ether, because Script Editor puts an extra “” around any result that’s a string. Using osascript to run the script could work, but I think it would be breaking the “spirit” of AppleScript to force the quine to be run from the command-line.

Unfortunately, I encountered what appear to be Leopard bugs in Script Editor. (Update 2008-10-11: this problem seems to be fixed.)
When bootstrapping/testing, the result window would sometimes be filled with…something inexplainable.For example

«handler ASCII character of item i of x»
quote pi 40 of string_from_ASCII_numbers(set_d_to)
100
quine
((5 blank lines))

I don’t know why, I don’t know how. But it’s a troubling inditement of AppleScript support in 10.5.0.
I could reproduce a problem like this:
* quit Script Editor
* open the quine in Script Editor, and run it.
* run the resulting window (“Untitled”)
* run the resulting window (“Untitled 2”)

* around “Untitled” 5 or 6, the result was “100”.
* keep iterating like this, and see what unpredictability awaits (the most iterations I could get before Script Editor crashed was 12).
In Tiger, the problem couldn’t be reproduced AFAIK.

I hope this regression is an isolated incident. It’s just one more reason I’m not fond of AppleScript.

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Explore posts in the same categories: AppleScript, Entertainment, Leopard, MacOSX, Programming, Research, Sample Code

2 Comments on “An AppleScript Quine”


  1. […] the problems I’d originally had with Script Editor and the quine seem to have been […]

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Heh, I don’t know if you were looking for brevity, but if so, I can do it in one line:

    tell application “Script Editor” to make new document with properties {contents:me as string}


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