AppleScript and iTerm: Sweet!

I use iTerm for all my command-line needs. I really like it, especially the tabbed interface. I typically have two to three terminals open for my local box, plus two to three for various systems in the company rack. iTerm has a nice bookmark feature that lets you save commands (like ssh me@foo) to open these various windows, but it’s not exactly what I want. The reason for this is that I either have to leave the bookmark drawer open all the time, or I have to click to open it, then double-click the bookmark I want to launch, then close the bookmark drawer. And that’s a real drag for me, because I’m not really a mouse guy.

So yesterday I started thinking that it had to be possible to do this using AppleScript, and indeed it is. My solution is not optimal, as I had to use two files, but it’s close to optimal. It’s approaching optimal. Here’s the AppleScript file, which is called it.

on run argv 		
    tell application "iTerm" 		
            activate 		
 		
            tell the first terminal 		
                    launch session (item 1 of argv) 		
            end tell 		
    end tell 		
end run

Next is a regular shell script, called it that calls it.scpt:

#!/bin/bash 		
  		
if [[ $# == 0 ]] 		
then     		
    echo "Usage: it " 		
    exit 	
fi 		
  		
osascript ~/bin/it.scpt $*

You can see that the shell script checks to see if you’ve specified a bookmark name to launch. If you haven’t, it tells you how to run it. Once it’s established that you have specified a name, it calls the AppleScript file it.scpt, which I’ve placed in ~/bin for convenience. (Both files are in ~/bin on my system.) The AppleScript tells the currently-running iTerm to activate (probably not needed) and then tells it to launch the requested bookmark in a new tab. I don’t need to worry about the case where iTerm isn’t running, because I would execute this script from within iTerm. If you specify a non-existent bookmark, it just opens a new shell on your local system, which is OK, I guess.

So, to run it, I would type something like

it web1

to open the bookmark called “web1.” And that’s what I wanted.

I was a bit surprised that I was unable to just have one file. I should have been able to put a she-bang line in it.scpt and have it work. In other words, I should have been able to have

#!/usr/bin/osascript 	

and then the rest of the script, but I got an error when I tried that.

If anyone knows an easier way to do this, please let me know.

04/11/2007 14:20 Update: A reader sent in how you can combine the two scripts into one, using osascript‘s -e switch. I knew about this switch, which let’s you specify the program on the command line, but I’ve seen so many horrible (ab)uses of the same option in Perl that I didn’t even try it. What I didn’t know was that you can have embedded line feeds inside the quotes, so you can still have a nicely formatted script. Here’s the new and improved, single-file version of it:

#!/bin/bash 		
  		
 if [[ $# == 0 ]] ; then 		
     echo "Usage: $0 " >&2 		
     exit 1 		
 fi 		
  		
 osascript -e 'on run argv 		
     tell application "iTerm" 		
             activate 		
  		
             tell the first terminal 		
                      launch session (item 1 of argv) 		
             end tell 		
     end tell 		
 end run' $@

04/12/2007 11:46 Update: This tip got posted over at MacOSXHints.com and has gotten some comments. Based on those comments, below is the latest version, which includes the ability to get a list of available bookmarks to launch by typing it list. Here it is:

#!/bin/bash 		
  		
 if [[ "$#" = "0" ]]; then 		
     echo "Usage: 'it bookmarkname' or 'it list'" && exit 1 		
 elif [[ "$1" = "list" ]]; then 		
     defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/iTerm|grep Name |grep -v NSColorPicker|awk '{$1="";$2=""; print $0}'|tr -d ';' 		
 else  		
 osascript <<ENDSCRIPT 		
 on run argv 		
   tell application "iTerm" 		
     activate 		
     tell the current terminal 		
       launch session "$1" 		
     end tell 		
   end tell 		
 end run 		
 ENDSCRIPT 		
 fi
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