Even when a task doesn't involve repetition and calculation, it may involve many steps. If you can get AppleScript to perform many or all of those steps, you reduce the number of steps you have to perform. This can make for a noticeable improvement in your relationship with your computer, even if you perform this task fairly infrequently. Another advantage of reduction is that you no longer have to remember a sequence of steps; your AppleScript program remembers it for you.
Here's an example involving URLs. Often, working in some application, I see a URL that I'd like to "go to" in the approprate manner. If it's an http URL, my default browser should open and fetch that page. If it's an email address, my email program should create a new message to that addressee. In some applications you can just click a URL and the right thing happens, but many applications provide no such facility, so I have to resolve the URL manually. This means I must look at the URL and decide on the appropriate helper program; then I select and copy the URL; then I somehow start up the helper program; finally, I paste the URL into the appropriate location. In a browser, I must hit Return afterwards, in order to go to that URL; in an email program, I must create a new message first, in order to have something to paste into. This doesn't sound like very many steps, but it's all very annoying, especially in comparison to those applications where the right thing just happens with a single click.
The solution is an AppleScript program. I've assigned it a keyboard shortcut (ways of doing this are discussed in Chapter 2), so the procedure is this: select and copy the URL, then press the keyboard shortcut. That's a significant savings in time and trouble. Here's the script:
set theProc to (get path to frontmost application as Unicode text) tell application "Finder" activate delay 1 -- give time for clip to convert from Classic set theURL to (get the clipboard as string) end tell ignoring application responses try open location theURL end try end ignoring activate application theProc
The switch to the Finder is to force the clipboard contents to convert themselves to a usable form (and the delay is to give this time to happen); this seems to be needed particularly when working in a Classic application. At the end of the script I switch back to the application I was using at the outset. The heart of the script is the open location command, which does the "right thing" with the URL.