Although it is still a work in progress (see forward parenthetical note), the “Phratry Nexus” has been greatly improved today. (I don’t know about you, but I remember some years ago when “Work In Progress” or “Under Construction” images were common on webpages. I don’t see them so much anymore because I figure people finally figured out that all web pages are always “Under Construction” by definition.)
Back to my main point. If you look at the Phratry Nexus you’ll see thumbnail sized screenshots of the various Phratry.net webpages (four as of this writing). Due to the already mentioned fluid nature of the web, keeping those thumbnails current would be pretty tedious if done by hand. That’s where Applescript comes in. Ideally, I would have liked to write some kind of script and put it in crontab on the webserver, but doing screenshots is difficult from the command line. The Applescript I wrote (along with some help from my father, Mike) uses four apps, which either come with Mac OS X or are free: Cyberduck (for FTPing to the server), Freesnap (screencapture utility), Image Events (image editing) and OmniWeb (web browsing). OmniWeb isn’t free, actually. Firefox would work too, but I got the script to work better with OmniWeb.
The specifics of the script aren’t important, but the cool thing is Applescript allows me to do a 15-minute process of screenshot editing and uploading with just one double-click. It still takes about a minute for the whole thing to work (most of the time is from built-in delays in case of slow webpage loads), but that’s still fifteen times better than before, and it’s done right every time.