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bug#39890: 26.3; do-applescript undeterministic with long running script

From: Alexander Adolf
Subject: bug#39890: 26.3; do-applescript undeterministic with long running scripts
Date: Tue, 03 Mar 2020 21:44:53 +0100

Dear Emacs Maintainers,

I use this function to query the Contacts app (which is part of macOS)
for names and email addresses via AppleScript:

(defun eudc-macos-contacts-search-helper (str)
  "Helper function to query the Contacts app via AppleScript.
Searches for all persons with a case-insensitive substring match
of STR in any of their name fileds (first, middle, or last)."
  (insert (do-applescript (format "
set results to {}
tell application \"Contacts\"
        set pList to every person whose (name contains \"%s\")
        repeat with pers in pList
                repeat with emailAddr in emails of pers
                        set results to results & {name of pers & \":\" & value 
of emailAddr & \"\n\"}
                end repeat
        end repeat
        get results as text
end tell" str))))

This is part of a completion back-end.

When I do a query which has several hundred (or more) results, the
behaviour of (do-applescript) becomes unpredictable. Sometimes I get the
expected results, and sometimes I get an "AppleScript error
1". Unfortunately I have not been able to discern a usage pattern which
would reliably reproduce the error message. It never occurs for quick
queries (a couple dozen results). The longer the query runs, the more
likely the error message.

Such a big query (hundreds to thousands of results) will take 3 to 5
minutes to complete (AppleScript is not among the fastest script
languages...). After launching the query, Emacs becomes unresponsive,
but which is to be expected. After a few seconds, the mouse cursor
changes to the "spinning beach-ball" for some 20-ish seconds, and then
goes back to the arrow shape. During the query running, the cursor
changes shape forth and back in this way one or two more times. While
the query is running, I can bring Emacs frames to the front, move them
around, etc., but the buttons on the title bar for minimising, closing,
etc. are not active.

As a work-around, I have altered my function to use (call-process
"osascript") instead:

(defun eudc-macos-contacts-search-helper (str)
  "Helper function to query the Contacts app via AppleScript.
Searches for all persons with a case-insensitive substring match
of STR in any of their name fileds (first, middle, or last)."
  (insert (do-applescript (format "
  (if (executable-find "osascript")
      (call-process "osascript" nil t nil
                    (format "
set results to {}
tell application \"Contacts\"
        set pList to every person whose (name contains \"%s\")
        repeat with pers in pList
                repeat with emailAddr in emails of pers
                        set results to results & {name of pers & \":\" & value 
of emailAddr & \"\n\"}
                end repeat
        end repeat
        get results as text
end tell" str))
    (message "[eudc] Error in macOS Contacts: `osascript' executable not 

This turns out to be super reliable, and always delivers the results as
expected, even for thousands of them. As a positive (IMO) side-effect,
there is never any "spinning beach-ball" mouse pointer (which
implies that Emacs never gets flagged as "unresponsive" by macOS).

Many thanks and looking forward to your thoughts,


In GNU Emacs 26.3 (build 1, x86_64-apple-darwin18.2.0, NS appkit-1671.20 
Version 10.14.3 (Build 18D109))
 of 2019-09-02 built on builder10-14.porkrind.org
Windowing system distributor 'Apple', version 10.3.1894
Recent messages:
Mark set [4 times]
next-line: End of buffer [4 times]
Mark set
Buffer eudc.el.gz modified; kill anyway? (y or n) y
mwheel-scroll: Beginning of buffer [5 times]
Quit [2 times]
Mark set
Quit [2 times]
mwheel-scroll: Beginning of buffer [26 times]

Configured using:
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