Tracking HipChat Activity with AppleScript

The Problem

Chat tools are great for being able to work remotely, at least until you get bombarded by one chat after another. I've often wondered if I could come up with a way to track who my chats are with and how much time was spent chatting with each person. My initial attempts involved trying to connect the HipChat API, but I would get rate-limited before I even got through the full set of contacts, much less the rooms themselves. And as far as I could tell, I had to cycle through all public and/or subscribed rooms and not just the rooms that I subscribed to.

(You might be familiar with RescueTime doing similar for webpages, but it doesn't appear to do that for HipChat or Microsoft Teams as far as I've been able to tell.)

A Simpler Algorithm

What if I could just log periodically when I'm chatting with a specific person or on a specific topic? I started playing with the Accessibility Inspector to try and figure out if I could get a specific path to the name display so that I could track who I was chatting with/what room I was in.

Name in HipChat
Name display in HipChat

I could an incredibly long tree down to the name display, so I went directly into Script Editor with some AppleScript to dump the UI elements of HipChat (commented out below), but found that the display was too generic... so I switched to grabbing the entire contents:

For HipChat, the above produces a long list of element hierarchies, but static text is mentioned in the hierarchy (I used somebody else's name because your own name appears in more windows in the view, but there may be multiple hierarchies that display the name you're looking for):

static text "Thomas Powell" of group 1 of group 13 of group 4 of UI element 1 of scroll area 1 of group 1 of group 1 of group 1 of group 1 of window "HipChat" of application process "HipChat" of application "System Events",

So I would remove the last bit of the hierarchies, and ask for the "name of" or "value of" the remainder of the hierarchy.

name of UI element of group 2 of group 1 of group 3 of UI element 1 of scroll area 1 of group 1 of group 1 of group 1 of group 1 of window "HipChat" of application process "HipChat" of application "System Events"

Ultimately, "name of" was the key to getting the display value I was looking for, but the chat rooms had a slightly different hierarchy, and both required trial and error to find the correct hierarchy. Ultimately, the value I was looking for was in a list within the "name of" the UI element at the bottom of the hierarchy, so I continued the inspection in Script Editor until I got to the correct value.


(Disclaimer: I am barely able to write AppleScript that parses, much less AppleScript that looks good.)

I ended up creating an application the allows me to select a log file for output. Then I created a giant loop that checks if HipChat (or Microsoft Teams or RubyMine) or the front applications and then logs a usage with name or project in a log file + timestamp separated by a semicolon. (I used Ruby to generate the statistics based on this... sorry.)

I don't wait for any period if none of the applications I'm looking for are currently in front. If one of them is, I delay 15 seconds.


HipChat had *by far* the hardest hierarchy to find the name / chat room info in. For RubyMine, the file path and file name are in the window title and the git project are in one of the static texts near the top level. Microsoft Teams was similarly friendly in that the title of the window reflected the context it was being used in.

Future plans:

Hammerspoon looks a little more promising for doing anything more complex and/or DRYing this up, but there's something to be said for being able to quickly hack your way to the data you want vs. actually having to plan things out.