Sending Multiple Saved Data Items to Documents and Forms in AutoHotkey (Temporary Hotkeys)

Sometimes We Want Single-key Hotkeys to Work Only for Short Periods of Time

The press of a single key provides the easiest method for inserting data into an edit field or document. In AutoHotkey, you can activate any key as that quick action single-key with either a Hotkey or Hotstring. However, in the normal course of work, that technique renders that keyboard action useless for anything else. To get the convenience of one-key instant activation, we must activate that Hotkey when needed—only in specific circumstances and for short periods of time.

AutoHotkey offers a number of different methods for accomplishing this instant key action. Which we choose depends upon what we want to do. In this blog, I look at three different methods:

  1. Use the Hotkey command to temporarily turn Hotkeys on then off again.
  2. Use the #If directive to designate conditional Hotkeys.
  3. Temporarily pause the script after Hotkey activation, then deactivate Hotkeys upon resuming.

While each temporary Hotkey works in a similar manner—activating only when needed—each has its advantages and disadvantages.

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AutoHotkey Object-Oriented Notation for Associative Arrays (A Short Intro)

Special Object-Oriented Syntax Makes It Easier to Retrieve Array Data

I hesitate to discuss Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) in AutoHotkey. I haven’t work with it enough to provide the insight I would like when addressing a topic. When reading online tutorials, I have a tough enough time understanding the explanations. I have yet to see a tutorial that makes it simple. So, I concentrate on the pieces that get results right now without going too much into the weeds.

From what I’ve read, OOP acts as the de facto standard for professional programmers—not without controversy (“Object-Oriented Programming Is Bad?“). They say that the planning and organization which comes with using OOP makes life easier for multiple people toiling on large projects. While this approach to programming may work for large projects, it does not necessarily make life easier for short apps such as most AutoHotkey scripts.

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Track Graphic Line Measurement Segments Using AutoHotkey Arrays

When Refreshing the MouseMeasure.ahk Invisible GUI Graphics Layer, AutoHotkey Uses a Simple Array of Associative Arrays to Track the Data

In my last blog (“Measure Multiple Line Segments with an AutoHotkey On-Screen Ruler“), I introduced multi-segment lines for estimating distances of non-linear routes. When refreshing the graphics to animate the moving line, all previously fixed segments need redrawing. Objects-based arrays provide the best method for tracking and regenerating these lines.

Each leg of the journey corresponds to a simple array element containing an associative array of data. The white box displays the key:value data saved in MyArray[4].

The difference between pseudo-arrays, simple arrays, and associative arrays can get confusing. For the novice AutoHotkey scriptwriter, unfamiliar Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) notation can make understanding the code even more difficult—especially if you attempt to learn OOP from online documentation.

You may think you need to choose between the traditional AutoHotkey syntax and OOP coding, but you don’t! AutoHotkey allows you to mix-and-match most OOP and classic AutoHotkey syntax—as long as you understand how they integrate.

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Measure Multiple Line Segments with an AutoHotkey On-Screen Ruler

Taking the MouseMeasure.ahk Script to the Next Level, We Add Multiple Calculations for Going Around Corners

The original MouseMeasure.ahk script captures a single-length in a straight line—as a crow flies. While this works great for many applications, roads and highways generally wind over travel distances. Depending upon where you’re going, this can cause a significant variation in the total calculation. To return a more accurate overall estimate, we must break the measurement line into shorter segments.

Start the measurement with the Ctrl+LButton Hotkey, then click the left mouse button for each new leg of the journey. Press the Shift key to terminate the last leg and display the total distance.

The original form of the MouseMeasure.ahk script only allows for a sole straight line. To add more legs to our journey (at different angles), we must implement AutoHotkey techniques for:

  1. Terminating one segment and starting a new one.
  2. Tracking the position of each segment, its length, and the total distance traveled.
  3. Refreshing the screen to include all past legs as well as the new leg.
  4. Sending multiple saved data items for each leg to documents and forms.
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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: The Eval() Function for Hotkey Math Calculations and Text Manipulation

The Classic Eval() Function Solves Problems You Didn’t Even Know You Had by Calculating and Resolving AutoHotkey Functions and Expressions Found in Text Strings!

When I work on particular AutoHotkey solutions, often I find myself in the middle of a treasure hunt—picking up hidden gems along the way. Although operative for years, I didn’t know these valuable tools existed until I went searching for answers to a seemingly unrelated problem.

EvalfunctionMsgBox2For example, the simple question about capitalizing sentences led me to the RegExHotstrings() function discussed last time. As I dug deeper into the math-side of dynamic Hotstrings, I discovered the Eval() function. While many old AutoHotkey hands have employed the Eval() function for years, I didn’t understand its power until I used it in the investigation. (Even now the Eval() function does way more than I comprehend. I’ve only scratched the surface of its capabilities.) Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Windows Trick for Adding Embedded Folder Icons to QuickLinks Menus

This Technique Accesses Icons Embedded in Windows Folders for Inserting into Pop-up Menus—Plus, the New Combined Switch/Case Statement QuickLinks QL_GetIcon() Function

I completely rewrote the functions from the last blog for adding icons to the menus in the QuickLinks.ahk script combining the two into a shorter prioritized list using Switch/Case statements. In the process—after investigating how to read icons embedded in Windows folder/directory listings—I discovered an interesting Windows secret. It turns out that this procedure requires a totally different Windows maneuver than that used for reading Windows Shortcut file icons.

The Windows Desktop.ini File

UnHideFiles
Ryan’s UnHideFiles.ahk script makes Windows Registry changes to hide and unhide files.

When you embed an icon into a Windows folder (right-click on the folder name in Windows File Explorer, select Properties and the Customize tap, then click Change Icon… and browse for icons), rather than saving the icon path and icon number in the folder itself—as Windows does for shortcut files—it creates a special hidden file named desktop.ini in that same folder. With Windows set to Show Hidden Files, folder and drives in the View tab of the Folder Options window, you can view the hidden desktop.ini file in that folder. (Tip: You can use Ryan’s UnHideFiles.ahk script to hide and unhide files and folders.) Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Increase the Flexibility of Menus by Passing Data with the BoundFunc Object

Streamline and Add Power to Hotstring Menus by Binding Action Parameters Directly to Each Menu Item

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If you use AutoHotkey menus, then you may find this blog the most useful menu tip yet. At first, using the BoundFunc Object to pass data may seem confusing, but, once understood, it opens up many more opportunities for taking advantage of menus in your AutoHotkey scripts.

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HotstringSubMenus

As often happens when working on an AutoHotkey script, a deeper understanding of the available tools completely changes the direction of the project. While all of the Menu tricks I’ve offered in the past HotstringMenu.ahk scripts still work (and you may want to continue using many of those techniques), the following approach which combines arrays, the variadic function parameter, and the boundfunc object creates a cleaner, more functional structure for generating Hotstring replacement menus. In short, implementing the boundfunc object allows me to drop many of those previous menu tricks and build menus using virtually any menu item format without regard for their later use through the value of the A_ThisMenuItem variable.

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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Fold Long AutoHotkey Menus into Columns

Sometimes We Resort to Programming Trickery to Make Autohotkey Menus Look Better

The Windows Menu control is part of the Windows operating system. AutoHotkey offers you the Menu command for setting up and altering custom menus using this built-in control. However, much of the inflexibility of AutoHotkey menus results from the limitations of the Windows Menu object itself. This rigidity often forces us to resort to programming sleight-of-hand to accomplish many goals. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Flexible AutoHotkey Hotstring Menus Using Arrays

New Parameters for the HotstringMenu() Function Adds Flexibility and Power to Pop-up Menus

In my last blog, I started looking at adding the variadic parameter (accepts multiple inputs) and a Menu subroutine parameter to the HotstringMenu() function. While in the process of creating alternative Label subroutines, I found that changing a subroutine often called for a new menu-creating function. Rather than resorting to multiple functions, I decided to add one more parameter for tailoring the master function.

CoverImage200
A Multitude of AutoHotkey Tips and Tricks

Note: This blog discusses the use of AutoHotkey object-based arrays (simple and associative) with the function’s variadic parameter. A review of my books demonstrated that most included discussions of arrays (pseudo-arrays and object-based arrays). In particular,  Chapter 12.1.5 “Using Associative Arrays to Solve the Instant Hotkey Data Recall Problem” in the book Jack’s Motley Assortment of AutoHotkey Tips explains the difference between the various array types while offering a practical example of an associative array.

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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Use the Variadic Function Parameter for an Unknown Number of Values in Hotstring Menus

What To Do When You Don’t Know How Many Values You Will Use? For Hotstring Menus, the Variadic Function Parameter Allows a Variable Number of Arguments or Direct Array Input

Variadic Function: One which accepts a variable number of arguments.

MenuEmojiTagsLight Bulb!In the blog, “AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Hotstring Menu Techniques for Inserting Symbols and Emojis“, I discussed switching from the deprecated StringSplit command to  StrSplit() function before posting the scriptAfter posting my new HotstringMenu.ahk script on the AutoHotkey forum, I received the following comment from the user Delta Pythagorean. I have mixed feelings about the recommended changes:

You can simplify this down by making the parameter variadic and letting the user chose which label to set the menu to work off of.

:x:brb::HotStringMenu("MenuLabel","Hello",,"Goodbye","See you later!")

MenuLabel:
  MsgBox, % "You said: " A_ThisMenuItem
Return

HotstringMenu(Handle, TextList*) {
  For Each, Item in TextList
    Menu, MyMenu, Add, % Item, % (Item != "") ? Handle : ""
  Menu, MyMenu, Show
  Menu, MyMenu, DeleteAll
}

I like the overall concept. This change to the HotstringMenu() function expands its capabilities by adding a selectable subroutine Label name and uses a variadic parameter which allows the functions to accept an unknown number of values. Continue reading