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.

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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

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Hotstring Menu Techniques for Inserting Symbols and Emojis

Place Special Characters and Emojis in Hotstring Menus to Make Them Easy to Find for Inserting into Documents, Plus Sample Hotstring Special Character Menus

MenuEmoji
Hotstring Menu

In my last blog, “AutoHotkey Hotstring Menus for Text Replacement Options“, I expanded upon the Hotstring menu technique discussed in Chapters Eight and Nine of my book Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings. While the menus work great, I noticed that, in many instances, the standard built-in Windows menu objects do not always make it easy to distinguish various characters. For example, when I placed a mix of symbols and emojis in a menu, it produced ambiguous results:

:x*?:b``::TextMenu("🦄,🐀,🐁,🐂,🐃,®,❓,❔")

The characters appear small in the menu (shown at right above)—often without clearly defined differences.

In the menu, the rat (🐀) and mouse (🐁) seem very similar—as do the ox (🐂) and the water buffalo (🐃). The two question marks at the end of the menu look identical, although, the first emoji inserts the punctuation mark in red (❓) while the second adds a white question mark (❔). We need another method for discriminating between the menu options. Continue reading

Brute Force Data-Set Copy-and-Paste (AutoHotkey Clipboard Technique)

I Prefer an Eloquent Solution for Data-Set Transfer Problems, But Sometimes It’s Just Easier to Build a Simple (and More Universal) Copy-and-Paste Tool

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I originally wrote the short script discussed in this blog to solve a single data transfer problem. Only after making the script functional did I realized that it could work in numerous different types of data-set transfer environments such as spreadsheets, Web tables, and many other information lists. This AutoHotkey script offers a little less tedious solution to common Windows cut-and-paste problems.

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If I need to copy a single section of text into another document, then the Windows Clipboard works find. However, whenever I want to do something more complicated such as moving that same text into multiple data fields or copying data from a table in a document (or on the Web) before transferring it, using the Windows Clipboard can turn into a real hassle. Continue reading

Loading Hotstrings into the InstantHotstring.ahk Script from Any AutoHotkey (.ahk) File

Reading Data from Saved .AHK Files Makes Loading Hotstrings into the InstantHotstring.ahk Script Easy

In the blog, “Use the FileSelectFile Command to Save Instant Hotstrings to an AutoHotkey File.” I discussed how to save a set of newly created InstantHotstring.ahk Hotstrings in .ahk files. The other half of the file storage problem involves reading those saved (or any other) Hotstring data files back into that same app. Using the tools already built into the script made writing the file loading code remarkably easy. The subroutine LoadHotstrings calls on the previously written subroutines SetOptions and AddHotstring. This saves replicating of code originally used in those subroutines.

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Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function to Disable/Enable Hotstrings

While the Hotstring() Function Won’t Delete Hotstrings, It Can Toggle Them Off and On (Disable and Re-Enable)

Technically, once created, you can’t delete a Hotstring without exiting the script. However, you can disable and enable its function. When you disable a Hotstring using the Hotstring() function, it loses its power—similar to the effect of deleting it. But, since the disabled Hotstring still exists, you can bring it back to life by re-enabling it with the same Hotstring() function. Continue reading

Write Less Code with Database Driven Apps (AutoHotkey Script Design)

Use Simple Database Files to Both Write AutoHotkey Code and Create Flexible Scripts

GraphicSoundsIn the last blog, I introduced a simple AutoHotkey app I call PictureSounds.ahk. When the user clicks on an image, AutoHotkey seeks the name of the sound file in an INI lookup table, then plays it. The script uses the image file name as the INI file Key. After loading a series of images, the script plays a different sound for each image. (It even plays videos!)

Using the INI file as a lookup table saved me from writing a different subroutine (or at least If condition) for each Picture control in the GUI window. Now, I show how to use that same data file to write the command code lines for adding the images to the pop-up files. Continue reading

The AutoHotkey “For Key [, Value] in Expression” Loop for Associative Arrays

The Standard AutoHotkey Loop Command Works Great for Incremental Series, But the For Key [, Value] in Expression Object Loop Offers Unique Flexibility for Associative Arrays

In my last blog, I introduced associative arrays to the InstantHotkeyArrays.ahk script for solving the connection problem between the Instant Hotkey combination and the insertion text. It works brilliantly—although novice AutoHotkey users might experience a slight learning curve.

On the downside of associative arrays, the standard AutoHotkey Loop command may not provide the access you need to all of the array items. Fortunately, AutoHotkey provides a command specifically for use with Objects such as true arrays: For Key [, Value] in Expression.

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Using Associative Arrays to Solve the Instant Hotkey Data Recall Problem (AutoHotkey Technique)

While Many Other Approaches Work (Sort of), AutoHotkey Associative Arrays Provides a Simple Solution

Elegant Solution

Refinement and simplicity are implied, rather than fussiness, or ostentation. An elegant solution, often referred to in relation to problems in disciplines such as mathematics, engineering, and programming, is one in which the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest or simplest effort.

In the last few blogs, I figured out a number of solutions for returning the insertion text via Hotkey combinations for multiple GUIs in the InstantHotkey.ahk script. Many of these approaches worked, yet I continued searching for a more elegant answer. Now, I present my best solution (so far) which includes the use of an AutoHotkey associative array. Continue reading