AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Cull Web Links from a Web Page and Activate Each in a Pop-up GUI

This Time I Combine a Number of AutoHotkey Techniques to Put Active Links in a Graphical User Interface (GUI) Pop-up Saving Space with GUI Tabs

As I pondered the GetActiveBrowserURL() function from last time, I looked for more ways to use this unique function by reviewing Chapter Ten, “An App for Extracting Web Links from Web Pages” from A Beginner’s Guide to Using Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey. By combining the function with the UrlDownloadToFile command and a couple of GUI controls (Link and Tab), I quickly wrote a script for collecting all of the external links from a Web page into a pop-up window displaying a list of active links—merely, click to follow one.

WebPageLinks
The GUI contains 10 tabs—most with 20 hot links each scraped from the ComputorEdge Free AutoHotkey Scripts page.

This process included a number of learning points worth discussing:

  1. I found the GetActiveBrowserURL() function more reliable and robust than using the Standard Clipboard Routine.
  2. Depending upon the target Web site, you may need to tailor your Regular Expressions (RegEx) to produce the most useful results.
  3. The GUI Link control creates hot Internet links for immediate action.
  4. The GUI Tab control wraps long lists for scenarios where no scroll bars exist and column wrapping proves impractical.

In this blog, I offer the script with a short discussion of the Regular Expressions (RegEx). In a future blog, I’ll discuss how to build a GUI pop-up window with an unknown number of hot Weblinks (almost 200 in the example at right) while not letting it get out of hand. But first, my thoughts on the GetActiveBrowserURL() function.

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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Repeat Words and Phrases with RegEx Hotstrings

Save Time with This RegEx Hotstring for Inserting Repeated Words or Sentences—”Blah!” Instantly Turns Into  “Blah! Blah! Blah!”

regexrobotcartoonAt the end of my last blog, I postulated the possibility of a word duplicating RegEx Hotstring. While I don’t know how many people would ever use it, I do remember a time when the technique would have come in handy (as shown in the cartoon on the left). I thought that I would leave the problem as a reader’s challenge and move on, but I found that I couldn’t just abandon the loose end.

While this trick may not embody the most essential Hotstring, the technique might stimulate other AutoHotkey users to venture forward with their own variations on RegEx Hotstrings. I would love to hear about other innovative applications of the RegExHotstring() function—doing things that prove difficult (or impossible) with either traditional double-colon Hotstrings or the built-in Hotstring() function. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Word Manipulating Dynamic AutoHotkey Hotstrings

A Mini-Regular Expressions (RegEx) Tutorial Using the RegExHotstrings() Function for Word Swapping and Double Word Auto-Delete

While the RegExHotstrings() function has its limitations (discussed in “Dynamic Regular Expressions (RegEx) for Math Calculating Hotstrings“), we can quickly implement some simple (yet complex) dynamic Hotstrings using a one-line function call. The RegExHotstrings() function offers a few advantages over the traditional Hotstring format. Regular Expressions (RegEx) used in the function bust through the fixed-text limitations of the double-colon format (e.g. ::lol::laugh out loud). RegEx allows you to match string patterns making wildcard text replacements possible. To explain how the RegExHotstrings() function works, I use one-line function calls to replace ambiguous text with targeted results.

RegExHotstrings

In order to make the best use of the RegExHotstrings() function, we need an understanding of the key concepts driving the function. Once we get a hang of how to operate this dynamic Hotstring function, we can analyze the parentheses-enclosed expressions in each example to develop a better grasp of how RegEx works.

In this blog, I highlight two different RegExHotstrings() function word editing operations: one for swapping the order of two errant words; the second for auto-deleting duplicate words. After introducing RegExHotstrings() key concepts, I explain step-by-step how each RegEx behaves.

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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Dynamic Regular Expressions (RegEx) for Math Calculating Hotstrings

An AutoHotkey Classic, the Dynamic Hotstrings() Function Makes Instant RegEx Replacements Possible—Now, You Can Do Math with Your Hotstrings!

Anyone who reads my blog on a routine basis knows how I love Regular Expressions (RegEx). They make feasible all kinds of capabilities not practical by any other method. While not necessarily easy for a beginner to grasp, RegEx provides a mechanism for matching text when you don’t know exactly which characters you need (wildcards). (That’s why I wrote the book A Beginner’s Guide to Using Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey.) Although you may encounter a bit of a learning curve, RegEx gives you the ability to accomplish some pretty fancy tasks. This time I plan to demonstrate a couple of Hotstring techniques that might amaze you—they did me! Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tips of the Week: The ComObjCreate() Function for Web Page Downloads, E-Mail, and Text Audio

While AutoHotkey Directly Supports Most Windows Features, the Flexibility of the ComObjCreate() Function Adds More Useful Capabilities—Especially for Capturing Web Data, Sending E-mail, and Reading Text Out-Loud

A number of my scripts use the ComObjCreate() function in various forms. Most of them I copied from the AutoHotkey Forums and modified for my own purposes. In this blog, I highlight the ComObjCreate() applications I use most, then offer a list of other forms of the function you may find useful.

How I Use ComObjCreate()

Synonym Page
The SynonymLookup.ahk script pulls replacement terms for the highlighted word “Page” from the Web.

While AutoHotkey supports many of these features in one form or another, directly accessing the COM (Component Object Model) might provide a solution you can get by no other method. I use the ComObjCreate() function in three ways:

  1. Collect data from Web pages (ComObjCreate(“WinHttp.WinHttpRequest.5.1”)).
  2. Send e-mail directly from an AutoHotkey script (ComObjCreate(“CDO.Message”))—no mail program required.
  3. Use the computer voice to read text (ComObjCreate(“SAPI.SpVoice”)).

While I haven’t found much additional information about the ComObjCreate() function posted on the new AutoHotkey forum, the old forum contains a useful COM Object reference list. You don’t need to know how they work—just how to use them. 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: Use Regular Expressions (RegEx) to Convert Repetitious AutoHotkey Code

Regular Expressions (RegEx) Can Simplify a Tedious Code Reformatting Problem

Recently, I received the following comment from Thom:

Greetings,

A small improvement to the Autocorrect AHK script. I have been using this script for years and find it very useful. I was always a bit intrigued about the section of ambiguous entries which was commented out and not much use.

I was fascinated to read about your TextMenu function [found in the book Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings] to display the various choices. I found a simple way with RegEx to change all the entries in the section.

For example:

::electon::election, electron

To:

::electon::
  TextMenu("election, electron")
Return

I copied and pasted the list into Notepad++ and then ran this find-and-replace.

Find:

(::\w+::)(.+)

Replace:

$1\n TextMenu\(\"$2\"\)\nReturn

And presto it works—some entries need tweaking but it works well. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: A Look at the New Switch/Case Command

In the DateStampConvert.ahk Script, Rather than Using a Series of If-Else Statements (or the Ternary Operator), the New Switch Command Sets Up Case Statements for Alternative Results—Plus, Easily Add Conversions for Spanish, German, French, and Italian Date Formats

Over a year ago, I used a cascading series of the ternary operators to convert English text month names into their numeric values within a single function (“Use the Ternary Operator to Create Conditional Case Statements or Switches“). The ternary operator shortcut acts as If-Else statements in abbreviated form.

DateConvertSend
In the DateStampConvert.ahk script, a technique similar to Switch/Case statements converts the name of a month into its corresponding numeric value.

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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—Powerful RegEx Text Search Shorthand (~=)

AutoHotkey Provides an Abbreviated Regular Expression RegExMatch() Operator ( ~= ) for Quick Wildcard Text Matches

Regular Expressions (RegEx) can get confusing, but once understood, they pay tremendous dividends. Acting almost as another programming language, Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey provide a method for accomplishing complex search and/or replacement with only one line of code. While not impossible, doing the same thing without using RegEx often requires complex tricks and many lines of code. In the beginning, learning RegEx many feel daunting but you’ll find it well worth the journey.

Light Bulb!In spite of the initial learning curve, you don’t need to learn how the two primary AutoHotkey RegEx functions work (RegExMatch() and RegExReplace()) to make good use of a RegEx. The shorthand RegEx operator ( ~= ) provides a method for doing a complex string match without the limitations of the InStr() function. Regular Expressions search for patterns while the InStr() function searches for exact strings.

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