AutoHotkey Speed Tips

A Collection of Techniques for Speeding Up Your AutoHotkey Scripts

I recently received the follow message from an AutoHotkey user perusing my blogs:

Jack, you can’t post false statements like this:

“However, the ternary does not provide better performance than the traditional If-Then-Else statement format.”

The ternary operator is inarguably faster than if/else and I encourage you to try this yourself.

I recently switched the core logic of my JSON parser from If/Else to ternary and saw an incredible speed increase. To the point where I only use If/If Else/Else statements when absolutely necessary (Ex: If I must have a loop in the middle of a check).

You can code entire blocks using nothing but ternary as long as you use proper parentheses, commas, and function calls.

There is a very well done AHK forum post that covers script optimizations and they report that ternary performs FORTY PERCENT FASTER than if/else statements.

Not sure if hyperlinks are allowed in these comments, so instead I’ll advise googling “AHK How to optimize the speed of a script as much as possible.” The first result should be the article in question. Pages 1 and 4 have tons of script speed gold in them.

I hope you’ll consider correcting/updating this article.

Groggy Otter

Comment on “AutoHotkey Toggles and the Ternary Operator”

I wrote that blog five years ago and I don’t know that I was talking about performance speed. I think I was referring to how the two expressions operate. In any case, I used a poor choice of words and have drawn a line through the comment.

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Finalizing an AutoHotkey Script

While No One Actually Ever Completes an AutoHotkey Script, Some People Get Much Closer Than Others

Last June I started a series of blogs on “Finishing and Polishing AutoHotkey Scripts.” (Ironically, I never finished either the script or the series of blogs.) I wrote six articles aimed at making a script more flexible and user-friendly. Once I had added a menu bar to the GUI window, my chosen menu items provided a map to the ultimate finished product. In the course of that work, I introduced a number of methods for enhancing the program.

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Collecting File Information from Windows Folders Using AutoHotkey

In Order to Manage Scripts Launched from the Windows Startup Folder, We Must First Know the Folder’s Contents

Last time in “Auto-Loading AutoHotkey Scripts When Booting Windows,” I highlighted the problem introduced by launching scripts from the Windows Startup folder on boot up—too many AutoHotkey icons in the System Tray might overwhelm the status bar. We can turn off the icons, but that’s like turning out the lights in an unlighted, windowless room full of furniture. You don’t know what’s where. We need a handy system for consolidating the information sitting in the Startup folder without making it too intrusive.

This time I demonstrate one technique for consolidating the Startup folder data for display. I have yet to settle on how I want to display the information and use the data. I see a number of possibilities:

  1. A single MsgBox listing the Startup shortcuts—the simplest, yet least flexible approach.
  2. A single System Tray icon right-click menu listing the Startup shortcuts—more flexible but limited in action creating techniques.
  3. A GUI window using a ListView control displaying the Startup folder’s shortcut data—the most flexible and powerful approach but more complicated to implement.
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Moving Forward with AutoHotkey Chrome.ahk Tools

My Last Three Blogs Offer a Basic Introduction to Installing and Running the Chrome.ahk Web Page Automation Tools—Find More Resources for these Useful Functions

In my earlier blogs, I posted a beginner’s introduction to GeekDude’s Chrome.ahk Web page automation tools:

I wrote these columns to bridge the gap between the novice-level user and the videos produced by GeekDude and Joe Glines—even causing me to take time to allow the techniques to ferment in my brainpan. While the videos provide excellent information, they assume a certain level of user experience. Hopefully, my blogs provide enough insight to allow new users to:

  1. Develop a basic understanding of how Chrome.ahk functions facilitate the completion of Web forms while highlighting the complications from HTML and Javascript code.
  2. Make a decision about whether they will continue to pursue these Web automation techniques.

After this reference blog, unless someone asks me specific questions about Chrome.ahk, I intend to move on to other topics.

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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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Replace Hotkeys with the AutoHotkey GetKeyState() Function

While Digging into On-Screen Graphic Line Generation, I Discovered a Number of New AutoHotkey Techniques to Add to the MouseMeasure.ahk Distance Capturing Script

Last time, I looked into adding a line drawn on-screen to visually represent a linear measurement (“Drawing Lines on Screens with AutoHotkey“). However, I didn’t feel that the drivers I used presented the result I wanted for the MouseMeasure.ahk script. The line jittered too erratically and I found holding down the left-mouse button while dragging awkward and lacking precision. Therefore, I didn’t post the final product—although I did provide a download for the curious.

I have since drawn upon the expertise of other AutoHotkey Forum users to revise the script and create a much more robust app. The new script includes the following improvements:

  1. Only one Hotkey combination (Ctrl+LButton) activates both the calibration and measuring subroutine.
  2. The script no longer requires holding down the left mouse button while positioning the end point of the measurement. The end-point remains attached to the moving mouse cursor.
  3. The more advanced GDIPlus graphics used to draw the line make the line smoother and more robust.

The MouseMeasure.ahk script now uses Windows GDIPlus graphics to draw a red line between the start and end points of the on-screen ruler. The end point of the line moves with the mouse cursor until pinned with either the Shift or Alt key.

I pulled these improvements from a number of sources.

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Quick and Dirty Multi-Line Text Formatting (AutoHotkey Tip)

Formatting Text for Various AutoHotkey Tools Can Get Tedious—Use AutoHotkey Section Continuation to Simplify the Work

In the MouseMeasure.ahk script (discussed last time), I added a pop-up window displaying instructions on how to use the app. I formatted the text with a number of new lines and tabs. Usually, this would have required careful placement of the special escape characters, but not this time.

When adding instructions to a MsgBox, we often resort to adding returns (`r), newlines (`n), and tabs (`t) to create the desired layout. While this works, it often produces perverse effects—especially when using individual line continuation techniques to wrap the code for display purposes. However, AutoHotkey offers an alternative type of code continuation which makes text formatting quick and easy— continuation sections (Method #2).

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