Sensing AutoHotkey Editing Changes for Instant Save (Part Three: Finishing AutoHotkey GUI Scripts)

By Detecting Modifications in Edit Data We Know When to Activate Instant-Save Routines

Any change too active Hotstrings appends an asterisk (*) to the current open filename and enables the Save option.

In the last blog (“GUI Menu Bar “Save” Item Complications (Part Two: Finishing AutoHotkey GUI Scripts)“), I discussed the need to add a special header to a unique type of data file—InstantHotstring generated Hotstrings. This header helps to differentiate between AutoHotkey .ahk files—which you may not want to overwrite—and files generated by the InstantHotstring.ahk script.

When adding a Save option (instant-save using the CTRL+S key combination) to the menu bar, many Windows apps concatenate an asterisk (*) to the file name in the title bar—alerting the user to changes. In this blog, I add a similar change-detecting feature which both displays the appended asterisk and enables an instant-save routine.

Continue reading

GUI Menu Bar “Save” Item Complications (Part Two: Finishing AutoHotkey GUI Scripts)

Most Menu Bars Include Both “Save” and “Save as…” Options in the File Menu—Each Requires Special Considerations

As I mentioned last time, the act of adding a menu bar to a GUI can force the rethinking of many routines in the script. This time the consideration of the Save option(s) compelled me to reconcile potential problems when attempting to run the Save routine in the expected manner. First, knowing the actions activated by the Save Hotstrings button in the InstantHotstring.ahk script provides an understanding of the items required in the GUI menu bar.

Continue reading

Radically Improving AutoHotkey GUI Apps with Menu Bars

While GUI Menu Bars Make Your AutoHotkey Apps More User-Friendly, the Benefits from Adding One to Your Script Go Far Beyond the Obvious

* * *

This blog represents the first in a series that revisits the InstantHotstring.ahk script introduced and developed in previous posts—starting with “Create Instant Hotstrings Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function.” In this new endeavor, I add a GUI menu bar which significantly alters my view of the app. The benefits of implementing a GUI menu bar greatly exceed its functional use.

* * *

I consider most of my scripts demonstrations of how to implement AutoHotkey possibilities—not completed applications. I rarely go back to do all the little things that will make a script a finished product—in two senses of the word: virtually completed and fine-tuned. Many of my favorites (QuickLinks.ahk, MousePrecise.ahk, SynonymLookup.ahk, AutoCorrect.ahk, ChangeVolume.ahk, etc.) don’t require much additional work—if any—although, a script rarely achieves perfection. Most of my scripts use menus, Hotkeys, or Hotstrings while running in the background—not requiring extra visual bells and whistles. However, once you base an AutoHotkey script on a GUI (Graphical User Interface) pop-up window, the need for additional finishing touches increases—especially if it opens and saves files.

One of the best methods for finishing an AutoHotkey GUI app involves adding a menu bar. (You might also argue that the writing of a GUI script should start with a menu bar. It creates a road map to the finished product.) On the surface, a GUI menu bar makes the app more user friendly, but, more importantly, the process forces you to rethink the design and structure of your script.

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Alternative AutoHotkey Notices

In Addition to the ToolTip Command, AutoHotkey Offers Other Useful—Although Less Flexible—Message Commands

In my last blog, I suggested several different ways to use the ToolTip command. This time I take a quick look at a couple of other methods for passing information to users. While less flexible than the many of the other informational techniques, the Menu, Tray, Tip command and the TrayTip command each serve a useful purpose:

  1. System Tray Icon ToolTip for adding information about individual running AutoHotkey scripts.
  2. Alternative TrayTip Command for brief Windows notices about script activity.

Depending upon the situation, you may find either of these techniques a useful alternative to ToolTips, SplashText, SplashImages, Progress bars, or the Message Box.

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Using SplashText for Peace of Mind

Sometimes We Wonder If Our Hotkeys Work At All—The SplashText Command Tells Us That at Least It’s Trying

Note: I accidentally published this blog with the May 25, 2020 date when it should have been June 1, 2020. Trying to fix it only causes more problems, so I’ll leave it as is.

SplashText tells you about an AutoHotkey routine in progress.
SplashText tells the user about an AutoHotkey routine in progress.

I have a bad habit of leaving multiple programs and browser tabs open. Eventually, Windows gets confused and starts slowing things down. When this happens I sometimes wonder if my Hotkeys work. I execute one then sit and wait.

I know that I keep too many windows (and Chrome tabs) open and don’t reboot my computer often enough. This inevitably leads to computer lag. That means even the fastest Hotkey routines can slow down. When I hit a Hotkey and nothing immediate materializes, I wonder if the routine started at all. By adding the SplashText command to my Hotkey routines, at a minimum, I see that the process has gotten underway—even if I need to wait for the result.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Capture Web Page Addresses (URLs)

When Browsing the Web This Special Function Copies the Page URL without Any Extra Effort

Normally, you can find a Web page address in the URL bar at the top of the browser. Click in that address field and copy it with CTRL+C. That simple act may make the subject of this blog look redundant. However, when applied to last week’s CopyRegTagWin.ahk script, the GetActiveBrowserURL() function can save numerous keystrokes.

By using the user-defined GetActiveBrowserURL() function, a modified version of the CopyRefTagWin.ahk script can include both the title of the source window and, if from a Web page, its URL. If collecting data for research, this feature makes reconstructing sources much easier—without any extra effort. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Channeling Text to a Tagged Window

When Collecting Information from Various Sources, Send the Text Directly to an Unseen Text Editing Field

Last time in “Tricks for Tracking and Activating Target Process Windows“, I demonstrated a technique for tagging and tracking a window using its Unique ID. After tagging any window with one Hotkey combination, you can instantly recall it with another. While a pretty cool trick, the question of when would you ever use it arises. This time I offer a practical tool for gathering information from various digital sources (Web pages, documents, e-books, etc.) into one text editor window—without jumping back-and-forth while doing cut-and-paste operations. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Tricks for Tracking and Activating Target Process Windows

When Implementing Various AutoHotkey Techniques Sometimes We Need to Find Our Way Back to the Proper Window

Most AutoHotkey applications don’t require complicated tracking of process windows. Hotstrings, Hotkeys, and most other techniques do their work in the currently active window. Generally, menus and GUIs automatically return to the original on-top location once they close. However, occasionally circumstances force us to move to other apps or tools—deactivating the current window—before returning to the original target. AutoHotkey offers a couple of techniques for getting back to the right spot on our Windows Desktop.

piechartcartoonFor example, the MousePrecise.ahk app (for precision movement of the mouse cursor) allows users to temporarily enable the mouse accuracy tool in new windows with either a Hotkey combination or a right-click selection from the Windows System Tray icon menu. Since the Hotkey doesn’t change window focus, it works fine, but the act of selecting an item from the System Tray icon menu deactivates the original window. Therefore, before AutoHotkey can include the new app in the active group, it must refocus on that process window and capture its title. 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.

Continue reading