In our first hour of today’s webinar we talked through the below points on how to improve adoption rate of AutoHotkey for users as well as making money with AutoHotkey.
The second hour dove a bit deeper into both topics and discussed other subjects related to these.
FindText – Capture Screen Image & Find it
Don’t let the name “FindText” fool you (it isn’t about ‘text’)
Things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you keep the same: Screen resolution, magnification, font, zoom
- Test Grayscale vs Color
- You can adjust the size of the capture area (but smaller is generally better)
- Tutorial 1 demonstrating the function and an Example using it
- Function to help take action on what you find
PowerPoint deck / Resources:
Which best describes your Organization’s current RPA (Robotics Process Automation) adoption level?
Here is the full Slide deck, podcast, and book entitled: Service Automation: Robots and the Future of Work 2016 by
Misconceptions of RPA / Desktop Automation
- …is only used to reduce workload & lay-off employees
- …is mainly driven by cost savings
- …completely replaces the need for a person
Why Don’t More People Automate / Use AutoHotkey?
- People do notlike change. (correlation with age?)
- People don’t realize what canbe automated (“think small” – “magic redo” button?)
- Managers / Decision makers think it is “too expensive”
- No “GUI” to use for creating scripts. Non-techies get “overwhelmed” with coding.
- Everyone is “too busy” to learn how to save time. Even though they’re interested in saving time they don’t find time to learn how to automate. (Story of a woodcutteris a great analogy; remember to take time to ‘sharpen the saw’)
- Some people are too proud to let-on that they really don’t understand what you’re doing. They might try it on their own but get frustrated and give up after 15 minutes. (Perhaps reviewing 1-1 is better than in groups?)
- Managers oftendo not encourage their employees to automate. (I’ve had several bosses that told me NOTto automate.)
- Most people think short-termand not long-term. This can present itself in the following dimensions
- The job is “too small” to be automated (almost never true)
- The job is a “1-time” need (rarely, if ever, the case; the “job” might be but the “approach” is bound to come up again)
- I’m the only one that would use this (rarely the case)
- It will take too long to write code to automate (I think this is one of the best things about AutoHotkey. FAST!)
- It must be “fully automated” (No need to automate the entire process)
- Not considering “side-effects” of automation (tracking log to examine events, employee / customer satisfaction etc.)
Best Approach to Get Adopters
1.Don’t overwhelm them with all that AutoHotkey can do!
- Only get them to learn 1 thing!
- Give them time to learn/adopt that and then come back with additional tips
2.Curtail what you demonstrate to the prospect’s level
- Luddites- Stick to HotKeys and HotStrings
- Somewhat Nerdy- Demonstrate some scripts, Input box, Sending keystrokes / Clicks, File manipulation
- Nerds- Whatever their need! (Dll calls, Image search, API calls, Web Scraping, Objects, RegEx, GUIs, etc.)
3.Get a senior-level advocate (Director or above)
- Senior people see the cost-savings
- Your supervisor will think your coding is counting against “their time”
- Colleagues might be worried you’re “automating” them out of a job
- IT also might try and road-block you. Get the business to “demand” it
4.Create custom script for their needs
- Don’t build in all bells-whistles
Making $ Money with AutoHotkey
- Selling generic programs / scripts to large audience
- Selling custom scripts to individuals / company
- Getting paid to code (they own the intellectual property) & you get paid by hour
Shareware / Freeware / Donations
“Rich” Target markets
- Lots of people doing same job function
- “Thankless” / mundane jobs with clear logic/ “rules-based” descisions and structured data
- Lots of, repetitive, transactions
- Non-programming “business” people
- People with Money!!!
- Sales people!
Incentives / Benefits to Highlight to Potential Clients
- Employee / man-hour savings resulting in high ROI (Return on Investment)
- Better quality results than from humans / Higher compliance
- Faster deployment getting things done (clients / customers are happier)
- Increased scalability
- Happier, more productive, employees
- Have more “Meta-Data” to do analysis on
- The more you do, the easier it gets
- The more you automate, the more time you have to automate
I recently played with this great AutoHotkey function FindText(). The program is similar to AutoHotkey’s built-in ImageSearch functionality however it works more reliably and does not need a local file/copy of the image. The name of the function is a bit misleading in that it really just helps you find and click images.
My first video below demonstrates most of the basic functionality of the tool. The second video shows the usage of the functions that I wrote to help clicking, sending text, etc.
Here is my version of the FindText function which includes the functions I demonstrate in the second video. If you’d like the hotstrings I used they are below also (mine are in my main AutoHotkey.ahk file)
Find and click image with FindText()
Demonstration of custom AutoHotkey functions to find image and click it.
HotStrings used for typing-aide for FindText
In this short tutorial I walk through how I configured SciTE to automatically close: brackets, parens, braces, and quotes with SciTE.
Here’s what you need to do to try this:1) Export these lua files into your SciTE home directory
2) Open your UserLuaScript.lua script and add the following lines (in this order)
EventClass:BeginEvents() -- Start up the events (Calls onstartup()).
-- ***AutoClose END
Then just restart SciTE and you’ll be able to have SciTE close brackets, parens, quotes on its own!
Video demonstrating the process so SciTE can close brackets, parens, etc.
In the first hour of our AutoHotkey webinar we demonstrated Quick Access Popup from our guest speaker Jean Lalonde. It is an amazingly customizable tool that allows you to have what you want at your fingertips!
Here is an abbreviated list of some of the great features:
- Create shortcuts to folders, programs, files, links, Snippets, special folders, etc.
- Easily create Hotkeys for above shortcuts
- Works with most Open/Save dialog boxes
- Integrated with most file managers (Windows Explorer, Directory Opus, Total Commander, etc.)
- The tool itself is highly customizable
- Have “shared” sections as well as individual ones
- Organize your menu into folders & sub-folders
- Customize Menu/GUI shortcut with an icon (that makes sense to you)
- Available in 10 languages
You can watch a short overview video here or get a deeper dive here. Jean was kind enough to walk me through his tool in this video.
We then talked about what a “text file” is and frequent sources of them (Export from programs, sever logs, emails, etc). We also briefly discussed what is File / Character Encoding & why are there frequent problems with it (this is a very deep topic which we could have spent days discussing!)
Also discussed what a “flat file” is and how they are different than:
- Multi-row files
- Relational files
- XML and JSON files
We then shared some of the frequently used built-in commands and functions for parsing text in AutoHotkey.
- File Object, FileOpen, FileRead, FileReadLine, Loop (read file contents), Loop Files & Folders– Opening / reading a text file
- FileAppend – Writes text to the end of a file (first creating the file, if necessary).
- FileEncoding – Sets the default encoding for FileRead, FileReadLine, Loop Read, FileAppend, and FileOpen
- IfInString/ InStr() – Checks if a variablecontains the specified string.
- Loop (parse a string) – Retrieves substrings (fields) from a string, one at a time. (CSV helpful option)
- RegExMatch() / ~= – Determines whether a string contains a pattern (regular expression). (Check out RegEx Webinar)
- RegExReplace() – Replaces occurrences of a pattern (regular expression) inside a string.
- SplitPath – Separates a file name or URL into its name, directory, extension, and drive.
- StringLen / StrLen() – Retrieves the count of how many characters are in a string.
- StringLeft, StringRight – Retrieves a number of characters from the left/right-hand side of a string.
- StringMid/ SubStr() – Retrieves one or more characters from the specified position in a string.
- StringSplit / StrSplit() – Separates a string into an array of substrings using the specified delimiters.
- Trim(), Ltrim(), Rtrim() AutoTrimm – Trims characters from the beginning and/or end of a string.
Then we got into various custom-built in libraries and functions
Then our guest speaker, Jean, took over walking us through some examples of common problems with AutoHotkey LoopParse command
The library is pretty cool and here are some of the main functions available:
- CSV2Collection() – Transfer the content of a CSV file to a collection of objects.
- Collection2CSV() – Transfer the selected fields from a collection of objects to a CSV file.
- Collection2Fixed() – Transfer the selected fields from a collection of objects to a fixed-width file.
- Collection2HTML() – Builds an HTML file based on a template where variables are replaced with content.
- Collection2XML() – Builds an XML file from the content of the collection.
- Collection2ListView() – Transfer the selected fields from a collection of objects to ListView.
- ListView2Collection() – Transfer the selected lines of the selected columns of a ListView to a collection of objects.
ObjCSV Examples: Here are the files Jean worked through.
- SIMPLE CSV FILE – COMA DELIMITED (TheBeatles-coma.txt)
- SIMPLE CSV FILE – TAB DELIMITED – ISSUE #1 (TheBeatles-tab.txt)
- MULTI-LINE CSV FILE – COMA DELIMITED – ISSUE #2 (TheBeatles-Lyrics.txt)
Jean then gave us a review of how to use his ObjCSV library
- Example using ObjCSV_CSV2Collection
- SIMPLE CSV FILE – COMA DELIMITED (TheBeatles-coma.txt)
- SIMPLE CSV FILE – TAB DELIMITED – ISSUE #1 SOLVED (TheBeatles-tab.txt)
- MULTI-LINE CSV FILE – COMA DELIMITED – ISSUE #2 SOLVED (TheBeatles-Lyrics.txt)
- PROGRESS BAR WITH LARGE CSV FILE – SEMI-COLON DELIMITED (LargeFile-semicolon.txt)
- CUSTOM HEADER – SIMPLE CSV FILE – COMA DELIMITED (TheBeatles-coma.txt)
- GUI Example using Collection2ListView
- SAVING WITH DIFFERENT DELIMITER using ObjCSV_Collection2CSV
- EXPORT HTML Example using ObjCSV_Collection2HTML
Wrapping up the first section we then saw a peak at CSVBuddy
- Reading large file with auto-detection
- Editing field names, re-order or select fields
- Saving options
- Saving file with multi-line content converted to single-line (Excel-ready)
- Reverting the single-line file to multi-line (for example, after manipulation in Excel)
In the second hour we discussed various issues working with text data as well as took a deeper look into Quick Access Popup.
Near the end of the time Capn Odin shared a Trie script he’s been working on. You can check out the script on the forum