AutoHotkey webinar- Intro to GUIs

In this AutoHotkey Webinar we covered: Introduction to GUIs  (Here is a link to scripts shared during the webinar)

Video Hour 1:  High Level:

  • Why you should create a GUI
  • Pros / Cons about Using a GUI
  • Pros / Cons about Programming a GUI
  • Rules of Thumb / Tips
  • Overview of various GUIs available in AutoHotkey
  • Resources: Tutorials & Tools for building GUIs

Video Hour 2: Coding and Q&A

Script Highlight: TaskDialog from just me and TaskDialog Creator from


When should you consider a GUI

  • Help select from a list of items that changes frequently
  • Use dropdowns , radio buttons, etc. to control what can be selected
  • Target audience using the tool is non-tech savvy
  • The list you want to choose from is available progromatically (files in folder, different accounts, etc)
  • You want to display data and be able to sort by columns keeping the rows intact
  • You want to lock-down use of the tool
  • You want to make sure certain values/fields get updated (tags for an email, subject line, etc)
  • Your code is long and key data points that you change are mixed throughout the script
  • Dealing with Images / Video files- Preview of image helps humans classify what “it” is

Pros / Cons of Using GUIs

Pros of Using GUIs

  • Non-programmers can do a lot while knowing little
  • Color / Animation can ease functionality / Usage
  • Graphics can convey data
  • Build in ways to reduce errors
  • input box for path, etc
  • “wizard” can be a template for end-user

Cons of Using GUIs

  • Non-programmers can do a lot while knowing little (make sure you build-in safeguards*)
  • Not as flexible / can typically only do what has been defined by designer
  • Manually have to repeat process each use
  • Poorly designed UI can be very painful

* Hawaii Missile-Alert Crisis


Pros / Cons of Programming GUIs

Pros of Programming GUIs

  • Can “lock down” interaction (have drop-downs, radio buttons, etc. ) with specific commands (instead of free-form typing by user)
  • Can reduce errors / mistakes by limiting options

Cons of Programming GUIs

  • Users can do actions, in any order, at any time (Not procedural)
  • Different screen resolutions
  • Various input (Mouse, Keyboard, touch,etc.)

Rules of Thumb / Tips

  • KISS- As they say, “less is more”.
  • Use Tabs to help separate tasks
  • Always “destroy” the GUI before you create it (yes, even the first time)
  • Name your GUIs
  • Label your inputs with pre-selected text or text control (e.g. edit fields)
  • Keep your design-focus on the End-User
  • Remember GUIs are EVENT driven (not linear – user can start “anywhere”)
  • Listviews & Treeviews- Disable redraw, Put in new info, Enable redraw
  • Build-in safeguards against users making mistakes

Quick Demonstrations  (See this file for the scripts)

  • Input box (multiple edit fields)
  • Tabs, Checkboxes, Radio Buttons
  • Resizable Edit
  • ListView
  • TreeView
  • DropdownList, ComboBox, Context sensitive help
  • On-Screen Display
  • Installation / Progress Bar
  • Editor with Menu bar
  • Menus

Tutorials

Use HTML & CSS in your GUIs by JoeDF

Tools


AutoHotkey Webinar- Automating MS Outlook and COM

In our first hour of today’s  AutoHotkey webinar we talked about various ways you can automate MS Outlook.  We covered the below scripts:

  1. Creating an HTML email (Also see this video)
  2. Performing mail-merge on the above HTML email
  3. Integrating a mail-merge from an active Excel file  (Also see this video)
  4. Looping over emails in a folder
  5. Creating appointments in Outlook
  6. Creating an address book from looping over emails in Outlook

The second hour dove a bit deeper into using Outlook and Excel.  We also talked through a few user’s questions.

Below is the information that was reviewed in the PowerPoint deck we reviewed:

Script Highlight:

Sift by FanaticGuru uses Regular Expressions and nGrams* to fuzzy match strings

*n-gram is a contiguous sequence of n items

COMComponent Object Model

  • What is COM?
  • Some of the programs COM integrates with:

Creating an HTML email in Outlook with AutoHotkey

  1. Connect to Outlook or Create a new one (but may not deploy right then)
  2. Create a New Mail Item object
  3. Provide values for properties
    1. Specify Account Sending from
    2. Type of email (HTML, RTF, Text)  (Search here for Outlook Constants)
    3. Identify Recipients: To, CC, BBC
    4. Subject line
    5. HTML Body
    6. Attachments
    7. Delivery time (Fuse)
    8. Request Delivery Reciept
    9. Importance
    10. Display / Send
  4. Convert above email to mail-merge with names & email addresses

Resources

AHK Forum:

MSDN resources:

Outlook examples on the-Automator

Stack Overflow

AutoHotkey webinar on COM & Excel

AutoHotkey Webinar- Various ways to use AHK to automate tasks in Windows

In the first hour of our March AutoHotkey webinar we covered core concepts of what to consider when writing a script.AutoHotkey webinar

The second hour we took a deeper dive into coding using some of the methods mentioned in hour one.

Content & Resources shared in AutoHotkey webinar

Script highlight:  Copy Explorer path to clipboard

Things to Consider when writing a NEW script

  1. Are you behind a time-crunch to get the job done?
  2. Are you looking for a 1-time solution?
    1. What are the odds that you could re-purpose your solution for something else at a later date?
  3. Will this be run on multiple:
    1. Computers
    2. Windows versions
    3. Users
    4. What software is also running on computers
    5. Bitness (32 & 64) of OS, AutoHotkey , program interacting with
  4. Is there existing code that you can borrow / steal / leverage?
    1. Previous code I’ve written
    2. Sites like:  AHK Forum  Stack Overflow  Reddit  Github  the-Automator  JSZApp  Jack Dunning Blog
    3. Ask colleagues / friends / Social channels
      1. AHK Forum   StackOverflow    Reddit
      2. LinkedIn 1  LinkedIn 2
      3. Facebook 1  Facebook2  Facebook 3
      4. Joe Glines  Jackie Sztuk  Hellbent  ahkTuts AboutScript  Chunjee  AHK vids
  5. Will someone other than you be using / maintain the code? Program to their “level”

Many ways to “Control / Interact” Window’s programs

Example Scripts used during Coding demonstration of AutoHotkey webinar