AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Use ToolTips to Make Apps User-Friendly—August 26, 2019

Tip: By Applying the OnMessage() Function, You Can Include Windows ToolTip Notes in Your AutoHotkey GUI Window Scripts to Add Hints and/or Instructions Which Pop-up When Mousing-Over the Controls

Light Bulb!People might find some cleverly-designed AutoHotkey scripts confusing. Wouldn’t you like to add hints and tips which explain each control in your AutoHotkey GUI window? You can do just that with the ToolTip command and the OnMessage() function.

coverepub-250In the book AutoHotkey Applications, “Chapter Thirty-four: Pop-up Labels for All Your Programs (ToolTip Command)”, the Tooltip command highlights each control in an AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) window. Use the ToolTip command to add helpful little informational notes to your AutoHotkey applications. Once you implement this tip, whenever you hover the mouse cursor over controls in an AutoHotkey GUI, the ToolTip command will identify the control’s function or give instant instructions (as shown below).

(Extra Tip: You can use this same technique with other non-AutoHotkey Windows application by identifying window and control names with Windows Spy or the WindowProbe.ahk script, then writing a short companion AutoHotkey script to work with the Windows program.)

ToolTipHelp
An AutoHotkey GUI shows three different ToolTips as the cursor is moved over each control.

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Formatting Fonts and Colors in AutoHotkey GUI Window Controls

Guidelines for Setting Text Styles in AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) Controls—You Can Make Your GUI Windows Easier to Read by Changing the Text Font and/or Color of Individual Controls

While AutoHotkey doesn’t offer the same detail control of color, font, and text style that you get in graphics programs, you can enhance your GUI pop-up windows with well-placed style changes. But to get the most from your adjustments, you need to understand how AutoHotkey executes these modifications.
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Use the FileSelectFile Command to Save Instant Hotstrings to an AutoHotkey File

After Taking the Time to Create Hotstrings with the InstantHotstring.ahk Script, It Only Makes Sense to Save the Code to an AutoHotkey File for Future Use

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This blog is part of a series of articles discussing how to create instant Hotstrings using the Hotstring() function.

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Ultimately, after writing and activating a number of Hotstrings with the InstantHotstrings.ahk script, we want to save them in an AutoHotkey file. That frees us from recreating the set of auto-replacements the next time we need them. Plus, rather than always loading the Hotstrings into the app, we can run the .ahk file directly with AutoHotkey. Continue reading

Using GUI Checkbox Controls to Set Hotstring Options (AutoHotkey Technique)

AutoHotkey Hotstrings Use a String of Characters to Turn Options On and Off—GUI Checkbox Controls Offer a Visual Display for the Active Options along with a Method for Enabling/Disabling Each Feature

Previously (in “The Coming Instant Hotstring Script (AutoHotkey App)“), we reviewed the work still needed in the InstantHotstring.ahk script. This time we implement Hotstring options using the Hotstring() function.

Converting GUI (Graphical User Interface) Checkbox controls into Hotstring options codes (and back again) involves adept programming tricks. We use GUI windows and their controls to make applications user-friendly. People find it much easier to push discreet buttons and check separate boxes than work directly with often enigmatic programming codes. That means we must build a method for translating between the user-friendly input in a GUI window and the required code. Continue reading

The Coming Instant Hotstring Script (AutoHotkey App)

The InstantHotstrings.ahk Script Allows the Creation and Testing of Hotstrings

Library Benefits

January 5, 2019 Update: You can find the InstantHotstrings.ahk script at the ComputorEdge AutoHotkey Free Scripts page.

I started writing the InstantHotstrings.ahk script as a demonstration of the new Hotstring() function. I planned to keep it basic. (See the previous blogs, “Create Instant Hotstrings Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function” and “Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function to Disable/Enable Hotstrings.”) However, as often happens, the script ballooned into much more. While it continues to demonstrate various aspects of the Hotstring() function, it now includes a number of other features worth discussing (e.g GUI DropDownList, adding Hotstring options, saving and loading files).

I plan to post the current version of the app soon, but I don’t feel it’s quite ready. So, in this blog, I review the script’s features which provide topics for my future blogs. Although not my intention, you could call this a teaser of what’s yet-to-come. I should have the script ready for posting next week. I’ll publish a notice here when I’ve added it to the ComputorEdge Free AutoHotkey Scripts page. (I didn’t want you to think that during this holiday period I wasn’t working on something.)

January 5, 2019 Update: You can find the InstantHotstrings.ahk script at the ComputorEdge AutoHotkey Free Scripts page.

In addition to the two blogs mentioned above, I will write a series of pieces about the meat and potatoes in this new app:

  1. Add Hotstring options to the activated Hotstrings and the GUI DropDownBox control.
  2. Discuss the behavior of the various Hotstring options within the Hotstring() function.
  3. Look at considerations when using the X (execute) option in the InstantHotstring.ahk script.
  4. Save temporary Hotstrings to a .ahk file.
  5. Use the FileSelectFile command to save/load Hotstrings.

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Create Instant Hotstrings Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function

While Building Temporary Hotstrings Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function, We Learn DropDownList GUI Control Techniques

In Section 12, “Instant Hotkey GUI and Menu Section” of my book Jack’s Motley Assortment of AutoHotkey Tips, I go through a number of different techniques for keeping track of impromptu Hotkeys created with the InstantHotkey.ahk script (e.g. two-deep variables, associative arrays, etc). I thought of using that script as a model for this new InstantHotsting.ahk script. However, I might offer more learning points about other aspects of AutoHotkey if I start over with a new approach to this slightly varied problem.

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Pressing GUI Buttons with a Single Keystroke (AutoHotkey Tip)

Sometimes We Find It Easier to Hit a Key Rather Than Click a Button

An AutoHotkey forum user posted a question about using Hotkeys to activate buttons in a GUI window. He wanted to hit the numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4, rather than clicking the individual buttons—but only for the active GUI window.

hotkeycover200While I discuss similar isolation of Hotkeys to specific active windows in my Hotkeys book, this blog provided another opportunity to show how to add more functionality to your GUIs without infringing upon other programs or Hotkeys. I attempted to make the script as simple as possible by using a number of AutoHotkey tricks. Continue reading