When to Rewrite Your AutoHotkey Scripts

AutoHotkey Scripting Philosophy or Speeding Up the InstantHotstring.ahk script

“Before you can fix a problem you must understand it. Before you can understand a problem you must fix it.”

Sounds like a chicken/egg problem, but I assure you it isn’t. You only begin to understand a problem when you start working on a solution. As you grind through a script, you develop a deep awareness of its inner workings. I encourage any AutoHotkey novice to jump into a new script with both feet—even if you don’t think you know what you’re doing.

Sitting around and speculating about possible answers to a question often serves as mental thumb-twiddling. You must start somewhere—anywhere. Until you actually dig into it and undertake the work, you will never truly comprehend the obstacles and pitfalls associated with implementing a fix. You’ll find this singularly true when writing AutoHotkey scripts— especially as a beginner. The answer to the question “Where do I start?” is “Anywhere!” Continue reading

Fixed the InstantHotstring.ahk Script Slow Hotstring Loading Problem

New Version of InstantHotstring.ahk Script Now Available!

I’ve rewritten the LoadHotstrings subroutine in the InstantHotstring.ahk script (alternate download) to overcome the slowdown created by using the pre-existing routines found in the original script, “AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems (Scripting Insights).” I simplified things by limiting the subroutine to:

  1. Adding Hotstrings directly from the file without extra processing—no interaction with the DropDownList GUI control.)
  2. Checking for duplicated or changed Hotstrings within a single variable.
  3. Activating each Hotstring as its added.

AutoHotkey exports the DropDownList GUI control contents just once into a single variable and only writes the new DropDownList after processing the entire target file. The test file of over 1000 Hotstrings loads in one to two seconds—depending upon the weather. (The old routine could take up to 70 seconds for that same file.)

You can find the new code (InstantHotstring(FastLoad).ahk) and the old code (InstantHotstring(SlowLoad).ahk) at the InstantHotstring.ahk section of the ComputorEdge Free AutoHotkey Scripts page.

I’m currently working on blogs which discuss both the philosophical and technical aspect of rewriting the subroutine.

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jack

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AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems (Scripting Insights)

When Debugging AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems, Look at Loops First

A number of scripting techniques can cause apps to run slowly. These slowdowns might occur when running long loops, doing extensive searches, or making numerous hard drive reads and writes. But the primary culprit tends to hide within loops or redundant operations of any type. However, you may need to look deeper to find the real source of the problem.

Tip: If you like to keep numerous other programs open, then that alone can cause significant slowing as your computer shares processing time. For example, Google Chrome runs an independent process for each browser tab. Multiple Google Chrome tabs can put a heavy load on the CPU and memory causing delays in any other apps. To optimize time tests, minimize interference by closing all other programs.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function to Disable/Enable Hotstrings

While the Hotstring() Function Won’t Delete Hotstrings, It Can Toggle Them Off and On (Disable and Re-Enable)

Technically, once created, you can’t delete a Hotstring without exiting the script. However, you can disable and enable its function. When you disable a Hotstring using the Hotstring() function, it loses its power—similar to the effect of deleting it. But, since the disabled Hotstring still exists, you can bring it back to life by re-enabling it with the same Hotstring() function. Continue reading