Using Associative Arrays to Solve the Instant Hotkey Data Recall Problem (AutoHotkey Technique)

While Many Other Approaches Work (Sort of), AutoHotkey Associative Arrays Provides a Simple Solution

Elegant Solution

Refinement and simplicity are implied, rather than fussiness, or ostentation. An elegant solution, often referred to in relation to problems in disciplines such as mathematics, engineering, and programming, is one in which the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest or simplest effort.

In the last few blogs, I figured out a number of solutions for returning the insertion text via Hotkey combinations for multiple GUIs in the InstantHotkey.ahk script. Many of these approaches worked, yet I continued searching for a more elegant answer. Now, I present my best solution (so far) which includes the use of an AutoHotkey associative array. Continue reading

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Matching Instant Hotkeys with a Loop (AutoHotkey Tip)

Sometimes You’ll Find a Loop a Simpler Way to Match Things

ProgrammingRobot

“…stuck in an infinite loop. Like I just said, it’s so depressing to get stuck in an infinite loop. Like I just said, it’s…”

If you’re new to AutoHotkey with little or no scripting experience, then this blog may venture too far into the weeds. I don’t like to put off new users because the journey into Windows scripting is well worthwhile. Most find it easy to get started with AutoHotkey with many simple-to-implement tools. However, it takes a little time to understand the nuances of the more advanced techniques. I recommend that AutoHotkey noobies start with the basics such as found in the “Introduction to AutoHotkey: A Review and Guide for Beginners” page. You’ll obtain immediate, rewarding results with basic AutoHotkey. Then, as your comfort with scripting increases, introduce yourself to more of AutoHotkey’s power with some of the slightly elevated topics.

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In the last blog, by writing the IH_VarText(Var) function, I created a clever (even if I do say so myself) yet uneasy technique for linking the Instant Hotkey combination to the insertion text by converting the key combination (full of illegal variable characters) to a legal two-deep variable. While this worked, in most cases, it left a number of holes in the subroutine. Unless I added a trap line for every possible illegal key (e.g. the semicolon ” ; “ key, the slash ” / ” key, the hyphen ” ‘ ” key, etc), errors might occur. I needed to make a change. Continue reading

Two-Deep Variables for Tracking Data (AutoHotkey Trick)

When You Find No Obvious Way to Link Specific Data to an Object or Another Value, You Might Try Saving It to a Variable within a Variable

Sometimes you encounter a scripting situation where saving data to just any random variable doesn’t do the job. While creating variables and storing values is simple enough, you may find it difficult to recall those values at the right time. It’s important to know you’re getting the right data when you want it. Maybe using the value of a variable as a variable name (two-deep) will give you what you need. Continue reading

Create Multiple GUI Pop-Ups in a Single Script (AutoHotkey Scripting)

This AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) Trick Builds New GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) On-the-Fly and in the Same Script without Conflicts

I originally wrote the InstantHotkey.ahk script as a practical demonstration of how to use the Hotkey GUI control. The script’s major downside involves the need to run a new instance of the app for each new Hotkey combination/insertion text pair. Adding the #SingleInstance Off directive solved the problem of loading the same script multiple times, but the System Tray clogged with icons after initiating a number of Instant Hotkeys simultaneously. (I couldn’t just eliminate the System Tray icons (#NoTrayIcon or Menu, Tray, NoIcon) because I could quickly lose track of the various Hotkeys. Plus, eliminating tray icons presents other dangers.)

I combined the script with my master AutoHotkey script by including a Hotkey and the Run command (^!h::Run, InstantHotkey.exe). This avoided the problem of multiple conflicting GUIs in the same script—although it did nothing about the System Tray icon overload.

My recent work inspired me to solve the problem by uniquely naming the GUIs. In the course of writing the new script, I added a number of other useful techniques which I plan to cover in future blogs. Stayed tuned! You might find a few of them quite helpful. Continue reading

Automatically Launch Apps at Windows Startup (AutoHotkey Tip)

Discover Autohotkey Tricks By Perusing Code In Other Scripts, Plus How to Load Any Windows Program at Startup

Many users find it easy to manually setup a program to auto-launch whenever they log onto Windows, but creating a shortcut and placing the new file into the Windows Startup folder requires a number of steps. With AutoHotkey, the same actions take just one command.

Continue reading

Understanding AutoHotkey %Var% Variable Text Replacement (AutoHotkey Tip)

Handy Window Transparency Wheel Using Macro Replacement Quickly Peeks Under a Window without Moving It, Plus the Difference Between % Var and %Var% Made Easy

The AutoHotkey online documentation goes into great detail about the traditional method for retrieving values from variables (%Var%) and the force expression evaluation method (% Var). It can take the new AutoHotkey user a little while to comprehend the differences between the two. In an effort to clarify the variations and help beginners to understand when to use which method, I offer an alternative way to view the operations. For the traditional method, I prefer using the terms macro substitution or variable name replacement. Once, you understand how it works, differentiating when and how to use each technique becomes easy.

The value-added trick comes when creating variables containing new variables on-the-fly by combining the two methods (i.e. forcing an expression % which contain a %Var% variable name replacement). The first step involves replacing the variable with its value, the new variable name (%Var%). The second step requires the forced evaluation of the new variable (% VarValue) as part of an expression.

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Volume Control
Volume Wheel

A while back I installed a volume control operated by the mouse scroll wheel. Simply hover over the Windows Task Bar and scroll the mouse wheel up or down to adjust the PC speaker volume level higher or lower, respectively. A progress bar (shown at right) pops up displaying the changing volume level. I’ve added this convenient tool to my standard AutoHotkey script and use it all the time.

Tranparency Menu
Transparency Menu

At a later date, while playing with window visibility, I set up a menu for changing the transparency level for the active window (shown at left). At the end of that blog, I suggested, “If you want to get really fancy, then you might use the mouse wheel to set the transparency (or opaqueness) level.” I’ve done just that with my new SeeThruWinWheel.ahk script. Now, by holding down the CTRL key while scrolling the mouse wheel, the window under the mouse cursor becomes less opaque (WheelDown) or more opaque (WheelUp). In the course of writing this short script, I implemented a number of AutoHotkey tricks worth discussing. Continue reading