Clarification of Earlier AutoHotkey BlockInput Command Tips
While working on a couple of chapters in my new book, I noticed that I had effectively blocked inadvertent mouse movement while running a demonstration of a Windows Paint automation routine. In the script DrawSquiggle.ahk, AutoHotkey turns off the mouse while it executes various other mouse movements. Otherwise, any accidental manual movement of the mouse cursor might screw up the final result. Most importantly, the command to block mouse action worked without raising user privilege levels or running the script as an administrator.
AutoHotkey BlockInput Command May Cause Stuck Keys! Fix It with the KeyWait Command
In the last blog, we dealt with the issue of setting the privilege level required to use the BlockInput command. In the BackupText.ahk and IncrementalSaveText.ahk scripts, the AutoHotkey command prevents user mouse/keyboard input while the script selects and copies text to the Windows Clipboard, but it doesn’t work without Administrator privileges. After raising the script to a higher level, we demonstrated how to use Windows Task Manager to bypass the User Account Control (UAC) warning window.
At the end of the blog, I mentioned an additional problem where BlockInput causes keys (usually one or more from the Hotkey combination) to stick in the down position. Here’s the trouble. Continue reading →
Rather Than Increasing the Length of a System Tray Menu, Add Submenus—Plus, How to Use Menu Names (A_ThisMenu) for Conditional Actions
When I decided to add two more recipes to the Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger script, I ran into the problem of adding too many items (one for each step in each recipe) to the System Tray right-click menu. In the original, Cheeseburger.ahk script, I only included four steps in the menu (Ingredients, Prepare, Cook, and Serve). However, after inserting the Animal-Style Cheeseburger and the Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger (Animal Style) into the script, the number of recipe increments jumped from four to 18—plus an additional Print Recipe option for each burger. Also, since many of the steps use the same (or similar names), I needed a method for identifying each step with the proper recipe. When increasing the number of AutoHotkey menu options, cumbersome lists of items commonly crop up. You can fix these bloated menus by using submenus. Continue reading →
For One Day, Monday, May 1, 2017, the Just Published E-Book Is Available for the Kindle and Kindle Apps on Amazon.com
I’ve made the new e-book Why AutoHotkey? available exclusively on Amazon and you can get the book free. It’s not that you need the book since most of its contents can be found right here on the Why AutoHotkey? page. I’ve produced this book for people who don’t know about or use AutoHotkey. As you are already accessing this blog, you’re likely well aware of AutoHotkey. My goal with this new book is to reach the AutoHotkey unaware. I’m guessing the Amazon is loaded with those types of Windows users.
I plan to make the book free more times, but Amazon only allows me to give it aways five times in a three-month period. (I would always make it free if they would let me.) Don’t worry if you miss this one. I’ll announce in this blog whenever I schedule another free book day. (Sign-up to follow the blog at the upper right of this page if you want notification whenever a new blog comes out.)
I know…I’ve expressed my disdain for the way Amazon treats independent writers, but they have such a huge reach, it would be silly for me to completely ignore them. (I still prefer people buy from ComputorEdge E-Books, but everyone must have an option.) This new compilation book should help the uninitiated to understand how much power AutoHotkey can bring to their Windows PC.
When Nothing Else Works for Copying Text, Try the ControlGetText Command and Create a Global MsgBox Print Function
In a previous blog, I highlighted the Control, EditPaste command. The command helped me solve a particular problem where the standard Send, ^v (Windows paste shortcut) responded too slowly. I’ve since discovered that the complementary ControlGetText command resolves some sticky MsgBox printing troubles. It not only works quicker than the Windows copy shortcut (Send, ^c) but it greatly reduces code. Continue reading →
If You Plan on Being One of the Most Annoying People on the Web, Why Not Make It Easy on Yourself?
Note: If you’re an Internet troll, please don’t take offense at anything I say here. I’m merely showing how AutoHotkey makes trolling easier—as the free software does with anything you do on any Windows computer. Not that trolls need any help—other than psychological.
Internet trolls patrol cyberspace in an effort to right the wrongs perpetrated by unsuspecting users…or, maybe, they just want to make themselves feel better by making others feel worse. Whatever! The important point is that even Internet trolls can make good use of the free AutoHotkey tools available for their Windows computers.
Some people think that AutoHotkey software should only be used for good, but if you like to harass people on the Web, right or wrong, AutoHotkey may be the tool for you. Internet trolls will be surprised at how easy AutoHotkey makes harassing people.
Disclaimer: Don’t blame AutoHotkey for this blog. Any tool can be used for good or evil. While a hammer can build a house, it can also tear it down.
Note: I changed the CheeseburgerRecipe.ahk script in a number of ways—a few of which I plan to discuss in future AutoHotkey Tips. For now, I confine myself to highlighting the use of the GoTo command. For specific changes, see the comments at the top of the CheeseburgerRecipe.ahk script.
Adding Options to the Cheeseburger Recipe
I found another recipe at FoodNetwork.com which replicates the In-N-Out Animal-Style Cheeseburger recipe. Copying the same AutoHotkey techniques I used for the Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger, I added the new steps for this recipe to the script. Since the System Tray menu grew too crowded, I implemented submenus for each recipe. (See image below.)
The primary differences between the Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger and the Animal-Style Cheeseburger include caramelizing onions, mixing a special sauce, burgers with no embedded cheese, preparation of the buns, and frying the burgers with mustard. While more involved than the first recipe, the new recipe might satisfy the “Animal” in anyone. But, what if you wanted a Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger Animal Style?
You could write an entirely new recipe for a Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger Animal Style but that would include a great deal of redundancy. By using the AutoHotkey GoTo command, we combine the redundant steps of the two recipes to create a third variation.
For the new Jack Stuffed Animal Style Cheeseburger, the recipe starts at the Label point Stuffed_Animal_Ingredients: which includes the ingredients for the Animal Style Cheeseburger plus the added Jack cheese (for stuffing) and varied meat and cheese amounts. Using the GoTo command, AutoHotkey jumps directly to the Animal_Onions: pointer for caramelizing the onions.
Since the process jumps into the middle of the Animal Style Cheeseburger subroutine, when the Animal Style Cheeseburger – Onions window closes, it automatically drops into the Animal_Sauce: routine. Next, the recipe must GoTo the Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger Label named Prepare: for shaping the burgers with Monterey Jack cheese inside. In order to make this jump decision, AutoHotkey must identify the currently running recipe subroutine: either Animal Style Cheese Burger (no Goto) or Jack Stuffed Animal Style (GoTo).
The initial menu selection tells us which recipe track to follow. The menu name (A_ThisMenu) identifies the Jack Stuffed Animal Style recipe:
Placing this condition into the MessageSetup: subroutine identifies the origin of any mixed-use menu steps. AutoHotkey determines the proper path by checking the value of the StuffedAnimal variable. For example, after the Animal_Sauce: window, the process uses the following check:
If (StuffedAnimal = 1)
If running the Jack Stuffed Animal Style sequence (StuffedAnimal = 1), AutoHotkey jumps to the Prepare: point of the Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger routine. Otherwise, the Animal Style Cheeseburger continues dropping through its steps.
This same conditional format creates the jumps from Prepare: to the Animal_Buns: point and from Animal_Buns: to the Stuffed_Animal_Cook: point for the Jack Stuffed Animal Style steps. This process creates a new variation from older recipes without rewriting redundant steps. Often using the GoSub command (for Go Subroutine) works better, but in this situation, GoTo makes the routine act as if it’s one continuous series of steps.
GoTo Versus GoSub
To understand the difference between the GoTo command and the GoSub command, know that when a subroutine finishes, the GoSub command returns to the next line in the original calling routine, while the GoTo command does not. In most cases, since it returns to the same spot in the script, you’ll probably find the GoSub command (or a function) more appropriate. But if you know that you don’t want to return to that point, then feel free to use GoTo—but you better know where you plan to end up.
A common usage of GoSub runs the subroutine then returns to the next line after the calling line. For example, I moved the loading of the recipe variables for each step out of the auto-execute section of the script into separate Label subroutines, then replaced each with a single GoSub command. This made the script more readable by greatly reducing the length of the auto-execute section. In place of the code, I inserted the following GoSub command statements:
However, using the GoSub command in the mixed recipe scenario for the Jack Stuffed Cheeseburger Animal Style would have caused more problems than it solved. For example, if the GoSub command appeared in place of GoTo, then each call would create a new return point. That means clicking the Cancel button would cause the script to jump to the last GoSub call rather than exiting the thread. In many cases, jumping back would cause unwanted effects (e.g. display an inappropriate step from another recipe). In fact, even running through the entire recipe without canceling would cause an untold number of displays of various steps. After encountering the last Return in the subroutine, the final Return jump executes more GoSub commands—each creating an additional Return point. The GoTo command keeps it clean, allowing an exit with any Return encountered in any recipe sequence. To the user, each recipe (including the mixed) looks like a continuous set of steps.
While probably best avoided if GoSub or a function can do the job, the GoTo command works well in scripts emulating flow charts and plays an important role in decision trees. In those special situations, knowing where you are (and where you’re going) may be more important than where you’ve been.