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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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: How to Combine Multiple Scripts into One—August 19, 2019

Design Your Scripts to Either Run as Stand-alone Apps or Use the #Include Directive to Integrate into a Master Script without Modification

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The cool thing about this tip is that, after you implement these techniques—without any additional changes—you can run your AutoHotkey script as an independent app or quickly add it to a master script. 

In “Chapter Eleven: How to Write Easy-Merge AutoHotkey Scripts” from the book Beginning Tips for Writing AutoHotkey Scripts, I outline steps for writing scripts which easily combine with other scripts without conflict. This allows the AutoHotkey user to run multiple apps without needing to launch each script individually. (It also prevents the accumulation of numerous AutoHotkey icons in the Windows System Notification Tray.) If you employ these basic design tips when writing your apps you’ll find that you don’t need to do any rewrites when combining useful scripts. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: IfWinActive Versus #IfWinActive—August 12, 2019

Tip: Isolate Your Hotkeys and Hotstrings to the Appropriate Window

Light Bulb!As beginners, we tend to create universal Hotkeys and Hotstrings which work everywhere. This usually works out in our early scripts, but, eventually, we discover that our key combinations either interfere with particular programs or we begin to run out of easy-to-remember Hotkeys and Hotstrings. To resolve this issue, limit your Hotkeys and Hotstring to working only for those programs where you need them.

hotkeycover200You can create context-sensitive Hotkeys and Hotstring with either the IfWinActive function or command or the #IfWinActive directive. Which you use depends upon what you need to do. The IfWinActive command allows greater flexibility for any set of conditions, while the #IfWinActive directive only works for Hotkeys and Hotstrings.

For more information, see “Chapter Two: Block Windows Shortcuts with AutoHotkey” and “Chapter Three: AutoHotkey #Directives for Context-Sensitive Hotkeys—#IfWinActive” of the book AutoHotkey Hotkey Tips, Tricks, and Techniques, (Chapter Three clears up the confusion between AutoHotkey’s IfWinActive command and the #IfWinActive directive.)

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Total the Numbers Found in Any Document (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 5)

For a Quick-and-Dirty Calculator, Use Regular Expressions (RegEx) to Pull Numbers from Documents or Web Pages and Total Them Up—Plus, a RegEx for Removing (or Extracting) Numeric IP Addresses

Shifting gears, I end the discussion of the MultiPaste.ahk script which parses copied data into component parts for easier paste operations into other documents. With this blog, I start working on another tool for simplifying a Windows task—addition.

Sometimes I see a list of numbers in either a document or a Web page which I would like to quickly total without loading a separate calculator. For example, the shopping cart program I use for my book sales offers a summary table of all recent sales. While I can use a reports section of the site to get more information (e.g. monthly sales), I want a tool to quickly highlight the desired entries and give me the total of the individual sales. To do that I use a Regular Expression (RegEx) specifically for extracting those sales numbers. Continue reading

Pasting Date Parts into Forms (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 4)

In Most Data Fields, You’ll Find It Simple to Paste Text or Numbers, But Inserting a Parsed Date Often Requires Extra Steps—Plus How to Change Date Paste Action Based on the Active Window Title

In the first three blogs of this RegEx series, I used Regular Expressions (RegEx) to identify and parse data prior to any paste operations. In this blog, I use a RegEx to identify and parse dates during the multi-part date paste operation. I use the previously introduced \d wild card (any numeric digit zero through nine) and the optional match modifier (the question mark ?), plus, I introduced how to create a selection list of possible matches by using a range of options (in this case, a forward slash, a dash, or a dot [/\-.] as date separators).

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Cover 200When working with forms, dates often use three separate data entry fields—one for the month, one for the day, and one for the year. (In the UK, they swap it around to day/month/year.) In some forms, you need to enter a forward slash (/) to jump to the next entry item. Sometimes the form automatically jumps to the next field after entering two digits. In many Web pages, you need to tab between each data entry area. Sometimes, sending the entire copied date as a single string works.

Since I wrote the MultiPaste.ahk script to respond to a particular personal finance program, I set it up to Send the date delimited with slashes. If you want to do something similar for a different software package or Web page, then you may need to tailor the script. This blog shows you how to do that. Continue reading

Removing Excess Tabs and Spaces with RegEx Greed (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 3)

After Parsing Selected Table Data or One-Line Street Addresses for Unique Paste Operations, We Prevent Blank Paste Items from Appearing in the MsgBox Window by Using RegEx Greed to Remove Any Extra Tab Characters

In the first two parts of this series, I introduced a couple of common Regular Expressions (RegEx) wild cards for finding unknown characters (the needle) in a larger string of text (the haystack). In “Finding US Zip Codes (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 1),” I discussed the \d expression (representing any single numeric digit) which you can also identify with the range [0-9] or the expression set (0|1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9).

In “Finding UK Postal Codes (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 2),” I introduced the wild card \w as the RegEx symbol for matching any alphanumeric character (upper or lower case) and the ten digits (plus underline mark)—the equivalent of the range [a-zA-Z0-9_]. In both blogs, I used the /s wild card to locate a space in front of either the US zip code or UK postal code.

This time I use \s in combination with `t to remove extra tab delimiters (e.g.`t`t) which insert blank lines in the MultiPaste.ahk script’s MsgBox command window.

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Finding UK Postal Codes (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 2)

By Comparison, UK Postal Codes Offer a Greater Challenge Than US Zip Codes When Writing Regular Expressions (RegEx)

UKPostalCode
Note that a single space appears between “Birmingham” and the “B5 5QD” postal code. Without special recognition of the UK postal codes, the MultiPaste.ahk script won’t create a separate paste item.

In the previous blog (“Finding US Zip Codes (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 1)“), I began this mini-tutorial series on AutoHotkey Regular Expressions (RegEx) with a technique for parsing US zip codes from street addresses. For the MultiPaste.ahk script to work best (“Parsing and Pasting One-Line Street Addresses (AutoHotkey Multi-Paste Trick)“), I needed any zip code to appear as a separate paste item in the MultiPaste MsgBox. The parsing problem occurs because most one-line address formats only use as a delimiter the space character (no comma or newline) between the state and zip code. The same holds true for UK postal codes.

Cover 200Last time, I pointed out how the string functions—InStr() and StrReplace()—require exact search characters while the Regular Expressions functions—RegExMatch() and RegExReplace()—can use a variety of wild cards to represent characters. In fact, the various different ways to express wild cards cause a degree of confusion. In this blog, I introduce the \w alphanumeric wild card and the question mark modifier (?) to create optional matches. Continue reading