AutoHotkey Tip of the Week—Powerful RegEx Text Search Shorthand (~=)

AutoHotkey Provides an Abbreviated Regular Expression RegExMatch() Operator ( ~= ) for Quick Wildcard Text Matches

Regular Expressions (RegEx) can get confusing, but once understood, they pay tremendous dividends. Acting almost as another programming language, Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey provide a method for accomplishing complex search and/or replacement with only one line of code. While not impossible, doing the same thing without using RegEx often requires complex tricks and many lines of code. In the beginning, learning RegEx many feel daunting but you’ll find it well worth the journey.

Light Bulb!In spite of the initial learning curve, you don’t need to learn how the two primary AutoHotkey RegEx functions work (RegExMatch() and RegExReplace()) to make good use of a RegEx. The shorthand RegEx operator ( ~= ) provides a method for doing a complex string match without the limitations of the InStr() function. Regular Expressions search for patterns while the InStr() function searches for exact strings.

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Why AutoHotkey for Poets?

Erstwhile Multifarious Poets Optated for Quill and Parchment. Forthwith, AutoHotkey Propounds the Furtherance of Lyrical Ruminations on Windows Computers.

Okay…I’m not a poet. My mind doesn’t work that way. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see how AutoHotkey might be useful to people who craft the English (or any other) language. Even so, I robotpoetryoccasionally enjoy writing a short rhyming couplet. (I know…constructing rhyming poems has become cliché—at least for real poets.)

In this blog, I offer a couple of AutoHotkey scripts for assisting and inspiring(?) budding wordsmiths. The first includes a set of over 500 Hotstrings for inserting “the most beautiful words in the English language.” The second script draws upon the Web to create a pop-up menu of rhymes. Even if you never intend to write a poem, you might find these AutoHotkey techniques interesting and/or useful. Continue reading

Too Much Planning Can Get in the Way of Good Scripting (AutoHotkey Quick Reference Part Five)

While Preplanning Script Writing Can Be Useful, Don’t Take It Too Seriously—Sometimes It Only Makes Sense to Rewrite Everything

The AutoHotkey script writing process rarely runs in a straight line. Often I start with a vague concept of what I want to do then start fiddling with the tools. Unlike when building a toolshed or bookcase, I rarely begin with a complete plan or blueprint for an AutoHotkey script. In fact, the code may undergo numerous changes during the debugging and problem-solving phases.

sarcastictweetsFor anyone who builds things, this approach may be disconcerting. Afterall, you can’t afford to build a house by trial-and-error. The cost of wasted materials would be prohibitive. Traditionally, we spend a great deal of time in the planning phase to make sure we avoid expensive mistakes. Even in computer programming, large projects come together much better after extensive planning. But with smaller projects such as AutoHotkey scripts the opposite may be true. I often start a script with only a vague idea of what I want to do. As I work on it, the possibilities expand and I often change course. Continue reading

Using INI Files for Web Address Letter Case-Sensitivity Problems (AutoHotkey Quick Reference Script, Part Four)

The Wrong Capitalization of Letters in URLs Can Cause Page Access Failure—A Trick for Using an INI File to Solve Case Problems in AutoHotkey

In an effort to take advantage of the hidden index built into the AutoHotkey.com site, I’ve started writing a script I call AutoHotkeyQuickReg.ahk which parses the downloaded pages. The first step involved those searches which downloaded a command page.

AutoHotkey Library Deal
AutoHotkey Library Deal

The original version of the AutoHotkey Quick Reference script pops up a MsgBox which displays the syntax of the command, then offers the option to open the Web page in the default browser. Recently, I added a new feature which parses and displays information about the built-in AutoHotkey variables whenever detecting the “Variables and Expressions” page. However, I had to find a way to deal with the problem of letter case (capitalization) sensitivity. Get it wrong and either the Web page doesn’t come up or the right data won’t load. Continue reading

Regular Expressions (RegEx) for Parsing Text (AutoHotkey Quick Reference Script Part Three)

The RegExReplace() Function Makes It Easy to Extract and Cleanup Text, Plus a Quick-and-Dirty RegEx to Strip All HTML Tags

commandsyntaxLast time, we accessed commands at AutoHotkey.com using its hidden built-in index. Whenever the script downloaded a command page, we identified it by the embedded HTML code <pre class=”Syntax”>. Not only do the <pre class=”Syntax”>…</pre> tags identify the command pages but they surround the proper syntax for that command. Since this easily located HTML format appears in every command page, it can be used to launch a quick reference pop-up window. We only need to parse the command syntax with the RegExReplace() function, then clean up any extraneous HTML tags. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Quick Reference Script (Part Two)

The AutoHotkey.com built-in Index Reappears—Now to Build a Reference Tool!

autohotkeybooks160x600As I ventured in a new direction toward creating AutoHotkey reference scripts, I once again tested the previously discovered hidden AutoHotkey.com index (which had vanished). It re-emerged!

This left me in a quandary. Do I continue in my new direction or take up the original quick reference tool I began building with this AutoHotkey.com secret capability? Since the hidden index offers so much power, I decided to continue on my first course. (The possibility that the feature may disappear again looms over my work, but any Web site can change.) Continue reading

The Problem with Accessing Web Data with AutoHotkey Scripts

The Trouble with Scripts Which Use Web Page Information, Plus AutoHotkey Tools for Downloading Web Page Source Code

While it doesn’t usually happen this fast, AutoHotkey scripts which depend on downloaded Web page data can go bad at any time. Last week, I discovered a clever index in the AutoHotkey site which allowed quick access to commands and other documentation. Now, I find that the site has changed and only a couple of the previous searches work. Continue reading