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Archive for the ‘Automation’ Category



Demo: Automating Data Entry from Excel to Web

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 by Marcus Tettmar

Here’s a little video Dorian has just put together to demonstrate the automation of data transfer from Excel into a web form:

Finding Window Titles You Cannot See

Thursday, September 15th, 2016 by Marcus Tettmar

Someone emailed today saying they were having problems trying to automate Internet Explorer 11 because it didn’t seem to have a window title.

Actually IE11 does have a window title. Each tab has a different window title. But you don’t see the title in the main title bar of the application.

By default applications show the window title in the title bar. Hence it’s name. But some apps manipulate the appearance of their title bar so that it doesn’t look like a regular Windows title bar. Indeed some apps have all borders removed so that you can’t SEE the title bar. But in all cases, the window will still have a title (unless it’s an empty string!).

So if you can’t see the window title, how do you find out what it is? Well, with Macro Scheduler there are several ways to find it. One is with the View System Windows Tool, which shows a list of all the windows currently available on the system, showing their captions and class names. Another is to use the Code Builders.

Here’s a video demonstrating these two methods. It also shows how I use a substring window match:

OnEvent – Dealing with Indeterminate Dialogs – [Repost]

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 by Marcus Tettmar

This is a repost. The original article is here.

Most of the time when we are automating a process we are able to predict the sequence of events. We are working with a deterministic process and a linear flow of actions. But there are occasions when things can happen during a process that we cannot predict precisely. E.g.:

  • We might know that a dialog or window may appear sometime during the process, but we cannot predict exactly when that will happen.
  • We may have a situation where after entering some data into a text field a dialog may, or may not appear.
  • There might be some other software running on the PC which randomly pops up an error box. And we need a way to clear that when it happens.

There are a number of ways we can deal with such situations.

Window Event Schedules

If you have a situation where a known window can randomly appear – say a known error box – which always has the same window title, the simplest approach is to use the Window Event schedule in the Advanced Scheduling properties. Simply create a macro which closes the box – perhaps all it has to do is press enter – and specify the window title under Advanced Options in the macro properties. Then whenever Macro Scheduler sees this window it will run the macro and clear it.

Synchronous Coding

In the case where a window may, or may not appear after entering some data into a field, say a data validation dialog, we could just deal with this after sending the text, in regular fashion – something like:

Send>the_data
Wait>0.5
IfWindowOpen>Verification Alert
  Press Enter
Endif

So we simply send the data then IF the verification window appears, close it. But what if you have hundreds of data fields to enter? Dealing with each one would involve a lot of extra code.

OnEvent Window Event Handlers

Another way is to use the OnEvent function to create an event handler in your main script. There are three types of window events that can be monitored with OnEvent:

  • WINDOW_OPEN – monitors a specific known window title, or window title substring
  • WINDOW_NOTOPEN – fires the event handler when specified window closes
  • WINDOW_NEWACTIVE – fires the event handler when there’s a new foreground window

OnEvent is used to create an “event handler” which is just a subroutine which will be executed whenever the event occurs. So, for example, using OnEvent you can tell the script to run a subroutine whenever a specified window appears, whenever that may be, while the rest of the script is executing.

So let’s say we are working with an application which could, at any time, pop up a warning box titled “Connection Error”, and this can be cleared just by pressing enter to hit the default OK button:

OnEvent>WINDOW_OPEN,Connection Error,2,CloseWarning

..
.. rest of script here
..

SRT>CloseWarning
  Press Enter
End>CloseWarning

Of course there are a whole load of other things you can do. We may have a window whose title is always the same but the content differs and we need to react according to the content. In this case our event handler subroutine would have extra code in it to determine which type of dialog it is. We might do this using the text capture functions to read the text from the dialog, or using Screen Image Recognition to check for the presence of an object.

Maintaining Focus

Here’s an idea for an event handler which ensures the target application is always focused. If another application should steal focus at any point during the running of the script, it just grabs focus back again. It’s always good advice to use SetFocus before sending text. But if you have thousands of Send commands and want to slim down your script and make it more readable you could use this approach. Anyway, it’s just an example:

.. your code here to start and focus the app you want to automate, e.g.:
Run>Notepad.exe
WaitWindowOpen>Untitled - Notepad

//assuming the target window is now focused, get it's handle and process name
Let>WIN_USEHANDLE=1
GetActiveWindow>MyWindowHandle,x,y
GetWindowProcess>MyWindowHandle,pid,MyProcessName
Let>WIN_USEHANDLE=0

//now set up the event that is fired when a new window appears
OnEvent>WINDOW_NEWACTIVE,0,0,HandleNewWindow

..
..
.. rest of script here
..
..

//When a new window that does not belong to our process appears,
// set focus back to our window
SRT>HandleNewWindow
  Let>WIN_USEHANDLE=1
  GetActiveWindow>hwnd,x,y
  GetWindowProcess>hwnd,pid,winProcName
  If>winProcName<>MyProcessName
     SetFocus>MyWindowHandle
  Endif
  Let>WIN_USEHANDLE=0
End>HandleNewWindow

Note how this code gets the window handle and process name of your target window. Then whenever a new window appears the HandleNewWindow subroutine is fired which gets the process name of the active window. If the process name of the new active window is not the process name of your target window (i.e. the new window belongs to some other application) it sets focus back to your original window.

I hope this gives you a useful introduction to OnEvent event handlers and how they can be used to run code at any point during the script in response to events. OnEvent can also be used to detect files, dialog events, dialog changes and keyboard and mouse actions. For further information please see OnEvent in the help file.

Capture Screen Text using OCR

Friday, August 5th, 2016 by Marcus Tettmar

Here’s a way to get screen text from any application – even from an image – using OCR and a free open source tool called Tesseract.

First, you need to download and install Tesseract. You can get it here.

Tesseract is a command line utility. The most basic syntax is:

tesseract.exe input_image_file output_text_file

So you could call it from a Macro Scheduler script something like this:

//Capture screen to bmp file - you could instead capture only a window or use FindObject to get coordinates of a specific object
GetScreenRes>X2,Y2
ScreenCapture>0,0,X2,Y2,%SCRIPT_DIR%\screen.bmp

//run tesseract on the screen grab and output to temporary file
Let>RP_WAIT=1
Let>RP_WINDOWMODE=0
Run>"C:\Program Files (x86)\Tesseract-OCR\tesseract.exe" "%SCRIPT_DIR%\screen.bmp" "%SCRIPT_DIR%\tmp"

//read temporary file into memory and delete it
ReadFile>%SCRIPT_DIR%\tmp.txt,theText
DeleteFile>%SCRIPT_DIR%\tmp.txt

//Display the text in a message box
MessageModal>theText

This example simply captures the entire screen. You probably wouldn’t normally want to do this. Instead you could capture a specific window:

//Capture just the Notepad Window
SetFocus>Untitled - Notepad
GetWindowPos>Untitled - Notepad,X1,Y1
GetWindowSize>Untitled - Notepad,w,h
ScreenCapture>X1,Y1,{%X1%+%w%},{%Y1%+%h%},%SCRIPT_DIR%\screen.bmp

Or even a specific object:

//capture just the editor portion of notepad ...
SetFocus>Untitled - Notepad
GetWindowHandle>Untitled - Notepad,hWndParent
FindObject>hWndParent,Edit,,1,hWnd,X1,Y1,X2,Y2,result
ScreenCapture>X1,Y1,X2,Y2,%SCRIPT_DIR%\screen.bmp

Either way you then have a screen bitmap you can pass into Tesseract.

Once you’ve retrieved the text you would probably want to parse it, using e.g. RegEx. Here’s an article on a RegEx expression useful for parsing out data.

How to Run an Access Macro from Macro Scheduler

Thursday, August 4th, 2016 by Marcus Tettmar

Recently someone asked in the forums how to “Automatically Detect MS Office Install Location” so that they could run an Access macro.

Well, there are ways to get the path of an installed Office application, but it isn’t necessary in order to run an Access macro. This is a rehash of my forum answer:

You can run an Access macro via the command line using the /x switch. The ExecuteFile command lets you pass parameters. So you could just do this:

ExecuteFile>%USERDOCUMENTS_DIR%\MyDb.accdb,/x Macro1

This will open the DB and run macro “Macro1″. Note my DB is in my documents folder here so I’m just using USERDOCUMENTRS_DIR but this could be any path.

Here’s a list of other command line switches.

For more control you could use VBScript:

VBSTART
  Sub RunMacro(accessfile,macroname)
    dim accessApp
    set accessApp = createObject("Access.Application")
    accessApp.OpenCurrentDataBase(accessfile)
    'comment next line out if you don't want access to be visible
    accessApp.visible = true
    accessApp.DoCmd.RunMacro macroname
    'you can run a subroutine or function in module code instead if you want:
    'accessApp.run "routinename"
    accessApp.Quit
    set accessApp = nothing
  End Sub
VBEND

VBRun>RunMacro,%USERDOCUMENTS_DIR%\MyDb.accdb,Macro1

This gives you more control – you could make it invisible, and as you can see you could run VBA code instead if you want – or access any of the other methods. Anything you can do inside Access you can do here – by converting VBA to VBScript:

http://help.mjtnet.com/article/19-converting-office-vba-to-vbscript

But if you do really want to get the path, how about querying the mime-type in the registry:

RegistryReadKey>HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,ms-access\shell\open\command,,accPath
ExtractFilePath>accPath,accPath

Enjoy!

Why it’s Good to Automate [Repost]

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 by Marcus Tettmar

This is a repost from 2006.

One of the best ways to learn to use a software product fully is to try to automate it. Testers and automators have to learn the software’s interface really well, possibly better than the people who wrote it. Ok, the developers know the algorithms better than anyone else, but it is the person automating it who knows the ins and outs, pitfalls and quirks of the interface.

We all know how badly designed some Windows programs are. And in these days of fancy hi-res graphics and snazzy toolbar buttons it’s easy for the designers to forget about shortcut keys and keyboard navigation. The most productive way to use a PC is to forget the mouse and learn the keyboard shortcuts. You can get things done much more quickly. Yet even the most experienced Windows users don’t know half the keyboard shortcuts that exist in Windows (tips for keyboard navigation in Windows could be a post for another day).

Knowing these shortcuts makes automation so much easier and more reliable. Automating an application by sending mouse events and mouse clicks is unreliable and depends on the screen resolution never changing. Although you can use relative mouse coordinates, sooner or later something is going to change and the button you want to click is not in the place it was when the script was created.

The automation/test engineer is the one who figures out the keyboard shortcuts and finds the simplest, most reliable way of navigating an application. People who automate applications regularly have a good understanding of the different ways to move around Windows and Windows applications. Automated Software Testing can help find issues in the interface just from the process of building the automated test, even before the test script has been run. Building an automation routine for an application will help you find those missing or duplicated shortcut keys and other objects that can’t be driven by the keyboard.
Automators spend so much time fiddling with the software’s interface that they will often become more knowledgeable than the “power-users”. Testers also have the great advantage of being allowed to try unusual scenarios that developers never think about or are too busy to try. They are allowed to break things!

So it goes both ways. Find out the windows keyboard shortcuts and the hot-keys for the application you’re scripting and you can create a better script. Build an application with good keyboard support and your application can be automated more easily. If it can be automated easily it will be easy to use!

Finding HTML Attributes For Automating Web Sites

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 by Marcus Tettmar

If you’re new to automating IE/websites with WebRecorder or the native Macro Scheduler IE functions you may be wondering how to determine which elements and attributes to use.

In this video I demonstrate how to use IE’s F12 key to invoke Developer Tools and use that to quickly find the elements we’re interested in and the attributes we need to use:

(You might want to click on the video toolbar to select a larger resolution size, view full screen or view on YouTube so that you can see the code).

Awesome Image Recognition

Friday, February 6th, 2015 by Marcus Tettmar

We received this email today and I just had to share it …

Macro Scheduler image recognition just saved me 6 hours of mind numbing work and my program took me about 15 minutes to write, test, and start using. Such an AWESOME solution you provide.

Richard A. San Jose, CA USA

For more info on how to use Image Recognition see:
http://help.mjtnet.com/article/39-how-to-use-macro-schedulers-image-recognition-functions

How to Trigger an Action if the Number of Connected Monitors Changes

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 by Marcus Tettmar

Today I was asked if Macro Scheduler can trigger an action if the number of connected monitors changes. Yes, all we need is a way to determine how many monitors are connected to the system. VBScript is one way to do that. So then all we need is a loop that constantly checks this value. So we end up with something like this:

The Macro Scheduler MacroScript SDK in Python

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 by Marcus Tettmar

Did you know there was a Macro Scheduler SDK? It allows you to run Macro Scheduler code from right within your own apps. You can run and interact with MacroScript code within VB, C++, C#, Delphi, VBScript … or any other programming language which lets you use a COM object or Win native DLL.

It even works in Python. Here’s a small example which uses the screen image recognition functionality to find and click on the Windows Start button:

Another slightly more complex example which opens Notepad and types into it. It also demonstrates how you can call chunks of code at a time instead of all at once and set and get the value of script variables during execution. It also gets the result of the script set via MACRO_RESULT:

More information about the MacroScript SDK can be found here.

A number of customers have used the SDK to build macro-ing capabilities into their own products and/or create tighter integrations between their own software and automation routines using MacroScript.

If you’re interested in trialling a copy or getting pricing info drop us a line.

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