What is the best automation software

Office & collaboration

Some activities on the computer quickly lead to symptoms of fatigue: Copy the same files from location A to location B every day or fill out a specific form every Friday. The logging of weather data or the compression of log files could also be required. Even the brightening and blurring of a thousand photos could be a possible task - there are no limits to the wealth of ideas. Wouldn't it be a pleasure to have such activities carried out fully automatically or at least partially automatically? A common wisdom is: "Mathematicians / computer scientists are lazy." This is not necessarily the case. Choosing smarter ways to avoid boring repetition is hardly a sign of laziness.

The number of tools and aids for automation is just as large as the possibilities that can be realized with them. We have summarized the most exciting and perhaps also best-known "automation specialists" for a wide variety of tasks for you. Incidentally, this was typical manual work - research and experience are difficult to automate. The main focus of the consideration is on the Microsoft Windows platform. There are many other exciting programs for Mac OS and Linux that we did not consider here.

  1. automation
    Batch jobs are the oldest type of automation on Windows and they still work without any problems.
  2. automation
    Visual Basic Script, or VBS for short, gives the user access to COM objects and significantly expands the capabilities of batch jobs. However, the future belongs to the more powerful PowerShell.
  3. automation
    Only a few users know: The possibility of encrypting VB scripts.
  4. automation
    AutoIt 3 allows the user to automate mouse and input processes. Particularly useful for software testers.
  5. automation
    The free AutoIt 3 software even offers its own script editor with syntax highlighting.
  6. automation
    The specialty of AutoIt 3: Scripts are compiled into real executable EXE files.
  7. automation
    Matrix42 Package Robot logs the user interactions and generates script jobs from them. The software is based on WinRobots.
  8. automation
    Aagon ACMP AutoMATE logs user interactions and uses them to generate script jobs. The software is based on WinRobots.
  9. automation
    The baramundi Automation Studio allows automation within the framework of software and configuration packaging.
  10. automation
    A BASIC dialect for creating macros is also integrated in OpenOffice or LibreOffice.
  11. automation
    Visual Basic for Applications is a very powerful programming language in Microsoft Office. The change to a .NET-like language variant is still pending.
  12. automation
    Entire duty roster procedures can be developed with Microsoft Excel and macros, for example.
  13. automation
    PhraseExpress automates the creation of texts in all Windows applications. Even free of charge for private users.

Windows standard tools - batch and script

Microsoft operating systems are now well equipped with automation options. The former critics from the UNIX camp, who mainly pointed to the lack of a powerful console, have finally fallen silent since PowerShell. The fact is that there are many ways to be successful. The oldest automation option is the creation of a so-called batch job, which is started either manually via the command prompt or automatically, time-controlled via the task planning (scheduler). Since there are thousands and thousands of console programs, for example the SMTP e-mail sending software BLAT or the CD / DVD burning software CommandBurner, the possibilities are almost unlimited.

The second automation language that is firmly linked to Windows is called "Visual Basic Script" (VBS for short). It is debatable whether the interpreter language VBS was developed as a counter-development to Netscape's JavaScript. In fact, VBS is hardly of any importance in connection with a browser. It looks different when it comes to automation under Windows. VBS can access all Component Object Model (COM) components and is therefore suitable for interaction with database servers or the operating system. If printers are to be created automatically, a database to be accessed from a script or the number of users on terminal servers to be read out automatically, VBS is the method of choice. Nobody should expect new developments in VBS anymore, Microsoft has already established many newer technologies that extend far beyond the functional scope of VBS. On the one hand the PowerShell, with its powerful commands, and on the other hand the free Visual Studio in the Express Edition.

For many IT professionals, there is a particular problem in connection with VBS: Anyone who is allowed to see the script can also list its content directly. Since database passwords are sometimes found directly in the source code, this is a real flaw in terms of operational security. Little known is the Microsoft "Script Encoder" tool, with which a "targeted, encrypted illegibility" is created from a specified point in the script code. Instead of the VBS file, a VBE file is generated, which can, however, be processed by the WScript and CScript interpreters without any problems. Experienced IT professionals will hardly be able to stop this form of encryption, since a quick internet search will reveal the corresponding "decoders".

Advantages of the on-board resources:

  • Free Windows components

  • Available on virtually every PC

  • Easy to learn

Disadvantages of the on-board resources:

  • Source code is usually openly readable

  • The syntax difference between VBS and VBA is not always comprehensible

Conclusion: Those who are familiar with the built-in Windows functions can quickly and easily create the right script jobs for most tasks. For VB-Script and the older batch programming, interested parties will find a lot of solutions for a wide variety of ideas on the Internet. Sometimes the path using the standard tools is rocky, but always instructive.