What is the best automation software
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.
Batch jobs are the oldest type of automation on Windows and they still work without any problems.
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.
Only a few users know: The possibility of encrypting VB scripts.
AutoIt 3 allows the user to automate mouse and input processes. Particularly useful for software testers.
The free AutoIt 3 software even offers its own script editor with syntax highlighting.
The specialty of AutoIt 3: Scripts are compiled into real executable EXE files.
Matrix42 Package Robot logs the user interactions and generates script jobs from them. The software is based on WinRobots.
Aagon ACMP AutoMATE logs user interactions and uses them to generate script jobs. The software is based on WinRobots.
The baramundi Automation Studio allows automation within the framework of software and configuration packaging.
A BASIC dialect for creating macros is also integrated in OpenOffice or LibreOffice.
Visual Basic for Applications is a very powerful programming language in Microsoft Office. The change to a .NET-like language variant is still pending.
Entire duty roster procedures can be developed with Microsoft Excel and macros, for example.
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.
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.
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