In Search of the Most Reliable and Simple Program to Automate User's ActionsThe main purpose of the article is to spread the idea about computer work automation. Unfortunately, many people, who work on computer, are not ready to use automation programs. They are used to pressing the same keys and clicking in the same windows for hours. What they need is only to make a little effort to change their usual attitude to work and their life will be easier. With one of auto clickers they will save lots of time and secure themselves against unwanted mistakes (such as human element influence). Automation programs can record mouse movements and key strokes and automate all routine work. But - NO - most people prefer to do everything manually; though it is boring and tiresome...
To prove it, I'll describe an incident from my life. There was a meeting going to be held in our office. Before its beginning, I set AutoClickExtreme (an automation program) to work for an hour without my assistance and switched off the monitor. When, after the meeting, everybody was parting, I switched on the monitor. My workmate, watching the mouse cursor run across the screen and open windows, said half in jest: "Oh, you never do your work in a humane way". I agree with the fact, that every man should love his work. But if there is a way to quicken the work process and to make work quality better, isn't it more humane to use this opportunity?
The second purpose of the article is to find out the most simple and reliable automation program, which could accurately replay the recorded actions. As the author of AutoClickExtreme, I could have passed on to praising my own product straightway. But I chose to be fair: picked out the most popular automation programs, tested more than 30 of them; those which are at the top of program lists in section "Automation software" in different software archives (some of the programs: WorkSpace Macro Pro 6.5.3, AutoClickExtreme 3.65, Hot Keyboard Pro 3.1.597, MacroMachine 3.1.7, AutoHotkey 1.0.47.06, Macro Express 3.7d, Macro Wizard 4.1, AutoMate 6.2.5, RoboTask 3.1, AutoIt 220.127.116.11, etc.). The prices varied from 1000$ to freeware. Among the programs I chose those, which offer automatic Record of key strokes and mouse events. Otherwise, to "click" in several programs, users have to devote much time and effort to make a script manually (and to waste time on understanding script language).
The rest of the programs were tested according to the following 3 criteria:
- accuracy of Replay : the recorded actions must be Replayed in the exact windows, the Record was made, even if the windows order in the Task Bar changed. Surely, it is possible to line the windows in the necessary order each time before Replay, but for a user this will make extra trouble. For accuracy of Replay a program got 2 points.
- flexibility of Replay: if a window title has changed insignificantly (for example, "Untitled - Notepad2" changed to "*Untitled - Notepad2", "*" - means that the document has been edited), the replaying program must redirect to a new title. This is a common situation, since many programs include program name + open document name in the main window title. So, if there is no flexibility of Replay, user will have to Record once again, if another document was opened in the automation program. For flexibility of Replay I gave 2 points.
- quickness of Replay: it's always pleasant to see, when the recorded actions are carried out not only accurately but quickly as well. 1 point for this criterion.
For testing I gathered statistics from a site and placed it in Excel table, the thing I usually do in practice. I often have to do this task to see some figures from sites in their dynamics (as sites usually show them for the current moment). In a program being tested, I started Record, performed the task and then stopped Record. After that, I started Replay of this Record at the highest speed (to test quickness of Replay). Then I restarted programs to change their order in the Task Bar (to test accuracy of Replay). At the end - changed Excel document name by adding one symbol, so that Excel title changed a little (to test flexibility of Replay).
The test results discourage: many programs cope with quickness of Replay, but their accuracy of Replay leaves much to be desired. That is, if the program order in the Task Bar changed, many automation programs played the recorded actions in any programs, which could lead to most unpredictable results. A slight consolation is the fact, that after editing the recorded script manually, you can make some automation programs control the windows, where Replay should take place. But while testing flexibility of Replay I was at a loss, how to help an automation program to Replay everything correctly. Even if the Record script is edited manually, this task is almost impossible to carry out.
In conclusion - according to the test results there are only 2 programs, which fit all the 3 requirements, these are AutoClickExtreme 3.65 and WorkSpace Macro Pro 6.5.3. Each program got 5 points (maximum). I.e. they succeeded in Replaying at the highest speed (+1 point). After changing windows order in the Task Bar, they accurately gathered the statistics (+2 points). After insignificant change of Excel document name, the programs perfectly replayed the recorded actions (+2 points). But beforehand, in WorkSpace Macro Pro settings I had to tick off "Enable this macro to run with other similar files or window titles". However, in this case if WorkSpace does not find the necessary (or similar) program window, it will simply Replay everything in any other program, which may lead to undesirable after-effects. AutoClickExtreme showed fine work stability: even if the needed application is closed, AutoClickExtreme will honestly "say", that it has not found the necessary window; and will not try to Replay the recorded actions in any other window. Moreover, if window title changes a little, AutoClickExtreme finds it successfully and accurately Replays the needed actions.
To sum up, both mentioned above auto clickers are perfect for Record and Replay of repeated key strokes and mouse events (this is the type of automation I use most often). More than that, WorkSpace Macro Pro and AutoClickExtreme have other powerful functions, which can be useful to many office workers and those, who spend much time with computers.
You can also read: