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Author Topic: Macro Express - MiniReview  (Read 19367 times)

cranioscopical

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Macro Express - MiniReview
« on: March 20, 2009, 08:15:05 PM »
Basic Info

App NameMacro Express Pro from Insight Software Solutions, Inc.
App URLhttp://www.macros.com/index.htm
App Version Reviewed4.0.2.1
Test System SpecsVirtually irrelevant, any machine that supports the required O/S will do.
Supported OSesWindows 2008, Vista, Vista 64, 2003, XP, XP 64, 2000
Support MethodsEmail: info@wintools.com
Knowledgebase: http://www.macros.com/cgi-bin/faq_interactmacros.cgi?search
Online forum http://pgmacros.invisionzone.com.
Phone: (801) 927-5009 (8:30 AM - 5:00 PM Mountain Time, Monday-Friday)
Fax: (801) 927-5011 (24 hours a day)
Mail: Insight Software Solutions, Inc.,  P.O. Box 106,   Kaysville,   UT 84037-0106,   USA
Upgrade PolicyUpdates within major version numbers are free (e.g. 4.1 to 4.2 etc.).
Discounts for existing users on major version updates (e.g. 4.9 to 5.0 etc).
Trial Version Available?Trial version which is fully functional during the 30-day trial period.
Pricing SchemeUS$59.95.
Screencast Video URLA whole series of 'how to' videos at: Video Tutorials Page.
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and ProductI have no association with Insight Software other than as a regular, paying customer. I offer this review (such as it is) simply because I find the product useful and hope that others might find the same.


Introduction:

Macro Express Pro is software to do what the name implies, that is create macros with as little fuss as possible. A macro, of course, is something that will automate a series of actions, in order to make our time at the computer more productive.

My own feeling is that if something has to be done on a computer more than a few times then it's worth automating it -- taking care of that stuff is a fundamental role of the computer. It's a personal point of view of course and since I acquired my dog I've stopped barking, too.

Macro Express Pro is a well established, mature product that first went into development in 1990. It is continually updated and improved, often at no cost to the user.



One.jpgMacro Express - MiniReview Two.jpgMacro Express - MiniReview Three.jpgMacro Express - MiniReview


For whom is this software suitable?

An appealing aspect of Macro Express Pro is that it is suitable for almost anyone. At one extreme, people who have never before created macros will find it easy to use. At the other extreme, those with a lot of experience can create and automate solutions to extremely complex problems.


A quick overview

Think of Macro Express Pro as your electronic butler. It is an easy way to get things done on your computer without engaging in a lot of repetitive effort. Do you want a series of events to happen when you hit a certain key? No problem, Macro Express Pro can arrange that. Do you want some specific text to appear in a document when you type "zzz" or "home address"? Easy as pie. Need to monitor some data on the web and capture it when it changes, and then have Adobe Illustrator produce a top-quality chart based on that? Consider it done. Do you require files to be backed up when they appear in a certain folder? Macro Express is your willing servant. Simple or complex, Macro Express Pro is up to the task and, with a little ingenuity, it can produce quick solutions for innumerable problems without needing to reach for a full-scale programming language.

For beginners, Macro Express Pro can monitor what you do and then create a macro based on your actions. It will capture both keyboard and mouse activity. It also offers an optional "Wizard" interface to make things even easier when starting out with the program. Later, if desired, the code that the macro produced can be examined, learned from, and modified (it's not necessary that one does this but it is a good way for beginners to expand their skills). There is a useful built-in help system peppered with good examples of just about every aspect of the software.

For those who progress a little further, Macro Express Pro gives full access to to a set of over 900 commands which provide the building blocks with which to create some highly intricate automation.

Macros can be triggered in a number of ways. A few of these are:
  • when a hot key is pressed
  • when a scheduled event occurs
  • when a window is activated
  • when some mouse-key combination is pressed
  • when a change occurs to a file or folder
  • when some system event or process occurs
  • when specific data appears on the clipboard
there are more...

Macros can be set to play back:
  • globally, in all Windows programs
  • only when a specific window is active
  • only when a specific program is active
  • always, except in a program that you specify

If desired, macros can be compiled into standalone programs that will execute independently of whether Macro Express Pro is installed on a given machine.
[Sorry, my mistake, an exported macro will require a copy of Macro Express on the machine where it runs - Cranio]

When running in its normal mode Macro Express Pro has a presence in the form of a tray icon. To program or edit a macro one activates the appropriate interface by means of the tray icon or a hot-key combination.

This overview barely scratches the surface of Macro Express Pro. I intend it only as a way to draw your attention to a program that has satisfied me for a good long time. If these few words have raised your interest level, I encourage you to take the trial version for a spin and discover whether you share my enthusiasm.


Why I think you should use this product

I find Macro Express Pro to be a good and useful way to offload repetitive tasks and have the computer take care of them. In addition, with a little creativity, it can be used to weld together disparate applications and so form a customized, comfortable workflow. I believe that it is a valuable tool for beginner and experienced user alike. It is updated and improved at regular intervals, often at no cost at all to the user. I'll let the fact that I have been using it for over a decade speak for itself.


How does it compare to similar apps?

This is not a comparative review. Some software categories seem to lend themselves to highly subjective likes and dislikes. Why each one of us prefers his or her favourite word processor, for example, is sometimes difficult to define. I suspect our feelings about automation software are similar. I know, like, use, and am comfortable with Macro Express Pro. I can bring it to your attention, I am confident that it will perform well, but I cannot say if you will like it more than others.

I do know of some competing software.
One is AutoMate. This is a highly competent product but significantly more expensive. This can be found at http://www.networkau...WotJkCFSbxDAodWgnP4w.
Another is Macro Scheduler. This is also highly competent but somewhat more expensive. This can be found at http://www.mjtnet.com/index.htm.
Another is WinAutomation I have no experience of this one. It is moderately more expensive. This can be found at http://www.winautomation.com/index.html.


Conclusions

Macro Express Pro is an effective, easy, mature, reasonably-priced tool to increase productivity and reduce drudgery. It is adaptable to a range of skill levels, from novice to expert.


Links to other reviews of this application

Apart from on the developer's own site, I found one here, at SoftSea.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 03:58:31 PM by cranioscopical »

mouser

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2009, 08:23:30 PM »
Excellent mini review Chris!  :up: :up:

Chris was also nice enough to contact Insight Software about the possibility of offering a discount to DC members, and they were nice enough to grant us one, as well as give us a few copies to give away  :Thmbsup:

The discount will run through April -- details will be posted shortly.

tomos

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2009, 06:43:39 AM »
Excellent mini review Chris!  :up: :up:
hear hear ;)
you dont have any "needs improvement" section - no complaints or 'cons' at all?
Has it worked with all programs that you've tried it with?

Chris was also nice enough to contact Insight Software about the possibility of offering a discount to DC members, and they were nice enough to grant us one, as well as give us a few copies to give away  :Thmbsup:

The discount will run through April -- details will be posted shortly.
great, I don't think my use of this would justify the full price


I see there's a standard version as well for $39.95
Compare here
Tom

cranioscopical

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2009, 08:13:00 AM »
you dont have any "needs improvement" section - no complaints or 'cons' at all?
I don't. I did think about that and was mildly surprised to come up empty.
My needs are not that demanding and, as always, YMMV.
Also, I'm used to the way it works and it's difficult to see it with new eyes.
That's where the trial version comes in, I guess, so that people can investigate for themselves.
There is a forum (mentioned above) where you can take a look and see what issues other may have.
A few bugs associated with the launch of Macro Express Pro were hunted down and put to the sword in a timely manner.

I tried to think of something meaningful about which to complain but couldn't.
In the past, I recall being stuck on something and getting back a nicely workable solution from the people at Insight.
There is a cosmetic thing where you can't change the font in one of its selection windows but I've put in a request about that and it seemed too trivial a thing to pursue in my quick overview. I'm aware that the 'review' was more of an introduction than an analysis.

Quote
Has it worked with all programs that you've tried it with?
There  was something, last year that I couldn't find an easy way to accomplish -- I forget what it was. My solution was to write a little script in something else (probably ReXX) and call that from Macro Express. I tend to chain together various bits and pieces to achieve what I want, using Macro Express as the links that join things. I'm not much of a programmer and whatever gets the job done is good enough for me.

I think we all feel a bit lost when favourite utilities are absent.
Recently, when using a machine without Macro Express installed I was continually frustrated by the things that I couldn't do with ease.
That must say something either about the usefulness of Macro Express or the stupidity of yours truly. Many would plump for the latter.

Quote
I see there's a standard version as well
Yes, the forthcoming discount will not apply to that version.

Darwin

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2009, 10:01:44 AM »
Great mini-review Chris  :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

rjbull

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2009, 04:49:39 PM »
I'm a registered user of Macro Express pre-Pro.  Aren't they offering an upgrade at reduced price?  I'd find it hard to justify buying at full price all over again, and I notice the current rather steep $59.95 is only for "a limited time."


cranioscopical

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2009, 05:50:50 PM »
I'm a registered user of Macro Express pre-Pro.  Aren't they offering an upgrade at reduced price?  I'd find it hard to justify buying at full price all over again, and I notice the current rather steep $59.95 is only for "a limited time."

I just looked it up... my copy of Pro was at a reduced price when I upgraded from MEx 3.x.  That was in December.  I probably found out about it through their newsletter.  Why not ask them, they're nice enough to deal with?

tomos

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2009, 03:39:08 AM »
I'm a registered user of Macro Express pre-Pro.  Aren't they offering an upgrade at reduced price?  I'd find it hard to justify buying at full price all over again, and I notice the current rather steep $59.95 is only for "a limited time."

they do have upgrade price via the buy page (?)
http://www.macros.com/orderupgpro.htm
Tom

rjbull

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2009, 04:54:29 PM »
they do have upgrade price via the buy page (?)

Didn't spot that, thanks.  I think I'll probably pass, though.  The upgrade price is rather high, and I don't really understand the extras anyway...

[edit]
Hmm.  DC discount looks same as upgrade price, but, maybe I'll use the DC discount to grab a copy of PRO (which would be a new license), install that where I work, and install the "amateur" version at home...
[/edit]

« Last Edit: March 30, 2009, 04:18:12 PM by rjbull »

goggin

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2009, 04:07:22 PM »
I'm a long time fan of Macro Express. Tried many others, including many versions of Automate up thru v6.xx. Macro Express is consistently better than all the others + actually cheap considering how much I use it.

How much do I use it? Well, it's tyically the first or second app I install on a new machine...it's that essentail! I use it to enter long email addresses with shortcut keys...and just do all sorts of things that normally require multiple keystrokes. It's been well maintained over the years with fairly regular updates.

It's a gem!

cranioscopical

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2009, 05:37:00 PM »
It's a gem!
Thanks for the input, goggin!

pmcg

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2009, 11:54:11 PM »
I've also been using Macro Express since the 90s. It's one of the ten apps I wouldn't want to live without. I'm another who always makes sure this app gets installed right away on new builds. And then I import my saved macros. I use this program umpteen times a day...especially for text input. I have shortcut keys for most of my frequent web sites, phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, etc.

Plus its *fun* to set up a complex macro and watch it work. I got hooked on macros back in my Kaypro days. When I switched to DOS I ran Borland's Superkey TSR which did the same thing basically. Macro Express will reproduce text, mouse movements, and allow you to introduce delays as well as wait for specific or general user input. It will also recognize when specific windows open. And that's just scratching the surface. If you wanted to, you could immerse yourself in the depths of this program for weeks. Definitely a keeper.

The only complaint I have is that it occasionally loses it's keyboard hook and then I have to try to 'restore keyboard hook' from its tray menu or shut the program down and start it again. This happens *very* rarely and so is not a big deal.

Peter McGovern

cranioscopical

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2009, 09:08:55 AM »
Borland's Superkey TSR
Made life a lot simpler, didn't it? :)

wraith808

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2009, 12:38:21 PM »
I use Direct Access which seems to be in the same category, but not in the same category, as MacroExpress and its ilk seem to be a superset of Direct Access and similar products.  Am I seeing this the correct way?  Could I replace DA with ME, and then take advantage of the advanced functionality also?

cranioscopical

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2009, 02:40:20 PM »
Quote from: wraith808
Could I replace DA with ME, and then take advantage of the advanced functionality also?
The interfaces are quite different.
ME doesn't do text completion/substitution in the same way as DA, so you have to set up keys and know what they are in advance.  Nor does ME offer lists of alternatives like some other text-completion tools.
If you're a DA addict, and are satisfied with what it can do, and rely heavily on its methods, you might not feel comfortable switching to ME.
I strongly recommend your giving the trial version a run, though. It should be possible to run them together, btw. (In the early days of DA it would conflict with ME but Andrea fixed that long ago.)

So much depends on habit and personal likes and dislikes. I ran DA for a while -- when it was relatively new -- but found myself reverting to ME because the latter is more powerful and can do a lot more for me. It is also my personal view that ME offers better value for money. (That's not to criticize DA, I think that DA offers good value for money, but feel that ME gives even better value.) Within reason, however, value for money probably matters less than a style of working with which one feels comfortable (or perhaps that is, in and of itself, a highly important value factor).

Not a very clear answer, I fear, but it depends on how much, and how, you use and rely on DA. That's one reason why I didn't mention DA in the list of competitors, I think it's really in a different category.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2009, 02:44:58 PM by cranioscopical »

wraith808

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2009, 03:02:48 PM »
What I mainly use DA for is to launch applications and websites with quick combinations of keys, i.e. `out launches outlook.  I know it has other functions, but I've never gotten into them, and was wondering if ME had a better interface to process things other than launching applications/websites.

cranioscopical

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2009, 03:47:38 PM »
What I mainly use DA for is to launch applications and websites with quick combinations of keys, i.e. `out launches outlook.  I know it has other functions, but I've never gotten into them, and was wondering if ME had a better interface to process things other than launching applications/websites.
I think so, it's invisible for one thing. 

For your main DA stuff (above) I happen to use 'shortkeys' using two-letter (or more) combinations starting with 'q'.  So, wherever I am (in whatever window, on the desktop, 'qdc' gets me to DonationCoder. FWIW, I'll attach examples of two quick ways to set up launching URLs. The first, using a 'wizard', is as simple as putting the address into the requester, the second is through the scripting interface (which, in the example, gets me to DC using Firefox).

For other stuff, a couple of keys will, for example, gather and back up a whole bunch of stuff from here there and everywhere on my machine; or create and shoot off an email; or gather data from one source, then massage it some, then call up the appropriate Adobe app to pretty it up, then... etc.  There's a lot one can do with ME.  (It'll also record your actions if desired.)

Can I suggest that perhaps the best way to get a feel for the interface look and feel, and for the depth of ME is to view the tutorials referenced in the review?

Examples.pngMacro Express - MiniReview

Hope that helps.






rjbull

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2010, 12:06:18 PM »
I just re-read this thread, following cranioscopical's post here: Re: ATNSOFT Key Manager, Key Remapper, Text Paster - 30% Discount Coupon Code

Just wanted to add: last August (2009) I asked Insight Software if they had plans to make a portable USB version of Macro Express.  They replied they had a portable version under active consideration, but were short of time, and couldn't give a definite time frame for when it would be available.

cranioscopical

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2010, 03:58:28 PM »
Good point, rjbull!

delwoode

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2011, 07:15:59 AM »
I tried Macro Express pro but prefer Vtask studio - however I now find I dont use either as Autohotkey does everthing I want and has more options/flexibility. IT's also free.

rjbull

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2011, 10:10:38 AM »
I tried Macro Express pro but prefer Vtask studio - however I now find I dont use either as Autohotkey does everthing I want and has more options/flexibility. IT's also free.

I tried a few small things with AHK, back when I had a job.  It was OK for text expansion, though I ended up going for dedicated software.  But, not being a coder, I found AHK hard to use for other things.  I usually wanted a fix now, without struggling with Help files and trying to code.  Macro Express has an excellent "learn by example" system.  I only tried the AHK script that tries to do that for AHK itself twice or so, and found it unreliable.  One of the scripts had to be only slightly edited, but the other was hopeless.  Macro Express was worth the price to save time in rush jobs.  For longer-term things where I had time to think about what I was doing, I mostly used PowerPro, which I was running anyway.

delwoode

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2011, 06:41:32 AM »
The macro recorder that comes with AutoHotkey is the worst on to use! really dont know why they haven't updated it - there are better ones made by users -you have to check the forums - I havent used them in a long time - I think one was calley Easy.ahk
If I had to go back to a macro maker I would use V.task studio

rjbull

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Re: Macro Express - MiniReview
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2011, 02:57:57 PM »
I believe the "learn by example" macro maker really comes from AutoIt, and maybe the two languages have diverged too much to make it really useful now?  If there are better ones, it's a shame they don't ship them as standard.

On the other hand, Macro Express seems to need more fuss and bother than it should.  I haven't found editing the macros afterwards especially easy, either, because the editor is so dense.