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Author Topic: NANY 2011 Release: Auspex - a Windows Productivity App  (Read 117819 times)
timns
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« on: August 04, 2010, 12:39:29 PM »

NANY 2011 Entry Information

Application Name Auspex
Version Please refer to the official release thread
Short Description Auspex will present the busy PC user with several enhanced input features:
Replacements, Completions, Corrections, Runs
Supported OSes Windows XP,Vista,7
Web Pages Wiki where I will slowly build up a user guide: http://redmine.dcmembers.com/projects/auspex/wiki
Bugs/Issues: http://redmine.dcmembers.com/projects/auspex
Download Link Auspex Topic
System Requirements
  • A PC
Version History
  • Beta
Author timns' DC page
NotesIf Auspex does not seem to ever do anything, please make sure you have launched it with Admin rights
(The program needs to communicate with all running processes and can only do this if you allow it to)


Description
Auspex arose out of a combination of realising I was typing a lot of repetitive text, finding I did not like any of the auto-completion programs I tried, and stealing ideas from a very slick IDE I use.

The software runs in the background monitoring keyboard input in any application that currently has focus. Upon certain trigger conditions, it will do things on your behalf to enhance your productivity.

I'd been thinking about it for a while, then when spending a bit of time with a friend of mine who had broken his neck, I knew it was time to get off my behind. The guy loves to email, but finds typing very laborious. Now he's a lot more able to spin out longer and more informative emails with much less effort.

Features
The software is capable of the following actions:

1. Replace some text with some other text when triggered to do so.
This was the feature that started it all. I write, on average, 20 or so emails a day. There is little templatable text, but a lot of what feels like duplication. I talk about similar things, and I sign off in one of 3 ways depending on my audience. So the first thing Auspex can do is take shorthand acronyms (I'm using the term mnemonic because so few of us can type or say it successfully ? cheesy) and replace it with more useful text.

Some examples from the 100 or so I have by now:
rt<tab> expands to Regards,Tim
tt<tab> expands to Thanks,Tim
ug<tab> expands to Please download the upgrade from our website at http://www.etc.etc.com

A really sweet side-effect of this is of course auto-correction, for example cnotainer<space> becomes container while I fly across the keyboard. Yes, I know, Word etc. has this but it's often extremely intrusive. This thing only corrects what you want it to, and in any application.

UPDATE: auto-correction now has RegEx features. For those of you who know what this is, good - let your imagination run wild! For the rest: it means that Auspex is able to understand and correct many different variations of the same word. A good example might be 'mischievous', which, let's face it, no-one can spell. As long as you get close, this software will do the rest (e.g. mischevus, mischeevious etc.)

2. Complete some partially entered text.
I am very pleased with this. In any application, if you find yourself typing the same word or phrase repeatedly, Auspex picks up on this and begins to present you with the suggestion as you type.

For example, by the 3rd time I have typed productToLoad it is appearing as a suggested word in a little popup just under my cursor as I begin to type prod.

Hit <tab> and the complete word (or phrase) is put in place. In addition, Auspex likes camel humps (Cranioscopical: add witticism here) so now I can type pTL and the software will still make the correct suggestion. This has improved my coding: longer more informative variable names and less typos.

I can see a lot of applications for this, not just for developers but technical authors, medical transcribers, or pretentious people like me who use long words and often type them erroneoulsy ? Thmbsup

3. Fire up a link or program without leaving your current application.
To be honest, I only added this because it was so easy. Working on an email and need to quickly check your arithmetic? Type 'calc' and hit the trigger and Auspex will launch it for you. Personally I never use this, since I have FARR, which is farr better ? cheesy

In all cases, triggers and hot keys will be configurable so as not to clash with any existing applications you may be running.

Planned Features
Auto-update
Improved parsing for nested items (e.g. format dates and numbers)

Screenshots


If anyone is interested I will also discuss the technical aspects of writing this software, and how I solved some of the trickier challenges of getting the blighter to work how I wanted it to.

Usage
Installation
At the moment, you just copy an exe, run and dive into the bunker

Using the Application
Run it, start typing.

Uninstallation
Some deletion would be required at the moment.

Known Issues
Well, there will be a lot of testing required.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2011, 10:59:35 AM by timns » Logged

mouser
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2010, 01:41:56 PM »

nice  Thmbsup Kiss
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tomos
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2010, 01:46:32 PM »


smiley anything that can help with productivity is welcome Wink
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2010, 06:10:26 PM »

 Thmbsup Fantastic!

Once I have something to show I will post details in this thread.

You can whet our appetites with words or pictures  Wink
« Last Edit: August 04, 2010, 07:27:05 PM by Perry Mowbray » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2010, 09:44:42 AM »

Great news  thumbs up... Thanks in advance!

Keep us posted.

Cheers  /jerome
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2010, 06:03:39 AM »

Willing to help test or edit help documents for errors when you are ready, just let me know.

 Thmbsup Cool
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timns
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2010, 09:14:36 AM »

Thanks, all. Development is progressing reasonably well on the application, tentatively called 'Auspex' but most likely to be renamed shortly. There were a surprising number of technical issues to resolve (probably self-inflicted) due to the way I want this thingy to work. Information and screenshots coming up shortly to get the ball rolling!

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timns
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2010, 06:37:12 PM »

Ok folks, here we go with the information on my first pledge. I've updated the first message to include that nifty blue info box.
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timns
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2010, 08:46:42 PM »


UPDATE - the software is running quite well now. Here's a screenshot:



I'm not quite ready for full-on testing yet, but if anyone would like to run a "whatever comes before alpha" version, please feel free to contact me.
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« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2010, 08:55:54 PM »

sure looks nice  thumbs up
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timns
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« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2010, 09:03:44 PM »

Thank you very much. It's still a bit sparse-looking: I should ask nudone to re-design the interface, then it will truly be a thing of beauty.

I'm still at the stage where feature creep is a very real danger, but most of the important stuff is working smoothly. Performance was my main concern at this point, but it's surprisingly system-friendly. I'm running right now and it's only using 4mb of memory, somewhat to my own amazement  embarassed

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« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2010, 09:21:12 PM »

I'm not quite ready for full-on testing yet, but if anyone would like to run a "whatever comes before alpha" version, please feel free to contact me.

Let me encourage you to post a Teaser, as this is what Teasers are actually for: a runnable update of how the development is going.

Just add the download file to the Original Post and change the Title from "Pledge" to "Teaser"... then it's easy for forum users to see what's there to try...  Thmbsup
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timns
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2010, 09:35:32 PM »

Ok I'll put something together. There's obviously no installer or whatnot just yet, but since the program only consists of two files at the moment, I'm guessing that's not a problem. Especially since most of the folks on DC are extremely computer savvy.
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2010, 01:01:10 AM »

No installer's fine: it is a teaser after all  smiley

If there are special instructions (i.e. no installer) just mention them  Thmbsup
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2010, 10:39:20 AM »

I just noticed this for the first time.
Looks interesting.

Tried going to http://www.etc.etc.com but encountered sundry problems, and so forth.

I know you wish to avoid over-burdening this but… given the context of fast, useful shortcuts, how about an option to paste (some of) the series of clips in a continuous fashion (rather like Skwire's ClipTrap)?
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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2010, 10:50:38 AM »

Thanks for the comments! I'll have a look and see if the idea fits into what I'm doing. Certainly you can set up shortcuts that include other shortcuts and the latest clipped text. Should be easy enough to pick any of the stored clips.

I appreciate any and all suggestions.
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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2010, 11:11:59 PM »

Will this be able to something like...

type "calc:1+1" and Auspex grabs it and replaces it with 2

is this like the macro functionality you mentioned??
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timns
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« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2010, 10:29:48 AM »

Will this be able to something like...

type "calc:1+1" and Auspex grabs it and replaces it with 2

is this like the macro functionality you mentioned??

At some point it will be able to do that. At the moment it's more basic like 'insert current date' in various formats. But you can nest them, so maybe you'd have some automatic text like:

You type ds<TAB> (or whatever you have set up)
You get:
Dear , thank you for your email. We etc etc etc [current date] etc etc

Auspex will also move the cursor to just before the comma after 'Dear', so you can just whack the person's name in right away.

At the moment the program will also note words you use a lot and suggest them as you type, and later I'll be suggesting entire phrases. I wrote a nice bayesian analyzer (has anyone managed to find one in Delphi!?!) which will help me know what to suggest as it learns your writing style.

Runnable version coming up for the "in-crowd" (i.e. DC members) over the weekend.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2010, 10:50:35 AM by timns » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2010, 02:59:38 AM »

Hi Tim, this looks like a marvelous piece of work, I appreciate the effort you have gone to. As a programmer, I often find that the best solutions come from our own frustrations rather than our fantasies smiley

I have 2 things to add to this thread:

1. Can it deal with Non-US spelling? as a non-US person I find that all kinds of programs and websites want to correct my (already correct) spelling to American English (including this one!)

2. Have you considered including the same functionality thats been around for years on mobiles and is called predictive text or T9. I'm surprised that the great MS haven't ever included this is in Word and to be honest I have never seen it in any word processing or text editor program. Why is that? It can't be hard can it?
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« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2010, 03:26:58 AM »

Awesome program timns I can't wait to start playing with it.

How intrusive is it if you're writing a story or working with lots of medical or legal terms will it try to correct those words to it's closest equivalent or just ignore them because they are not close enough to anything in the dictionary is their a quick hotkey to enable disable the program?
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« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2010, 04:31:22 AM »

I'd really like to test this, timns. I'm Norwegian, so can at the very least help with testing in a non-English environment, to see if it copes with this  embarassed
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« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2010, 07:02:24 AM »

2. Have you considered including the same functionality thats been around for years on mobiles and is called predictive text or T9. I'm surprised that the great MS haven't ever included this is in Word and to be honest I have never seen it in any word processing or text editor program. Why is that? It can't be hard can it?

[rant]
Maybe it is not hard to include T9 but I thank [insert your favorite deity here] that it is not included. I for one am really not waiting to read SMS language in a document. I already hate to see it in SMS messages themselves.

Besides that, T9 always predicts the wrong word for me and it costs me too much time to fix that so by default I disable this functionality in any cell phone I use.
[/rant]

On-topic:
@timns
Please, if you want to include T9 in your application, feel free to do so. But please, make an option to easily disable it as well.
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timns
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« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2010, 12:52:36 PM »

Whoa! Thank you guys for all your comments - even before I let you loose with this thing.

Let's see:

@elvis: this thing corrects any word that you want it to, so (unless I deliver it with some pre-loaded dictionary) it learns the words you use rather than only some preset list. So in your case you can actually make it use nice British spellings.

No plans to implement T9 at the moment - sounds like a good option to put to the vote once the core software is stable.

@NahtanoJ88: the program will pop-up suggestions for words you are using frequently, or words that you have told it you would like it to suggest. You can block words from being suggested, and you can also tell the program NOT to say anything when running specific applications. Auspex will NEVER autocorrect to some other 'close' word (mainly because that drives me nuts too!)

The whole core idea behind Auspex is that it learns only the words and phrases you actually want it to - rather than some large 'general and often inappopriate' dictionary. I hope that makes sense. When you get to use it, I'm sure things will become clearer than my blundery explanations!

TucknDar: that would be great. I am intrigued to see how the system handles other character sets.

@shades: you betcha

Build coming up later today.


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« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2010, 03:11:02 PM »

This app does look to be very useful, I'm anxious to try it out. I use AutoHotKey now to define some hotkeys to replace text I use often and this looks like a much better solution to that for me. Thanks timns for your hard work on this.   Thmbsup
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timns
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« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2010, 03:44:05 PM »

Word of caution: for all I  know, this program and AutoHotKey may have disagreements! Both programs use a global keyboard hoot to intercept and fiddle with keyboard messages. Obviously I shall try to make Auspex a good neighbour, but I  can imagine possible interference.

Any feedback on this sort of thing would be valuable.
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