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Author Topic: Auto-push/pull clipboarder?  (Read 6555 times)
jeme
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« on: August 16, 2010, 05:33:46 PM »

I wonder whether I'm just too stupid too find it, or whether there is really no function like that available somewhere (which would be an excellent extension for CHS then, I guess):

You know the situation where you have to copy a set of data from one window or document to another, from a document to a web form or a spreadsheet or whatever? And you have to do this again and again and again. Don't laugh, there is quite a few people out there who have to transfer a lot of little pieces of data this way, because an automated solution is too expensive, e.g. for managing small web sites, content management systems, maintaining meta data, filling forms etc; I have some colleagues who have to do this quite often (and the situation isn't even that rare for myself).

And their job made me wonder: Why isn't there a clipboard utility that has an auto-push/pull mode? When I switch into this mode, every CTRL+C puts the selected item on top of the clipboard stack (as usual), and every CTRL+V pastes it at the cursor and removes it from the stack.* Since I easily fall into a delirium after doing such a job for a while (just a guess ...), a little frame showing the current stack at the mouse cursor would be helpful to ensure that I'm still on track. Also, it wouldn't be bad to have an Undo shortcut at hand that allows me to fully revert the pace and to undo the previous few actions, i.e. removes the previously pasted content (and ideally even restores any potential content that might have been overwritten by that paste) and puts the thing back on the top of my stack. We all make mistakes, and all the more during such a mechanical job...  embarassed

This way, I could go through e.g. a table, pick, let's say, the five cells of a row with five quick "double-click and CTRL+C"s in sequence, then I go to the form or whatever, drop the five values with another five quick "Click and Ctrl+V"s, go back to the table etc. I think, this would tremendously speed up this type of work, wouldn't it?
--------
* Maybe, internally, two clipboard stacks would make sense in this case, the one displayed at the mouse cursor, which reflects the push/pull status, and another one, where the pasted stuff stays in the stack. This way, the clipboard utility could keep up its clipboard history functionality without bothering the push/pull workflow.
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rjbull
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 04:28:33 PM »

I haven't tried it, but most of the even slightly advanced ones have some kind of semi-automatic multiple pasting.  E.g., read ArsClip's Help on Form ModeClipCache and ClipMate have similar things that allow you to paste a series of items in one go.  They don't usually remove the items from their "database of clips," but move the pointer up and down it.  You might come to an accommodation with them.  ArsClip is free, donation accepted; the other two are payware.  ClipMate is the 700-lb gorilla of the genre.
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 04:38:35 PM »

CHS has merge function that will let you merge a bunch of clips into one, and it does have a special pasting mode that will let it send tabs in order to advance through a form while pasting items -- though not a mode for doing that with multiple clip text, but it doesnt have a sequential/stack pasting mode.  it does seem like a good idea though.. i'd love to hear from someone who has compared clipcache, arsclip, and clipmate functionality in this regard and can describe what an elegant/powerful solution would look like for CHS that captures the best of all worlds; then i would implement that.

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rjbull
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2010, 02:33:02 PM »

ClipMate's product description includes:
Quote
An exclusive PowerPaste(TM)  feature puts ClipMate in "rapid fire" mode, allowing quick pasting of a series of items into an application.
[...]
Do you work with a lot of structured data?  If  you have data that is separated by commas, tabs, linefeeds, etc., then ClipMate's "Exploding PowerPaste" can make short work of data entry.  People who work with a lot of contact information (lists of name, address, etc.) absolutely love this. 
Clicking on "more viewlets" on that page takes you to ClipMate Flash Demos and Tutorials.  The third one down is the demo of the feature I think you need, Tutorial 2 - PowerPaste.
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jeme
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2010, 02:47:58 PM »

Thanks, guys, for the tips, that sounds very interesting. As soon as I have a little more time, I think I will play a little with ArsCache and with ClipMate's trial version and give you feedback. They both seem to come close to the "workflow" that I have in mind; I'm not sure though whether they are really comfortable when you have to do this with a lot of "load and shoot" actions one after another (and Clipmate seems to be surprisingly poor in terms of hotkeys, at least on the first glance). I also had thought about something like the "Exploding PowerPaste" already, so I'll definitely check that out, too (curious, whether they support splitting via regex), as well as the automated keystroke's to fill a series of form fields in sequence; I hadn't even been aware of that I have this in CHS already.

Btw, I just saw the old screenshot in the CHS help with the "Try to AutoCopy on Mouse Select" checkbox in the Startup options dialog; I had thought about something like this in the context of the auto-push/pull mode (yeah, the name is clumsy...), too, and I still think, it would be a nice thing at least for the paste part. It would require another hotkey then to toggle between normal/copy mode and paste mode, because copy-to-clipboard requires to select the string to be copied first, so that just a click for "copy" would not work here; and I'm not sure whether this switch-over wouldn't kill the entire flow. I guess, that needs some more conceptual work still...
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rjbull
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2010, 03:11:47 PM »

If these don't quite suit your needs, have you thought of using a full-fledged macro program like Macro Express?
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skwire
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2010, 10:01:50 PM »

This sort of utility wouldn't be that hard to write from scratch.  Let me know if you can't make something work with any of the existing clipboard managers.
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jeme
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2010, 11:19:11 AM »

I finally managed playing a bit with ClipMate's trial version and particularly with their "PowerPaste" option as rjbull had pointed out (thanks again). I found the concept not as intuitive as I thought it should be, but I guess, this is the price for fitting into the bigger concept of the tool, and the main concepts made sense , once I had got more familiar with them. There are a few weak points in my opinion, but it actually might become more intuitive and faster to use with just a few improvements.

I tried two slightly different approaches, one using the "inbox" (standard clipboard list in ClipMate), and the other using a "collection" (folder like in CHS) that I explicitly created for this purpose (however, there are no options to dedicate a folder for this purpose, see below).
I think, using an explicit collection for this type of application makes more sense, because it separates the "stack" of clipboard items to be used for a specific paste sequence from the arbitrary stuff gathering together in the default "inbox".

How it works in ClipMate:
  • Create a collection explicitly for the "PowerPaste" task (e.g named "PP" or "PowerPaste" or so; however, since there are no dedicated folder properties or implicit automatisms, the name is arbitrary)
  • Before starting copy-to-clipboard, select the PP collection in the tree. If you re-use it, it's probably wise to delete the remainders from a previous usage (see below).
  • Start copying things as required.
    Note that the copied entries do only appear in the PP collection now, not in ClipMate's "inbox" folder. Generally, ClipMate's philosophy apparently is to have every entry in one folder only (you can only move entries, but not copy them, even though a "plus" icon during drag&drop implies a "copy" action).
  • Activate PowerPaste mode in ClipMate window.
    You have to select one or more entries, otherwise you cannot activate PowerPaste (which makes sense under certain circumstances, but can make the handling a little clumsy, see below).
    If a single entry is selected, pasting starts with this entry and processes the rest of the list, even if the entries are not highlighted. If you select multiple entries, only those entries are processed during PowerPaste.
    Note: The order, in which you highlight entries, does not matter for the paste order; pasting always starts at the first highlighted entry and steps through until the last highlighted entry (with the "PowerPaste Down" option; vice versa with the "PowerPaste Up" option);
    (-) PowerPaste cannot be activated via hotkey from other applications, thus requires to use the mouse or to switch to the ClipMate window (via hotkey, e.g. Ctrl+Shift+Q), activate "PowerPaste" (Ctrl+U or Ctrl+D), switch back to the application (Alt+Tab) and then run the paste sequence.  I personally would prefer having an easier option to enable the PowerPaste option by keyboard; however, maybe this is not really an issue, because a paste sequence probably will include using the mouse for fast navigation, anyway.
    Optional "Loop" mode: Starts over, if sequence is finished. A corresponding icon can be put to the icon bar (no default though). This mode cannot easily be enabled/disabled via keyboard (not even an active key in the menu option). It remains active even if the PowerPase sequence is switched off (which is sometimes good and sometimes unexpected...).
  • Paste as usual
    In the ClipMate window, the next entry to be pasted is highlighted. However (and this is particularly why the extra collection makes sense): you cannot see wich entries are actually part of the sequence, if you created the sequence by highlighting a number of clipboard entries instead of using the entire list.
The approach works pretty well; due to the separate collection and its explicit scope, it is easier to see which entries are part of the PowerPaste sequence. Also, the order can be rearranged without interfering with the rest of the clipboard (rearranging could be more intuitive though; also, rearranging via keyboard should be possible). To start a new sequence, it proabably makes sense to select the folder, delete all entries (CTRL+A, DEL; entries are recoverable from the "trashcan") and then start the new copy sequence. For specific (recurring) paste sequences, it can make sense to use multiple different "explicit PP collections".

Ideas for CHS:
Since CHS's folders are similar to ClipMate's collections, I guess, something similar to the PowerPaste approach would be useful in CHS, too. However, here are some thoughts, how usability could be improved in my opinion, particularly to support several "load/shoot" actions one after the other with little overhead and to have a better control of the paste list during a ... well, let's call it "Sequenced paste" action for now. Please don't take this too literal though, I might have missed quite a few details …:

  • There should be a sort of hotkey that enables/disables the Sequenced Paste mode from other applications, but leaves the focus in the current application (or returns it).

    A note on the Quick-Paste option that is available in both ClipMate and CHS:
    I did not find it very helpful for a paste sequence, because the focus and thus the way of processing switches during the action: The first paste action is performed in the Clipboard utility by double-clicking an entry in the list there, but since the focus goes back to the main application then, you have to use Ctrl+V or the menu there to continue with the further paste actions. Actually, I think, the interaction with the clipboard utility should be as little as possible during such load/shoot sequences. Ideally, the users get the feeling that they are exclusively dealing with their main application, because they have to spend quite a bit of energy and concentration to do the right assignments with their copy&paste sequences.
     
  • It should be possible to assign folders in CHS's folder list to the sequenced paste actions by providing the following options:
    Sequenced pasting:
          [Off|Down|Up]
    Loop sequenced pasting:
          [Don't loop|Loop]
    New "Copy" items during Sequenced paste: (should maybe set in the general options, not in the folder properties)
       Folder to be added to:   
          [Add to highlighted folder|Add to folder <xyz>|Add to default clipboard list]
       Position to be added at:
          [Add before current position|Add after current position|Add after last entry|Add before first entry]
    Access via Sequenced Paste hotkey:
          [On|Off]
          (If the hotkey is pushed, all folders with an "on" option are stepped through one after the other)
    Paste to specific application windows only
    (use default clipboard list otherwise):
         [<list of regex or grep strings>*]
    Accept Copy entries from specific application windows only
    (use default clipboard list otherwise):
         [<list of regex or grep strings>*]
    (* to be matched by application window; this way, it should be possible to address both application names and even file names)

  • "Paste stack": If Sequenced Pasting is active, there should be an optional little panel near the mouse pointer that shows the paste list (or the most relevant part of it). This is actually similar to CHS's Quick-paste list and maybe could be realized in a similar way. However, the current Quick-Paste list is too bulky and too static for this purpose and does not reliably display the next entry to be pasted next to the mouse pointer, thus forces me to re-focus and to realign all the time (also, it does not follow the mouse pointer at all on a second monitor).
    For example: If the list panel is below the mouse pointer, the next entry to be pasted should be the uppermost in the list; but if the mouse is too close to the lower screen border, the list panel should display on top of the mouse pointer and the list should be top down, showing the entry to be pasted as next at the bottom of the list to have it next to the mouse pointer (Would it be possible to fade the font color along the list with decreasing paste order to sort of visualize the relevance this way, too?). Also, ideally, the list has an adjustable transparency and maybe even an adjustable width and height (=number of entries displayed; I guess, I'd restrict it to displaying the next 5-8 entries to be pasted by default). 

    If the loop mode is enabled, the pasted entries should be re-inserted at the end of the list, and a line or a color code should show the user where the loop point is (i.e. to show when the list is done)

    If more than one Folder has an active "Access via Sequenced Paste hotkey" setting, the panel should also display the name of the folder used for the current Paste sequence. This way, the user needs not check the CHS window at all. The folder name should appear at the remote end of the panel relative to the mouse pointer and should have a different color or background or so.

    Even though I don't think, scrolling the paste list is a standard requirement, it might turn out to be useful over time, e.g. to pick up an interrupted paste sequence or to repeat a failed paste or so. However, such a scroll feature should probably stick with the "stack" paradigm, thus should not move a highlighting bar up or down the list, but should rather roll the entire list "underneath" the panel. For example, if the panel is displayed below the mouse pointer and thus shows the next entry to be pasted on top, pushing the Up key should move the entire list one entry back (in this case: down) to as it was displayed before the previous paste action.

  • Interim Copy actions: If Sequenced Pasting is active, new copy actions should not break the paste  sequence, but should be integrated according to the options listed above. This way (if I haven't overlooked some details), it should be possible to use the Sequenced pasting in a very dynamical way, all the more as the "Paste stack" panel should get updated correspondingly and thus will show the changes to the stack right at the mouse pointer.

Please let me know what you think, or if you have questions.

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jeme
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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2010, 11:37:38 AM »

This sort of utility wouldn't be that hard to write from scratch.  Let me know if you can't make something work with any of the existing clipboard managers.
If these don't quite suit your needs, have you thought of using a full-fledged macro program like Macro Express?
I'm sorry, I left your posts unresponded for far too long.

Re macros: I have to admit, I've been planning for years meanwhile to check out some macro tools (I saw some reviews about Auto Hotkey and Auto-It, hadn't known Macro Express yet), but I haven't managed yet to get beyond downloading the related installers. Also, I'm not sure, wether such an approach would really help here, because I'd probably have problems to convince the people whom I have in mind to install and prepare all this stuff (some of the guys are pretty remote for me and no "techs" at all)

Re skwire's offer: Thanks for your kind offer. Actually, I'm wondering whether having the principal load/shoot function in a separate application wouldn't make sense, because it would be available for any kind of clipboard utility then (if it had a parsing option to split a single clipboard entry at certain regex/grep matches, it probably could be combined with the "glue" option in most clipboard utilities to transfer an entire sequence of clipboard entries without a special hand-shaking API). However, I think, the potential of the other functionality (particularly the integration of interim copy actions, switching forth and back between "load" and "shoot", and managing the sequences in a context like CHS would make it much more powerful if it were integrated in the clipboard utility.
But I might be getting back to you some day… Wink
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mouser
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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2010, 11:38:57 AM »

i like these ideas.. let me try to chew on them and boil them down to a proposed first basic version to add to CHS and make sure i've captured the important bits.
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sword
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2010, 02:38:03 PM »


The Advanced Clipboard Manager is a Windows-based clipboard management utility. ACM comes with a slim and sleek graphical interface, which can be conveniently placed anywhere on the desktop. It manages all of your recently used copied content and places them in an easy-to-use toolbar. Retrieving stored content is as simple as moving your mouse cursor over the numbered toolbar buttons (called 'slots', to preview) and clicking (to select/paste). For advance use, ACM offers the textbox, which allows users to execute advanced commands such as search, join, delete and file I/O. ACM also allows execution of chain commands, which allow you to execute multiple commands in series: for instance, the command "sj" shows the content of all the slots and then joins them together, ready to paste.
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jeme
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2011, 04:18:03 PM »

Hi mouser,

thanks a lot for adding the stack feature to CHS. I finally started using it in some real live scenarios and found it extremely time-saving. I can only recommend to everybody to check it out as soon as you have to transfer a number of strings from one location to another (e.g. when filling a form, doing a series of file activities or dealing with callouts in screenshots). Also, having these functions available via shortcuts is excellent.

If time permits (some day... Wink), it would be great if you could do one more step and extend, I guess, the grid in a way that reflects the stack mode and status. Right now, it has somewhat of a blind flight when I use the feature. I know there is the pop-up from the tray, and I can't really tell why, but I think the use would be much more intuitive if the users could see in the grid where the stack pointer currently is, and which way it will go. Maybe it just needs a sort of special icon in the first column of the grid (which probably should appear in the Clipboard > New  subtree only to work in a safe way, but that might be sufficient) – would this be much effort?

Btw, thank you very much also for the image capturing. It's so great to have these new features and means a huge step ahead at least for me! I like the way how you deal with the images, keeping them as separate files outside the data base, so that they are accessible from other applications and the path can easily be handed over. Great!


* chs-cursor4stack.jpg (150.15 KB, 1105x616 - viewed 219 times.)
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mouser
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2011, 06:46:43 PM »

Glad you like the new features jeme! Sorry for the delayed reply.
I agree a stack position indicator would be useful.. But its a bit tricky and i'm afraid there are some other requests higher in the todo list that i'm afraid it will never get done, so i wouldn't hold you breath for it.

As for your other comments about powerpasting type modes.. It's not that i can't see logic of them.. I can see in very specialized scenarios benefiting from such intricate pasting operations.. I', just afraid that once again it's such specialized stuff that it's probably better for me to concentrate on improving the things in CHS that are used constantly that still need improvement.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 06:50:00 PM by mouser » Logged
futurevision
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2012, 05:46:07 PM »

Hi, I'm a Clipmate (CM) refugee.  That app hasn't been supported or updated in quite a few months.  A forum over there (which thankfully is still up) referred me to CHS.

One of the critical features that I seek is the equivalent of the CM's PowerPaste, as explained above.

Like Jeme, perphaps I'm too stupid to use a mouse.  I can't figure out how to use do that in CHS.  I can't find a screencast or help page on it.  If there is one, just point me to it.

My expectation is that I simply set the pointer (Stack Market Start in CHS) where the autopaste starts, activate the autopaste sequence (Stack Pop?), and paste, paste, paste (or pop, pop, pop which pastes, pastes, pastes) as the app moves through the clips.  But that doesn't work after trying several variations.  Please help!

Thank you,
Marc
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ewemoa
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2012, 06:47:04 PM »

Here is one flow that seemed to work here for a manual sequence (Windows 7 Pro 64-bit):

1. Populate CHS with clips (e.g. copy clips while CHS is monitoring clipboard) and verify via CHS Main Window
(can be done via tray menu or hotkey [default Ctrl+Alt+w]):



2. To specify the top of the stack, right-click on a clip and choose "Stack Marker - Start":



3. Bring focus to target paste area and use hotkey (default Ctrl+Alt+V) to paste.

4. Repeat previous step as necessary.

There may be other ways to do things too -- e.g. there appears to be a "Set stack start marker" in CHS' tray menu and there appears to be a way to assign a hotkey to "Stack Marker Start" in the Hotkeys area of the Options dialog.

I didn't figure out how to get pasting-in-sequence to occur automatically.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 06:56:28 PM by ewemoa » Logged
futurevision
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2012, 12:18:37 AM »

ewemoa - I'd love to try that.  But Ctl-Alt-V does nothing for me. Which hotkey is it?  I don't see it.  There is a paste last clip as plaintext. That's not working for me either.
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ewemoa
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2012, 12:44:18 AM »

Here's what I see in the options dialog in the hotkeys section (Stack Pop):



What do you see in yours?
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futurevision
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2012, 12:58:21 AM »

Ah, the Pop, yes.  That works.  Nice.  Thank you!  I appreciate your time and help.  I thought I had tried that but obviously didn't do it exactly right. 

It would be nice to be able to move clips and specify stack direction like CM.  But this will do for basic use.

Marc
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ewemoa
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2012, 01:11:07 AM »

Thanks for reporting back on your success smiley
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anatabai
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« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2012, 03:53:54 PM »

Is it possible to let CHS behave like a clipboard stack by default? I would like pasted items to be removed automatically without setting a stack marker and using a separate hotkey for stack pop.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2012, 04:23:23 PM by anatabai » Logged
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