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Author Topic: What do non-programmers need to automate?  (Read 3879 times)

AlSweigart

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What do non-programmers need to automate?
« on: August 28, 2013, 09:38:07 PM »
Hello all, I write programming books for kids and complete beginners. They're available under a Creative Commons license and you can read them online at http://inventwithpython.com.

For my next book, I wanted to teach programming to office workers, students, administrators, and other people who aren't software developers but use a computer every day. If they just had some programming knowledge, they would be able to automate repetitive boring tasks.

This seemed like a good place to ask for ideas as to what kinds of things they would automate a computer to do (web scraping, renaming/deleting/moving files, keyboard & mouse macros, simple text processing, etc.) I have a list of a few ideas here: http://alsweigart.tu...ing-stuff-a-guide-to

But can anyone make additional suggestions?

This book will also be freely available under a Creative Commons license, and I'm hoping to have it done by summer.

Vurbal

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2013, 07:47:29 AM »
I can't think of anything right off hand but I'll try to remember to ask my wife when she gets home. She's not exactly an ordinary user but she's the defacto non-IT tech guru in her office so everybody comes to her with their questions.

On a side note your game development books look like they'd be a perfect starting point for my 15 year old son.
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mouser

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 09:25:23 AM »
Hi Al.

Maybe the task of watching for certain events and notifying the user (e.g. emailing user if disk drive is almost full, sending an sms if activity is seen in the webcam).

wraith808

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 10:02:26 AM »
Non-technical people use automation a lot where I work:
1. Webscraping on a schedule, i.e. every day, check this page or this download link and download/harvest the information.  Good for financial updates.
2. Webscraping when things change.  Same as above, but slightly more complicated because it has to see when things change.
3. Firing off an application/process when a file appears in a folder (or you get a specified e-mail).
4. Automating a tedious process in a program that consists of a series of reproducible steps.

Basically, putting all of that together can help to create a rudimentary workflow with a minimum of developer work/intervention.  Developers can also create more complicated components and the non-tech use those component interfaces to do something that an automation system wouldn't be able to accomplish.

app103

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 10:17:06 AM »
A good recommendation could be to browse through our Coding Snacks section of the forum to see what kinds of things people actually ask for,. Don't forget to look through the 3 subsections, too.

With about 7-8 years worth of requests there, you'll get a pretty good idea of what kinds of things people want and need, and could do themselves, if they only knew how.


johnk

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2013, 12:55:22 PM »
I think the main form of automation that the average PC user should but does not use is the humble text replacement macro. I've been using Macro Express for this purpose for many years, and I've built up a list of a few dozen text replacement macros that are now instinctive, and save me a lot of time, month in, month out.

So when I type ",jm" (without quotation marks), it's replaced with my main email address, ",ad" is replaced with my full postal address, ",es" contains positive feedback for an eBay seller, and so on. Over the years, it's been a huge time saver. Macro Express is also powerful and flexible, so for example I use "CTRL+F9" to call a NirCmd action that powers off my monitor.

Any number of programs, including AutoHotkey, can take care of text replacement, and most average PC users would benefit, far more than they would from more complex forms of automation.

While I applaud getting non-programmers interested in programming, automation is one area where I would just encourage people to get an appropriate existing program (there are so many), or if someone is determined to dip their toe in the programming waters, they can introduce themselves to scripting automation with Autohotkey (I did replace Macro Express with Autohotkey for a while, just to prove to myself I could get Autohotkey to do anything that Macro Express could do, but really, Macro Express just made everything much, much easier, and encouraged me to add more macros).

clk4suport

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 05:49:45 AM »
Hi there,

It's seems great . i look forward to it.

Thank You.

daddydave

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2014, 05:22:03 PM »
Cool to see you, Al. When I was trying to do some hobbyist type programming, I became a fan of your work.

I think Python is a perfect "midlife crisis" programming language for me since it reminds me of being in college and typing things into BASICA / GW-BASIC around the DOS 2/3.x era. Your port of GORILLA.BAS to Python confirmed it for me:
http://inventwithpyt...make-of-gorilla-bas/
If bad things happen to other people, it's karma. If bad things happen to me, it's kismat!
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 06:42:26 PM by daddydave »

Edvard

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2014, 08:44:41 PM »
May I recommend some other Python books for your site?:

http://www.handysoftware.com/cpif/
http://www.briggs.ne...ngling-for-kids.html

My son did the Computer Programming is Fun book when he was around 11.  He enjoyed it at the time (it was something new to learn and master), but it taught him that he didn't particularly like programming.
C'est la vie...

daddydave

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Re: What do non-programmers need to automate?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 12:15:08 PM »
Maybe something with manipulating text files to get them into .csv format so they can use them in Excel or mail merge.

If bad things happen to other people, it's karma. If bad things happen to me, it's kismat!