Some things on macro tools:
- when then (= after the link here) I looked into r.cc, I read "published 30 min. ago", so previous posters hadn't a chance to look into that list when answering
- so either it was by pure chance, or mouser has a script running telling him whenever raymond adds a new article to his site
- just for fun: in that article, AHK was rated first, and TinyTask second, so r had come to my conclusions, too
- now back to serious: "Powerful if a little complicated for amateurs like me." - OP did NOT ask for paid sw, and not for sw where on other seats than the developer's just executables were to run, so MEP is certainly not a good solution
- but why bothering with MEP, and finding it "a little complicated", when, for NOT MORE complication than there, AHK will be much MORE powerful, for beginners, and will have become so easy for longtime users ("Have done for years.")? As I have explained in length in the AHK tutorial here, right at the very beginning, crap like MEP just brings you sweetly over the very first days, and then the need to click together it all becomes more and more cumbersome, i.e. in such crap tools, even simple things get complicated (or at the very, very best, you'll have available a scripting window, where you then will use their proprietary scripting language), which in AHK are done with some simple lines of code - and I know what I'm speaking about: For years, I had been crazy-lazy enough to click together macros with such a crap tool (= lots of unnecessary work, little solutions), instead of investing one Sunday into the basics of AHK... well, my aforementioned tutorial hadn't been there, so those very first steps did neither seem easy, nor did they seem evident to begin with. Now, nobody ever asked for clarification/help with that tutorial, out of 5,000 readers or more, and I'm sure MEP sales will not have suffered by a iota: This world's a really crazy one!
- This being said, OP did not ask for a scripting thing, but just for simple key logging-and-replay, but without a price (MEP is a staggering 60$ per seat) and multiple licence issues, so I, then mouser answered accordingly
- But people who know my AHK intro, and then go and buy crap like MEP, must be considered to be plain nuts. Again, this is not your case ("Have done it for years.")... but to you my other remark over there applies: Once you will have clicked together lots of macros, it'll become more and more difficult to leave such tools... MEP's a good-looking trap... but ain't most traps rather good-looking then? Also, the financial investment will be lost, and even when the proprietary scripts (triggered internally by all the clicking-together) are exportable: The intermediate step will be to have to learn regex replace. As we see here, there's two viable solutions, AHK and then, raymond's list; everything in-between (MEP et al.) will just retain you in some inappropriate half-way solution... and where's the text-expanding part in MEP? Right, you'll need some text expander, too, then (and which hopefully will not interfere with your macro tool, or vice versa). And speaking of retaining users in tools of which they might have grown out of, after some time:
- Just some days ago, somebody asked, on bits, if for a half-priced text expander over there, no even partial export was possible, and that question was met by some "Thank you for asking again", by the developer, and I couldn't refrain from some comment, which certainly applies to quite a bunch of those commercial macro tools of which you mentioned MEP, so it couldn't do any harm to republish my musings here:
I've read the above with much interest.
"ask the same question again", especially in combination with "misconception", is condescendancy and should be avoided here imo ( ;-) ), at least with regards to subjects of real interest.
PE is a text expander, but of the very sophisticated (and thus, expensive) kind; Phrase Expander (PhEx) is another one in that range, also with a price way over 100$ if you want to bells and whistles.
It seems that PhEx has got a very smart text expansion feature in its Prof. version, a little list for other possible replacements of what you will have typed at a given time, and which is not present (yet) in PE, and from findings in the web, it appears that some commentators judge PhEx "superior" to PE in light of that feature (and their respective experience with it, so its practical value appears to be hight); some commentators even own both programs, or more precisely say they switched from PE to PhEx for that reason.
So this is a fine example of the "need" or at least the high interest in having an import/export function for abbreviations/shortstrings, both ways, in both programs, instead of retaining the respective clientele within the original tool, for fear of too much manual work when leaving (Just imagine thousands of such abbrevs). I personally miss the experience with both programs in order to pretend to judge which one might be "better" or preferable, but I noted, with much interest, from the above, that PE "does" formatting and appears to be compatible with MS Word formatting (So what about compatibility in/out with Word shortstrings, too? And perhaps that might be/become a common transfer format, then?)
From just some light experience with PE, years ago, and from screenshots of PhEx, I can say that both programs offer partition of your abbrevs into numerous collections, but that within PhEx (today), this has been realized in a very handy way, and you can freely combine those (Imagine somebody writing in several languages, and in several areas (private mails, business, to name just the most general ones); both aspects were not realized with that quality in PE at the time (yet); see the screenshots for PhEx in this respect where this combination has been realized in clickable tree structure: very neat.
Now it's evident that beyond being a text expander, PE has become, over the years, quite a "complete solution", also for various "macroing needs", and its "macroing power" is impressive indeed; it's just that (from my testing years ago at least) PE's macroing capabilities had been realized in a quite non-traditional way, i.e. most dedicated macro tools out there let you do macros more or less in a similar way, but which is quite different from what I then saw in PE, and I clearly preferred the general way of doing macros then, not as presented by PE then.
In the meanwhile, I've become acquainted with AHK (Auto Hotkey), in which I both have scripted numerous (often quite elaborate) macros, and have been doing all my text expansion needs, together with combining (or switching between) various abbrevs collections by shortkeys (whilst menus for this would be possible, too) - I have to admit that these don't include formatting, i.e. neither my needs, nor my possibilties with AHK include those... and above, we learn that PhEx doesn't cover them either (?).
So I'm very happy with AHK and its scripting capabilities, personally, but I admit that extensive scripting might not be for everyone as they say, your mileage may vary; perhaps of interest in this respect: Trying to script with PE had been beyond my means, some years ago, whilst then, scripting in AHK has been easy and "natural" for me, but I'm sure there has been some development re "accessibility" in PE on that matter, in the meanwhile.
Now back to the "argument" (which makes more than 2/3 of the developer's post above) that PE offers so much additional functionality beyond "just text expansion" (which is undeniable, independently of the respective utility or benefit of every such "goodie" and which will depend on your respective personal preferences) that export (what about import, then?) of even just the bare, naked plain text abbrevs-plus-expansion lists would cause too many support probs.
Well, this is a false argument imho, and here's why: First, the developer could clearly communicate that export is possible, but will be confined to numerous plain-text word lists (= one text file for each abbrevs collection), e.g. in the form abbrev tab expansion newline abbrev tab expansion and so on. Second, in most cases, users WOULD THEN LEAVE, be it for PhEx, for AHK, for any other text expander, or even for dictating sw, so no further "support" would then be necessary.
Third, even continuous users of PE might feel the necessity of sharing some of their abbrevs collections with somebody who doesn't own PE but who owns a competing text expander or just MS Word (and who could not install PE free instead, because the "personal" version of PE claims " business use" even in cases where you don't do business with it, but simply address letters to other people's biz, which is the case for anybody today - at least that had been my experience with PE some years ago, and which had me quickly discard the free version then).
Here again, point 1 would apply, i.e. PE users sharing their collections with users not owning PE themselves (or just PE users who would like to use their collections on pc's they don't have an additional PE licence for!) would know beforehand that all they could export would be the bare plain text "resolutions", nothing more, and anybody would clearly understand that all those bells and whistles PE offers on top of that, would NOT be transferable on top (and even when the "receiving application" had some similar functionality), so here again, no support needed, especially if PE's export wasn't "from PE straight into competitor x" (and which possible probs on THAT side), but just to the above-described plain-text lists, from which then (current or ex-PE) users would be on their own to either import into that other tool (or as THAT tool's developer to make it possible to import such lists).
The same principle of making basic-but-robust export possible applies to so-called "outliners" (of which many are on offer regularly in this forum). Some of them make available "clones", i.e. items in the tree that can be replicated on other positions in that same tree, but all outliners offer some sort of export, whilst it's clear as day that such "clones" will NOT be exported then, but just the original items will; the same goes for cross-references and other specific strengths of some outliner or the other. (There are even some ancient askSam users who accepted to lose formatting of content, by switching to MyInfo; both progs have been often here and thus are both known to bitsters.)
So, "careless" users will use all their program will have to offer, and then either will be stuck with it, or will have to abandon parts of their work when they switch to something other, and users wary of such possible switching will just use "exportable" core functionality, refraining from using (or from "abusing") additional functionality whose loss-on-export would not be acceptable to them; in PE, this would apply to formatting of abbrev "resolutions", and it's safe to assume that users would use their PE, together with formatting, within PE, but without those, whenever they don't have PE available (anymore, or on other machines).
So, the above "support argument" falls flat, imho, and as it stands, the (real? total?) absence of export of PE abbrevs works as a hindrance to ever switching to any competition, might this effect be intentional or not.
( just for the record: http://www.bitsdujou...professional-edition
Thus, buying some macro tool, and hoping it will "grow with your needs" is illusionary and is to be avoided, from my humble pov. Get TinyTask or similar, and for anything "real" sacrify some rainy Sunday. (And it'll be lotsa cheaper, too, just see the new update policy of the text expander in question for an example!)