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The W - Internet & Computers - Keystroke Looper
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samoflange
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Since: 22.2.04
From: Cambridge, MA

Since last post: 406 days
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.13
I've got a bunch of mundane stuff to do in Excel, and I want to automate them so I don't have claw hands for the next few days. Luckily, everything can be done with the keyboard. So, I'm looking for a tool to loop a simple series of keystrokes. I've checked out several "keyboard macro" programs, but they've all seemed to be way more complex than what I'm looking for. Any ideas?



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Harry: That's a special feeling.
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CRZ
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Since: 9.12.01
From: ミネアポリス

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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.02
I'll ask the obvious question first:

Excel has its own Macro tool - have you tried it?



samoflange
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Since: 22.2.04
From: Cambridge, MA

Since last post: 406 days
Last activity: 399 days
#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.13
My mistake, I'm not actually using Excel directly, though I usually refer to the whole process as such. I'm really working with raw data contained in text files, which I need to modify before importing to Excel.

So, a tool that lets me repeat keystrokes on the endless loop is exactly what I need to deal with it.



Lloyd: When I met Mary, I got that old fashioned romantic feeling, where I'd do anything to bone her.
Harry: That's a special feeling.
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Since: 9.12.01
From: Bay City, OR

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.40
What kind of Raw data, is it always the same process - spacing - etc?

You might want to investigate hiring a DBA to do this for you. Sounds exactly like the kind of routine data import that can be knocked out in a couple of hours.




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samoflange
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Since: 22.2.04
From: Cambridge, MA

Since last post: 406 days
Last activity: 399 days
#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.13
I'm a grad student working in an engineering/chemistry lab, and so hiring somebody else to do it is outside the realm of possibilities. Anyway, this is something we deal with on a very regular basis, so an easy, sustainable solution .

We are using old equipment that saves data in text files which are not formatted to how we'd like them to be for importing to Excel. There's no internal option of changing how the data is formatted, so we've been manually doing it.

The changes that need to be made are perfectly repeatable, so any sort of simple keystroke repeater tool would definitely do the trick. I have in the past used a simple mouse macro tool called GhostMouse, which would just endlessly loop a sequence of mouse clicks. Something like that for keyboards would be perfect, but I haven't found it yet.



Lloyd: When I met Mary, I got that old fashioned romantic feeling, where I'd do anything to bone her.
Harry: That's a special feeling.
tarnish
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Since: 13.2.02
From: Back in the Heart of Hali

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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.60

Is the data at all sensitive?

Do you have access to a Linux or Unix system?

Do you have access to a computer science/computer engineering student?

The standard tools available at a Unix command-line would probably make very short work of what you're doing. Worst case scenario would be a Perl script. Most CS students I've known will work for beer.

If you have to leave the files on the system they're on and its a Windows system, you could install Cygwin and get access to the standard tools, but you'd still want to tap someone with a Unix background to do the actual work.
jfkfc
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Since: 9.2.02

Since last post: 133 days
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.07
Depending on what the reformatting is, would it be easy for you to link/import the raw data file into an Access database, create a query to reformat whatever is needed, and then export the newly created query or table to a similarly formatted text file?
samoflange
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Since: 22.2.04
From: Cambridge, MA

Since last post: 406 days
Last activity: 399 days
#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.13
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm really leaning towards just automating keystrokes right now, because I need to get this going as soon as possible and be able to easily show others how to do it themselves. Automated keystrokes would also come in handy for some other unrelated issues that I deal with in the lab. I've been trying to figure out a program called AutoHotKey which says it can do what I want, but has so much other functionality to wade through that I'm having trouble with it. Their forums are filled with examples of complicated scripts and, while I'm pretty sure mine would only be a few lines, I don't even know where to start yet.



Lloyd: When I met Mary, I got that old fashioned romantic feeling, where I'd do anything to bone her.
Harry: That's a special feeling.
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Since: 9.12.01
From: Bay City, OR

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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.40
The thing is, you are really doing this the hard way. Your method requires someone to open the files and then playback the macro commands.

If you used SQL 2000 (bad example, old technology) you could write a DTS package to import the files and export your reformatted Excel file. This would be trivial to set up if it is a common file format (for example, characters 1-10 are always the first field, 11-20 the second, etc).

You would invest an hour or two to set this up and then you could automate the entire procedure, forever.




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Since: 24.3.02
From: Oshkosh, WI

Since last post: 486 days
Last activity: 447 days
#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.63
I used a program called AutoIt to set up a keyboard and mouse macro that did what I needed it to do, which was more complicated than what you want it to do. However, I remember keyboard commands being pretty simple.

I had to setup a script that would open a program, and correctly go through a program's menu options so that it would pull over information from another source. The manager in charge of doing it couldn't seem to remember to do it every day (it only kept a buffer of the last two reports), so I had to make that thing run at 11:00 pm when the computer was guaranteed to be free.
samoflange
Lap cheong








Since: 22.2.04
From: Cambridge, MA

Since last post: 406 days
Last activity: 399 days
#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.12
I ended up figuring out AutoHotKey, writing the keystroke loop script I needed, and getting everything done with plenty of time to spare. Now, I'm trying to learn MS Access to set up a more elegant, automatic solution. Thanks for all the help, folks.



Lloyd: When I met Mary, I got that old fashioned romantic feeling, where I'd do anything to bone her.
Harry: That's a special feeling.
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