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I am thinking of developing one or more add-in libraries for Macro Express Pro. My initial idea is for a library to allow you to design and implement forms for use in your macros.

 

Before I start any serious work on this, I thought I'd conduct a straw poll to establish whether there's any real interest in such a facility.

 

At its simplest, the forms facility would offer to both basic and advanced users a straight-forward way of "designing" a form; basic use might consist of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) allowing users to define various form controls (e.g. text box, label, combo box, list box) by pointing, clicking, dragging and dropping. More advanced use would allow direct editing of various values, e.g. x and y position, colours, enable/disable, visible/invisible, the ability to define data validation rules, and even some event-handling (e.g. data lookups, control branching depending on entered values, etc.).

 

I would aim to make this as much a part of MEP as possible. For example, when writing a macro, you might press a function key to invoke forms design, the result of which could be a self-contained AutoIt script that handled everything.

 

When running your macro, the form would appear and allow you simply to enter whatever values you need in the fields you have designed, with the data being returned seamlessly to a user-specified location, e.g. an array or an external file.

 

My initial question to you is this: would you buy a library that offered this kind of functionality, and what price would you consider reasonable?

 

What other libraries might also be of interest? In other words, what would you most like to be able to do in MEP that you are currently unable to achieve?

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Paul -

 

A form generator, a means to run it, and the ability to return the values back to Macro Express would be a wonderful tool for the community. I would buy it and I would use it. Not sure what you have in mind for pricing but something akin to the price of Macro Express Pro itself would be reaonable to those of us that generate systems for clients.

 

And AutoIt is an excellent choice for this considering that AutoIt scripts can be run using the External Script command.

 

- Joe

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I don't have any real need - multi-input dialogs would do me fine. A neat and professional-looking interface would increase the appeal of ME.

 

I assume that every PC that used forms would have to have a copy of the add-in. That may put a few cheapskates off - they would make do with the basics. If you were considering "bang for the buck" I would stick to less than half the price of MEPro. Relative cost of automating a task compared to making it look pretty is an issue. An office situation where there is a lot of data entry may be willing to pay more. Being able to enter all the data in one place and review it all before entering is efficient and less-prone to error. Price-wise you will get more feedback from commercial customers.

 

Don't forget the output as well as input. Adding graphics for logos, selection, corporate themes etc to forms would be a great asset too.

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I am thinking of developing one or more add-in libraries for Macro Express Pro. My initial idea is for a library to allow you to design and implement forms for use in your macros.

 

Before I start any serious work on this, I thought I'd conduct a straw poll to establish whether there's any real interest in such a facility.

 

At its simplest, the forms facility would offer to both basic and advanced users a straight-forward way of "designing" a form; basic use might consist of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) allowing users to define various form controls (e.g. text box, label, combo box, list box) by pointing, clicking, dragging and dropping. More advanced use would allow direct editing of various values, e.g. x and y position, colours, enable/disable, visible/invisible, the ability to define data validation rules, and even some event-handling (e.g. data lookups, control branching depending on entered values, etc.).

 

I would aim to make this as much a part of MEP as possible. For example, when writing a macro, you might press a function key to invoke forms design, the result of which could be a self-contained AutoIt script that handled everything.

 

When running your macro, the form would appear and allow you simply to enter whatever values you need in the fields you have designed, with the data being returned seamlessly to a user-specified location, e.g. an array or an external file.

 

My initial question to you is this: would you buy a library that offered this kind of functionality, and what price would you consider reasonable?

 

What other libraries might also be of interest? In other words, what would you most like to be able to do in MEP that you are currently unable to achieve?

 

Paul:

 

I'd pay $15-20 USD for a basic version. If I was running a business department I'd pay substantially more, say $30-45

 

If a mass-usage macro in which your add-in was the dominant component failed, who would I blame, you or ISS?

 

But I still think basic forms of the sort we've discussed should be an integral part of ME Pro anyway, at no extra charge.

 

--

Terry, East Grinstead, UK

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Some time ago I considered doing exactly this and decided it wouldn't be worth it to do as you suggest. In order to design a complex form one would need a form designer application and that's getting hairy. Besides one could use VB or what have you to create a simple form to pass data back to MEP. I've done it and it's really simple. In fact I plan to do that more. But even if you did design a form designer one would need to learn how to use it and that's just as difficult as learning how to do simple forms in VB. It only took me a couple hours to learn how to do my first.

 

I have been thinking about a morphing form in VB. You see when the form loads you can make certain decisions and change form elements. A simple example might be a form with a variable number of text fields. When the form loaded one could load a list of required fields and do things like change the labels per the list and disable and hide extra forms. IE the basic form would be 10 text fields with 10 labels 1-10 and the form could read in a file or whatever is passed from MEP. In this case let's say they were "State,City"ZIP". The form would change the first three labels to those values and hide the remaining seven and resize the form. That's simple but the problem is one will quickly find they want drop downs, memo fields and many more things and this would become to unwieldy and one might as well write in in VB.

 

I think the problem many have it what I face. We are folks who started automating our PCs and had great success with MEP. Maybe we knew how to program in an now forgotten language or started with the macro recorder. The point is we're not programmers now. But as we became familiar and competent with MEP we naturally try to push it further and further. The problem is MEP is not a proper programming language and will soon want to expand past it's design scope. But instead of pushing ISS to make MEP a programming language we should instead realize it's time to go back to school and learn to write proper programs again.

 

But to answer your question I would pay money if you could provide a useful for tool that was an extension but not more than $50 or so. And this tool would have to be more simple and at least as powerful as making the form myself in VB.NET.

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Ditto everything Cory said. Microsoft has spent millions developing .NET, including powerful and pretty-simple forms development, and it's easy to integrate the forms with ME. It's going to be very hard for you to make anything nearly that powerful. And when you do, because it is oriented to ME, you will sell the software by the dozens or hundreds at best. Sophisticated PC software can be sold for 50 or 100 bucks a copy because it is sold by the tens or hundreds of thousands of copies. ME-based forms development might be a good hobby, but you probably won't retire on the profits.

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