I already posted about AutoIt a few months back, but recently I’ve had cause to revisit this nifty little tool and have grown ever more impressed with it. So I thought the time had come to sing its praises a little more.
To reiterate, AutoIt is at its heart a relatively simple scripting language for Windows. But it’s not just for creating macros or batch files: with it you can build fully-functional GUIs with standard Windows controls (to make this process even simpler there’s Koda, a visual GUI builder). And alongside its core functions, users have developed a range of extensions (known as User-Defined Functions, or UDFs) to further increase its usefulness. For example, I’m using a UDF that wraps SQLite database commands.
For me probably the most attractive feature is the way that you can write your code (as a .au3 file) and run it instantly using the built-in interpreter. Then when you’re done, you can compile the script into a totally standalone .exe file that can be distributed without relying on any external frameworks or files.
On the downside, the AutoIt syntax is perhaps a little clunky in places — in particular I find the array handling to be rather fiddly, having become accustomed to PHP’s very simple and flexible syntax. But that really is a minor gripe.
If you get in trouble, there’s a very active user forum where there are plenty of smart people on hand to help solve your problems. I’ve found that most of the questions I’ve had have already been addressed, and the solutions can be found with the forum’s search.
So if you find yourself needing to knock up a simple (or even, quite complex) Windows app and, like me, can’t face the hassle of getting involved with .Net, Java or the alternatives, give AutoIt a look.
Best part of all? It’s completely free.