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AutoIt is a freeware scripting language originally written to facilitate the automation of Windows software that would normally require a human operator to click an on-screen button or accept choices from keyboard input. From these humble beginnings it has expanded into a full-blown Windows development tool albeit without the benefit of a pretty drag-and-drop IDE.
I use AutoIt for several reasons not least of which is that you can create stand-alone executables that have no need of extensive libraries (dot-NET anyone?), ‘virtual machine’ environments (Java anyone?), or any other kind of pre-installation or registry manipulation. Nice. Neat. Self-contained.
Over time AutoIt has built up an impressive set of internal libraries including a significant set of User-Defined Functions (UDFs) to enable you to implement pretty much anything you might want to do within the Windows environment up to, and including, Windows 8.
The Jollybean site provides both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of each application. The 32-bit versions will work on pretty much any machine less than about 10 years old, but you will, of course, need a 64-bit machine running a 64-bit version of Windows to run the 64-bit executables.
Welcome to the Jollybean AutoIt Projects Site
Sounds great - where do I get it?
So... What IS AutoIt?
OK... WHY use AutoIt?
That’s the easy part: just go to the homepage and download it! There are several options for download but I recommend the top “AutoIt Full Installation” followed by the one below it labelled “AutoIt Script Editor” which I would install after the full installation. This is because the standalone editor has the Lexer and additional features to help with writing and debugging scripts compared to the cut down version that comes with the full AutoIt install. If, like me, you are using Windows 7 on a widescreen monitor then I have found it easiest to use Aero-snap to ‘dock’ the editor open on the left half of the screen (Windows-key+left) and dock the help file open on the right (Windows-key+right)
A WORD OF WARNING! (Don’t Panic!)
Executables generated using AutoIt can sometimes trigger a ‘false positive’ when using some virus checkers (AVG, for one). When you have written the source code then this is obviously nothing to worry about but asking the virus program to ‘auto-clean’ (or whatever it calls it) WILL RESULT IN YOUR CODE BEING DELETED. Fortunately it is only the executable that will be binned so you should be able to recreate it from your source code quite easily. Unfortunately I only supply the executables on this site, so if they trigger a false positive and you have asked for ‘autoclean’ then you will have to re-download the software if you have not kept a copy!
A Note About Ini Files
Each program is accom-panied by an Ini file which contains one or more sections contained within square brackets [LikeThis] and one or more settings listed below it which have a label followed by an equals sign, LikeThis=
These Ini files contain user-settings that control the way that the program runs or looks or sounds and are intended to allow you to customise it to your needs. In order for the Ini files to be read correctly by the programs you MUST NOT ALTER either Section Headings nor the Label titles (left hand side of the ‘=’ sign). User settings are on the RIGHT hand side of the ‘=’ sign and instructions for changing these are on each program’s home page