aText Premium review

Buying License- choices complicated- easy to purchase

I decided to bite the bullet and get an annual License for aText as I wanted to play with the scripts. A few funny things happened. First, depending on where you download the app from is what access you have for purchase. I downloaded one from the aText site and another from Microsoft Store. If you have the MS version it only lets you buy from the MS store, whereas if you downloaded from aText you have other options of purchase there.

So I decided to buy from the aText website. Now, next thing, License- if you buy from MS store then that License only works on the program if you downloaded it from the store and the aText License only works on the aText download. So be aware of that.

It also associates the License with 1/ The username & 2/ The computer (actually may have to check that, maybe its login ID (I have different usernames on different PC’s. )).

I had to unload aText from one of my PC’s to make sure I had the right version (atext site) and then I could add the license number.

Scripts not running

I’m a bit peeved by this in that it doesn’t want to run the scripts. It seems to write the data to a file in “/mnt/c/Users/drake/AppData/Local/Temp/aTextScript.js” then it can’t find it or use it. So the only thing I have on my main computer is BAT scripts running.

I have had the basic python script print to screen, but I can’t get my AutoHotKey scripts to work.

After faffing around for the day I can now get the JS, VBA, BAT, PowerShell & Py to work but not AHK. I think the Bitdefender was blocking the scripts and the folder was read only. I changed this so that it was not just read only and deleted the files in there (they recreate next time you run the script).

I’ve tried to reinstall AHK exe path in aText but it doesn’t seem to work. Still, I have some Scripts that are working and maybe that is enough for now.

Developers Linux Subsystem on Windows

When trying to run some of the scripts it kept erroring out saying it couldn’t find the files at /mnt/c/Users/drake/AppData/Local/Temp/aTextScript.ahk” and I couldn’t understand what the /mnt/c meant in the path. This is using a bash script which is running linux sub-system in windows and so the /mnt/c is its mounting the c drive in linux.

I wanted to use this as I found a gihub repo with a converter of a .txt file to .csv for addition to aText dictionary HERE that required a .sh script to run.

To run the .sh file I installed the linux subsystem on windows that then made me install a linux distro, in my case ubantu, onto my laptop, so I could run the .sh script. Seems a bit extreme, but then figured out what the tickbox was for, which was to use the Windows Subsystem for Linux, but that only works if you have installed it on your PC.

A lot of work to run a simple script. Still, I went through the exercise.

aText debugging

I tried emailing for help but no reply from aText. Just had text expander working on the emails with first letter em for one of my email addresses , so had to convert them to e1 …. to stop that happening.

Throughout the last couple of paragraphs I’ve had kind regards popping up when I press I so I’ll have to start debugging that too. Not sure what’s triggering that.

This brings me to the debugging when you get a abbreviation blowing up in your face. I have used Text Expanders in the past but got frustrated when they suddenly disrupt your workflow by auto-expanding in the middle of a sentence, you’d used an abbreviation that was too common. That usually stopped me from exploring them further.

A few items to explore here when that happens.

1/ Backup instead of sync

If there is a bit of a bug in the program that you can’t track down then its better to backup daily the whole lot of the setup so that you can, on encountering a disruptive issue just save a backup and go back to an earlier version where the problem didn’t occur and use that as a start point to identify where the problem lies.

in aText you can view dates of when snippets were created and altered using the menu in top left so you can identify later snippets to look to debug. Also there is the possibility that the original snippet is not the problem but that way its used in another snippet might be where the issue is.

2/ Save Groups separately as .atext or .csv

Another method is to save groups and sub-groups as separate files in a directory so that you can remove parts of the program files to slowly whittle down into which part of the program is giving you issues. aText seems very roust so deleting whole groups does not seem to affect the program at all, and when you install a backup it does not overwrite but makes a copy, so you can have the same groups side by side. There will be a conflict with the abbreviation keys as they are the same.

I actually backed up part of my script as I’d added some new form filling snippets and then found I hadn’t sync’d with latest info, so saved part I’d updated on my pc then sync’d and then uploaded the saved part and copied those across to where I wanted them and then sync’d again from local to main. Just as a precaution I also backed up everything to make sure I could retrieve data if I go it wrong.

One Program Group

I was interested in making a specific group for a BIM program so I could develop notes for adding to drawings. This ended up being quite easy to do and the keys only work in that specific program. I need to make the other keys exclude that program so that those don’t intrudes the program has a lot of its own hotkeys. So the other one runs in all programs EXCEPT that one.

I used a Field with MENU or Multi-Select List so there was a pull down choice to select the note I wanted to add to the drawing. I ended up with a list of over 20 items that I easily put into snippets using the “Create snippets from Clipboard” hotkey that I created , which was Ctrl+WinKey+C and so all I needed to add was an abbreviation for note, I put all the notes in a subgroup which expanded after typing abbreviation.

I was very pleased with that experiment and will have to think how to use it in a practical and productive way

How scripts seem to run with the temporary files.

After faffing around trying to get the scripting programs to work I think I have an idea on how they function.

There are the pre-set programs, python, batch, powershell, VBasic, JS and when you run a script on a snippet it copies that snippet to the temporary or whatever the extension is for that snippet and it then runs the default program .exe file and points it at the temporary file to run it.

So that is why there is the error when it can’t find the file to run as the .exe has been triggered bu, in my case, the antivirus blocked that temp file, seeing it as malicious, and so the .exe file couldn’t find it to run it.

End Comment & Scripts to use

I want to start developing a library of scripts to use in aText. So far I’ve a batch script that opens my websites and a powershell one that unblocks zip files in the Downloads folder. I would like some other simple ones to add to this library.

Overall pleased with the investment, although still need to get AutoHotKey scripts working

Bash scripts and setting up those was interesting. The fact that I needed to install a linux distro , in my case Ubantu, just to be able to run bash scripts. I may write an article on that later.

I’ve started using it in Revit and it seems to work fine. I’ve an article on that somewhere.