it like it is...
without the techno babble.
A quick introduction for the WinBatch® novice.
Hi. I'm Howie.
I'm a rare blue owl. I've been asked to explain
WinBatch without using any big words or technical
jargon. So. Hmmm.
WinBatch is a bunch of software that allows people
to create their own software programs to do stuff
on their own computers. This is done by "programming",
which is, basically, sitting in front of a computer
and typing in a bunch of text, called "code".
When you type this code, you use a super-duper
Notepad sort of program called an editor. WinBatch
includes its own editor, "WinBatch Studio",
in which you type what we call "WinBatch Code".
WinBatch Studio has features that colorize important
words in your code, and other features that help
you make your code work properly (and that's called
WinBatch also includes a flock of other tools to
help you write code. One of them, the "WinBatch
Dialog Editor" lets you "draw" dialog
boxes (we call them WinBatch dialogs) and writes
that part of the code for you.
Also included are two different "Macro Recorders",
named "WinMacro" and "RoboScripter".
They watch your actions on the computer, like mouse
movements and keystrokes, and make a first cut at
the code required to duplicate those actions.
In addition, there are some WinBatch accessories
that make life in Windows generally easier, for
the "WinBatch Developer", (which is YOU,
once you start writing WinBatch Code). Two of the
more handy ones are called "FileMenu"
and "PopMenu". FileMenu allows you to hang
your own stuff onto the special "context menus"
that drop down when you right-click a file in Windows
Explorer. PopMenu adds a small brown owl icon to
the taskbar. When you click on the owl icon, you
get a selection list which you can customize to
launch your favorite programs or run various scripts.
As it is all quite complicated to explain without
actually having your hands on it, the WinBatch people
provide a free, fully functional evaluation version
of the WinBatch software. You can download, install,
and test it out. The software will run for about
a month or so, with occasional reminders to purchase
it. After a month, the purchase screens come more
often and hang around longer and longer, very slowly
diminishing the usefulness of the free version.
Thus, if you are actually using it, the purchase
solicitation screens encourage you
to purchase your own copy.
In any case, working with WinBatch is about writing
your own software, called "programs",
"scripts", or "utilities" or
"macros".. The words are pretty much interchangeable,
although there may be shades of differences in the
To write your own programs, you need to use the
WinBatch programming language, called "WIL",
short for "Windows Interface language".
WIL is an easy-to-learn, but extremely powerful
programming language. Most experienced programmers
have no trouble at all, and novices catch on very
quickly. WIL is the first programming language for
an amazing number of people.
For those of you who need a few big words here,
WIL is a traditional, procedural programming language,
appearing to be a hybrid of GWBASIC and "C",
taking, according to the WinBatch people, the best
of each, giving the power of C with the ease-of-use
of Basic. All the usual programming stuff is built
into WIL (expressions, assignments, if statements,
for loops, while loops, user defined functions and
subroutines, etc., etc., etc., the list goes on
For a quick look at some WinBatch code, here are
a few scripts presented for your perusal. You will
see a lot more code samples in our Tech
;Comments start with semi-colons, like this
;Stereotypical Hello World program
;Count lines in a file - one way anyway
Message("Lines in the file",count)
;Sum numbers 1 to 100
For x=1 To 100
;Animation - Draws random rectangles on the screen.
For xx=0 To 6
If BoxButtonStat(1,13)==1 Then Break
WIL supports a number (at least two dozen or so)
add-ons that we call "Extenders". There
are a bunch of free ones included with WinBatch.
A handful of extenders have been made available
by other people. Some free and some not, and there
are a number of "private" ones made by
and used only by various companies for their own
internal use. For the real techies, those who have
advanced programming tools like Microsoft Visual
C++, the WinBatch people also have something they
call the WIL-SDK (Software Development Kit) that
shows the aforementioned techies how to write their
own WinBatch extenders.
If you wish, glance at the current
list of extenders then return here to keep reading...
Layout of the WinBatch Website
The WinBatch website is vast, with over 10,000
web pages of various sorts, depending how you count
them. However they can be navigated once you figure
out the primary entry points. And they are...
- The WinBatch
Home Page http://www.winbatch.com
- The WinBatch home page. From here you can usually
find images or links to click on to get everywhere
else. It may be how you got to this page.
Tech Support Database http://techsupt.winbatch.com
- A (fairly) organized, comprehensive, and searchable
database consisting of thousands of previous tech
support requests, case studies, code samples,
and general information on WinBatch and the various
WinBatch Extenders. This would probably be the
first place to check when you have a question.
WebBoard BBS http://webboard.winbatch.com
- A place to post questions and get answers to
whatever kind of WinBatch related topic that may
occur to you. Usually fairly good answers will
show up in a few hours. Hard problems may take
a few days, especially on weekends and holidays.
Download Area http://www.winbatch.com/download.html
- This is were you can download the fully functional
evaluation copies of WinBatch and also to possibly
upgrade your current version of WinBatch to the
Press Room http://www.winbatch.com/pressroom/pressroom_index.html
- Hosted by the marketing department hoping that
a roving journalist with a tight deadline may
find something to write about. Just please spell
our name correctly.
- And more.
- By poking at some of the various links on our
home page, you can easily find lots of additional
- And of course, our standard,
Downloading and Installing
the Free Evaluation Copy
Let us assume that somehow you have found the WinBatch
website. You have looked a handful of the various
pages, and have become wildly excited at the prospect
of trying out WinBatch for whatever project you
are working on. What are the next steps?
First of all you need to download
a copy of WinBatch and save it to someplace
on your hard drive. Next you have to unzip it. You
will need an unzip program from someplace. Windows
XP and various Windows plus-packs include it, and
unzip programs are commonly available on the Internet.
In any case unzip the downloaded zip file to an
empty, temporary directory - NOT to where you want
to eventually install it.
Note: You will
generally need Administrator access to install WinBatch.
In some cases, especially with the XP unzip program,
you can run the setup.exe directly from the
unzip program, but it is usually safer to close
the unzip program, locate the directory with Windows
Explorer (Not Internet Explorer) and double-click
the setup.exe file that was unzipped.
This will start the setup program where you will
have a chance to specify where you want it installed
and to choose some other options. Almost everyone
just takes the provided defaults.
This will install WinBatch, install various utilities,
and add a handful of Start Menu items. Later, if
you wish you can go into the Control Panel Add/Remove
software applet and (gasp) uninstall WinBatch if
it does not meet your needs.
Depending on various factors, you *may* need to
reboot after the install to complete the installation
With only the usual amount of luck, WinBatch and
its various utilities should be installed at this
point. To test the installation, hit the START button,
navigate through the "Programs" menu and to the
"WinBatch" menu. Find winbatch.exe and click
The first time you run an evaluation version of
WinBatch - and at seemingly random intervals afterwards,
the "purchase solicitation screen" will pop up encouraging
you to purchase the product. In any case, for now,
just hit the "I agree" button to proceed with the
At that point, the "WinBatch Navigator", which
is just yet another WinBatch script, pops up giving
you a number of handy choices. Whenever the WinBatch
program is run without parameters, it runs the WinBatch
Navigator. WinBatch generally expects that you run
a WBT file directly, rather than running winbatch.exe
You can look at the WinBatch Navigator display
screen and figure out what version of WinBatch you
have managed to install. If you have just downloaded
WinBatch, it will, presumably, be the latest version.
Assuming that you see the dialog box pop up, then
WinBatch is properly installed on the system. Also
note that the entire WinBatch install process is
nothing more than a (rather complex) compiled WinBatch
Making the first couple of
Well. Now you have WinBatch installed. Now what?
Now it is time to write a few simple programs
to get started. The first order of business is to
find and run "WinBatch Studio". Click on the START
button, go through "Programs" to the WinBatch menu
and select "WinBatch Studio". It should have a little
blue owl icon next to it. That will launch WinBatch
The very first time you launch it, it may decide
is has to update some registry configuration information,
and will display a small note to that effect. If
this happens, close WinBatch Studio and start it
up again to get the best results.
Now you should be looking at the WinBatch Studio
screen. Select "File - New" to open a new document
window - or hit the first button on the toolbar
- which is the same thing. If you hover your mouse
over a toolbar button a little "tooltip" should
appear telling you what the button does.
So let's type in the first program. Enter the
following line into the new window you just opened.
Now that we have the line in the window, we have
to save it. Hit the "File - Save" menu item - or
the third button on the button bar. The file save
dialog should pop up. Select (or make a new) a directory
and type in a file name. Follow the file name with
a .wbt file extension. For the WinBatch
file to be able to run it MUST have a .wbt extension..
For example a filename of MyFirstScript.wbt
might be a good choice.
Now that it is saved, you can run it. There are
several ways to do this. We'll start with the easiest.
Locate the RUN button on the toolbar. The Run icon looks like
a stack of papers with a blue down arrow on top. Click
the RUN button and your script should run. One of
three things might happen at this point...
- It runs. A small window with a title of "Hello"
and text reading "World" pops up on the screen.
- Some kind of Error Message pops up on the screen.
This most likely means that you have some kind
of typo in the line you typed. Check carefully,
especially the (parenthesis) and the "quotes",
fix whatever the problem is, and try again.
- Nothing happens. Nothing at all. This usually
means that when you saved it, you did not type
the required .wbt on the end of the filename
so that it did not get saved as a genuine, bona
fide WinBatch-type file. Select the "File" menu
item again, and choose "Save As", and save the
file again, making sure you put a .wbt
on the end of the filename. Then try again.
After getting your one line "Hello World" script
running, you might try changing it a little and
see what happens.
In addition, you might try copying and pasting
the example scripts shown up above.
You will note that WinBatch Studio colorizes important
keywords in the WinBatch script. The default color
of WinBatch keywords is blue.
To get help on a keyword, first click it, then
right-click it. A popup menu should appear.
Select the "Keyword Lookup" from the popup menu.
The appropriate page from the correct help file
should appear on your screen.
The right-click menu in WinBatch Studio has another
great feature for new users. There is a "Insert
WIL Function" menu item that can insert a function
directly into your script, ready for immediate customization.
This can save time digging through the reference
You will note that WinBatch function names start
with a function "group", in that the functions that
deal with files start with "File", such as FileCopy,
functions that deal with directories (aka folders)
start with "Dir", such as DirGet,
DirMake, and so on. This is handy
for looking functions up in the documentation. The function
you are looking for usually clusters together alphabetically
with related functions (i.e. Functions of a feather flock together).
The Help Files
Speaking of help files, WinBatch has a lot of them.
Dozens actually. Two main ones for WinBatch itself,
one or sometimes two for each extender, and a
few "free-floaters" that contain interesting information
but are not tied to any particular function.
The Consolidated WIL Help file acts as a single resource
for many of the various help files. It combines multiple
.chm files at run time, allowing them to all be consolidated
into a single Help system. So, as you install some new
Wilson WindowWare product ( i.e. WIL Extenders) you will
see them show up in the table of contents of this help file.
This help file can be accessed from the Windows Start menu
(Start | Programs | WinBatch |ConsolidatedWIL chm ) or
from WinBatch Studio's context menu by clicking the right
mouse button anywhere within an open file.
The individual help files are located in the top level
directory where you installed WinBatch (which, when using
the defaults, is installed in "C:\Program Files\WinBatch").
The main WinBatch help files are installed when
you install WinBatch. Additional help files are
installed when you install additional extenders.
A few of the more important help files are:
The Consolidated WIL Help file
The primary help file, that acts as a single resource
for many of the various help files.
Windows Interface Language Help File
This is where you will
be spending the majority of your time. Hundreds
and hundreds of functions documented. Most with
an actual example you can work with. Contains
the technical language definitions, tutorials,
and all sorts of valuable information.
WinBatch Help File
A much smaller, but still important help file.
A small handful of functions are documented here,
as well as the WIL Dialog Editor, FileMenu, and
PopMenu, all of which we will discuss later in
Win32 Network Extender Help File
Some of the most important WinBatch extenders.
These extenders are included in the main WinBatch
install (while some of the other extenders must
be installed separately). The functions in these
extenders give you networking, security, user
management, and service management control.
The Dialog Editor
After you have fiddled around with simple scripts
with WinBatch Studio, you may want a more attractive
user interface than the built-in functions that
WinBatch offers. For custom dialogs, one normally
uses the Dialog Editor.
In WinBatch, dialogs are defined by setting a
handful of variables, and then issuing the WinBatch
Dialog statement. Although it is theoretically possible
to hand-code the Dialog Definition variables, it
is rough sledding, and there are only a few experts
that can do it with any degree of success. This
is where the Dialog Editor comes in. The Dialog
Editor allows you to "draw" the dialog using the
mouse and various toolbars. The Dialog Editor will
then write the WinBatch code for you, which you
can then copy and paste into your script, or, possibly,
save to a file.
To run the Dialog Editor, all you have to do is
hit the 'Dialogs' button or the 'Debug|Dialog' menu
in WinBatch Studio. That should start the Dialog Editor.
When the Dialog Editor comes up, it will show you a gray dialog
with the obligatory OK and CANCEL buttons.
You can drag these buttons around with the mouse,
and can also resize the dialog with the mouse so
On the toolbar, you can hover the mouse over the
various buttons and, when the tooltip appears, read
what the button does. To add a new control to the
dialog, click on one of the buttons, then click
on your dialog approximately where you want the
control to appear. Then you can resize the control
and drag it to the desired spot.
To set control options, variables, colors, fonts
and other features, just right-click on the control,
select "Attributes" and fill in the various little
tabbed dialogs as required.
To set the dialog background color, and perhaps
the defaults for fonts, as well as the dialog title
and the dialog name, just right-click some blank
space on the dialog, and select the "Attributes"
menu item there also.
Once you get the Dialog Editor running, you can
select the "Help" menu from the Dialog Editor itself
to learn more.
An advanced capability, "Dynamic Dialogs", gives
you control over dialogs that update content while
the users interact with them.
As alluded to previously, WinBatch has some two
dozen odd extenders that add a great deal of functionality
to the WinBatch product. Only a few of the most
commonly used extenders are included in the basic
WinBatch install. The other extenders, if you want
them, need to be downloaded and installed separately.
The basic install procedure for these extenders
- Create an empty temporary directory.
extender zip file to the directory.
- Unzip zip file into same directory.
- Close unzip program.
- Using Windows Explorer, find the setup.wbt
file in the directory.
- Double-click the setup.wbt file. The
extender should install in a few seconds.
- Optionally delete the temporary directory.
That's it. The extender is installed and ready
for use. To figure out what you have, go to the
WinBatch section of your START menu and open
the 'ConsolidatedWIL chm' help file, then locate
your newly added extender under the 'Contents tab',
WIL Extenders. The extender help file will have a
more detailed introduction to the extender and will
document all the functions that you can use, complete,
in most cases, with examples.
If you are a heavy extender user, and wish to
keep updated on all the extenders all the time,
you can download the "VCHECK" utility. The VCHECK
utility is just a WinBatch script, which you can
also examine. It downloads a special file from our
web site, and uses the information in the file to
see how current your installed versions of the extenders
are compared to the latest and greatest available.
VCHECK will let you update your extenders automatically,
as well as install new extenders.
To use VCHECK, you must first manually (using
the directions given above) install both the WinInet
and the Zipper extenders. The WinInet extender allows
WinBatch to access web and ftp sites (our web site
in this case) and download both the version information
file, and, if you decide to update or install an
extender, the various extender zip files required.
The Zipper extender allows the downloaded ZIP file
to be extracted. Once these two extenders are manually
installed, then VCHECK can automatically download
and install the remaining extenders.
VCHECK, although not a true extender in its own
right, is listed at the end of the WIL Extenders
section of the download page. Download it and unzip
it normally, then create your own home for it, perhaps
a VCHECK directory under C:\Program Files\WinBatch
may be a good place.
Once you have the unzipped files to their desired
home, just double-click the vcheck.wbt file
whenever you wish to install the latest version
of any of our extenders.
Handy WinBatch Accessories
In addition to WinBatch and WinBatch Studio, the
install process also installs a few handy accessories
to make the WinBatch developer's life a little bit
easier. They are...
- PopMenu is a handy "program-sensitive" popup
menu that lives by the clock on the START bar.
It is a little brown owl (one of my cousins).
When you click on the owl with the mouse, a menu
pops up. It is pre-programmed with a number of
handy menu items. You can edit the "Menu File"
-- A special form of a WinBatch script file --
to add your own menu items.
Actually PopMenu supports a number of different
menu files. When you click on PopMenu a two-column
menu pops up. On the left-hand side is the "Global"
menu that always pops up when you click on PopMenu.
The menu on the right-hand side is program-sensitive
in that the menu that pops up will depend on
what application was active on the screen when
it was clicked. So you can write menus that
only appear when certain applications are running.
- WinMacro is a keystroke/mouse recorder that
lives on a menu item on the PopMenu global (left-hand)
menu. WinMacro can faithfully record keystrokes
and mouse movements to make a macro you can play
back later. In addition, you can "export" a recorded
macro into a WinBatch file that you can build
into a WinBatch script.
- FileMenu is a 32-bit Windows Explorer "context menu
add-on". It basically adds menu items when you
right-click a file in Windows Explorer. Like PopMenu,
there is both a global menu that always appears,
and a file-type-specific menu that only gets added
for certain file types. For instance, you can
have different menus for BMP and WAV files. The
scripts used when you select a menu item can obtain
the names of the files highlighted or selected
in Windows Explorer.
Like PopMenu, it uses the special WinBatch
menu files to define the menus. You can edit
and modify them to your heart's content.
- Browser is another handy but hidden utility.
It lives on the "Open Other" menu item that FileMenu
adds when you right-click a file in Windows Explorer.
Browser is a file viewer that can view text
files in a variety of formats, as well as view
any file in Hex format. It has its arcane uses.
- RoboScripter is a different sort of recorder.
As opposed to keystroke/mouse recorders (like
WinMacro and other similar recorders), RoboScripter
*knows* what is going on and can write amazingly
precise scripts for you.
Basically RoboScripter is a little robot that
you control, telling the robot what you would
like to do. RoboScripter then can perform the
action and write the script at the same time.
When you are finished, you can copy the recorded
script to the clipboard so that you can paste
it into your program in WinBatch Studio.
RoboScripter makes heavy use of the "Control
Manager" extender (which in included in the
basic WinBatch install). Control Manager based
scripts are generally the best way to deal with
most of the standard Windows Dialogs that you
may be faced with automating. However, getting
all the nit-picky numbers straight to make a
Control Manager based script actually work can be
tough. RoboScripter is designed to do the heavy
lifting for you in this area, giving you a script
that you may be able to use "as-is" or perhaps
with only slight modifications.
- WIL Type Viewer
- The WIL Type Viewer is a WinBatch development tool
that assists you in writing Component Object Model (COM)
Automation based WIL scripts. The viewer can be used to
examine the type information details of properties,
methods, and events associated with an individual COM
object or interfaces, enumerations, and classes defined
in type libraries.
The viewer also allows you to browse lists of objects
and type libraries registered on you system. You can view
the detailed type information for these object and type
library by simply selecting the item from a lists.
- WIL Dialog Editor
- The WIL Dialog Editor offers quick production of custom
dialog boxes for your WinBatch programs.
It provides a convenient method of creating dialog box
templates for use with the Dialog function.
It displays a graphical representation of a dialog box,
and allows you to create, modify, and move individual
controls which appear in the dialog box.
After you have defined your dialog box, the Dialog Editor
will generate the appropriate WIL code, which you can save
to a file or copy to the Clipboard for pasting into your
You can include the dialog template code directly in your
batch code, or you can use the batch language "Call" command
to execute the dialog template.
Note: See the Windows Interface Language Reference help file
for more details on how to use the Dialog function to further
customize your dialogs, including adding callback procedures
with in subroutines to make your dialogs dynamic.