Recorder: Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 Recorder

Contrary to what you may think, Recorder has nothing to do with video . . . even though its icon is a camcorder. Recorder is an applet in the Accessories program group to record and playback macros. A macro is a series of commands to automate the steps of a routine task.

When Recorder is launched, you are presented with an empty file in which to begin constructing your macros. You first need to determine what task you wish to automate. I use CorelDRAW! daily. Rather close everything I may have opened, open the Corel program group and then launch DRAW!, I have a macro recorded that will launch the program from wherever I am.

Set-up
To record a macro, go ahead and jump right in, start the recording process (Macro, Record…). You are prompted to supply a name for the specific macro (CorelDRAW! 5.0). Since you are not naming a file, feel free to expand your description beyond eight characters. Next you need to define the shortcut key(s) you wish to playback your macro (ctrl+shift+c). A word of warning: do not choose common keystrokes such as ALT+F, CTRL+S and SHIFT+R as they will interfere with some programs. If you are in a word processor and want to use an uppercase R, it would be disappointing to launch your communications program!

Playback
You also want to set some parameters on the playback of your macro. You need to decide whether you wish to have this macro available in Any Application or Same Application. I wish to be able to launch DRAW! from any position in Windows (Playback, Any Application). However, there are plenty of macros that you will create that you will want to be application-specific or Same Application. For instance, I may want to use a lens magnification of 7% in DRAW! without going through two menus and then having to set a value.

The playback speed should be set to fast (Playback, Fast) to maximize the efficiency of Recorder. The only time this needs to be changed is when you work with nested macros. By that time you will have become an expert with Recorder!

Make sure that you enable shortcut keys (Playback, Enable shortcut keys) so you can execute your macro with Recorder minimized.

To Mouse or Not to Mouse
The most important thing to determine when recording a macro is what actions are to be recorded. If you drag and drop a file during recording phase, upon playback, Recorder will attempt to do the same. However, icons and files are often moved in Windows. If you re-arrange your desktop, the next time you playback your macro you may easily launch an un-intended application. My suggestion is to ignore all mouse movements (Record Mouse, Ignore Mouse).

Finally, before you begin recording, take the time to describe in detail the macro you are going to record (Description). This will help in the future should you come back to edit or if you share macros with others.

Record
You are now ready to record (Start). You will notice the Recorder icon minimized and flashing. It’s waiting for you to issue commands. Do not use your mouse to do anything at this point. To launch a program, go to the command line (File, Run).

If Program Manager is not active, ALT+TAB until it is. At the command line type the path of the executable you wish to launch (E:\Corel50\Programs\coreldrw.exe).

Your program should launch. This is where I want the macro to stop recording. Restore Recorder (highlight the icon, Restore). You will be presented with a menu to save your macro (Save Macro).

To test your macro, close the application you launched and issue the shortcut key(s) you associated with the macro (ctrl+shift+c). The program should again launch.

Before you end

  • You may have several macros within one .REC file.
  • You need to save your .REC file. Right now it’s named Untitled. I find my initials work well here (File, Save, RDO.REC). The default directory is \Windows, but you may save the file anywhere.
  • To automatically load this .REC file, edit the command line (highlight Recorder icon, File, Properties, D:\Windows\RDO.REC.
  • Recorder must be launched before macros will playback. Therefore, it may be a good idea to place the Recorder icon with a .REC file loaded in the Start Up program group.

This was originally published in Bits & Bytes, the monthly newsletter of SJIBMUG

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