Product Reviews

More Flexible Batch Files

Extend Windows Script Host with WinBatch's ready-to-use automation tools.

Sooner or later, it seems that everyone finds some repetitive action that they need to automate. The obvious solution in Windows is to use a batch file, command file, or scripting language of some sort. Even though Windows now includes a variety of batch and scripting technologies, you may still want to look at WinBatch for your automation needs. A venerable product in this area (it’s been around since Windows 3.1), WinBatch offers substantially more flexibility and features than the Microsoft solutions at a reasonable price.

WinBatch comes in several forms, unified by the Windows Interface Language (WIL). WIL is a C-like language that has developed hand-in-hand with Windows and now supports almost any interaction with the operating system that you can imagine. Here are a few examples of the tasks that WIL can perform:

  • Call Windows API functions
  • Add new items to the Windows Explorer shortcut menus
  • Control serial and parallel ports
  • Communicate with DDE or OLE
  • Interact with the Clipboard
  • Display dialog boxes and retrieve information entered by the user
  • Move files
  • Restart Windows

Most of these operations require only a single line of WIL.

The basic WinBatch package provides an interpreter for WIL and the WinBatch Studio to let you write and debug WIL batches. WinBatch Studio is a modern IDE including multiple-file editing, single-step and other debugging functions, the ability to set watches, and an integrated dialog editor. The WinBatch compiler adds the ability to turn WIL files into standalone executables or encrypted batch files. In addition, if you’re new to programming Windows, they sell a book by Ben Ezzell titled Introduction to Programming ($29.95). This text does a good job of demystifying programming concepts and will get you up and running with WinBatch even if you have little or no prior development experience.

WinBatch 2000 tools are capable of running on every Windows platform, from version 3.1 to Windows 2000.

One very attractive aspect of WIL is that it’s essentially the same language from Windows 3.1 right through Windows 2000. So no matter which Windows platforms you have in your organization, you can learn a single language and use it across the board. This flexibility will be a boon to the busy network administrator who doesn’t have time to learn different tools for different versions of Windows.

You can download a free 30-day evaluation of the basic WinBatch program from the company’s Web site, and register online if you find it useful.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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