Your Brief Guide to Scripting Tools: Visual KiXtart Editor 3.0

Editors exist for all kinds of scripting needs—some free, some cheap, and some not-so-cheap. Use this guide to help you find the right product for your work.

KiXtart is a free Microsoft-based scripting enhancement found in the Windows Resource Kits and, for updated versions, on several web sites. KiXtart makes it very easy to write a script that can perform beyond the limitations of a traditional batch file. Having spent many hours creating and editing KiXtart logon scripts, I felt I was extremely versed in the good old “Start, Run, Notepad.exe” command. Notepad was truly my editor of choice. This worked fine for me while having a couple of scripts at fewer than 25 lines or so. As the scripts grew to provide more functionality, so did the challenge of navigating through the scripts, making error-free changes, and actually just visualizing what I had created in the first place.

Product Information

Visual KiXtart Editor 3.0
Version Zero Software

Pros: You will immediately begin to create, visualize, and organize your Kixtart scripts with more efficiency.
Where's the Save As function? No help file or documentation available.

Visual KiXtart Editor from Version Zero Software helps add to the KiXtart experience. When I first launched Visual KiXtart Editor and opened up a KiXtart script, I was immediately delighted to see several welcome changes from my traditional means of using text editors. The two most apparent changes were the inclusion of colors as well as indentations throughout various sections of the script. Both of these features helped me easily navigate through the different sections of the script.

KiXtart Editor has a well thought-out interface. On the left-hand side there is a File Explorer pane. On the right-hand side is an area called the workspace where the script is displayed. If you have several scripts you are working on in single or multiple locations, it’s very easy to access them via the File Explorer, and have them appear on the right-hand side. You can also customize the appearance of File Explorer and the workspace through different options from the pull down menu.

While navigating through your script, you’ll find that Visual KiXtart Editor has a line and column reference on the bottom, right-hand side of the main window. The secondary button on your mouse will also bring up a menu to help you navigate through your script. One thing I would have liked to have had in the program would have been to display line numbers immediately to the left of the script itself. While this option wasn’t available, the option to add bookmarks to lines throughout the script was.

A great feature of Visual KiXtart Editor is that you can quickly do a test run of your script directly inside of the program. Without this feature, you would need to go outside the editor and launch the script manually. KiXtart Editor lets you identify the executable for the kix32.exe then, while your script is open, simply press one button on the menu to launch the script This is a really handy time-saving feature of this program.

Your KiXtart scripts will come to life with colors and automatic indentation in Visual KiXtart Editor. (Click image to view larger version.)

Don’t think that Visual KiXtart Editor, like its name implies, is strictly limited to editing KiXtart scripts. I clicked on the File, New menu and was offered options to create a text, KiXtart, batch or C++ Source file. After a few changes to the default configuration, you can also visually edit HTML files.

I was surprised not to find a couple of features though. The first was a ‘Save As’ function from the pull down menu. There are plenty of times when you have a source script that you want to open, review then ‘Save As’ another script to re-tool or from which to borrow. Instead, you’ll need to perform a copy function outside of the editor. Also, I was surprised not to find any help file or documentation. The product is largely self-sufficient, but I always like to see help available.

For those of you using or considering KiXtart scripts as part of your routine network administration, I believe you’ll find that Visual KiXtart Editor is a “must have” addition to your arsenal of tools. You will be able to save time and be less prone to errors with the feature-rich functions in the program. The cost of this program is truly outmatched by its offerings.

About the Author

Michael Feuda, MCSE, NNCDS, is an independent writer. He has worked with Microsoft products since the days of LAN Manager.


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