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Trail Files...potential or dead?


Trail Files...potential or dead?

Anyone know if there is any development of Trail files going on? Or are they becoming extinct?

From a non-coders perspective (there is my caveat), it seems like they are so close to being awesome, useful and powerful. But right now they are downright fickle! It seems like it would take a relatively small amount of polishing to really clean them up so that they are reliable and down fall apart by simple and common stuff (like moving a window...or evidently "@ sel view", and seemingly many other commands).

Can PTC make them just work? IF they did they would not only be more useful for the occasional file recovery, but also better for using to automate tasks.

Should we bother creating an idea for this? I look forward to hearing people's opinion on this and any news they may have for future development.

(I only marked this as Creo parametric, but if they exist in other "apps" let me know and I will add them too)

"When you reward an activity, you get more of it!"

They are a mixed bag. The low barrier is attractive, but the lack of error handling and generalization means they are tough to apply. Make even a minor change to a model, or as you mention, move a window, and the trail file fails.

They are recorded the same as mapkeys are, which suffer the same problems. I think they really represent the internal calls to software and aren't designed or intended to be human readable; possibly the opposite.

I've taken to externalizing control using AutoIt, which is much more flexible and easier to move across versions of software. If an operation fails, I can create an alternate action to proceed, unlike trail files which simply quit. I do use mapkeys from AutoIt to run difficult to monitor sections rather than recording detailed mouse and keyboard actions, but the control is all on the AutoIt side. (I presume the experience of AutoHotKey users is similar and that VBA from Excel or Word can also perform the control function.)

It's hard to tell.

Generally, people tend to avoid tools that aren't documented well enough. That's one of the reasons i favor Autohotkey.

Take this example of trail file setup: 2014 PTC LiveGlobal Mapkeys TrailFiles Presentation Video - YouTube

I guess the presenter had to go long ways, and dig pretty deep to figure this out,

This are some very interesting points. Yes, Error handling and documentation would be very helpful!

Both of you have mentioned using alternative programs to automate rather than using Creo's trail files and mapkeys. I have heard of both AutoIt and AutoHotKey, however when I discussed with our IT department to see if I could get one of them, they leaned heavily towards Powershell. Are you familiar with it and how well it works with Creo as compared to AutoIt or AutoHotKey?


"When you reward an activity, you get more of it!"

I remember spending some time figuring out how Powershell works, and if it could be any good for me. It didn't turn out to be good.

See the example bellow, I guess it opens notepad and sends F5 to the notepad window. I can't really tell for sure just by looking at the code.

PowerShell sending keystrokes e.g. F5 after opening an application - Stack Overflow

To me the code looks pretty wierd, even with that i already know some basics of OOP. I just don't know C#.

Anyway, is Powershell supposed to be some sort of command line like interpreter?

Try to find out how to do just that, open notepad, send F5, in both AHK and AutoIt, and compare the codes to each other.

I'm not sure what exactly do you want to automate, but before the code grows big ask yourself what is easier for you to maintain and troubleshoot.

Btw, both AHK and AutoIt scripts can be compiled to an *.exe file.

Powershell is what MS created when the CMD became insufficient and GUIs were inappropriate for system administrators. I'd say it has more in common with J-Link or Weblink. MS has made integrating the Powershell API into their products a high priority, but unless PTC creates a Powershell API then it won't do much good. For the IT guys, it's great, because many of the products they work with have the Powershell API built in. I see no evidence to suggest Powershell works well, if at all, to automate Creo.

AutoIt and it's forked version, AutoHotKey, are designed for applications that have inadequate APIs**, especially where multiple applications are operated in a coordinated manner. They don't make it trivial, but they do make it possible.

**For Creo this really reads as expensive Toolkit license and significant training to use same, not that an API is unavailable.

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