Gerardo Zamudio about Linux, open source, and Internet

New Journey Into Coding

It’s been almost two months since my last update. It’s not that I’ve been busy, I just didn’t have anything interesting to talk about.

Due to private matters, I’ve come across quite a bit of free time during these past two months. I’ve used this time to begin learning how to program properly. Sure, I’ve delved into HTML, CSS, PHP and the like (hence the “amateur coder” in the bio) but I want to get into something that isn’t a scripting language. The perfect chance to start came a while ago during a meeting at work. A few coworkers complained that the template to file their trouble tickets was inconsistent and a few claimed it was hard to implement. I thought I could make some sort of program that displayed the template in a way that all the user had to do was fill in required information, click a button, and have it instantly formatted and ready to paste into a ticket.

Unfortunately, I turned to a scripting language such as AutoHotKey to accomplish this. I say “unfortunately” because it went against my original plan to learn a proper language. It was something I needed to get done quickly without too much hassle, so I figured it’d be fine. I had never even seen an AutoHotKey script before let alone write one, so you could say this was my first time.

It didn’t take long. The documentation is easy enough to understand. I browsed the forums to see what types of things people were doing (I believe there was a 911 dispatcher that used it for calls) and I got an idea of things I could and could not do.

Anyway, I fired up AutoHotKey, typed away for a combined total of 9 hours, used Paint.NET to make some basic graphics, and compiled the script into a .exe using the included compiler. Here’s a detail of a screenshot I took of the finished program:

Screenshot of program developed using AutoHotKey
I just realized the alignment of the input fields is a bit off

Obviously, I took out all styling and logos that could reference my employer. It’s nothing too fancy. I’m really proud of what I could make if I had a purpose. I’ve always found it difficult to make something from scratch so it was nice to know exactly what I wanted to accomplish before I even started.

I sent this out to my coworkers to use in their tickets. They loved it and of course immediately sent tons of feature requests and bug reports. Actually, I wouldn’t really call them bugs… most of them were because of sloppy code or typos I’d made. This experience also served as great practice for developing for a specific audience. For instance, I can’t believe I forgot to add a “clear all fields” button in the first version. They immediately let me know it was needed so I added one.

This is the only AutoHotKey script I plan on developing and maintaining. Once I decide what language I want to get into, I’ll post about it and make my first program available to download.