Systems Administrators seem to get tasked with all kinds of
random everyday help items to make the average office employee more productive. This usually means helping them perform tasks
that they could easily handle, shortcut creation and general file move/copy
operations come to mind. Things like this might be pulled into a batch file to make the chore less taxing for the
helpdesk or sysadmin which also makes the shortcut reusable. Microsoft has created a lightweight scripting
language based on Visual Basic that works even better than batch files in some
cases.

You probably don’t have a Visual Basic or Visual Studio
license lying around to use for scripting. That’s where this article might be of some help. Koan Software has developed a freeware
utility for creating and working with VBScript called VBSEditor.

Author’s Note:

Koan Software is based in Italy and their website is written
in Italian. Try as I might I was unable
to find much in the way of an English version to get to the product. Luckily the application can be downloaded in
zipped format from http://www.koansoftware.com/upload/VBSeditor.zip.

Running VBSEditor

The application is very lightweight and has no installer,
just unzip, launch the executable, and you are ready to script. Figure A below is a bit deceiving, when
VBSEditor starts for the first time it might need to be stretched out so it can
be used.

Figure A

The initial screen is small, so stretch
it prior to use.

All stretched out and ready to
work!

When stretched out VBSEditor looks a bit like Notepad, but
has a programming feel to it, including robust buttons and line counter to
eliminate the need to count lines beginning at the top of the document one at a
time. Another feature of VBSEditor is the Go To Line option. As expected when working on a script the
editor will allow you to jump from line 3 to line 103. Go To Line is shown in Figure B. To use go to, simply click the icon
highlighted in Figure B. This allows you
to see the go to box and enter the line number you wish to jump to.

Figure B

Jumping around your script with Go
To Line

Creating a sample script

Now that we have seen how to get this great free scripting
tool and some of the features it offers above and beyond Notepad, I will create
a script. The script I will use in this
example is included to show the usefulness of the editor not the functionality
of the script. Translation: it doesn’t
do much of anything.

You’ve probably seen many variations on the Hello World
example, but for simplicity sake I will use that one here with a couple
modifications. Remember the editor is
the focus, not the script.

Figure C

Look at the color-coded syntax.

As you see in the above example the syntax of the script is
highlighted just as if you had been using Visual Studio. If the usual Visual Basic highlighting is not
something you are particularly fond of, clicking the options button on the tool
bar will produce the script editor options dialog shown in Figure D. From here you can also control font size and
indentation widths.

Figure D

Presto Chango! Different options at
your fingertips

Another wonderful thing about the free application, when you
use a function defined in visual basic, inputbox() in
the above graphic, the Smart Help appears to assist you in completing the
argument list, again just like Visual Studio. The Smart Help is shown below in Figure
E.

Figure E

Feels like Visual Studio minus the
price tag

When you enter the function name and open the parentheses to
begin supplying arguments the help will appear. Separate each argument with a comma and finish the arguments list with
the closing parenthesis, just like Visual Basic.

In the example script I set out to ask a user for their name
and greet them with a message box. Figure
F shown below appears when the script is launched and Figure G shows the
greeting message box when you click OK.

Figure F

May I have your name please?

Figure G

Hello, I am the example script.

A great place to start

VBSEditor is a great tool for small scripting, perhaps the
things that a helpdesk technician or systems administrator might create to
simplify their own tasks or that of a user in their environment. Some knowledge of Visual Basic is helpful,
but a tutorial or two from the Internet will point you in the right direction
if you haven’t any experience. It is
also a great tool to introduce you to the Visual Basic Scripting language and
its syntax without spending a mint on the more robust tools. However if you are going to write
applications, by all means the Microsoft tools are the way to go. If scripting is your game, the VBSEditor is
the tool to use.

In my next article I will provide a more robust and useful
example script to get you moving down the Windows scripting path.