Many of us run a lot of different part files and like working (playing some times!) with all the options and possibilities in the ShopBot software. Others, though, may only run a couple of different files or might have someone else run the tool who may not be quite as proficient with the ShopBot software as they are…this set of programs is for you. It lets you create a custom “ShopBot File Runner” with a series of buttons that will run ShopBot files and define options for the way they’ll run like..
- If the file runs in Cut or Preview mode.
- How the file will close when it’s done.
- How many decisions the person operating your ShopBot will be able to make when running the file.
If you’ll look in “C:\Program Files\ShopBot\Developer Tools\Runner” you’ll see 2 programs, a folder named “media” that contains button icons, an ini file and a .bak file. The “ShopBot File Runner” program is the one that the ShopBot operator will use to run the ShopBot files, and the “File Runner Customizer” program is the one that you can use to create your own customized runner.
We really should start with the Customizer program first, but since it will all make more sense if you can see what you’ll be creating, we’ll try out the runner with the default ini file first. Click “ShopBot File Runner” and a small form will open up with one button and a little bit of text next to it. Clicking that button starts the ShopBot software, draws the ShopBot logo file, and then closes the ShopBot software when it’s done. You get the idea…the “ShopBot File Runner” just automates the process of running ShopBot files. Now you may want to do something with your ShopBot other than run the logo in Preview mode, so next we’ll learn how you can create your own custom File Runner.
If you’ll click on the “File Runner Customizer” icon, a form will appear with a handful of options that will define the buttons for your runner and how they will work. At the top is a box to fill in a description for the first button. Try to come up with a “short but sweet” description that will be easy to read and understand because this is what will identify that button to the person running the ShopBot… so “Button 1″ is a bad choice. If the file will be run in Cut mode “_cut” is added to the end of the description, and if it’s to be run in preview “_Prev” is added.
Next you’ll pick the file that the button will run…it’s pretty standard Windows stuff and shouldn’t need any explanation… and the icon that will appear on the button face. You can go with the defaults (the old move/cut and preview icons from the DOS software) or select a different picture. There are a handful of choices in the “Media” folder, but you can use any 32 pixel x 32 pixel bitmap or icon. You can also create your own in Paint or any other graphics program that you prefer. I try to use the prefix “p_” in my picture names for files that will be run in Preview mode and “c_” for files that will be run in cut mode, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want. Just don’t overwrite the “c_sb.bmp” and “p_sb.bmp” files…they are the ones that are used as defaults.
Now we get down to the meat of the program…deciding how the file will run. You’ll be able to select how the file will open, how it will close, what the user will see on the screen, and sometimes if the file will be cut in Offset mode. The Run Method, Close Method, and Display Method options are pretty clear, just read the descriptions next to the radio buttons. The only odd ones are the last Run and Display options. The last Run Method option just puts the file that you select into the fillin sheet when you use the FP command next time…you probably won’t need to use that very much with the runner. And the last Display Method option removes most of the choices in the ShopBot software so that the operator can’t open the keypad or change any settings.
The Offset option is only available when either the 3rd or 4th Run Method is selected, so that the software starts without the fillin sheet appearing. The final choice at the bottom of the screen asks if you want to create a “warning” box that will appear first if the file is going to run in CUT mode. We HIGHLY recommend that you keep this option checked…it makes the process of running a file that much safer. When all these choices are made you can either click “I’m done” to finish up or “Add another button” to…well…add another button. Make sure that you use a unique description for each button. You can add a bunch of buttons but you’ll run out of space after 8 or so. If you need more than that, let me know and I’ll look into a different layout options.
When you’re all done and have clicked the “I’m done” button, a new “runner.ini” file will be created that will be used to setup the “ShopBot File Runner” program the next time it’s run. Just make sure that you keep all the parts in the same folder, though you can create a shortcut to the File Runner program on your desktop (or wherever you want) to make it easier to find and run.
I hope these programs will help make your ShopBotting easier, and drop me an email if you think of any other programs that you’d like to see. I don’t make any guarantees but if it sounds interesting to me…