Lots of BitCollectors software and website updates

Alejandra and I have been quite busy over here at BitCollectors over the last couple of months.  We have re-done our website at www.bitcollectors.com, updated our blogs at blog.bitcollectors.com, made several software updates, and even released a couple of new projects. See below for further details on the updates.

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QFG Character Editor setup file and QFG2 characters supported

I’ve had the code written for a while for a setup project and QFG2 support in my QFG Character Editor but I wanted to finish up support for changing the amount of money the character has before publishing it.  Since I haven’t had a chance to make those changes, I figured I should go ahead and just build what I have and share it online.

So here it is, QFG Character Editor v1.5 with support for importing/exporting characters from Quest for Glory 1 and Quest for Glory 2.

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Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10: N, K and KN Special Editions

Many MSDN customers may notice Windows editions (Starter, Professional, Ultimate, etc) that have N, K, or KN designations.  I’ve wondered what these were and if I should avoid using them.  After some research, this is what I’ve found:

Windows N: Has multimedia support removed from the OS install.  This is the version sold to the European market and is missing Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, and Windows DVD Maker.  This was due to sanctions by the European Union (EU) against Microsoft for violating anti-trust laws.

Windows K: This edition is sold to South Korean markets and comes pre-installed with links to other competing instant messaging and media player software.

Windows KN: Is a combination of K and N.  It has links to other competing IM/MP software, but also does not include Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, or Windows DVD Maker.

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QFG Character Editor (Web App)

I’ve finished the functionality for my Quest for Glory character editor web application.  I have the source code checked in to my github page, and the app is hosted over at: qfg.bitcollectors.com.

This currently only supports QFG1 (aka Hero’s Quest) characters, but I still plan on getting QFG2 characters implemented someday – hopefully soon.  Please let me know if you find any issues.

Please note, I renamed the GitHub repository to BitCollectors.QfgCharacterEditor and I will be renaming the solution and projects soon.

Click here for the code

Click here to run the web app

Update (11.19.2013): there is now an official project page for this application.  To keep up to date on the latest releases, please check out
www.bitcollectors.com/Project/QfgCharacterEditor

Resources for UI Automation and simulating user input

An important part of my job is to be able to interface our product with third party UI’s. Typically, I know virtually nothing about the UI before I begin the project, only that I will need to enter data into different fields.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a list of my “goto tools” to help me assess each application. Behold:

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UIAutomationLib on GitHub

I created a new repository on GitHub called BitCollectors.UIAutomationLib which contains an XML driven .NET library for automating keystrokes and mouse clicks on just about any UI.  I’ve used this on several applications, including apps running through Terminal Services and Citrix.  It’s quite powerful, but I’m not claiming it’s the best solution for native Win32 apps (although it might be the easiest to use).  If you’re interfacing with a native Win32 app and you don’t mind writing a little code, you might want to look in to using Microsoft’s UI Automation framework.  Their framework lets you get a handle on a control and populate a text box or simulate a button press directly on the control.  My library simulates key strokes and mouse clicks, so it doesn’t really work at the control level.

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Changes in registry startup key between Windows XP and Windows 7

Several days ago I had an issue reported where one of my applications was causing a strange folder to open when the user logged in to their computer.  My application is supposed to auto-start when the user logs in to their computer, but it was never starting on these computers – only opening a strange folder.  After doing some testing, I discovered this was happening on Windows XP machines, but not Windows 7 (and presumably Windows Vista).  I did some research and discovered that Windows XP and Windows 7 interprets paths slightly differently from the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run registry key.

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