Daily automation: Execution plan for UI Automation?

Have you tried to debug GUI or UI Automation scripts? It’s possible, of course, however this activity is often like making a mountain out of a molehill. Why?, may you ask. Because, because you need to run part of your scripts, or the whole suite, in the debugging mode, and this disturbance is, most often, from a single error.

It might be time-consuming. It’s not so pleasant: you need to interrupt your activity and do something another. Maybe, insert more Write-Host or Write-Verbose statements. Or extend the log. Or run the code inside command-line or GUI-based debugger.

Well, something simple you can now do directly from your script! A couple of months ago, the most of cmdlets (I’m about he UIAutomation module) could return only one object. Now, cmdlets return  all objects that match. Even absolutely all. This is a typical behavior. This is also a problem: imagine the following hypothetical code: you get a window, after that you want to get one or more panes, and, finally, buttons. Say, Close and Cancel.

Your code looks like:

ipmo [path]\UIAutomation.dll
Get-UIAWindow -n "window name" | Get-UIAPane | Get-UIAButton -n C*;

Suddenly, you drove into an error. What? Error? I see the buttons, you think. The answer is simple: you’ve gotten two or three panes, but only one pane contains these buttons. You are given an error: the second and the third panes admitted that they lack buttons.

What would you do to resolve this? You need somehow learn which pane is yours. Here comes the Execution plan. What is it? I sure, many of us already know what an execution plan in MS SQL is. I was very excited about it, when, more than a decade ago, I’ve been achieving MCDBA. It’s how your queries will work and how long.

If you have never heard about it, several google results are worth being visited now: the search result.

Returning to our panes and buttons, we can now discuss what our plan consists of. UIAutomation 0.8.2. offers highlighter squares of ten colors for ‘generations’ of controls and numbers that allow you learn the order controls were output.

What is the thing a ‘generation’ of controls? I called so a wave of output. In our example, generation one is the window itself (it will be bordered and numbered 1). The second generation is panes (another color and numbers 2 in their upper-down corners). Finally, the third generation is buttons, also in another color.

Let’s run this code:

ipmo [path]\UIAutomation.dll
Start-Process calc -PassThru | Get-UIAWindow | Get-UIAButton; Get-UIAMenuItem; Get-UIAComboBox; Get-UIAEdit;

Here is how it looks like:

If we drag the window from under the ‘mesh’ of squares, what will be seen:

Number at the lower-right corners of squares follow the steps they have appeared:

  1. Get-UIAWindow
  2. Get-UIAButton
  3. Get-UIAMenuItem
  4. Get-UIAComboBox
  5. Get-UIAEdit

This may help in a complicated situation when you don’t know what path in the Automation tree your code walks.

Finally, there is a problem with PowerShell 2.0, or even powershell.exe -version 2. Thus, this feature is for PowerShell 3.0 running in the 3 mode.


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