Page 1 of 1

Auctus (formerely Expansionist) - text expand/replace

Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:51 pm
by dmg
I am working on a simple text expansion app. I am most of the way through creating the core code but I thought I would ask the community for feature ideas.

At this point I am tentatively planning on:

*For compatibility you can change the global input method, keystroke speed and duration.
*Can set the trigger key(s) for each expansion rule.
*For speed with long text strings you can opt to use the clipboard and paste rather than simulate keyboard input (using the clipboard disables several other functions).
*Can use special strings like {time}, {date} and {clip} to insert the current time or clipboard content into the expanded text.
*A graphical way to see all the the activations strings and trigger keys without needing to open the rules to edit.

All of these features are subject to change based on what I can get working well enough to leave in the app.

Does anyone have any ideas or feature requests for an app like this? Please keep in mind Expansionist (name may change) is focused on text expansion, so no app launching or mouse clicking. At least not in the plans at this point.

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:36 am
by tproli
Great challenge, good luck with that. Here are my experiences.

I used Texter, Breevy (commercial), PhraseExpress and Auspex.
I settled for Breevy because it just 'works' and easy to configure though for example PhraseExpress has more features.
I like Texter's simplicity but there are hundreds of application files that not appeals to me.
Auspex still feels too beta.

I'm thinking on switching to Texter from Breevy but I have so much snippets to migrate. I also use PhpStorm at work that has a similar feature that works pretty well and I have ported some of my snippets there. But these are only available in PhpStorm of course.

From the feature list I miss these:
- placeholder for user input
- placeholder for special characters (TAB, Shift+TAB, etc)
- grouping snippets
- enabling/disabling snippets ... #msg232476

What programming language do you plan to use?

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:55 am
by dmg
Thanks for responding! I looked at Texter and TyperTask before starting, and I became aware of PhraseExpress after. I liked the way Texter worked but it's home site appears to be gone so if you try to click anything in the Help menu it just gives a 404/page not found error. As it is now Expnasionist should only consist of a few files, including the exe, a setting ini, the rules file and possibly a sound file to play when string is expanded. I should also mention it will be released as portable, open source freeware.

As for your feature list:
"placeholder for user input" - You mean it would pop open an input box so you can provide a portion of the text, based on a placeholder? That would be very nice. I will look into it and if it looks doable I will add it!

"placeholder for special characters (TAB, Shift+TAB, etc)" - There is already limited support for that, if I understand correctly.

"grouping snippets" - I am not sure what that means.

"enabling/disabling snippets" - you mean setting rules as individually enabled or disabled? Can you give an example of when this would be useful?

I am afraid the only language I know is AutoHotkey so that is what I am writing it in. 8)

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:21 am
by tproli
"grouping snippets" - making virtual "folders" for certain snippets, e.g. one for HTML, one for CSS, etc. That would allow better organization.
"enabling/disabling snippets" - for example you need an abbreviation for a quick task with a too generic trigger and you would like to enable it only occassionally (when a given task requires). Perhaps not a feature that a first version should include :)

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:55 pm
by dmg
I can see where grouping rules based on circumstances of use may be nice, but I am not very good at GUIs so I had not thought of anything that complicated. I will think about it.

I will think about adding a 'disable' feature too.

Thanks for the ideas. Let me know of anything else you think of.

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:14 am
by bartelsmediagmbh
Please check out this video, we created for you guys:

PhraseExpress actually has everything you discussed. It's available here at

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:39 pm
by dmg
Goodness! I have watched plenty of YouTube vids but never thought I would be mentioned in one. :lol:

While I was aware of the existence of PhraseExpress, and in fact as far as Google is concerned it seems to be synonymous with text expansion, I was NOT aware of its amazing capabilities! I can honestly say if I were simply searching for a text expansion app to use I would go with PhraseExpress. It appears to be orders of magnitude beyond anything I would aspire to create, but my intention in writing Expansionist is simply to create 'something'. Not to create something 'better', nor to fill any absence in a field. While PhraseExpress may be able to do everything Expansionist may do, and substantially more, it is my hope the Expansionist might find a place out there in the virtual wilderness. A place to frolic with Word docs and scamper with E-mail sigs. I suppose that is essentially what every 'parent' wants for their 'child', a place to belong.

I am tempted to feel a little like Expansionist may be inferior to PhraseExpress, but you mention PhraseExpress represents nearly 20 man-years of development time. Since I will probably only spend a few dozen man-hours on Expansionist I don't feel too bad about PhraseExpress being so much better. :D

I was wondering if you would be willing to leave that vid up on your channel for a while... I would love to show it to some family and friends. 8)

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:04 am
by bartelsmediagmbh
You are welcome.

I am not sure whether you seek a solution to a problem or if you want to code as a hobby, regardless whether such solution already exist.

If you just wish to get a solution and if PhraseExpress is too powerful, you might check out (Extremely simple and easy to use) (Also easy to use and syncs with TextExpander on the Mac)

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:55 pm
by webfork
dmg wrote:Goodness! I have watched plenty of YouTube vids but never thought I would be mentioned in one.
Heh ... it's almost kind of strange to see them directly show the PFW post in the video. This makes me wonder if I should have done something like this already. :)

Re: Expansionist - text expansion/replacement

Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:48 am
by guinness
Total respect for bartelsmediagmbh.

Re: Auctus (formerely Expansionist) - text expand/replace

Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:31 pm
by dmg
Just wanted to say I am still working on this app, though very slowly it seems. I have also renamed it to Auctus.

Re: Auctus (formerely Expansionist) - text expand/replace

Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:43 am
by lintalist
It is indeed not a real Gui menu but simply text with a menu on top as I wanted to make it a tight as possible Gui. A button row might be a nice addition, I'll experiment with it and see how it looks - it could indeed help new users getting to know the program (you can even turn the Edit menu off via configuration - which is how I use it). Thanks for the feedback!

Re: Auctus (formerely Expansionist) - text expand/replace

Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:43 pm
by tproli
I've sent you some feedback on Lintalist in a private message as this topic is not about this software.