Table of Contents
Corrected version of session handout and supplementary macro scripts available at: http://rharrison.fullerton.edu/iug2001/
This program details how to use OCLC's Passport for Windows [PfW] software to automate many routine functions within INNOPAC and produce activity and error reports for those functions. The PfW scripts described in the program are ideal to use with unattended maintenance procedures, repetitive and/or simple processes that do not require complex decision-making. Examples of functions that can be scripted include verification of unattended backups, downloading batches of records, saving and clearing patron suggestions and additional items to acquire, and generating login statistics.
PfW macros receive text, then send text back to the system. If PfW is in 'record' mode, the recorded text will normally be the last few characters of text sent by the system. Harrison recommends specifying the full III menu text in the 'receive' parameter of the macro script in order to fully document the purpose and processing of the macro.
The process Harrison uses is based on utilizing the scheduling services included in Windows NT, 2000, 98, and ME. One can access the 'Task Scheduler' via the Control Panel, or set PfW to run at the NT/2000 command line. One can set up customized scheduling of automated scripts to runs once a month, every five minutes, etc.
PfW is installed on a server, then scheduled to run in the middle of the night. PfW is configured to run a macro upon start-up. The macro specifies how to connect to III, perform the specified operations [including emailing reports], then exit III and close PfW. If PfW can't finish the macro or if the program is closed prematurely, Windows will still think the macro is running and the process must be killed manually. So far, this has not caused problems for Harrison. A sample macro structure, as well as the PfW command necessary to run a macro on start-up, is included in the program handout. If you need to run multiple macros you can create different passport.ini files to run a given macro on start-up. Harrison writes separate batch files to specify which .ini file to use, then schedules the separate batch files to run at different times during the night. An example of a batch file to invoke a specific passport.ini file is included on the handout.
The remainder of the program described two scripts incorporated into many of the macros Harrison creates. The first script, how to make selections from a list of items, instructs the system to find specific text, then identify and send the correct line number to the script. A sample script for selecting a server from a list, used with the FTS function, is included in the handout. Another sample script for searching for an empty Create List review file is also included. Please note the Create List script included in the printed IUG program handout contained an error. The program web site contains a corrected version of the Create List script.
The second basic script detailed how to check for error messages and print to email to receive reports on the scripted processes. A sample script to email record load error reports is included in the program handout. If you can't print a report from III, you can use a VBScript, built into Windows NT, to send an email report on the results of the particular job. In PfW, one can write a script to send an email and call up the VBScript file. III's 'View bounced emails' function can also be used to send an email message. This could be written into the PfW script to send a status message prior to closing the PfW session. The program web site contains further explanations and sample scripts for emailing results.
Additional macros were provided on a supplemental handout, also available on the program web site. Included were scripts to print and clear patron suggestion files; print and clear system messages and circ overrides; verify unattended backup; and, download patron data. Several of these macros include a function to email reports to different staff members, depending on the nature of the report.
The audience brainstormed as to what other functions could be automated with PfW scripts. Suggestions included checking 856 field $z information; printing paging slips; running boolean searches within Create List; generating new book lists; taking snapshots of the system record numbers; and analyzing patron searches. Harrison referred audience members to the Passport for Windows listserv for additional help and information on writing PfW macros, since the help within the PfW software is somewhat limited. Joel Hahn's tutorial on writing PfW macros was also mentioned as a helpful resource.