VBScript Programmer's Reference

Overview

  • Completely updated for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003 R2, this book is packed with practical examples for today's programmer, Web developer, or system administrator
  • Combines a comprehensive overview of the VBScript technology and associated technologies with sample code at every stage from beginner to advanced user
  • Discusses the general syntax, functions, keywords, style, error handling, and similar ...
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Overview

  • Completely updated for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003 R2, this book is packed with practical examples for today's programmer, Web developer, or system administrator
  • Combines a comprehensive overview of the VBScript technology and associated technologies with sample code at every stage from beginner to advanced user
  • Discusses the general syntax, functions, keywords, style, error handling, and similar language-specific topics and then moves into an expanded reference section covering the object models in detail
  • Presents advanced coverage on Active Directory Service Interfaces (ADSI), PowerShell, security scripting, remote scripting, database scripting, and more
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470168080
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/8/2007
  • Series: Programmer to Programmer Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 816
  • Sales rank: 783,569
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has made his living as a technology writer for over a decade, with many books and articles to his name. He can also be found teaching classes on the Web, where he has successfully taught technology skills to thousands of learners, with his own special brand of knowledge, experience, wit, and poor spelling. He is also editor of the ZDNet blog Hardware 2.0 ( http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware ).

Kathie Kingsley-Hughes has worked in IT training for many years. In addition to writing, she now works as a courseware developer and e-trainer, specializing in Internet technologies. She also runs a web development company in the United Kingdom.

Daniel Read is a software developer living and working in Atlanta, GA, USA. He currently works for Connecture Inc., an Atlanta-based software consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry. Daniel also publishes and writes essays for developers at DeveloperDotStar.com , a web-based magazine for software professionals.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xxv

Chapter 1: A Quick Introduction to Programming 1

Variables and Data Types 2

Flow Control 9

Operators and Operator Precedence 18

Organizing and Reusing Code 19

Top-Down versus Event-Driven 23

Coding Guidelines 25

Summary 29

Chapter 2: What VBScript Is — and Isn’t! 31

Windows Script 31

Version Information 32

VBScript Is a Subset of VB 32

VBScript Is a Scripting Language 33

VBScript Is Interpreted at Runtime 33

Advantages of Using VBScript 36

Is VBScript Right for You? 37

How VBScript Fits in with the Visual Basic Family 38

What Can You Do with VBScript? 40

Tool of the Trade — Tools for VBScript 43

Summary 44

Chapter 3: Data Types 45

Scripting Languages as Loosely Typed 46

Why Data Types Are Important 47

The Variant: VBScript’s Only Data Type 49

Arrays as Complex Data Types 72

Summary 81

Chapter 4: Variables and Procedures 83

Option Explicit 83

Naming Variables 85

Procedures and Functions 86

Variable Scope, Declaration, and Lifetime 95

Design Strategies for Scripts and Procedures 99

ByRef and ByVal 101

Literals and Named Constants 104

Summary 108

Chapter 5: Control of Flow 109

Branching Constructs 109

Loop Constructs 114

Summary 128

Chapter 6: Error Handling and Debugging 129

Types of Errors 130

Error Visibility and Context 137

Handling Errors 139

Generating Custom Errors 152

Debugging 157

Summary 181

Chapter 7: The Scripting Runtime Objects 183

What Are Runtime Objects? 183

Object Basics 184

The Dictionary Object 190

The FileSystemObject Library 196

Summary 207

Chapter 8: Classes in VBScript (Writing Your Own COM Objects) 209

Objects, Classes, and Components 209

The Class Statement 211

Defining Properties 212

Defining Methods 218

Class Events 220

Class-Level Constants 222

Building and Using a Sample VBScript Class 223

Summary 232

Chapter 9: Regular Expressions 233

Introduction to Regular Expressions 233

The RegExp Object 238

The Matches Collection 252

A Few Examples 256

Summary 259

Chapter 10: Client-Side Web Scripting 261

Tools of the Trade 261

The Evolution of Scripting 262

Different Scripting Languages 263

Responding to Browser Events 265

The Document Object Model in Action 280

Summary 286

Chapter 11: Windows Sidebars and Gadgets 287

Gadget Basics 288

Building a Gadget 292

Auto-Refresh a Gadget 305

Packaging the Gadget 307

Summary 307

Chapter 12: Task Scheduler Scripting 309

Working with Task Scheduler 310

Task Scheduler 2.0 Scripting Objects 314

Sample Task Scheduler Script 340

Summary 344

Chapter 13: PowerShell 345

Requirements 345

Features 346

Why a New Scripting Language? 346

Getting Started 347

Working with Scripts in PowerShell 356

Creating and Calling Your First PowerShell Cmdlet Script 357

The Connection Between VBScript and PowerShell? 359

Summary 373

Chapter 14: Super-Charged Client-Side Scripting 375

Requirements and Browser Security 375

Scriptlets — Ancestors of Behaviors 376

Event Management 384

Scriptlets Are Deprecated in IE5 389

HTML Components (HTCs) 392

Summary 402

Chapter 15: Windows Script Host 405

Tools of the Trade 406

What Is WSH? 406

Types of Script Files 408

Running Scripts with the Windows Script Host 408

Using .WSH Files to Launch Scripts 411

Windows Script Host Intrinsic Objects 412

Summary 464

Chapter 16: Windows Script Components 465

What Are Windows Script Components? 465

What Tools Do You Need? 466

The Script Component Runtime 466

Script Component Files and Wizard 467

Exposing Properties, Methods, and Events 473

Registration Information 478

Creating the Script Component Type Libraries 479

How to Reference Other Components 481

Script Components for ASP 482

Compile-Time Error Checking 484

Using VBScript Classes in Script Components 484

Summary 488

Chapter 17: Script Encoding 489

Limitations of Script Encoding 490

Encoded Scripts — Dos and Don’ts 490

Encoding with the Microsoft Script Encoder 491

Decoding the Script 507

Other Methods of Script Obfuscation 507

Summary 508

Chapter 18: Remote Scripting 509

How Remote Scripting Works 509

Using VBScript for Remote Scripting 511

Summary 516

Chapter 19: HTML Applications 517

The Advantage of an HTML Application 517

How to Create a Basic HTA 518

The HTA:APPLICATION Element 522

HTAs and Security 527

HTA Deployment Models 530

What Isn’t Supported with HTAs? 532

Summary 533

Chapter 20: Server-Side Web Scripting 535

Understanding the Anatomy of the HTTP Protocol 536

Introducing Active Server Pages 540

Using the Active Server Pages Object Model 544

Using Active Server Pages Effectively 559

Summary 567

Chapter 21: Adding VBScript to Your VB and .NET Applications 569

Why Add Scripting to Your Application? 570

Macro and Scripting Concepts 570

Adding the Script Control to a VB 6 or .NET Application 572

Script Control Reference 573

Error Handling with the Script Control 592

Debugging 595

Using Encoded Scripts 596

Sample .NET Project 596

Sample Visual Basic 6 Project 597

Summary 602

Appendix A: VBScript Functions and Keywords 603

Appendix B: Variable Naming Convention 675

Appendix C: Coding Conventions 677

Appendix D: Visual Basic Constants Supported in VBScript 681

Appendix E: VBScript Error Codes and the Err Object 687

Appendix F: The Scripting Runtime Library Object Reference 703

Appendix G: The Windows Script Host Object Model 715

Appendix H: Regular Expressions 723

Appendix I: The Variant Subtypes 727

Appendix J: ActiveX Data Objects 731

Index 759

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First Chapter

VBScript Programmer's Reference


By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes Kathie Kingsley-Hughes Daniel Read

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-5993-1


Chapter One

A Quick Introduction to Programming

Overview

A chapter covering the basics of VBScript is the best place to begin this book. Well, this is because of the type of language VBScript is and the kind of people we see turning to it. In this chapter we are going to try and give you a crash course in programming basics. You might not need this chapter because you've come to VBScript with programming skills from another language (Visual Basic, C, C++, Delphi, C#) and are already both familiar with and comfortable using programming terminology. In that case, feel free to skip this chapter and move on to the next one. However, if you come from a nonprogramming background then this chapter will give you the firm foundation you need to begin using VBScript confidently.

If you're still reading, chances are you fall into one of three distinct categories:

You're a Network/Systems administrator who probably wants to use VBScript and the Windows Script Host to write logon scripts and automate administration tasks.

You might be a Web designer who feels the need to branch out and increase their skill set, perhaps in order to do some ASP work.

You're interested in programming (possibly Visual Basic) and want to check out programming before getting too deeply involved.

Programming is a massive subject. Over the years countless volumes have been written about it, both in print and on the Internet. In this chapter, in a single paragraph, we might end up introducing several unfamiliar concepts. We'll be moving pretty fast, but if you read along carefully, trying out your hand at the examples along the way, you'll be just fine.

Also, please bear in mind that there's going to be a lot that we don't cover here, such as:

Architecture

System design

Database design

Documenting code

Advanced testing and rollout

Think of this chapter as a brief introduction to the important building blocks of programming. It certainly won't make you an expert programmer overnight, but what it hopefully will give you is the know-how you'll need in order to get the most out of the rest of the book.

Variables and Data Types

In this section, we're going to be moving quickly through some of the most basic concepts of programming. In particular:

Variables

Comments

Using built-in VBScript functions

Syntax issues

The first thing you need to know about is variables. Quite simply, a variable is a place in the computer memory where your script holds a piece (or pieces) of information. Since computers work with data, we'll be using that word instead of information but the concept is the same. The data stored in a variable can be pretty much anything. It may be something simple, like a small number, like 4. It can be more complex, like a floating-point number such as 2.3. Or it could be a much bigger number like 981.12932134. Or it might not be a number at all and could be a word or a combination of letters and numbers. In fact, a variable can store pretty much anything you want it to store.

Behind the scenes, the variable is a reserved section of the computer's memory, a temporary place to store data. Memory is temporary-things stored there are not stored permanently. For permanent storage you use the hard drive. Since memory is a temporary storage area, and since variables are stored in the computer's memory, they are therefore also temporary. Your script will use variables to store data temporarily that the script needs to keep track of for later use. If your script needs to store that data permanently, it would store it in a file or database on the computer's hard disk.

In order to make it easier for the computer to keep track of the millions of bits of data that are stored in memory at any given moment, the memory is broken up into chunks. Each of those chunks is exactly the same size, and is given a unique address. Don't worry about what the memory addresses are or how you use them because you won't need to know any of that to use VBScript, but it is useful to know that a variable is a reserved set of one or more chunks. Also, different types of variables take up different amounts of memory.

In your VBScript program, a variable usually begins its lifecycle by being declared (or dimensioned) before use.

Note: It is not required that you have to declare all of the variables you use. VBScript by default allows you to use undeclared variables. However, we strongly recommend that you get into the good habit of declaring all of the variables you use in your scripts. Declaring variables before use makes code easier to read and to debug later.

By declaring variables you also give them a name in the process. Here's an example of a variable declaration in VBScript.

Dim YourName

By doing this, what you in factdoing is giving the computer an instruction to reserve some memory space for you and give that chunk the name YourName. From now on, the computer (or, more accurately, the VBScript script engine) keeps track of that memory for you, and whenever you use the variable name YourName, it will know what you're talking about.

Variables are essential to programming. Without them you have no way to hold all the data that your script will be handling. Every input into the script, output from the script, and process within the script uses variables. They are the computer's equivalent of the sticky notes that we leave all over the place with little bits of information on them. All the notes are important (otherwise why write them?) but they are also temporary. Some might become permanent (so you take a phone number and write it down in your address book or PDA), while others are thrown away after use (say, after reminding you do something). This is how it works with variables too. Some hold data that you might later want to keep, while others are just used for general housekeeping and are disposed of as soon as they're used.

In VBScript, whenever you have a piece of information that you need to work with, you declare a variable using the exact same syntax that we showed you a moment ago. At some point in your script, you're going to need to do something with the memory space you've allocated yourself (otherwise, what would be the point of declaring it?) And what you do with a variable is place a value in it. This is called "initializing" the variable. Sometimes you initialize a variable with a default value. Other times, you might ask the user for some information, and initialize the variable with whatever the user enters. Alternatively, you might open a database and use a previously stored value to initialize the variable.

Note: When we say "database" we don't necessarily mean an actual database but any store or data-it might be an Internet browser cookie or a text file that we get the data from.

Initializing the variable gives you a starting point. After it has been initialized, you can begin making use of the variable in your script.

Here's a very simple VBScript example.

Dim YourName ' Above we dimensioned the variable YourName = InputBox("Hello! What is your name?") ' Above we ask for the user's name and initialize the variable MsgBox "Hello " & YourName & "! Pleased to meet you." ' Above we display a greeting containing the user's name

Quite rightly, you're now probably wondering what all this code means. Last time we showed you one line and now it's grown to six.

All of the examples in this chapter are designed so that you can run them using the Windows Script Host (WSH). The WSH is a scripting host that allows you to run VBScript programs within Windows. WSH will allow you to try out these example programs for yourself. You may already have WSH installed. To find out, type the above example script into a text editor, save the file as TEST.VBS (it must have the .VBS extension, and not a .TXT), and double-click the file in Windows Explorer. If the script runs, then you're all set. If Windows does not recognize the file, then you'll need to download and install WSH from msdn.microsoft.com/scripting.

You already know what the first line of code does. It declares a variable for use called YourName.

The second line in our code is a comment. In VBScript, any text that is preceded by the single quote character (') is treated as a comment. What this means is that the VBScript script engine will completely ignore the text. So, if the VBScript engine just ignores any text typed after the single quote character, why bother typing it in at all? It doesn't contribute to the execution of the script, right? This is absolutely correct, but don't forget one of the most important principles of programming: It is not just computers that may have to read script. It is equally important to write a script with human readers in mind as it is to write with the computer in mind.

Of course, none of this means that we are for one moment forgetting that when we are writing our scripts, we must write them with the computer (or, more specifically, the script engine) in mind. If we don't type the code correctly (that is, if we don't use the proper syntax), the script engine won't be able to execute the script. However, humans are also involved in programming. Once you've written some useful scripts, you're probably going to have to go back to make some changes to a script you wrote six months or a year ago. If you didn't write that code with human readers in mind as well as a computer reader, it could be pretty difficult to figure out what you were thinking and how you decided to solve the problems at the time you wrote the script. Things can get worse. What happens when you or one of your coworkers has to make some changes to a script you wrote many months ago? If you did not write that script to be both readable and maintainable, others that useyour code will encounter difficulties deciphering thecode-no matter how well written the actual computer part of the code is.

Adding comments to your code is just one part of making sure code is clear and readable. There are many other things that you can do:

Choosing clear, meaningful variable names

Indenting code for clarity

Making effective use of white space

Organizing the code in a logical manner

All of these aid human-readability and we'll be covering all of these later, but clear, concise comments are by far the most important. However, too much of a good thing is never good and the same is true for comments. Overburdening code with comments doesn't help. Remember that if you are scripting for the Web that all the code, including the comments, are downloaded to the browser and so unnecessary comments may adversely affect download times.

We'll discuss some good commenting principles later in this chapter, but for now just be aware of the fact that the comment we have in line 2 of our script is not really a good comment for everyday use. This is because, to any semi-experienced programmer, it is all too obvious that what we are doing is declaring the YourName variable on the line above. However, throughout this book you will often see the code commented in a similar way. This is because the point of our code is to instruct the reader in how a particular aspect of VBScript programming works. The best way for us to do that is to add comments to the code directly. It removes ambiguity and keeps the code and comments together.

Also worth noting is that comments don't have to be on a separate line. Comments can also follow the code, like so :

Dim YourName ' initialize the variable YourName = InputBox("Hello! What is your name?") ' ask for the user's name MsgBox "Hello" & YourName & "!Pleased to meet you."' display a greeting

This works in theory but it isn't as clear as keeping the comments on separate lines in the script.

OK, back to the script. Take a look at line 3.

YourName = InputBox("Hello! What is your name?")

Here we are doing two things at once. First, we're initializing the variable. We could do it directly, like this:

YourName = "Fred"

However, the drawback with this is that we are making the arbitrary decision that everyone is called Fred, which is ideal for some applications but not for others. If we wanted to assign a fixed value to a variable, such as a tax rate, this would be fine.

Dim TaxRate TaxRate = 17.5

However, we want to do something that gives the user a choice, which is why we employ the use of a function, called InputBox. We'll be looking at this function and all the others in later chapters, but for now all you need to know is that InputBox is used to display a message in a dialog box, and it waits for the user to input text or click a button. The InputBox generated is displayed in Figure 1-1.

The clever bit is what happens to the text that the user types into the input box displayed-it is stored in the variable YourName.

Line is another comment. Line 5 is more code. Now that we've initialized this variable, we're going to do something useful with it. MsgBox is another built-in VBScript function that you will probably use quite a lot during the course of your VBScript programming. Using the MsgBox function is a good way to introduce the programming concept of passing function parameters, also known as arguments. Some functions don't require you to pass parameters to them while others do. This is because some functions (take the Date function as an example-this returns the current date based on the system time) do not need any additional information from you in order to do their job. The MsgBox function, on the other hand, displays a piece of information to the user in the form of a dialog box, like the one shown in Figure 1-2.

You have to pass MsgBox a parameter because on its own it doesn't have anything useful to display (in fact, it will just bring up a blank pop-up box). The MsgBox function actually has several parameters, but for now we're just going to look at one. All of the other parameters are optional parameters.

Take another look at line 5 and you'll probably notice the ampersand (&). The ampersand is a VBScript operator, and is used to concatenate (join) pieces of text together. To concatenate simply means to "string together." This text can take the form of either a literal or a variable. A literal is the opposite of a variable. A variable is so named because it is exactly that-a variable-and can change throughout the lifetime of the script (a script's lifetime is the time from when it starts executing, to the time it stops executing). Unlike a variable, a literal cannot change during the lifetime of the script. Here is line 5 of the script again.

MsgBox "Hello " & YourName & "! Pleased to meet you."

An operator is a symbol or a word that you use within your code that is usually used to change or test a value.

Continues...


Excerpted from VBScript Programmer's Reference by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes Kathie Kingsley-Hughes Daniel Read Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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