Batch File Controller

I’ve recently been getting involved with the DITA documentation framework. There are various free (or free for personal use) tools to support it, but they are often command-line tools. Fancy user interfaces cost!

The tool that converts DITA XML to XHTML, PDF, etc, is such a command-line tool, with lots of options to control its behaviour. You have to specify an input map (a build manifest), and an output target. From my content base, I want to build different outputs, in different formats. So I am accumulating a folder full of .bat files, each containing a particular command, with options and file parameters. Running a bat file, in verbose mode, generates a few screen-fulls of output messages, which might or might not contain error messages.

So what I’d like is a simple front end that allows me to select a particular combination of content and format, run the command, and check the output for errors. Since I’ll want a list of the available bat files, and a bit of user interaction, I’ll do it in Excel (more as a vehicle than because I need many of Excel’s capabilities).

The key is the VBA.Interaction.Shell method. Details tomorrow.


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November 2009
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