Friday, December 14, 2012

Sending commands from Notepad++ to a remote R session

If you have your working environment set up in a Windows operating system, it can be a bit of a hassle to work with R sessions on remote Linux servers.

I use WinSCP + Notepad++ to handle my projects and Putty + screen to handle the R sessions. It becomes tiring to use the mouse to move the code from Notepad to the Putty all the time. Thankfully the amazing AutoHotkey comes to the rescue.

Using AutoHotkey it is possible to set up a hotkey macro which will copy the code that you want from the Notepad and paste it into Putty.

The following code does exactly that:

Send {End 2}+{Home}^c{End 2}{Down}{End 2}
WinActivate, root
Send +{Ins}{Enter}
SetTitleMatchMode, 2
WinActivate, Notepad

Let's break it apart.

!q:: - defines the hotkey as alt-q

Send {End 2}+{Home}^c{End 2}{Down}{End}
 - selects the current line of code and copies the stuff into clipboard. It does that by brute force manipulation of the pointer. Firstly it moves the pointer to the end of the current line, does a shift + home, which selects the text. ^c copies the text to the clipboard, and the last two commands put the pointer to the end of the next line of code. The reason for doing the End command twice is that the macro becomes confused if the word wrap is on.

WinActivate, root - the winactivate command selects any window by it's name. When I log onto my remote server the Putty window is named root, so basically this line just switches to the terminal.

Send +{Ins}{Enter} - pastes the line of code from the clipboard and executes the line

SetTitleMatchMode, 2 - this command regulates the pattern matching for the WinActivate command. 2 means that the pattern can be found anywhere in the name of the window. The default is 1 which means that pattern must be found at the beginning of the name of the window.

WinActivate, Notepad - switches us back to the Notepad 

return - ends the macro

For the code to work, you need to install the AutoHotkey, create a file that has the .ahk extension, copy the code into the file, and run it.

I hope this will save you some time!   



  1. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing..

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi, This is exactly what I am looking for. I created an AutoHotKey script and I am running it in background. I have renamed the name of my putty server in line 3 of the code.
    When I press alt-q it just copied the same line to notepadd++ in notepad++. Am I doing something wrong ?
    I just figured out my first question so deleted it !

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