Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Microsoft Windows Vista & Home Server

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Interacting with the User

VBScript is not designed for writing programs with complex user interfaces, but it can display simple messages and receive simple input strings from the user with its MsgBox and InputBox functions.

The MsgBox() Function

In its most basic form, MsgBox displays a text message to the user. For example, the following code produces the output shown in Figure 2.2:

         ' example file script0210.vbs 
MsgBox "This message was displayed by VBScript at " & time()
Figure 2.2

Figure 2.2 A basic message box displaying a string to the script user.

You can also use MsgBox to ask simple yes/no questions of the script's user. To do so, you use the advanced form of the MsgBox function, with the following syntax:

MsgBox(prompt [, buttons] [, title]) 

The three arguments are as follows:

  • prompt specifies the text to display.
  • buttons specifies which buttons to offer to the user.
  • title is a text title displayed at the top of the resulting dialog box.

You can omit the buttons and title arguments; in their absence, VBScript displays just an OK button and the title "VBScript." The values for buttons needs to be one of those listed in Table 2.6. You can use the constant name or the numeric value.

Table 2.6. Buttons Options for the MsgBox() Function

Constant Name

Value

Displays

VbOKOnly

0

The OK button

VbOKCancel

1

The OK and Cancel buttons

VbAbortRetryIgnore

2

The Abort, Retry, and Ignore buttons

VbYesNoCancel

3

The Yes, No, and Cancel buttons

VbYesNo

4

The Yes and No buttons

VbRetryCancel

5

The Retry and Cancel buttons

For example, you can tell the user that a required file wasn't found and ask whether to proceed by using this code:

choice = MsgBox("The preferences file is missing, should I proceed?", vbYesNo) 

MsgBox returns either the value vbYes or vbNo, depending on the button clicked. The possible return values for MsgBox are listed in Table 2.7. The value indicates which of the buttons the user has selected.

Table 2.7. Return Values from the MsgBox() Function

Constant Name

Value

VbOK

1

VbCancel

2

VbAbort

3

vbRetry

4

vbIgnore

5

VbYes

6

VbNo

7

You can ask VBScript to display an icon along with the message by adding an additional value to the buttons argument, using one of the values listed in Table 2.8.

Table 2.8. Icon Values to Use with the MsgBox() Function

Constant Name

Value

Displays

VBCritical

16

Critical Message icon

VBQuestion

32

Question icon

VbExclamation

48

Exclamation icon

VBInformation

64

Information icon

The following code displays a message with an Information icon:

         ' example file script0211.vbs 
x = 33
MsgBox "The value of variable x is " & x, vbOKOnly + vbInformation,_
    "Debugging Info"

The results are shown in Figure 2.3. The vbInformation option also causes Windows to play a special Information sound, which, alas, you'll have to run the sample script yourself to hear.

Figure 2.3

Figure 2.3 A MsgBox with a title and an icon.

Sometimes you'll want MsgBox to display some interesting message but won't care which button the user clicks. In this case, omit the parentheses from the MsgBox call. I discussed this point earlier in the chapter in the section "Calling Functions and Subroutines."

The MsgBox function displays a dialog box that stays up until the user clicks a button. Don't use it in a script that needs to run unattended! Your script will never finish because it will be waiting for a user who isn't watching.

If you want to display information without stopping the script, you can use the Wscript.Echo statement, as I'll discuss in the next section.

The InputBox() Function

VBScript lets you ask your users for a simple text string by using the InputBox function, as in this example:

         ' example file script0212.vbs 
UserName = InputBox("Please enter your first name")
MsgBox "Hello, " & UserName

This script displays the input-type dialog box shown in Figure 2.4.

Figure 2.4

Figure 2.4 The InputBox() function as seen by the user.

The function returns whatever the user types. In the preceding example, this is stored in the variable UserName.

As with MsgBox, you can add additional arguments to the InputBox function to get better control of its appearance. You can use several options, only three of which are really interesting:

InputBox(prompt, title, default) 

Here, prompt is the message to display above the input field, title is the title to display at the top of the dialog box, and default places a specific character string into the editing field when it first appears; the user can then accept or change this value.

A practical use of InputBox is to select a folder for the script to process, as in this example:

fldr = InputBox("Enter folder to be cleaned up", "Cleanup Script", "C:\TEMP") 

Because VBScript is so flexible about the types of data stored in its variables, if your user types 23, the value returned by InputBox can be treated as a number or as a string. Here's a handy script to calculate square roots (something I'm sure you need to do several times a day):

do 
    num = InputBox("Enter a number", "Square Root Calculator", "0")
    if num < 0 then
        MsgBox "You can't take the square root of a negative number like " &_
            num, VbOKOnly+VbExclamation
    elseif num = 0 then
        exit do         ' entering 0 ends the program
    else
        MsgBox "The square root of " & num & " is " & sqr(num), VbOKOnly
    end if
loop

This script will fail with an error message if the user types something nonnumeric, such as "XYZ." It's always best to check a user's input for correctness so that the program will either tell the user when something is wrong or at least behave sensibly if it is. Here's how:

InputBox displays a Cancel button. If the user clicks the Cancel button instead of OK, InputBox returns the empty string (""). You can detect this with a statement such as the following:

str = InputBox("Please enter your name:") 
if len(str) = 0 then ...

Then you can respond appropriately by exiting the script, ending a loop, and so on. In the square root calculator, it turns out that the empty string satisfies the IsNumeric test and evaluates as 0, so the calculator responds correctly to Cancel without this test.

Printing Simple Text Messages with Wscript.Echo

When you're debugging a particularly obstinate script, at some point you'll probably want to see what's held in your script's variables while the program runs. However, if you need to print debugging output inside a loop, or if you have dozens of variables to display, and you try to use MsgBox for this job, you'll quickly get tired of clicking OK over and over. There's a better way: The Wscript.Echo command can display text without stopping your program.

The Wscript.Echo command is useful in scripts even when you're not debugging—sometimes you'd like a script to display text information on your screen. Later in the book, I'll show you scripts that display lists of folder contents, user accounts, network shares, and other information in Chapters 4 and beyond.

The command is simple:

wscript.echo expression 

This prints the value of any expression, of any type: Date, Numeric, Text, or Boolean. You can list any number of expressions, separated by commas, as in

wscript.echo expression, expression , expression 

and VBScript will display each of them, separated by a single blank space.

For example, the script

username="Mary Smith" 
lastlogondate=#03/04/2002#
wscript.echo username & "'s last logon was", lastlogondate

will display the text

    Mary Smith's last logon was 3/4/2002 

Note that I added "'s" to the username string using the string concatenation operator &. (I'm picky about this sort of thing. I like computer output to use proper English.)

As you saw earlier, VBScript is very flexible joining strings with & and will actually let you join any variable type with a string—it will convert a Boolean, Date, or Numeric variable or expression to a string and then join the resulting strings. You can use this to add a period to the date at the end of the sentence, like so:

username="Mary Smith" 
lastlogondate=#03/04/2002#
wscript.echo username & "'s last logon was", lastlogondate & "."

This prints, properly punctuated, as follows:

Mary Smith's last logon was 3/4/2002. 

A Touchy Subject

Because I've taken a bit of a diversion into the topic of formatting messages, I'll add one more thing. How often do you see a computer print a sloppy message like this?

1 files deleted.

This drives me crazy. There's no reason for it, because it's simple to format this type of message correctly.

As an exercise, I'll leave it to you, the reader, to modify the sample script script0206.vbs so that it prints "1 bottle" rather than "1 bottles" at the end of the song.

You don't have to go to this trouble for a one-time, quick-and-dirty program, but if your program is going to be used by others, it's worth paying attention to language in this way.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020