Automating Repetitive Tasks in Windows GUI Programs

Automating Repetitive Tasks in Windows GUI Programs

11 April 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help

When faced with the need to perform repetitive tasks within a Windows simulation package without built-in scripting capabilities, automation becomes a necessity. If you’re looking to avoid the tedium of manual clicking and the propensity for human error, automating a GUI program that lacks API support can be challenging. This article provides a guide to using a tool that allows for complex automations and can be driven by Python, fulfilling the needs of those seeking an efficient and error-free workflow.

Introducing Sikuli for GUI Automation

Sikuli is a powerful tool that offers a solution to automate and test graphical user interfaces (GUIs) using visual patterns, i.e., screenshots. Sikuli extends its capabilities through Sikuli Script, which is a scripting technology that employs Jython (a Python implementation for the Java platform) to write automation scripts. Additionally, Sikuli IDE provides an environment to create these scripts with screenshots easily.

The beauty of Sikuli lies in its ability to interact with any element on the screen that can be visually identified, without the need for the application’s internal API support. This means you can control not only web pages but also desktop applications and even mobile apps running in simulators or via VNC.

Key Features of Sikuli:

  • Event-Driven Automation: Sikuli can wait for certain visual cues, such as a “Simulation running…” or “Simulation complete” dialog, before proceeding with the next step in your automation task.
  • Complex Keyboard Input: Sikuli allows the composition of complex keyboard inputs, making it possible to customize inputs for each simulation run based on visual prompts.
  • Free for Commercial Use: Sikuli can be used in a commercial environment, fitting the budget constraints of workplace tools.
  • Python Integration: For those with a preference for Python, Sikuli Script offers a comfortable and familiar scripting environment.

Getting Started with Sikuli:

To begin automating your GUI tasks with Sikuli, you’ll need to:

  1. Download and install Sikuli.
  2. Create a new Sikuli script using Sikuli IDE.
  3. Take screenshots of the GUI elements you wish to interact with.
  4. Write automation scripts in Jython that utilize these screenshots to identify and control GUI components.

Practical Example

Let’s say you want to automate a process where you must wait for a simulation to complete before starting a new one. With Sikuli, you can script the following steps:

  1. Start the simulation by clicking the “Start” button, which you’ve identified with a screenshot.
  2. Use Sikuli’s wait function to pause the script until the “Simulation complete” dialog appears, again identified by a screenshot.
  3. Once the dialog is detected, proceed to initiate the next simulation with custom parameters.

This automated sequence can run unattended, freeing you from manual monitoring and ensuring that each simulation is run sequentially without human delay.


For professionals seeking a robust, Python-driven solution for automating Windows GUI programs, Sikuli offers a unique approach that leverages visual patterns for interaction. With its ability to handle complex inputs and wait for visual events, Sikuli can streamline your repetitive tasks and integrate seamlessly into your Python workflows, all while being permissible for commercial use.

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