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April 21, 2008

Python Rosetta Stone Automation

Many, many months ago I had a long, long layover in the airport in Madrid. On the flight over from the States I had grown increasingly frustrated with the interface to "The Rosetta Stone" language learning software. Now I must confess, there actually is little to get wrong in this interface as the majority of the interaction with the software is done via clicking one of four buttons. However, I come from the UNIX world where I prefer everything to be able to be driven from a set of keyboard shortcuts and so I committed my layover to automating The Rosetta Stone.

Tonight I find myself writing from yet another long, long layover and I find myself revisiting The Rosetta Stone to brush up on my Spanish. I remembered my little application I wrote in Spain and so I made a few tweaks and decided to share it, just in case anybody should find it useful.

If anything, it demonstrates two concepts:

Here is the entire application. It is less than 50 meaningful lines of code:

import os
import sys
import time
from msvcrt import getch


import win32automation

os.system("title KeySetta")
    r"C:\Program Files\The Rosetta Stone\The Rosetta Stone\TheRosettaStone.exe")
while 1:
    print "Waiting for application to start..."
    result = win32automation.windowFocus("The Rosetta Stone")
    if result:
        print "Window found!"
print "Waiting 5 seconds for login screen to appear..."

print """
   Keyboard to Mouse Macros Enabled:

     - Answer selection:
       [7] [9]
       [1] [3]
    Please focus this window to enable them...

coord_map = {"7": (180, 300),
             "9": (480, 300),
             "1": (180, 475),
             "3": (480, 475)}

while 1:
    ch = getch()
    print "Last key pressed: %s\r" % (ch),
    if ch in ('1','3','7','9'):
        win32automation.windowFocus("The Rosetta Stone")
        x, y = coord_map[ch]
        win32automation.mouseMoveToRelative("The Rosetta Stone", x, y)
    elif ch.lower() == 'q':
        print "Quitting!"
        print "WARNING: Unknown key-macro event '%c'." % (ch)


Granted the silly "win32automation" module I wrote is a little stupid. It is based on the excellent example provided over at Notice for example none of the functions take an opaque handle to an object. Instead, all of the functions inside of the module require some sort of hint (such as a window title) in order to re-find the desired object before executing an operation on it.

Hopefully however sharing this code will spark somebody to develop a better, free Windows automation module for Python.

Download (md5sum: a4336d883fcb10b11b8b660451e522a3)

Posted by jordanh at April 21, 2008 11:30 PM |

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Jordan, you are a man after my own heart.

It goes without saying that it would be far easier for Rosetta Stone to add the keybindings.

Have you seen the Version 3 interface? It's a little more complicated... it might give employment for the [24568] keys, or maybe the letters. I've used Rapid Rote a bit, and though it keeps English in the loop (it's basically just a flash card engine), it is a nice interface and actually respects the keyboard: f to flip card, s to re-say the word, etc.

Anyway, it is a great mystery why more powerful interface tools so often lead to weak interfaces.

Posted by: rjk at May 27, 2010 9:30 AM

great piece of window automation software is win automation. Great interface and easy to use. The support is excellent and they will generally build apps for you if you ask nicely. Thanks for the share

Posted by: Paul White at October 1, 2010 3:58 PM

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