RPA 2019: AutoHotKey (AHK) vs AutoIT

RPA 2019: AutoHotKey (AHK) vs AutoIT

What is the difference between the AutoHotkey and AutoIT? Both are similar Windows automation tools. Historically AutoHotkey was even a clone (“fork”) of AutoIT. It was created after the AutoIT team refused to add better keyboard shortcut support (“Hotkeys”). But the AutoIT developers did not like that AHK copied code from AutoIT. To avoid this, they made AutoIT closed source. From this point on the tools diverged in their feature set, syntax and user community.

AutoHotKey (AHK) vs AutoIT

The table below compares the key features of these two well-known Windows automation tools.

Feature AutoHotKey AutoIT Kantu
Supported Platforms Win only Win only Win, Mac, Linux
Open-Source yes no yes
Security Rating Very Good Good Very Good
Openness Very high Very high Very high
Desktop Automation      
Image Recognition Only very basic Only very basic Yes
Text Recognition (OCR) No No Yes
Keyboard Shortcuts Yes (best) Yes Yes (via other extensions)
Web Automation      
Supported Browser IE IE Chrome, Firefox
Browser Recorder No No Yes
Web Scraping No No Yes
Selenium IDE compatible No No Yes
Scripting      
Script language AHK Script AutoIt Script (Basic) Many (API)
Advanced Scheduling With external tools With external tools With external tools
COM-automation support Yes Yes (best) No, but command line API

As third option the table includes Kantu, a computer-vision and AI powered lightweight RPA tool. It works visually and its supports Mac and Linux, too. Some use it as “AutoHotKey for Mac” and as “AutoHotKey for Linux”, even so technically it is quite different.

Security

AutoIT is a trustworthy project. But their code is closed source. So you must trust the developers that they do not send of critical corporate information to outside servers. By contrast, the AHK and Kantu core is open-source, so you can easily check that no information is send anywhere. We require a software to be Open-Source to be eligible for a very good security rating.

Desktop Automation

Desktop automation is sometimes also called “RDA” (Robotic Desktop Automation). This section rates the usefulness of the tool to automate tasks on the users desktop. Note that UIPath and Blue Prism can only automate tasks on a Windows desktop, whereas Kantu works on Mac and Linux desktops as well.

Web Automation

Web automation means Browser Automation. It is the ability to automate tasks directly in the web browser. Typical tasks include form filling, data up- and download and web scraping, the extraction from information from websites. For web automation Kantu brings two key advantages to the table. First it has easy-to-learn Selenium-compatible commands. And second, it supports modern browsers. AutoIT and AHK only support the old Internet Explorer (IE) browser. That is a problem, as many modern websites no longer work in IE.

Scripting

All automation tools have one thing in common: Unless the task or test to automate is very basic, you must expect to have to “script” or “program” part of the solution. AutoIT and AHK are by design scripting languages. The app was no real user interface except an editor. Kantu exposes a command line API that allows you to use it with any programming or scripting language, for example (in alphabetic order) C#, Java, Node.JS, PowerShell, Python, VB.NET, VBS and to combine it with other tools like AutoHotKey.

AutoHotkey is very popular in the gaming community. So if your goal is to automate games, AHK is better than AutoIT because of the community.

AutoIT and AHK IDE

Short answer: There is no IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for AHK and AutoIT. You can create these scripts any text editor:

Longer answer: AutoIT and AHK are scripting languages and the IDE is a essentially an editor. This is the same as you find it in more famous, proper scripting languages like PowerShell or Python.

But with AHK you can also use AutoGUI. It is an IDE for AutoHotkey which combines a script editor with a GUI designer, debugger and tools.

Same for AutoIT. The IDE is an editor.

The Kantu IDE can also be described as editor. Its design is similar to the Selenium IDE. Kantu focuses on computer-vision and AI powered automation. For everything else, Kantu can be combined with any scripting or programming language like Powershell or Python.

A key differences between Kantu and AutoIT/AHK is that Kantu can not only do desktop automation but has good web automation support, too. Thus if you need to automate a task inside a web browser, the choice is clear, use Kantu.

What about AutoIT/AHK for Mac and Linux?

AHK and AutoIT are 100% Windows tools. There is no Mac or Linux version available or planned. So if you want your automation to work on these popular platforms, Kantu is your best (and only) option.

RPA Market Overview

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