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Last update on 25. Nov 2018 .
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Macros are used to combine a set of menu-actions. They work like a tape recorder, which records all buttons presses, every input to data fields, ...

To record a new macro, go to the directory where the new macro should be placed, enter a macro name and press <RECORD>. The button label will switch to <STOP>.

Now perform all actions you like to record, then press <STOP>.

If you like to expand an existing macro, check the 'Expand?' toggle before pressing <RECORD>. You can also check the 'Run before?' toggle to execute the existing macro before expanding it.

To execute an existing macro, select the macro and press <EXECUTE>.

Press <Execute with each marked species> to execute the selected macro multiple times: once for each marked species.

  • this loop is performed in database order (see ´Sort Species According Database Entries´).
  • before each call of the macro, one species will be marked AND selected - all other species will be unmarked.
  • afterwards the original species marks will be restored.

Press <EDIT> to edit the selected macro.

Press <DELETE> to delete the selected macro.


What gets recorded?

The macro recorder only records elements like buttons, menues and values (like input fields, radio buttons, selection lists, toggles, ...). Actions in the main area (e.g. tree view) will not be recorded!

Elements of a window are unknown to the macro playback if the window was not opened before. So - if you just record some changes and clicks in an already open window, you need to open that window everytime before you run that macro.

Best practice is to CLOSE ALL SUBWINDOWS before you start recording a macro, then open them (again) and then perform your clicks. In that case your macro will run regardless whether the window has been opened before or not. Note: You can also record "closing a window".

If you want to make sure that some field or toggle is set to a specific value by your recorded macro, you need to CHANGE that value. If it already has the desired value, change it to something different and then change it back to your desired value - otherwise nothing will be recorded!

You may also use this as an feature: If you do NOT change a value during macro record, you can change it manually before calling the macro and that way perform similar, but different actions with one macro.

This may as well be helpful when using submacros (see below).


Calling submacros

Macros can call other macros. To do this simply select the macro you like to call as submacro and press execute. That will be recorded like any other action.

Calling submacros is a good way to compose complex macros.

It offers you the possibility to change (or fix) small parts of a complex macro without the need to record it from scratch.



You can run macros directly on startup by calling arb by

arb --execute macroname your_database.arb

Such macros can even shutdown ARB, so you can use this to automate ARB.



You can find some examples in $ARBHOME/lib/macros (this directory is reachable in the macro selection box by pressing the ARBMACRO line).


Enhanced techniques

Macros are perl scripts. So if you know perl or have someone @ your lab who does or just feel keen enough, macros can be easily extended to act more sophisticated.

Some examples:

  • to create a macro that works with the CURRENTLY SELECTED alignment
    • record a macro using an explicit alignment (e.g. 'ali_16s') wherever needed
    • edit the recorded macro file:
      • above the 1st '# recording started'-line insert the following lines:
        my $ali_selected = BIO::remote_read_awar($gb_main,'ARB_NT','presets/use');
        if ((not defined $ali_selected) or ($ali_selected =~ /\?/)) {
          die "Please select a valid alignment";
      • below replace all
         occurrences of         with
        'ali_16s'               $ali_selected
        Note the single quotes!

  • to create a macro that works with two corresponding dna and protein alignments
    • record a macro using two explicit alignments (e.g. 'ali_dna' and 'ali_pro') wherever needed
    • edit the recorded macro file:
      • above the 1st '# recording started'-line insert the following lines:
        use lib "$ENV{'ARBHOME'}/PERL_SCRIPTS/lib";
        use ali_dnapro;
        my ($ali_dna,$ali_pro) =  get_dnapro_alignments($gb_main);
      • below replace all
         occurrences of         with
        'ali_dna'               $ali_dna
        'ali_pro'               $ali_pro
        Note the single quotes!

    • Notes:
      • works only if the alignment names contain 'dna' and 'pro' and both only differ by these terms.
      • you may select either the dna or the protein alignment before running the macro.

The method used in the first example above also works for other selected things, like

  • the selected tree using
    my $tree_selected =  BIO::remote_read_awar($gb_main,'ARB_NT','focus/tree_name');
  • the ´Selected species´ using
    my $species_selected =  BIO::remote_read_awar($gb_main,'ARB_NT','tmp/focus/species_name');
  • the current cursor position in the editor
    my $cursor_position =  BIO::remote_read_awar($gb_main,'ARB_NT','tmp/focus/cursor_position');