The OpenOffice.org recorder and UNO dispatch calls

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OpenOffice.org provides a recorder, to record a series of actions, in Writer and Calc only, to produce some code. The recorder produces a series of UNO dispatch calls, which are not particularly useful for learning the OpenOffice.org API model. I personally find the code that the recorder produces to be a little hard to follow. It is generally considered preferable to use OpenOffice.org API calls but sometimes the only way or most convenient way is to use UNO dispatch calls.

The dispatch commands are an internal mechanism of OpenOffice.org. The arguments of each dispatch command are not documented.

This Framework article is the latest command list available.

Below are three versions of the same macro:

  • Recorded example
  • Tidied UNO dispatch calls
  • API Calls

The series of steps recorded were:

Type "Some text" ; Press Enter; Type "A new paragraph with a "; Format > Character… > Bold > OK; Type "bold"; Format > Character… > Regular> OK; Type " word in it".

Note: This would be best handled with autotext, but this simple example demonstrates the point.


Recorded example

   sub Example
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   rem define variables
   dim document   as object
   dim dispatcher as object
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   rem get access to the document
   document   = ThisComponent.CurrentController.Frame
   dispatcher = createUnoService("com.sun.star.frame.DispatchHelper")
    
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   dim args1(0) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   args1(0).Name = "Text"
   args1(0).Value = "Some text"
    
   dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:InsertText", "", 0, args1())
    
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:InsertPara", "", 0, Array())
    
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   dim args3(0) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   args3(0).Name = "Text"
   args3(0).Value = "A new paragraph with a "
    
   dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:InsertText", "", 0, args3())
    
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   dim args4(0) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   args4(0).Name = "Bold"
   args4(0).Value = true
    
   dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:Bold", "", 0, args4())
    
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   dim args5(0) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   args5(0).Name = "Text"
   args5(0).Value = "bold"
    
   dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:InsertText", "", 0, args5())
    
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   dim args6(0) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   args6(0).Name = "Bold"
   args6(0).Value = false
    
   dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:Bold", "", 0, args6())
    
   rem ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   dim args7(0) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
   args7(0).Name = "Text"
   args7(0).Value = " word in it."
    
   dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:InsertText", "", 0, args7())
    
   end sub

Tidied UNO dispatch calls

(This heading is linked to from UNO Dispatch, so if you change it change the link as well.)

Now the same example having been tidied using a function for calling the UNO dispatch calls (some UNO Dispatch calls return a value so using a function makes it more generically useful than a sub):

   sub Example
       fnDispatch("InsertText", array("Text","Some text"))
       fnDispatch("InsertPara")
       fnDispatch("InsertText", array("Text","A new paragraph with a "))
       fnDispatch("Bold", array("Bold",true))
       fnDispatch("InsertText", array("Text","bold"))
       fnDispatch("Bold", array("Bold",false))
       fnDispatch("InsertText", array("Text"," word in it."))
   end sub


   function fnDispatch(sCommand as string, optional mArgs)
       oFrame = ThisComponent.getCurrentController.getFrame
       oDispatcher = createUnoService("com.sun.star.frame.DispatchHelper")
       'on error resume next
       if isMissing(mArgs) then
           fnDispatch = oDispatcher.executeDispatch(oFrame, ".uno:" & sCommand, "", 0, array())
       else
           nArgs = uBound(mArgs) \ 2
           dim Args(nArgs) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
           for i = 0 to nArgs
               Args(i).name = mArgs(i * 2)
               Args(i).value = mArgs(i * 2 + 1)
           next
           fnDispatch = oDispatcher.executeDispatch(oFrame, ".uno:" & sCommand, "", 0, Args())
       end if
   end function

API calls

Finally the same example using API calls:

   sub Example
       oVC = thisComponent.getCurrentController.getViewCursor
       oText = oVC.text
       oText.insertString(oVC, "Some text", False)
       oText.insertControlCharacter(oVC, com.sun.star.text.ControlCharacter.PARAGRAPH_BREAK, False)
       oText.insertString(oVC, "A new paragraph with a ", False)
       oVC.setPropertyValue("CharWeight", com.sun.star.awt.FontWeight.BOLD)
       oText.insertString(oVC, "bold", false)
       oVC.setPropertyValue("CharWeight", com.sun.star.awt.FontWeight.NORMAL)
       oText.insertString(oVC, " word in it.", false)
   end sub

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