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TaskRunner History
Written by WATYF on Thursday, 08 September 2005 (23228 hits)

The Story of TaskRunner

TaskRunner is my first stand-alone application. It started out as a very simple FTP Backup utility that I used to backup my code. It had a minimal front end and most of the "options" were written directly into the code (since I was the only one who used it).

Soon after creating TaskRunner, I was dealing with some frustrating aspects of Window's task scheduler (which I used on a regular basis for various daily functions), so I decided to make my own scheduler that was more fine-tuned to what I wanted in a batch runner. I then incorporated a Task Scheduler utility into the program as well.

After the application had been successfully running for a few months, I was talking to someone in IS and they noticed the program and told me that they'd like to use it... but they needed to be able to change some of the "options" that were built in to the code. So, I threw together a front-end configuration tool, and voila... TaskRunner Public-Release Ver. 2.0.

After that, I figured that if someone here could find it useful, then maybe a few of the bajillions of people on the internet might have a use for it as well... So I uploaded it to a bunch of freeware/shareware websites, and watched the downloads roll in (huh?).

Since I get bored really easily, and since I'm really lazy, I wanted to make TaskRunner do more... more than just an FTP backup... more than just scheduling simple executables... so I thought up all kinds of dumb things that I would want an application to do for me, and I built them all into TaskRunner version 3.0... and to this day, I continue to cram as many stupid utilities as I can into the unceasing functionality of the amazing TaskRunner. (I know... you're impressed... I can tell.)


About WATYF's Nerdery

WATYF is a hack programmer who started out working with VBA for Microsoft Excel (many moons ago). He had always been a nerd... you know... organizing the class chess club... writing "fun" little programs in BASIC as a kid... playing RPGs... teaching the other kids in grade school how to use the Commodores... the usual crap. But he had never fully realized his nerd potential until the day that he wandered out into the corporate world and found out that he could get a computer to do all of his work for him. Once he discovered this wondrous fact, he endeavored to automate his every chore by using VBA and Excel (a task which he dern near accomplished). Then, after conquering every possible facet of that application (whuh?!?), he switched to writing inter-office database applications by using his mad VBA skillz in MS Access (as well as pretty much every other MS Office application, once everyone else found out that he could make a computer do their work for them, too).

One day, he finally decided to learn a "real" language (not to mention that his boss offered to pay for any programming-related schooling that he might want enroll in), so he took a few classes (something he rarely does) to learn VB.NET. Shortly thereafter, he was wreaking havoc on his department by developing all kinds of stupid little programs in an effort to shore up all the other aspects of his job that he hadn't already automated using VBA.

WATYF can now usually be seen sitting around the office, sipping tea, with his feet up on his desk.


Taskrunner Revision History

Version 3.3.1033:

  • Removed Registration. TaskRunner is now Free! Weeeeeee!
  • Set "Process/Service Monitor" tasks to run even when other tasks are already running
  • Improved the engine that schedules Tasks.
  • Added feature to notify user if a Task runs for more than an allotted period of time.

Version 3.2.1095:

  • Added a "Process/Service Monitor" task. Allows the user to setup a task that will monitor a process/service to make sure it's running.  If the process stops, an email warning is generated. They are also notified when it starts up again.

Version 3.2.1091:

  • Fixed bug that stopped task's run-times from being reset at app startup.
  • Changed Taskrunner DB Backup (TRBak.vbd3) to run every couple hours (instead of once a day) Copying the backup elsewhere can be controlled using a task.
  • Updated text for "Froogle" to "Google:Shopping" and changed URL used.
  • Added a "Notes" area to Task Properties where users can make notes about what the Task is for

Version 3.2.1083:

  • Minor bug fixes

Version 3.2.1081:

  • Minor bug fixes

Version 3.2.1079:

  • Minor bug fixes


Version 3.2.1075:

  • Fixed bug in Task form that stopped you from using a limitation between two times of day
  • Added "Translate" feature to Web Search
  • Added option in TR Options to prompt before running Shutdown tasks
  • Updated backend database version

Version 3.2.1065:

  • Fixed bug in TR registration that affected foreign language versions of Windows

Version 3.2.1064:

  • Fixed bug in 3.2.1063 installer

Version 3.2.1063:

  • Upgraded application to .NET 2.0
  • Upgraded application database to new version (.NET 2.0 compatible)
  • Improved Web Search App user-interface and Added new search types
  • Allowed for Abort/Activation/Deactivation of more than one Task at a time.
  • Added mouseover text to Backup/Download/Delete file list so you can see the full path and filename of each file in the list
  • Added mouseover for Task Scheduler items that are truncated
  • Added a link to Online Help and Offline help in the Programs menu.
  • Added info in Email Monitor about commercial firewalls blocking POP/IMAP ports
  • Added prompt to setup Email or FTP options when needed
  • Added AutoComplete to network/folder/file/url textboxes so you can see available local/network share/files/urls while typing
  • Fixed bug in Folder Browse window that wouldn't display network drives
  • Fixed infinite loop bug in FTP connect
  • Fixed bug where RunTime dates could be set in the past
  • Fixed bug that wouldn't allow you to clear SMTP settings
  • Fixed bug that would reuse an existing IE window to open a URL
  • Fixed bug that would use old default FTP settings if you updated them
  • Changed "Delete" task to not throw an error if a folder isn't there
  • Changed FTP browser to select the folder you're in if no subfolders are selected when you hit OK
  • Updated System Cleanup for changes in Firefox ver. 1.5 and later
  • Upgraded Shutdown/Reboot/Logoff to .NET 2.0
  • Upgraded file Recycle function to .NET 2.0
  • Upgraded internal wav player to .NET 2.0
  • Upgraded Ping function to .NET 2.0 and increased packet size limit to 1024
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0.2035:

  • Added Help documentation
  • Reduced CPU load while running executables
  • Minor bug fixes

Version 3.0.2025:

  • Minor bug fixes

Version 3.0.2019:

  • Released TaskRunner 3.0 final.

Version 3.0 (Beta 1129):

  • Added ability to perform Web Downloads with authentication
  • Added date-stamp feature to Web Downloads
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1117-1123):

  • Changed behavior of Shutdown Manager (won't engage if no Shutdown/Running tasks exist)
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1115):

  • Added ability to specify timeout for web-based excutables
  • Added more options to TR installation
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1109):

  • Added database backup function
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1105):

  • Added log viewers.
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements.

Version 3.0 (Beta 1101):

  • Complete overhaul of backend database used by TaskRunner

Version 3.0 (Beta 1091):

  • Added ability to turn off HotKey shortcuts
  • Added ability to run web-based executables (php, etc)
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1087):

  • Added feature to allow options for how to handle Tasks that would have run while TR was closed.
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1081-85):

  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1079):

  • Added ability to choose the Windows shortcuts (HotKeys) used for each TR module (Task Scheduler, Web Search, etc)
  • Improved Backup/Download/Delete filter function
  • Improved Database integrity
  • Improved Email Monitor front end
  • Added ability to change mail server ports
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1061):

  • Added more robust Scheduling options (limit task schedule to run within certain time windows)
  • Added Task (CPU) Priority option
  • Changed "Empty destination folder" to "delete obsolete files" (for Local Backup)
  • Local Backups are now fully incremental (only update files that have been changed since the last backup)
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1049):

  • Added a "status" feature to Backup/Download/Delete (lets user know how many files have been processed)
  • Improved Version Check
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1041):

  • Added ability to manually type in a folder in the local folder browser. (Allows for backing up unmapped shares)
  • Added "Clone Task" feature (copy settings from an existing task to a new task)
  • Fixed bug where windows sizes/positions didn't save when exiting TR
  • Fixed bugs in Date column sorts in Task Scheduler
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1035):

  • Added feature to Local Browser: Remember last folder browsed to.
  • FTP Browser improvements:
  1. Switched to ListView browser instead of TreeView (allows for multiselect and root access)
  2. Added ability to add a new folder to the root directory.
  3. Added ability to copy backups to the root FTP directory (using "/" as the Copy To folder)
  • Added international date format support to the TaskScheduler
  • Misc minor bug fixes.

Version 3.0 (Beta 1003-1027): 

  • Made Improvements to the TaskRunner installer
  • Misc minor bug fixes/improvements

Version 3.0 (Beta 1001):

  • Complete overhaul of the backend system for increased performance, stability, and scalability.
  • NEW MODULE added: "Email Monitor". Checks POP3 and IMAP4 accounts for new email and plays sound and/or shows a pop-up message to notify the user. It also has SSL functionality, along with predefined profiles you can choose to check GMail POP and Yahoo POP.
  • NEW MODULE added: "Web Search". Pops-up a simple search textbox that allows you to execute a web search on various search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc). Stores your last "x" searches for reference. Also includes popular Google tools (such as Google Maps, Groups, News, Define, etc)
  • The "Batch Scheduler" has been renamed to the "Task Scheduler" since it will no longer just be used primarily for running executable batches. All kinds of tasks can be run using the Task Scheduler.
  • Added predefined "Actions" to the Task Scheduler:
    1. Run/Open File: Run executables (with arguments) or just Open any old file you want.
    2. Backup/Download/Delete: A comprehensive file Backup/Download/Zip/Delete Utility: Backup files from your hard drive to another folder/drive or an FTP Server... Zip files on your hard drive into another folder/drive or onto an FTP Server... Delete files from your Hard Drive or from an FTP Server... Download files from the Web or from an FTP server. You can Backup/Download/Zip/Delete selected files, or an entire folder, or a folder and all of its subfolders, or all of the above... Archive up to 10 previous backups/downloads... and filter which files to Backup/Download/Zip/Delete based on file extension, file name, age of file, or all of the above!!
    3. Perform System Cleanup: Cleanup Internet information such as Temporary Internet Files, History, Cookies, etc (for IE and Firefox)... Cleanup old files and shortcuts from your desktop... Empty Recycle Bin.
    4. Reminder Notification: Display a Pop-up and/or Send an email containing a reminder message. Option to play a reminder sound as well.
    5. Send an Email: Send a text or HTML email (with optional attachments).
    6. Ping an IP: Ping an IP Address or Host Name and report the results using a pop-up or email.
  • Added new schedule types:
  1. At Startup (set tasks to run when TR first loads)
  2. At Shutdown (set tasks to run before TR closes)
  3. "One-Time" (i.e. run once, on a specified date/time)
  4. "ScreenSaver" (Runs after screen saver engages and has been running for x minutes.)
  • Allowed for sorting of columns in the TS.
  • Rolled the "FTP Backup" into the TS so the FTP backup can be run using the more powerful TS scheduler engine (instead of relying on it's own scheduling tool), and increased its features (see above).
  • Allowed the same executable to be run by multiple tasks.
  • Got rid of the Launch Pad. (You now directly access the TR apps from the systray icon... see below)
  • Changed the verbiage in TS email notifications to say "Task Ran" instead of "Task Completed Successfully". (the old verbiage was misleading, since TR can't really tell what your executable is doing and whether or not it did it succesfully)
  • Added a version check that will check MusicalNerdery.com to see if you're running the latest version... if not, it'll let you know you can upgrade.
  • Added menu items for each TR App (Task Sched, Email Mon, etc) to the Systray icon, so you can open the TS (or whatever) straight from the desktop. (You can even set which app will be the default app to open when you double-click on the systray icon)
  • Added an optional confirmation box to confirm the running of a Task.
  • The Task Scheduler architecture, as a whole, has been heavily upgraded... Task running is more fool-proof and all tasks are now handled by "Handler" threads that monitor them until completion.
  • Added complete logging functionality. Logs include: Task Scheduler log (maintains a log of each task that is run, including the name, action performed, and time, as well as any errors that occured), and general error logs for the EM and TR.
  • Added more robust "Abort" functionality to properly handle different types of Tasks.
  • Added the ability to "Deactivate" tasks (keeps them from running on their normal schedule until you "reactivate" them)
  • Added the ability to cancel tasks that are still in the Queue.
  • Added encryption for storing passwords (or other sensitive data).
  • Added a new configuration interface to the Task Properties called "Action Options", where you setup the options related to the Task you chose.
  • Added an option of having pop-up and/or sound notifications for when a Task completes (in addition to the email notification).
  • Allowed for separately configurable notification options for "success" and "fail" on a Task, so you can send email to different addresses based on whether the task failed or succeeded.
  • Added Keyboard Shortcuts to all modules of TR (for performing functions such as deleting/running Tasks, running Email Check, etc). Also added Windows HotKey support, so you can open the TR modules (Task Scheduler, Web Search, etc) from anywhere in Windows using a single keystroke combination.
  • Changed to a more feature-rich FTP component.
  • Added an option to "run TaskRunner at startup".
  • Added a feature that will check for tasks that would have run while TR was closed and ask you if you want to run them.
  • Added a Shutdown Manager that processes any remaining Tasks that might still be running when you try to close TR (giving you the option to abort them). This also processes the Windows shutdown messages, so you can finish running all your tasks before windows shuts down.
  • TaskRunner got a bit of a face lift. Now it's all puuuurdy.

Version 2.2:

  • Changed SMTP component for improved compatibility
  • Changed FTP component for improved compatibility/flexibility
  • Added availability of predefined "Actions" (such as Log Off, Restart, etc.)
  • Added ability to set batches as "On Demand" only (i.e. no schedule)
  • Added ability to schedule batches based on specified Hours or Minutes
  • Added option to wait for batches to complete or continue immediately
  • Added option to run batches hidden or visible
  • Miscellaneous minor bug fixes

Version 2.0:

  • First Public Release
  • Added Configuration Front-End 

Version 1.5 (or so):

  • Added Batch Scheduler

Version 1.0:

  • Infant baby TaskRunner is born as a simple FTP Backup Utility


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