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Data types you'll use

Scripting is simpler than it looks and can save you substantial time and effort. Here are some basic scripting concepts for newbies as we introduce a new regular column by Christa Anderson, a noted scripting authority.

Editor's note: This is the first of a continuing interactive series on scripting that will appear on on a regular basis. Christa Anderson, a noted authority on the subject, will explain basic scripting concepts and then move on to teach you how to use VBScript to perform common tasks. You can e-mail your questions to

VBScript recognizes four types of data: numbers, strings, dates and times, and Boolean statements. Numbers are, well, numbers such as 2 or 9458. Strings are any combination of characters enclosed within quotation marks. Date and time information must be within octothorps (#) and follow VBScript's conventions for date and time information. Boolean statements are either TRUE or FALSE, as in x<x+1 = TRUE. You'll often use Boolean statements when testing the validity of statements.

VBScript sees all four of these data types as subsets of a larger data type, called type variant, which can contain any kind of data. This means that you don't have to tell VBScript what type of data you're feeding it. (It will try to guess, so sometimes you will need to be specific. I'll talk about how to specify the data type -- for example, telling VBScript to interpret "45" as text, not a number -- next month.) Groups of like data are called arrays.

You could hard-code the data you're working with into a script, but to make it easier, VBScript supports a structure called a variable, which can be populated by any data type required. Variables can, and often do, change value in the course of a script. Another structure that abstracts the interface to the data is called a constant. Unlike variables, constants always represent the same data, such as a button saying "No."

Beginner's guide to scripting

- Introduction

-  Objects, properties and methods

-  Scripting hosts and the interpreter

-  How are scripts interpreted?

- Data types you'll use

- Summary


When Christa Anderson began working with Windows Server operating systems in 1992, she became increasingly interested in finding more efficient and flexible ways of performing routine tasks. Christa has written extensively about administrative scripting and taught technical sessions on the subject at conferences such as Comdex and CeBIT, helping people who had never done any scripting to write their own scripts in half a day. In addition to her interest in scripting Windows management, Christa is an authority on server-based computing and the program manager for Terminal Services licensing in Longhorn. If you have a scripting question for Christa, please e-mail her at

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