Welcome to the Macro Documentation page for MapTool, from the RPTools.net developers!
Macros are a way of automating tasks within MapTool. They can be attached to tokens, allowing any owner of the token to execute them via a right-click context menu or via the various panels available from the Window menu. (Actually, the macros can be edited by any owner of the token or by the GM, if MapTool is running as a server.)
There are also two other categories of macros that are not attached to tokens: global and campaign. Be aware that if these macros are going to access properties on a token, the token must be identified somehow. The two common approaches are to apply the macro against the currently selected tokens or for the macro to be written such that it prompts for the user to select a token. The only other difference between the two categories is that global macros are stored on the local computer under your username and will exist in any campaign that you connect to (as a client) or any campaign you load (as a server). The campaign macros, as their name implies, are saved as part of the campaign and will not be available when MapTool is not accessing that campaign (as either client or server). In addition, campaign macros are sent to clients when they connect to a MapTool server so that they can be used on the client as well.
Macros can be created in a number of ways. In each case, the process is essentially the same although the details might vary: open a dialog window that allows access to the macro text, add or edit the macro text, save it when finished. Because MapTool macros have been evolving over time, there are multiple ways to edit token macros, but only a single technique used for both global and campaign macros. So we'll start with those last two and cover token macros last.
These are macros created by right-clicking in the Global panel that can be turned on or off via the Window menu in MapTool. These macros are stored under your username on the computer in a platform-dependent way by the Java runtime environment. For example, on the Microsoft Windows platform they are stored in the registry. On the Apple OSX platform they are stored under the user's Library/Preferences directory, and on other Unix systems they are written to an XML file under the user's .java/.userPrefs directory.
As mentioned above, global macros are available regardless of when the MapTool instance is a client or server. They are not shared with other players who may be connected to a MapTool server. Because they are not shared, they are often used by GMs to implement functions they don't want the players to know about, such as random chances for an encounter or the choice of which PC is targeted by a random trap being sprung.
These macros must provide some way to identify the token they should use for property values, if they are going to use any at all, so the Apply to selected tokens checkbox is often turned on when the macro is created.
These are macros created by right-clicking in the Campaign panel that can be turned on or off via the Window menu in MapTool. These macros are stored inside the campaign file that the GM creates. The contents of the campaign file, which includes these macros but also all images, are sent to all players when they connect to a MapTool server and select a map.
Because campaign macros are sent to the clients, they are typically used in situations where the GM wants players to have access to a library of pre-written macros. These macros must provide some way to identify the token they should use for property values, so the Apply to selected tokens checkbox is often turned on when the macro is created.
For example, the calculations for opposed skill checks might be placed here. The player would click on a button that executes a macro and the macro would retrieve the appropriate skill check modifiers from the selected token. It then makes the skill check, sending the numeric result only to the GM with the player receiving a message, "So-and-so rolls a skill check!"
These are the ones that most players will be familiar with. These macros are attached to tokens (MapTool representations of creatures, often including an image as well as a set of properties which define the attributes of the creature) which are owned by the player. The player may edit the macros themselves, allowing them to create customized commands that they can easily execute. These macros might access properties such as Strength or Dexterity, or information about weapons, or record damage and subsequent healing.
(In the v1.3.b48 release of MapTool, there are now "library tokens". These are tokens that are accessible from any map within a campaign. The tokens themselves have names that start with Lib: and they represent "trusted" macro code. Only GMs may create tokens with such names or add them to maps, and the macros they contain can be referenced by players from their own macros. This allows the GM to write standard features once and then tell the players how to invoke those features from their own macros. These library tokens, or just Lib:tokens for short, can perform functions that player macros cannot, such as accessing or modifying the properties on tokens that the player does not own.)
Token macros can be created, edited and accessed by clicking the corresponding macro button from the Selection or Impersonated panels (accessible from the application's Window menu).