The defintion for macro is
1. Of great size; large. 2. Large in scope or extent; large-scale: a macro analysis of many reports.
n. pl. mac·ros Computer Science 1. A single, user-defined command that is part of an application and executes a series of commands.
2. A shorthand representation for a number of lines of code.
[Short for macroinstruction.]
In show lighting this would come under the Computer Science defintion, but what they do, how they are created and how they are used depends on the lighting control program being used.
A Macro in FreeStyler will set a DMX Channel to a particular value i.e. Set channel 50 to a value of 255. This is created on the Fixture Profile using Fixture Creator using that programs GUI to define a channel and a value and associate a icon with it. It will then appear on the “Macro” panel within FreeStyler so all you would have to do is press the icon to activate it.
What that could mean is to set the gobo channel of a particular fixture to “Audio Response”.
This type of Macro is a single shot macro, in otherwords that is all that it does. A lot of other lighting control software (including LightFactory) and lighting desks refer this type of “macro” as a pallette. In Daslight's DVC2 it is called an Effect.
A macro in LightFactory is a series of commands that are executed below is an example of a LightFactory macro
1+2+3+7+19/33 @ 25
1+2+3+7+19/33 @ DMX 125
24/30 cyan @ 150 fade 2.4
24/30 gobo2 @ 180
Line 1 - This will set channels 1, 2, 3, 7 and channels 19 through 33 to 25% of full.
Line 2 - This will set channels 1, 2, 3, 7 and channels 19 through 33 to output 125 on the DMX line.
Line 3 - This will set the cyan property of fixtures 24 through to 30 to the DMX value 150 and will take 2.4 seconds to reach this value.
Line 4 - This will set the 2nd gobo wheel property of fixtures 24 through to 30 to the DMX value 180.
The above code would be saved and be available from a shortcut button and the abilty to execute it from the command line of LightFactory.
As you can see they are basically the same except that FreeStyler only allows for one command and LightFactory allows for multiple commands but they both set a DMX channel(s) to a given value.