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Auto login & extract data from a website

Posted on 2009-02-23
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
This isn't about any website in particular but various websites require you to login before you can access your account.

I want to know how applications (after you supply your username/password) manage to login into the websites and extract your account details?

I can use a webrequest to request a webpage but how do i login before i do that (programatically)?

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Question by:Type25
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Jens Fiederer earned 2000 total points
ID: 23714327
It really depends on the website.

In many cases, everything is handled using forms - you supply id/password, and the response either sets a cookie or fills in some (generally hidden) field in your form with data that makes sense only to that site.

One way to do this is to use a scriptable or scripted browser - you can use and control a browser object and handle filling in the login/password information yourself.

Some sites don't like you to access them that way (you might miss out on seeing advertisements that are important to the site), so they change the way this is done on a regular basis and you will have to keep changing your program).  I.e., for some sites what you are proposing is considered hostile behavior, and will violate their terms-of-service and they might even ban you if they catch you trying to access them in a manner appropriate to an older version of their software (because only a bot would do that).
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by:Type25
ID: 23714398
Okay, that makes sense.

I have a few ideas kicking about for an iPhone application, but would require me to log into a couple of pretty large organisations websites.

Probably a no-goer

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by:Jens Fiederer
ID: 23714453
Depends on the specifice orgs - the ones that are OK with it might even provide services to make it either (like Google exposing its map API) and give you easier alternatives than logging on.

If they are NOT, it is definitely a no-go.
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by:Type25
ID: 23719394
Thanks for the advice
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