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Input into web page via clipboard

Posted on 2012-03-15
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
A customer has a website that we need to enter data into.  It is very time consuming and has a high possibility of human keystroke error.

What I would like to do is input the 6 fields of data into the clipboard, (I can program this automatically) and have the user click on the first field of the web form and hit CTRL V to paste the data.  However, I need to have the clipboard have a TAB command to move from one field to the next.   Example:

123 <TAB> ABC <TAB> 789 <TAB> XYZ

The user would scan a barcode which loads the clipboard with the appropriate data string and click on the first field in the web form, then hit CTRL V.  123 would be pasted in to that field, the tab execute and move the cursor to the second field, ABC would be inserted, another tab to the third field, 789 entered and so on.

I have done the above but the problem is that the (CHAR(009)) command tabs the cursor over in the first field and all characters are typed into the first field.  The the embedded tab does not move the focus to the next field.  However hitting the keyboard tab does move focus to the next field.   I have tried ASCII codes 9,10,11,12.   Oddly enough, 13 does execute a carriage return that works outside the current text box, while 9 does not.

I have no control nor can I modify the customer's web page.  I am fairly proficient at database programming (SQL etc.) but not webpages.   If I can succeed at this, it will have a major savings in both labor time and error reduction.

Any assistance greatly appreciated.   Thanks,
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Question by:HouseofFara
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by:Dave Baldwin
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The 'automated' methods of sending data to a web site don't use the manual forms at all.  With most sites, you can use a program to directly submit the data.  cURL is a popular and all web programming languages like ASP and PHP can be used.
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by:HouseofFara
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Thank you for the reply.
As mentioned, I am not a web programmer so am not versed in any of the normal web languages such as PHP.   Also, this customer's web site requires some buttons to be pushed after text entry and confirmationn numbers are returned, which the user needs to record.

If I have to go to much programming length, I would set up EDI via AS2, but then they charge a fairly steep price for that option.   We are in between the volume that really justifies EDI costs but is becoming a man power issue as well.

The current ideal situation would be if I could get the clip board paste to work.  The user has to enter 3 files that are not too bad to type such as ship date, Invoice number etc., but they then have to type in upto 6 UPS tracking numbers, which are quite long.   I can load the clip board with this data fine programatically, if I could just get the TAB to work like I need that would be the best solution at this time.
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Dave Baldwin earned 250 total points
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I honestly don't think you will get that to work as a manual procedure.
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by:BillDL
BillDL earned 250 total points
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It's an interesting idea, and would have been a real bonus in the 5 years spent sitting for hours in a dull room alone tabbing and entering invoice data into multiple fields.

The following are just some ideas as they pop into my head.  Bear in mind that I am not a "programmer", but know some aspects, and neither am I a web designer, but know a reasonable amount.  These are just ideas that might lead to a working method, but I have a feeling that none of the ideas would be viable solutions in terms of ease of use and time saving.

You could probably fully automate the actions of tabbing between fields and entering data  using a program like AutoIT or similar that builds "macro" type scripts and compiles a single EXE file.  That, of course, depends on several things remaining constant eg: the browser name and page loaded (usually identified by what's in the Title Bar) always remaining exactly the same, the tab steps to the button clicks and jumps to next field always being the same, and the data being entered into each field being perpetually unchanged.  Of greater importance, it would take you some time to learn how to use something like AutoIT.

I guess it might be possible, although I haven't tested it, for such a compiled automation executable to use variables or arrays for each or all of the data fields and have them populated for that session by first reading in each from a text file that you prepare daily.  AutoIT can use clipboard functions, which may also prove useful.

In a similar vein, I would probably be able to write batch file that reads a text file and creates a VBScript (*.vbs) on the fly that is already populated with the data values, and then runs that VBS file.  A VBScript can use the clunky "SendKeys" function to simulate keystrokes and would be able to automate the completion of a web form, but to work the target application and "Window Title" (browser and Title Bar text) would have to remain the same throughout.  Keeping the target window in focus is usually the hit and miss thing with the SendKeys method.  It can be quite flakey.

There are already applications that automate webform completion.  I see that This One allows you to import a CSV file with the data, and that is something that you could create on a daily basis.  That's not a recommendation, just the first significant and relevant hit in a google search for "automate webform filling".

Anyway, that's all I can think of just off the top of my head, but perhaps it might give you some ideas.
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Author Closing Comment

by:HouseofFara
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I did not find the solution I was hoping for, but perhaps one was not available!
Thanks to those who made suggestions.
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