Posting data to a web application from a windows application

We have a Windows based Enterprise case management system where we need to auto populate and post data through a web site that our clients are required to use from the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

I am looking to see if there is a way for us to automate the population of the web page from our windows application.  The opposite of Web Scraping.

The main goal here is to keep our clients from having to do double data entry.
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Kyle FosterCEOAsked:
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
Is the data static to the point it is ok to use one update per day or hour?  Or does it need to be truly live?

Does your windows app allow a way to access data easily?  Or does it use mssql/mysql or another db?  or text files?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
What is the format required by the web site?  If it is just a form, then you can use the WebRequest (?) functions to POST to it.  If it has a specific API and format, you need to get that and format you data accordingly.
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Kyle FosterCEOAuthor Commented:
My windows app is client server using MS-SQL 2012, but I am thinking that a batch update on a nightly basis to the web forms system would be appropriate.  I try to never write batch jobs and stay in real-time, but in this scenario I can't see where that would make any difference.

I will have to look at the web-site in question, but if there is any encryption on the site how can I do a WebRequest and/or Post?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Sounds like you need to gather a list of requirements for this before you can get a good answer.  If you are intended to be able to do this, the site will have some documents to show you what to do.
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Kyle FosterCEOAuthor Commented:
I guess I need to better explain myself.  

I have an Enterprise system that runs case management and grant management for employment and training grantee non-profits.  These non profits have many web based (really bad systems) that their funding sources require them to use, but prefer my system.  The issue arises that the forced use of these sites is causing them to have to do double data entry which we would like to build a plug in interface where each different plugin would handle a different web site.

Before I tell a very large client that this is possible, I am doing the groundwork to determine if is a viable solution.  I have done this in the past with TelNet and Terminal Clients on MainFrames, but I have never tried it via a browser.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
I knew what you were getting at.  And I know it is possible since the spammers do it all the time.  But that still gets back to the actual requirements for the places or sites that you have to send data to.  

If the sites you want to post to are using forms in web pages, then you can often just emulate the form to post the data.  The catch to that is that since spammers use that method and we often find ways to block posts that don't come from the web page (captchas and things like that), you may have to get the sites you want to post to to give you an acceptable method that won't be blocked.

If the sites are using some other API method, you need to know that.  Paypal, for example, has a complicated API that you need to follow.  It takes more than a simple routine to post to them.

So I'm certain it can be done.  I'm equally certain it can turn into a mountain of work.  I do like the 'plugin' idea though.  Means you don't have to do everything before you can use anything.
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
If you can do this the way you are  used to, just create a webservice to your web based system for the CRUD - Create, Read, Update & Delete.  If you can create scripting to work on the windows os side that will simply post to a URL for your webservice you should be good.  This is exactly  how native mobil apps work.   The key would be getting access to the current windows system.

If you don't want create a full on webservice, you can have a page in asp(x), php or another serverside language that simply accepts a post that would consist of the data to be posted and some type of secret key and hash to make sure you are getting what you expect.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
@padas, he needs to post to other people's existing systems and pages, not his own.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Here is a search about Automated form entries:  https://www.google.com/search?q=Automated+form+entries
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
Thanks Dave.  I am in opposite land I guess.
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Kyle FosterCEOAuthor Commented:
That makes sense to me now.  The problem is that these are state and federal government sites built by the lowest bidder (or their best friend) and they are almost unusable.  Once the bidder completes the project, they move on so there is no one there to handle giving us access as well as the fact that they usually refuse.  At least I now know that with the proper political pressure from my clients I can force them to give me a means to write the data.  I was hoping there was an easier method, but I already knew most of the answer.

Thanks.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
I thought that you might.  On the other hand, if you can find ways to use them anyway, that gives you quite an advantage.  I get hired to do forms and once the project is done, I almost never hear about it again.  

Thanks for the points.
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