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Best method for proprietary web automation

Posted on 2013-12-20
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Last Modified: 2014-02-05
We are looking at some different methods for automating web tasks. Clicking buttons, filling forms, etc. I could use C# since I'm good at C++ or maybe something like Selenium, but we think we may make some useful stuff that other people would be willing to pay for. So I don't really like the C# idea since it's only going to work on Windows computers.
Ideally, the users wouldn't need to download anything, but if they need to it's okay.
We just need the ability to have the users be authenticated with us before they were allowed to use any of the scripts.

So they log in with us, then log in to whatever website that they want to do automated stuff on (like click a button 100 times really fast if you saw my other question), then they do automated stuff.

What would be the best tool for this job?
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Question by:TommySzalapski
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8 Comments
 
LVL 83

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39733316
You should know that major websites are working hard to prevent you from automating access to their sites.  They are mostly using more and more javascript to do logins and other kinds of forms.  The idea is that most automation can't run the javascript so people can't automate the logins and forms.
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Author Comment

by:TommySzalapski
ID: 39733607
Manual login is fine. We're not trying to write survey robots or anything, just save people some time and/or make stress testing easier. Currently, we're wanting to run a lot of it against our own websites anyway.
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39733940
>We just need the ability to have the users be authenticated with us before they were allowed to use any of the scripts.

I would use social log in.  You can write this on your own or use a service http://www.gigya.com/social-login/.  

It sounds like you want to provide a service others can use and purchase that from you.  It would be a good idea if your own site was the service and then you can use any server side code you want or api's.  Then for your clients that are buying the service from you can simply download a bit of javascript to embed on their site that ultimately talks to yours.

It is becoming more common for sites that use API's to access or submit data as if you were doing this from their front end portal.  Your service would simply make it easy for would be webmasters and developers.   On your end, all the api's would be programmed.

I think you have  a good idea.
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Author Comment

by:TommySzalapski
ID: 39734207
That's just so they can log in with Facebook or whatever. That doesn't tell me what language I should be using to automate web pages from another web page.
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Accepted Solution

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Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 39734221
I probably was not clear.  

Use your own server to do all the heavy lifting and provide an easy way for others to use your own api's via javascript.  This way there is nothing for other sites to install or load.  

In short 3 different sites will have 3 different api's to submit the same data.  Your server will include a way for another site to submit to your site the basic data required and your server will use the 3 different api's to transfer the data.

Since the heavy lifting is on your server, you can use the language you know best.
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LVL 37

Author Comment

by:TommySzalapski
ID: 39812074
That really doesn't answer the original question. I can't publish APIs for this. The end users wouldn't know what to do with one. Also I still don't know any good cross-OS tool for web automation.
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Assisted Solution

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 39812193
> I can't publish APIs for this

I said, 3 different sites will have 3 different api's meaning each has their own (facebook has an api, twitter has an api etc.)

>cross-OS tool for web automation.
I reread your question. You want the user to download your program.  It does not matter if the program is web automation or something else. I think the only language that would work for either is java or in the browser  javascript.    

My guess is for the best user experience, it would be best to write a mac osx program using x-code and ojbective-c https://developer.apple.com/librarY/mac/referencelibrary/GettingStarted/RoadMapOSX/chapters/05_Language.html for pc you would use .NET http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ee532070.aspx
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LVL 37

Author Comment

by:TommySzalapski
ID: 39837134
I said "Ideally, the users wouldn't need to download anything, but if they need to it's okay."

Okay, so javascript is probably the best bet for a browser based solution. Pretty limited, but might do some tasks.

I've done some web automation in .NET, so I guess I'll just keep fiddling around and see what happens.
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