Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and make employees more productive. For those businesses in the IT space who have lots of employees that do data entry, finding a way to automate those tasks would be a sure fire way to increase productivity and save money.
Most of the data entry done today goes into an online system via a web browser. There are products on the market today that will allow you to script those tasks and automatically fill in the necessary fields in the web browser thousands of times over. Its called web browser automation and its quickly finding its way into mainstream businesses.
What Is Web Browser Automation?
Web browser automation is simply recording and replaying step by step a task that you would normally do by hand.
An example would be an auto login script. Normally, you would go to a web site, type in your username and password, click the submit button and then log in. You could automate this process by using a tool or program to automatically launch the browser, enter your credentials and submit the login form. An advantage would be not having to remember your login and password as it would be saved in the program and you could do it all from the click of a button.
Tools For Web Browser Automation
There are several programs on the market today that allow end users or people who aren’t tech savvy to create these types of automated scripts. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most popular tools that do not require a PhD to use.
iMacros says that whatever you can do with a browser they can automate. Not only can it do data entry, it can also do data extraction and web testing.
Web testing is geared more toward developers who write web applications and want to automate the testing of certain processes to ensure that they haven’t broken anything when they finish developing new features.
Data extraction is the process of “scraping” or grabbing data from a web page and then either saving the data (think database or text file) or using that data in another process or task. Applications that scrape stock quotes or monitor weather data from an online system would be examples.
iMacros has support for Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox. It works by recording your tasks and then creating a script based on the interactions you have with the web browser. You can then save those scripts off for future use or you can enhance them further and create even more complicated automated scripts.
One of the neat things about iMacros is that it has image recognition capabilities that allow you to interact with images as opposed to x and y coordinates for clicking objects on the screen.
They also have integration with 3rd party development tools such as Microsoft’s .NET platform.
Ubot Studio is a desktop application that allows you to not only script automated web tasks, but you can take it a step further and interact with the computer it runs on and other services such as web services and email.
If you are into drag and drop, like I am, you can see the value in this wonderful tool. Just drag a task on the designer, fill in a few boxes and you have an awesome automated web task. It even has a built in web browser.
It doesn’t stop there. You can export your web task as a stand alone desktop executable (.exe) file which can be run from any desktop or laptop computer.
Another great feature of Ubot Studio is the ability to create plugins to further enhance your application. You would need to find a developer to create the plugin for you or if you are a developer you can pick this up rather easily.
They have extensive documentation and even a ubot tutorial section of their website to show you step by step how to use the tool.
If you are looking to add a few hours extra to your day, take a look at both of these great tools. Sure, you will pay a little up front, but you will save a lot over time when you put these scripts into practice.