Something for the Weekend #4: scraping the web with iMacro
This week’s Something for the Weekend is a little different, as it’s a tool for newsgathering rather than publishing. But what a tool.
There’s a lot of corporate/technical jargon on the website (“create solutions for web automation”), because, like some of the best web tools (e.g. Twitter), this can be used for so many things it’s hard to describe in a single sentence. But here are some of the headlines:
- Automation of repetitive tasks, e.g. filling in forms, searches, etc.
- “Data Extraction/Web Scraping/Web Mining/Enterprise Data Mash-Ups“
- Website testing
- Password manager
- Forming part of a larger software app
That doesn’t tell us much, so how about some concrete examples from the imacros’ bookmarks page:
Now you’re getting the idea.
- Imagine you have to plough through a number of government database searches to gather the information for a story.
- Imagine you need to post an appeal for information on a number of forums or blogs.
- Imagine you need to upload something quickly – or to more than one site – or both.
- Imagine you create a macro for your readers to conduct their own personalised search – based on a postcode, for instance.
This is one step closer to the semantic web that’s often talked about.
And I imagine the more you use this the more ideas would spring to mind – while the social sharing element of the software means you can benefit from others’ experiences and ideas.
Also worth browsing is the iMacros forum pages, where users talk about what they’re doing.
Have a play with it this weekend and let me know what you think.
Entry filed under: computer aided reporting, online journalism. Tags: automation, data extraction, firefox, imacro, mashups, password manager, plugins, Something for the weekend, web mining, web scraping, website testing.