Ringer: Web Automation by Demonstration

OOPSLA 2016 |

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With increasing amounts of data available on the web and a diverse range of users interested in programmatically accessing that data, web automation must become easier. Automation helps users complete many tedious interactions, such as scraping data, completing forms, or transferring data between websites. However, writing web automation scripts typically requires an expert programmer because the writer must be able to reverse engineer the target webpage. We have built a record and replay tool, Ringer, that makes web automation accessible to non-coders. Ringer takes a user demonstration as input and creates a script that interacts with the page as a user would. This approach makes Ringer scripts more robust to webpage changes because user-facing interfaces remain relatively stable compared to the underlying webpage implementations. We evaluated our approach on benchmarks recorded on real webpages and found that it replayed 4x more benchmarks than a state-of-the-art replay tool.