Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On Screen Scraping

Recently I came across the term "Screen Scraping" when interfacing with a legacy application. I was not really sure what it mean in the context of EAI.. A google search came up with a good explanation at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_scraping

As a concrete example of a classic screen scraper, consider a hypothetical legacy system dating from the 1960s -- the dawn of computerized data processing. Computer to user interfaces from that era were often simply text-based dumb terminals which were not much more than virtual teleprinters. (Such systems are still in use today, for various reasons.) The desire to interface such a system to more modern systems is common. An elegant solution will often require things no longer available, such as source code, system documentation, APIs, and/or programmers with experience in a 45 year old computer system. In such cases, the only feasible solution may be to write a screen scraper which "pretends" to be a user at a terminal. The screen scraper might connect to the legacy system via Telnet, emulator the keystrokes needed to navigate the old user interface, process the resulting display output, extract the desired data, and pass it on to the modern system.