A screen scraper is a computer program that uses screen scraping technique to translate between legacy application programs (written to communicate with now generally obsolete input/output devices and user interfaces) and new user interfaces so that the logic and data associated with the legacy programs can continue to be used.
It usually refers to parsing the HTML in generated web content with programs designed to mine out specific patterns of content. Screen scraping is the method of collecting screen display data from one application and translating it so that another application is able to display it. This is normally done to capture data from a legacy application in order to display it using a more modern user interface.
It is sometimes confused with content scraping, which is the use of manual or automatic means to rip content from a website without the approval of the website owner. Quite often, screen scraping refers to a web client that parses the HTML pages of targeted website to extract formatted data.
In the early days of PC's, screen scrapers would emulate a terminal (e.g. IBM 3270) and pretend to be a user in order to interactively extract, update information on the mainframe. In more recent times, the concept is applied to any application that provides an interface via web pages.
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Author: The Octoparse Team
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