Description of the Navigation Sequences Generator Interface

The figure below shows what the Navigation Sequences Generator toolbar looks like when the browser is started from the Wrapper Generation Tool and the toolbar is enabled.

A brief description of the interface elements is given below:

  • Properties image1. By clicking on the Denodo logo on the left of the bar it is possible to configure various aspects of the Navigation Sequences Generator functions (see section Properties of the Navigation Bar).
  • ToolBar State Info image2. This shows information about sequences that have been recorded, navigation elements that have been selected, and extractor sequences that have been generated (see section Toolbar State Info Dialog)
  • Open image3. Allows a navigation sequence saved on a disk file to be opened and executed.
  • Assign Examples. This button is used to mark examples for the data extraction process (see section Defining the Structure of the Data and Assigning Examples). It is not related with the navigation sequence recording process and, therefore, it will not be discussed further in this section.
  • Review Examplesimage4. This button is used to review the examples marked for the data extraction process (see section Reviewing the Data). It is not related with the navigation sequence recording process and, therefore, it will not be discussed further in this section.
  • XPath Generator image5. This button opens a tool that allows generating the XPath expressions for the elements contained in a HTML page. The generated expressions can be used with the functions XPATH and XPATHLIST (see section Functions for Page Handling) or with the NSEQL command FindElementByXPath, in the case of manually typing the sequence. The section XPath Generator Utility gives a detailed description of this tool.
  • Rec image6. Starts the process of generating a sequence, requesting the initial URL from the user and changing the Generator to record mode, whereby the events generated by the user are recorded by the system and translated to NSEQL commands. The figure below shows how, when adding a URL, the user can also decide what to do with that URL selecting an option in the “Action” combo box. The allowed actions go from a simple navigation to the resource, if no action is selected, to saving the resource to the local file system or performing Word/Excel/PDF to HTML conversions, if the resource is in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel or Adobe PDF format. In these cases, ITPilot will convert these formats into HTML (using format converters included in the distribution or dependent on third-party tools, as described in section the section Wrapper Advanced Options: Specific Browser Pool and Locale). The Browse button shows a file chooser that allows users to select a local file or a network-shared file as the initial URL.
URL Initial Selection, showing all the options of document converters

URL Initial Selection, showing all the options of document converters

  • Transpose Table image15. This allows transposing a HTML table, transforming its row vectors into column vectors, which is extremely useful to extract results when the desired records are laid out in columns instead of rows. See section The Transpose Table Button and Action.
  • Enable PopUps image8. The sequence generator supports the creation of navigation sequences that involve actions on pop-up windows. In order to do this, the Enable pop-ups button should be activated on the bar (the button should display the text “Disable pop-ups”). If it is not activated, no pop-up window will be allowed to appear during the sequence recording.

ITPilot’s Navigation Sequences Generator toolbar has three modes: one for recording navigation sequences, another for recording extractor sequences, and a third one for assigning examples. The two latter ones have been explained in sections Recording a Navigation Sequence and Defining the Structure of the Data and Assigning Examples. In this section we will focus on the first one.

The figure below shows what the Navigation Sequences Generator toolbar looks like when the process of recording navigation sequences is activated (record mode).

  1. Place the mouse over the element of the page where you want to execute the action. For instance, if you want to perform a click on an anchor, place the mouse over the desired anchor. If you want to fill in a form text field, position the mouse over the field.
  2. Right-click on the mouse. Choose the desired browsing action in the drop-down menu. For instance, if you want to perform a mouse left-click, select “Click”. If you want to fill in a form text field, select “SetText”. The full list of available browsing actions is as follows:
    • Click: this action will emulate left-clicking on the element.
    • DblClick: this action emulates double left-clicking on the element.
    • RightClick: right-clicking.
    • MouseOver: hovering over a specific area on the page with the cursor.
    • MouseOut: removing the cursor from a specific area on the page.
    • SelectFrame: whilst frame-handling is normally transparent to the user, when the system is used for data extraction tasks, it is sometimes necessary to explicitly specify the frame in the page that the extractor component should process. See section The SelectFrame Action for more information.
    • SelectOption: selecting an option in a drop-down list. When choosing this action, a pop-up dialog will appear where the user will be able to select the desired option. We can also use the “Variable name” field in the dialog to specify that at execution time, the value of the input parameter of the sequence with the specified name should be used instead of the typed example value.
    • SetText: typing text in an editable field on a Web site. When choosing this action, a pop-up dialog will appear where the user will be able to specify the desired text. We can also use the “Variable name” field in the dialog to specify that at execution time the value of the input parameter of the sequence with the specified name should be used instead of the typed example value.
    • TransposeTable: this allows transposing a HTML table, transforming its row vectors into column vectors, which is extremely useful to extract results when records are disposed in columns instead of rows. See section The Transpose Table Button and Action.
    • Drag: Used in drag & drop operations. Drags an element on the page.
    • Drop: Used in drag & drop operations. Drops a previously dragged element.
    • Click and…: emulates a left click on the element and performs some action over the resulting document. The same operations can be done combining an action in the Cancel Next Navigation menu with a Click action (see section The Cancel Navigation Button). The following actions are available:
      • Save File: if the click performs a navigation, it is cancelled and the document is saved in the local file system. A dialog will prompt for a file name and a destination folder.
      • Convert Word: if the click performs a navigation to a Microsoft Word document, the document is converted into a HTML document. The browser will navigate to the resulting HTML document.
      • Convert Excel: if the click performs a navigation to a Microsoft Excel document, the document is converted into a HTML document. The browser will navigate to the resulting HTML document.
      • Convert Pdf if the click performs a navigation to a PDF document, the document is converted into a HTML document. The browser will navigate to the resulting HTML document.
      • Cancel: if the click produces a navigation, it is canceled.
    • Scroll: scrolls on the active page. This action only take effect on scrollable elements. These means that it must be recorded on the scrollbars of the page (the HTML element) or the scrollbars of any DIV element that has the CSS property “overflow” set to “scroll” or “auto”. The following scroll actions are available:
      • Page Down: moves the scrollable element to its bottom position.
      • Page Up: moves the scrollable element to its top position.
      • Page Right: moves the scrollable element to its rightmost position.
      • Page Left: moves the scrollable element to its leftmost position.

A more detailed step-by step description of how to record navigation sequences will be provided in section Steps for Generating a Navigation Sequence (an example was also provided in section Component Configuration). Now, we provide a brief description of the function of each of the interface elements:

  • Stop image10. This is enabled only in record mode. It allows stopping the sequence generation process, returning the browser to the normal mode and storing the recorded sequence (so it can be reviewed, saved to file or imported into a Sequence editor in the Wrapper Generation Tool).
  • Play image11. This is enabled only in record mode. It allows playing in a new browser window the sequence recorded up to the current moment.
  • Save image12. This is enabled only in record mode. This allows the current sequence to be stored in a text file on disk.
  • Enable JS Dialogs image13. This option allows enabling any JavaScript dialog box launched by the navigation client (they are blocked by default).
  • Fire Actions image16. This menu allows an alternative method for performing one browsing action. This is useful when the website redefines the contextual menu that appears when right-clicking the mouse. In those cases, it may not be possible to record browsing actions using the contextual menu, and this alternative should be used. To specify an action using the “Fire action” button, perform the following steps: 1. Click on the “Fire actions” button 2. Select the desired action on the drop-down list 3. The cursor arrow changes to image18. Move the cursor to the element in the page where you want to perform the action and left-click on it. The action will be executed and recorded.
  • Cancel Navigation image17. This button allows the user to indicate that the next link in the browsing process does not lead to an HTML resource, but a PDF, Microsoft Excel or a Microsoft Word one (see section The Cancel Navigation Button for detail). The option “Only Cancel” lets the user ask ITPilot not to execute the following navigation command, but only process it (e.g. allowing the processing of the javascript code needed to evaluate the target URL of a link, but without actually performing the navigation). Read the section CancelNextNavigation of the NSEQL Guide for more information.
  • CloseWindow image14. If, as part of the navigation sequence, a pop-up is to be closed, simply click on the CloseWindow button on the bar and drag it over the pop-up window to be closed. The event will be recorded by the generator and incorporated into the NSEQL program generated.
  • Semaphore image19. Only appears in the recording mode. This element is not a button, but an indicator for the user. Each time the browser changes between pages during the sequence generation process the red light lights up until the system is ready again to continue recording events, at which time the green light lights up. Thus, after accessing a new page during sequence generation the user should wait for the green light to turn on before proceeding.