The Verification Server needs to be able to detect situations in which one of the wrappers under its supervision ceases to give correct results because of a change in the structure of the source pages. This will trigger a notification.
The detection process is carried out by collecting and analyzing the results returned by the wrapper in response to queries received during normal operation of the Wrapper Server. A series of different tests can be performed. These tests return a percentage value representing the disagreement of the results with the test’s criterion, where 100% means complete disagreement and 0% a complete agreement. If a test returns values higher than 0, that may indicate a problem with the wrapper.
The available tests are the following:
- ZeroResults: checks whether the source returns any result or not. The intuition behind this test is that if a significant number of queries do not return any results, a possible reason is a malfunctioning of the current wrapper. This test will return 100 if there are no results, and, on the contrary, 0.
- Compatibility: checks the compatibility between the results and the query. E.g. if title=java is searched, then the returned results should contain the word “java” in the title field of the extracted tuples. The opposite would mean that the current wrapper might not be correctly extracting the data from that field. The percentage value is calculated proportionally to the number of tuples which do not verify the compatibility test with regard to the total ones.
- Consistency: checks whether the results match the regular expressions defined in the wrapper metadata. The intuition behind this test is similar to the previous test: if the results do not verify the pointed out regular expressions, it is probable that the current wrapper is not correctly performing the extraction process. The percentage value is calculated proportionally to the number of tuples which do not verify the regular expressions with regard to the total ones.
- Invariability: checks that a certain result percentage of the results of some query is maintained when that same query is executed some time later. The intuition behind this test is that, in some sources, very abrupt changes in the extracted results for a same query alongside time might indicate a malfunctioning of the current wrapper. The percentage value is calculated proportionally to the number of tuples which are not kept since last query executions with regard to the total ones.
- Pagination: checks that in every intermediate result page returned by the wrapper (all but the last one), the number of returned tuples is the same. If any intermediate page does have fewer results than others, this could mean that the wrapper is omitting some relevant results (take into account that web sources usually paginate their results in intervals with a fixed number of results for each one). The returned percentage value is calculated as a function of the deviation of the obtained number of tuples with regard to the expected number of tuples. If there is no deviation the percentage returned will be 0; it will become higher as the deviation becomes larger. This expected number of tuples is calculated by supposing that each intermediate page returns the maximum number of results obtained for some of the pages.
- ResultsNumber: checks that the number of tuples obtained in successive executions of a same query across time is similar. The intuition behind this test is that, in some sources, very abrupt changes in the number of extracted results for a same query could indicate a malfunction of the current wrapper. The percentage is calculated by checking the deviation of the number of tuples returned by the query with respect to the average of the last executions of that query. If there is no deviation, the percentage returned will be 0. The percentage will become higher as the deviation (either because of and increase or a decrease in the number of results) becomes larger. In particular, if there is a drop in the number of results to 0, the percentage returned will be 100.
Tests are grouped into “rules”. A wrapper can have a series of these rules associated to it. A rule is composed of one or more tests, along with alert conditions over their results: the percentage returned by a test must lie above a certain threshold, for a given number of times, to contribute towards the firing of the rule which contains the test. All the tests in a rule must match their alert conditions for the rule to fire.
If any rule associated to a wrapper fires, a notification is triggered and an email is sent according to the Mail Configuration.
Rules Configuration tab for the Verification Server shows the Rules Configuration section. Individual wrappers are displayed in a list, their names prefixed with the name of the database to which they belong in the Wrapper Server. The list also shows the name of the rules associated to each particular wrapper. The list can be filtered by wrapper name (only the wrappers whose names contain the filter string are shown) and/or by rule name (only the rules whose names contain the filter string, and the wrappers which have any of those rules assigned, are shown).
To create a new rule, the user should click on the “Add Rule” button. The form to create a rule will appear, containing two tabs:
- Rule details: this tab, depicted in Rule creation page: rule
details, allows setting the rule name and configuring the tests that
will compound the rule. To add a test to the rule click on the “New
test” button and select the type of the test to be added from the popup
menu which appears. Then configure the rule parameters:
- Results (only for test “zeroresults”): This parameter indicates if the wrapper should return results or not in order to consider the test as failed.
- Percentage greater than (all tests but “zeroresults”): This parameter indicates the percentage returned by the test to consider it as failed. The test will fail if its result is greater than the specified value (i.e. the disagreement of the results with the test’s criterion is greater than the percentage specified by the user).
- Last executions to check: number of past wrapper executions which are taken into account for this test. The value “1” indicates the last execution performed, “2” indicates the last two executions, and so on.
- Number of detections: number of times that the test must “fail” taking into account the executions configured in the parameter “Last executions to check”. For example, if “Number of detections” is 3 and “Last executions to check” is 5, then the test will contribute to fire the rule if it fails in at least three of the five last executions.
The tests added to the rule are shown in the left part, under the header “Tests”. To modify or remove a test just click on it and it will be shown in the right part. Then its parameter values can be changed, or it can be deleted from the rule by clicking on the button.
- Wrapper assignation: this tab allows assigning the rule being created to one or more wrappers. The user can select the “Global rule” check box (see Rule creation page: assigning rules to wrappers) to assign the rule to all the wrappers in the Wrapper Server. To assign the rule to a specific set of wrappers, the user may select these wrappers using their respective check boxes.
Once the rule details have been configured and the rule has been assigned to the desired wrappers, click on the “Accept” button to store the rule. The rule creation can be canceled at any moment by clicking on the “Cancel” button.
Existent rules can be edited, just by clicking on the name of the rule. A form similar to the one used to create a new rule will appear with the current configuration of the rule being edited. The form will contain, in addition, the button to remove the rule from the Verification server.
To see in detail and manage the rules assigned to a wrapper, the user may click on the wrapper name. A new page will appear (see Example of Verification Rules) showing all rules assigned to the wrapper, with a textual description of each of them. The button “Add Rule” can be used to add an existing rule to the wrapper or create a new one. Rules that are no “global” can be unassigned by clicking on its associated button.
Example of Verification Rules shows the rules assigned to the wrapper “webmail_simple” (deployed in the database “itpilot”). The first rule is composed of two tests, and the second rule is a global rule composed by a single test. The tests mean the following:
- The first test of the first rule uses the test type ResultsNumber, and it will contribute to fire the rule when the percentage value returned by this test is above the 50% in at least 2 of the last 5 executions (i.e. when the number of results returned, in at least two of the last five executions, deviates more than the 50% with respect to the average of results returned by the same query in past executions).
- The second test of the first rule uses the test type Consistency, and it will contribute to fire the rule when percentage value returned by this test is above the 30% in at least two of the last five executions (i.e. when the number of tuples which do not verify the regular expressions defined in the wrapper metadata, with regard to the total ones, is greater than the 30% in at least two of the last five executions).
- The test of the second rule uses the test type ZeroResults, and it will contribute to fire the rule when five of the last ten executions do not return any result.