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IBM betas click-recording Firefox add-on

Scripted web surfing

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IBM Labs has squeezed out a beta version of a Firefox add-on that records a user's online activities so they can be repeated automatically or be printed out for others as step-by-step instructions.

Concocted by IBM Almaden Research Center, the CoScripter Reusable History add-on is designed to reduce repetitive browser-based grunt work such as logging into a company's intranet site or filling out familiar forms.

Big Blue also reckons CoScripter can be used to publish logs of a user's web browsing history — should such a potentially reckless fancy ever strike you — such as registering for a conference, making travel arrangements, or showing a colleague how to gather and analyze certain data. (Of course, it could be used for less benevolent activities when insidious minds meet the unobservant or unaware. But ain't that just the story of the internet?)

CoScripter goes beyond regular browser history functionality by recording activity at the level of website interactions, such as clicking on a link or entering text into a form field. Users can then review what IBM calls an "actionshot" of their history as an easy-to-read script that can be used or shared for future use.

Running the script through CoScripter makes the browser repeat the recorded sequence automatically. Here's the video demo:

IBM Labs has been cooking up milestone releases of CoScripter since mid-2007, but today marks the first beta release of the Firefox add-on.

"I have been using CoScripter Resuable History for more than a year on my primary computer, and I've found it to be very useful," wrote CoScripter team member Jeffrey Nichols in a blog post. "If a colleague has a question about an internal business process that I've gone though, such as a corporate naming request, I can simply search my recorded history, copy out the relevant actions, and share them with my colleague."

IBM has also set up a community database where users can share scripts — for tasks such as updating your Facebook status or visiting the A?cm digital library. (Although due to how easy it would be for someone to make a script that leads users to a phishing or scam website, we recommend checking anyone else's script thoroughly before running it).

The add-on works for all versions of Firefox 3.5, but it's currently incompatible with the latest Firefox version 3.6. An IBM spokeswoman told El Reg an update is expected to remedy this by the end of the week.

CoScripter Reusable History can be downloaded here, although it unfortunately requires registration with IBM's developerWorks beforehand. ®

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