Recording web sessions with Network Query Language

THIS WEEK Netspeak discusses a scripting language that provides a variety of tools/commands for easy capture of information from the Net.

Netizens may be familiar with the Structured Query Language (SQL) that provides a standard mechanism to retrieve information from a database. Network Query Language (NQL) is an "SQL-like scripting language" developed to facilitate information retrieval from the Net. Using this language, which understands Net protocols such as HTTP, FTP and Telnet, one can create web agents that can automatically do repetitive web-related tasks without any interaction from the user.

Many common web-related tasks can be done with one or two commands in NQL. For example, look at the following command:

Getfile "", "c:\\home.htm".

This command will retrieve the file `home.htm' from the site `' and store it on your local hard disk.

If you want to see the header information of a web transaction, use the following commands:

head ""

show httpHeader

Have a look at the following command set:

get ""



This command will retrieve the home page of The Hindu site, remove the HTML codes from it and display the text-only version of the home page.

Another highlight of this program is the `NQL Desktop Recorder' that enables you to record mouse/keyboard movements and save them as a macro file, which can later be executed in NQL. This facility can be used to create interactive tutorials.

For example, if you want to demonstrate `how to send e-mail' through a mail client, first invoke the `Desktop Recorder' option from the `Tools' menu, make the system ready to record the session and provide a name to save it as a file (say, email.mac). Now, invoke the e-mail client, simulate a demo mail-sending process and when you are done with the demo, stop the macro recording. Once the recording process is over, the newly created macro file `email.mac' will have in it all the mouse/keyboard actions related to the e-mail sending process. You can playback this session as and when you need to present the demo with the single NQL command: "playdesktop "c:\\mydocu<108,SYM,126>1\\email.mac"

Now, let us move on to the innovative IE-browser add-on tool hosted at the NQL site (https://www., the `NQL Browser Recorder', which allows users to record complete web sessions so that they can be played back later with a single mouse-click.

There are many navigation episodes in one's web life that one needs to repeat several times a day. As an example, let us explore the steps involved in accessing a web-based e-mail account. It is likely that most of you have at least one web-based e-mail ID. To access the mailbox through the web interface, you need to do tasks such as entering the web address and feeding in the name/password. Each of these steps is to be repeated whenever you check for mails.

Take another example of a netizen who regularly visits certain sites for information on share markets. Here too, many steps are repeated many times every day. In fact one can spot many such instances where a web traveller is forced to repeat browsing steps regularly to achieve the desired output. This means that a netizen badly needs need a tool that enables him to record all the steps in a web session so that it can be played back later. The free browser add-on tool, `NQL Browser Recorder' mentioned above is a good product worth experimenting.

The NQL browser recorder creates "dynamic bookmarks that play back entire sessions of web navigation." After installation, the browser recorder gets attached to the IE tool bar. If the recorder tool bar is not visible, make it visible.

For this, access the `Tool Bar' option from IE's `View' menu and enable the option named `NQL Browser Recorder'. At this point you will see the four-button `NQL Browser Recorder' tool bar along with other menu bars.

To record a session, click on the `Record' button and start the web navigation process. For example, if you want to check mails, go ahead as usual till you reach the mailbox window. If you want to stop the recording at this stage, click on the `Stop' button. The recorder will prompt you to provide a name to the recorded session so that it can be recalled anytime later. Provide an appropriate name, say, `mail'- and press the `OK' button.

Once the session steps are recorded in this manner, next time when you attempt to check the mail, you do not have to repeat any of the steps that you used to do. Just click on the down-arrow near the `Play' button, and select the name in which the session was saved. The recorder will execute all the required steps automatically and present you in the the list of mails stored in the mailbox. If the recorder is unable to play back a session properly for any reason, the tool allows you to edit the recorded script and rectify the trouble spot.

If you are a regular computer user, you must have faced the crisis of losing months of hard work due to an accidental deletion of files. When you delete a file, the actual data of the file do not get deleted. The data, stored in several disk locations, can be recovered if those locations are not overwritten by other files.

Thus, recovering deleted files is not a very difficult task as many powerful, feature-packed file recovery tools are available on the Net. The program `PC Inspector File Recovery' is a good product that should come to your mind whenever you land up in such a file deletion mess. The program can be used to recover files with original date/time stamp.

To start recovering the file, access the `Drive' option from the main menu, and select the drive that contains the deleted files. Now select the directory labelled `Deleted' and look for the file to be recovered. Select the file to be undeleted, right-click , select the `Save To' option from the menu that pops up and save the recovered file. For more details, check out: recovery/uk/welcome. htm

Regular web users are aware of the annoyance caused by advertisement-windows that pop up on the screen while visiting certain web sites.

This column has featured many tools, that can be used to control/eliminate such unsolicited pop-up windows. The free software SmartPopKiller is another product for selectively blocking pop-up windows. For more details, check out:

Looking for an on-line time service that can instantaneously display the current time of any country in the world?

Check out the link: https://www. convert.htm

J. Murali