Here is the talk proposal:
Title: Screenscraping as a tool for changing the (legacy) world
Conference: RailsConf Europe 2007
Type/Duration: 45 Minute Conference Session
Audience Level: Intermediate
Audience Type: web developers, programmers
Tired of your existing corporate legacy application? Show them you can do better! Learn how to make your own Rails version of a website with ugly UI, bad user feedback, no API.
Use these tools and techniques to build your own, better, user interface on top of an old legacy backend.
You sometimes come across web applications that are really bad: Ugly UI, bad user feedback, minimal usability, no API.
To improve such an app, a rails hacker may have to prove him/herself by prototyping improvements first.
Rails makes it possible actually “taking over” parts of a legacy app, by presenting the user with a rails UI that submits back to the original app. A prototype that works against the legacy app and is usable and testable by real users.
This session will present you with the techniques and tools you need to do this:
* Advanced two-way screen/form scraping from “bad” legacy applications
* Guessing the data model.
* Screenscraping tools and their strengths and weaknesses.
* Helper tools and how to use them (http sniffing, browser submittal, DOM, CSS selector tools, etc)
Along with this, we will discuss how we used this technique on a particular internal timetracking application, and in particular the lessons learned on how to navigate a Rails prototype into the political game in a world of legacy systems.
Screenscraping as a prototyping strategy could be just what you need in a political environment where it’s hard to convince management to build an existing legacy application in Rails.
Mads is the ideal co-presenter for this talk. He is a highly skilled programmer, very opinionated about software development, and also entertaining to listen to. We have quite some work to do, as we have plans to take this talk a step further. And Christian Dalager has promised to help us out, which makes me look very much forward to this. Not only the presentation itself. But also the process of creating our code. (For now, I can say only that we will be coding a tool to make it even easier to API-ify a legacy app.)
See you at RailsConf, Berlin, September 17-19!