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Project "Browser Bot"
The purpose of this project was to see if I could use Perl and javascript to create a bot, a browser bot, that would allow me to surf a website from a different website. The conclusion was that this is indeed possible.

Browser Bot Start Page

Browser Bot Rendering Requested Page

How I Approach This Project
Over time I've written a variety of web services, search engines and crawlers that communicate with other websites in order to retrieve or send information. With this project I decided to create a rather simple Perl and javascript-driven web application (not a true bot in the sense of the word) that would read a webpage and allow the webpage to be rendered from the web application. The simplest analogy I can think of is having a webpage rendered from within an IFRAME of the parent webpage. But the analogy really stops there.

The browser bot is designed to be called with your own web browser. Once it is loaded then you provide it with a webpage you would like it to retrieve from the internet for you. It actually will retrieve the webpage and, by clicking a button, you can have it render the webpage in a DIV layer. Depending on how you configure the browser bot, it will attempt to render images and other elements (via src) from the webpage. If left off, then images and other elements should not show up which may simplify reading a webpage. As well, it will try to automatically locate links in the webpage so that if you click on the links, the request will actually go to the browser bot so it can retrieve those webpages for you as well.

Why is this Interesting?
I find the browser bot to be interesting because it combines programming languages and technologies to fetch and render webpages. This simple browser bot is not too developed as it is a proof of concept that demonstrates that the process is possible.

Virtual Future?
What would be really interesting to see is a "virtual web browser" that could function just like web browsers on your computer. A "virtual web browser" may provide a means to shift technology and space requirements of OS/browsers from devices (such as your cell phone or laptop) to the web; that is, your device connects to a website and from there you surf, check email, set your bookmarks and so forth. This would allow you, for instance, to change computers or devices without having to re-create or migrate web settings and lower the hard-drive space required.

Get Browser Bot
Download browserbot.cgi (6kb Zip) HERE. You'll need to place the CGI script on your website (don't forget to change permissions on it to 755); Perl 5 should also be available for your website. All configurations for the browser bot can be done from within the generated webpage (this means you don't need to alter any of the programming code); just point, click and type from your web browser.
About Joe