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Sunday, 14 October 2007 17:25

IBM simplifies consumer Internet experience with CoScripter, a free online service

IBM recently unveiled CoScripter,  a free and easy-to-use online service for recording step-by-step processes that Web users do on a regular basis, then automatically runs those processes, eliminating repetitive or mundane tasks for the user.

CoScripter is still a research project, created at the IBM Almaden Research Center and available (as a Firefox browser extension) on alphaWorks, IBM's online community providing early adopters with access to new and emerging software technology from IBM research and development labs around the world.

The IBM press release of 26 September 2007 explains that, on average, people spend eight hours of their day online which is the equivalent of a 40 hour work week. The majority of this time is spent conducting the same searches and tasks over and over again. This new service alleviates the need to repeatedly perform the same actions. In addition, the service requires no technical skills to be used, making it simple for all end-users to apply.

CoScripter simplifies repetitive common daily processes on the Web such as checking email, checking flight arrival times and status, or searching for WI-FI hotspots in the area. The service uses a technique called "programming by demonstration" to capture the steps of a process by watching people do it and recording those steps into a script. The scripts are integrated with a wiki, so they are easily shared with other users.

The service also enables companies to be competitive in the Web 2.0 marketplace. As organizations continue to adopt Web 2.0 technologies, emerging technologies such as these become valuable resources for changing the ways they interact with the broader community. According to new Economist Intelligence Unit research, almost 80 percent of large enterprises believe that Web 2.0 technologies can improve revenues and margins. In fact, 68 percent of executives expect Web 2.0 methods and tools to be the single biggest factor changing the ways their companies interact with customers.

"This new service is an effective means of giving time back to users who have generally lost many hours repeatedly going through the same motions when using the Web," said Kathy Mandelstein, Director of Worldwide Developer Programs for IBM. "CoScripter not only makes it easier for users to take advantage of the Internet, but it also encourages community and the sharing of information through the Web."

For example, a user wants to begin a house search using a home search Web site. After a few searches the process becomes quite repetitive. Using CoScripter, the user can create a script to capture and then automate the steps required in the search. Then subsequent searches can be quicker by simply running the script.

The user can then share the script so anyone else wanting to perform the same search can save time and effort by using the script. Subsequent users can customize the script to meet their specific needs and then make that revised script available as well.

There is an online CoScripter demonstration video and help documentation.

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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.

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