The TkWWW Robot: Beyond Browsing

The TkWWW Robot: Beyond Browsing

Scott Spetka, SUNY Institute of Technology, (315)330-3222, (315)792-7234

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The TkWWW Robot extends the functionality of the TkWWW browser. It can also be used as a standalone agent that processes queries on the WWW. In either case, the robot traverses the web according to functions described using Tcl extensions developed for the TkWWW browser and the TkWWW robot. Tcl language extensions allow novice users to direct a search based on key words and HTML data types or to invoke predefined queries. Expert users can add their own Tcl extensions for use in more sophisticated searches. The system can be quickly adapted to support new resource types that may become available on the WWW, such as live audio/video connections for interaction with experts.

When TkWWW robots are dispatched from the TkWWW browser, their results can be used to guide further browsing. Robots can also be run in the background to build HTML indexes, compile WWW statistics, collect a portfolio of pictures, or perform any other function that can be described by the TkWWW Tcl extensions. Searches can be restricted according to URL names, limits on search path lengths, etc. The TkWWW robot can interact with its master by popping up windows to request input according to a Tcl query description. The main advantage that the TkWWW robot has over existing web spiders and robots is its flexibility in adapting to virtually any criteria possible to guide its search path and control selection of data for retrieval.

The paper presents the architecture and implementation of the TkWWW robot. It describes Tcl extensions implemented to support TkWWW robot queries. The TkWWW Robot is being developed over the summer at the Air Force Rome Laboratory with funding from the Air Force Office of Summer Research.