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IBM Introduces Web Scripting Tool

IBM has a new technology that allows users to automate repetitive drudgery through the use of an elaborate scripting language. Called CoScripter and developed by the IBM Almaden Research Center, this language will do for tasks what batch files did for computers.

In one example, IBM said the task of preparing for a meeting—sending out notices to attendees, reserving a room, reserving equipment, catering food—can be automated by creating a script with CoScripter.

The CoScripter authoring tool captures all of the steps a person takes in any Web-based applications launched in the task. Its one weakness, according to Laura Bennett, senior software engineer and manager of alphaWorks, is it can't do any work that requires acting upon input or results from a task it launches.

It can't, for example, tell if a person responds to a meeting request by saying they are unavailable. All it can do is fire off the pre-written letter announcing that the meeting is taking place.

Still, if it allows people to script all of the mundane tasks they do on a daily basis, that's still a big timesaver.

"Internet content continues to grow and expand and we have more to do each day," Bennett told InternetNews.com. "The problem CoScripter is trying to solve is people are doing these repetitive activities, so wouldn't it be a big help by repeating these steps over and over rather than repeating the same steps over and over."

CoScripter is available on alphaWorks, IBM's online community, and will be offered as either an on-demand service or hosted within a company, depending on the company's security needs and concerns since it interacts with other applications.

Bennett said anyone can open a CoScripter script and make their own changes with the script design wizard. The raw code underneath is kept from the user. "They only need to understand it from an end-user perspective," she said. "There's no programming skills required at all."

IBM plans to make a Wiki for sharing scripts and to build a repository on alphaWorks.

For now, it's a free download from IBM while the company solicits feedback on functionality and such. The pricing model will be determined in the future, Bennett said.