Get to Know the Basics of Web Automation: A Glossary of Terms

3 Ways To Differentiate Your Marketing Content By Using Subtle Humor _ MediaOne Singapore

Get to Know the Basics of Web Automation: A Glossary of Terms

Web automation might seem like a novel concept to some, but it’s actually been around for quite some time. One of its pioneers was IBM, a technology giant at the forefront of almost every emerging technology.

Automation is no different; in 2005, the tech giant saw an opportunity to automate some of the web tasks people were so used to manually doing. They launched the WebSphere Process Server (WPS) to give companies an easier way to automate business processes across the web.

The goal was to help companies visually represent their workflows and see if the processes could be automated. The software would eventually find mainstream success, but — like many other IBM software products — it was too technical and never made it past the enterprise market.

Fast forward to today, and automation has become a staple in the tech industry. With the rise of automation tools like Selenium and Testim, businesses can easily integrate web automation into their workflows, making it easier than ever to automate repetitive tasks and processes.

But before you start automating your web processes, you must first understand the terms and concepts associated with automation.

How about we quickly examine the automation jargon, demystify web automation, and lay the foundation for a successful web automation project?

#1. Web Automation

Web automation is the process of automating web-based tasks. It involves the use of software, such as scripts and bots, to take pre-defined actions, processing tasks and processes on a web browser or app.

Note that you can automate just about any repetitive task on the web or the actions you take every time you click and type into a browser or web-based app.

Web automation can be used to check website status, scrape data from websites, automate signups and logins, and much more.

#2. Web Bot

A web bot (also referred to as an internet bot, web robot, or simply bot) is an application that carries out automated tasks on the web through Robotic Process Automation (RPA). It is programmed to interact with websites or other applications similar to a regular user by simulating human behaviour.

Web bots are commonly used to automate mundane, repetitive tasks such as form filling or web scraping and can prove invaluable when dealing with large, complex web applications.

Bots work via a set of instructions, usually written in a scripting language such as Python or Java.

#3. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology or software solution that makes it easy for users to create, deploy, and manage bots. It is a software technology used to build bots that you can use to automate repetitive tasks, such as data entry and web scraping, with minimal or no human intervention.

Like human users, software robots can interact with web applications or mobile apps, process data from multiple sources, understand what’s on a screen, navigate systems, complete the correct keystrokes, extract data, and more.

In short, RPA eliminates manual data input and allows bots to perform complex web automation tasks quickly.

#4. Coding

Coding is the process of writing program instructions in a language that computers can understand. Think of a computer as a blank canvas — it takes code to give it instructions and make it do something.

Plus, computers can only speak one language, binary code or machine language, which consists of 0s and 1s.

Coding is the bridge between humans and computers, as it allows us to create programs that can interact with websites or applications. With the right code, it’s possible to create a bot that can do anything from gathering data to creating new accounts or even filling out forms.

#5. Data

Data is information collected and stored in a format suitable for computers to process. It can be structured (like databases or spreadsheets) or unstructured (like audio, video, and text).

Data can be used to make decisions, optimise processes, identify trends, and more. In the context of web automation, data is usually collected from websites or applications to be used for analysis. It’s also possible to use the data gathered by bots to drive decisions or automate workflows.

#6. APIs

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it’s essentially a set of instructions that allows one application to interact with another.

Think of APIs as contracts between two different web applications, with documentation outlining their agreement — like, if party one sends a remote request structured this way, party two will respond with the following data.

APIs are used extensively in web automation because they allow bots to interact with websites or applications in a predictable, programmable way. In other words, APIs make it easier to create bots that can do meaningful work behind the scenes. Thanks to them, we can easily create a bot that can easily scrape data from the web or fill out forms.

#7. Electronic Workflow

An electronic workflow is a set of tasks or processes performed by computers and that lead to a desired outcome. That includes tasks like collecting data, performing calculations, approving a user, and executing commands. Workflows are used to streamline operations, increase efficiency, reduce manual labour, and automate time-consuming tasks.

They can automate loan approval, process claims, vet applicants, and complete other tedious tasks. In the context of web automation, a workflow might look like: First, the bot will scrape data from a website, then perform calculations on the data, and finally, generates an automated report based on those results.

#8. Flowchart

Flowcharts are diagrams that show the relationship between tasks or steps in a process. They’re used to visualise workflows and help people understand how certain processes are connected. In web automation, flowcharts can be used to map out the various steps of a workflow and help developers understand how different components interact.

Flowcharts use arrows and shapes to describe the decision points, tasks, inputs, and outputs in a workflow. It’s also possible to add notes to provide additional information about each step in the process. Flowcharts are an invaluable tool for understanding and debugging a complex workflow.  

#9. Graphical User Interface (GUI)

A Graphical User Interface (GUI) is the visual interface between the user and a computer program. It’s often used to provide an easier way for users to interact with and control a program. The GUI consists of buttons, checkboxes, dropdown menus, and other elements that allow the user to control the program.

ALSO READ  How AI Works: The Basics You Need to Know

GUI development is a crucial part of web automation. It eliminates the need to learn complex commands and allows users to grasp the functionality of a program quickly. With a GUI, developers can easily design an interactive user experience that makes it easier for users to accomplish tasks. Additionally, GUIs can be customised to tailor each user’s experience to their specific needs and preferences.

#10. Home Automation

Home automation is the process of remotely controlling different appliances, devices, and systems in your home. It includes everything from turning on lights to regulating temperature and security systems. Home automation can be used to improve safety, convenience, comfort, and efficiency in the home.

Usually, automated systems in a home are controlled via a smartphone, mobile app, or web interface. Sometimes, a central control unit is used to manage the system and allow users to access different functions with a simple push of a button.

#11. If Statement

Automation often involves telling a computer program what to do under certain conditions. That can be done in different ways, like using an if statement, a type of conditional statement. 

An if statement checks for certain conditions and, depending on the outcome, runs or skips a particular piece of code. That can be useful for automation tasks, as it allows the program to execute different commands based on specific conditions or user input.

 For example, if a user indicates they want to print their document, an if statement can be used to check if the printer is on and then execute the necessary commands to send the document to print.

#12. No Code Automation

No-code automation is a type of automation that doesn’t require writing any code. Instead, it uses visual tools and drag-and-drop components to create automated workflows.

 No-code automation tools are accessible, easy to use, and don’t require any coding or technical expertise. They’re perfect for those who want to take advantage of automation but don’t have the technical skills or resources to learn how to code.

#13. Process Mapping

Many people love to use a flowchart and process map interchangeably, but they are not the same. A flowchart is generally used to illustrate a process and the different stages that make it up, while a process map takes things a step further by including more details and a timeline.

It allows users to map out the entire process from start to finish, including all variables and how they will interact with each other to complete the process. Process mapping is extremely useful for automating a process as it allows you to see the different steps of interactions so you can plan your automation.

#14. Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of instructions that tell a computer how to solve a problem or execute a task. It’s essentially a roadmap that tells the computer what steps to take to complete a task, and it can be used for both manual and automated processes. 

Every digital device or system uses algorithms – from the car navigation system that helps you find the fastest route to your destination to the printer that knows how to check if it’s on and connected to the network.

In the case of web automation, an algorithm is a set of precise instructions outlining the steps the computer should take to complete a task, such as processing data or identifying patterns.

It often involves writing a series of codes or formulas that the computer can use to analyse complex data and make decisions or predictions. Algorithms can be used to automate any number of processes, from data processing, image recognition, search results ranking, and much more.

#15. Integration

Integration is the process of combining different components or systems into a single, cohesive unit. That could mean integrating two existing systems to work together or creating a new one combining components from other systems.

In web automation, integration combines different software applications to create a cohesive system with a centralised dashboard for managing and automating processes.

For example, an integration might involve connecting your customer relationship management (CRM) software with your e-commerce platform so that customer data is automatically updated in both systems.

#16. Job Scheduling

Job scheduling is the process of executing tasks (which are often part of an automation workflow) at specific times or intervals. That means you don’t have to manually launch each step of an automation workflow every time you need it completed.

Job scheduling is a key component of web automation because tasks can be automated and executed at regular intervals. For instance, you could set a job to back up your website every day at midnight or send out marketing emails on Fridays at 10 am. Job scheduling helps you automate repetitive tasks, so you don’t have to do them manually.

#17. A Knowledge-based System

A knowledge-based system is a computer program that uses data and algorithms to solve problems. The system works by taking in data, analysing it, and providing an answer or result based on the analysis.

In web automation, a knowledge-based system is designed to act as an expert in a specific field, mimicking a human expert. It can be used to automate tasks like customer service, product recommendations, or even fraud detection.

A knowledge-based system is commonly used in finance and healthcare, where accuracy and precision are key. It’s also becoming more popular for tasks like customer service or product recommendations in web automation.

#18. Logic-based Programming

Logic-based programming is a type of programming language that uses logical statements to create algorithms and processes. It’s based on the concept of logical deduction, where a set of given facts can be used to derive new information.

That can include anything from basic arithmetic operations to more complex mathematical calculations and processes. 

Logic is a fundamental part of web automation, as it helps determine the steps to follow when performing a task. It’s also used in decision-making processes and can be used to automate decision-making tasks. 

Logic-based programming is often used in web automation for tasks like data mining, customer segmentation, and product recommendations. It can also be used to automate processes like data entry or validation.

#19. Machine Learning

Machine Learn is a subfield of artificial intelligence (AI) that focuses on developing and implementing algorithms that enable a computer program to learn and improve from experience.

ALSO READ  The Benefits of Using Artificial Intelligence AI in Ecommerce

 It’s based on the idea that machines can learn from data and use the information to make decisions or predictions without being explicitly programmed.

The algorithm used can identify patterns in the data and uses those patterns to determine the best course of action. Machine learning has many applications, including NLP, speech recognition, and image recognition.

With machine learning, computers learn to recognise patterns in data and improve their accuracy over time.

#20. OOP (Object-oriented Programming)

OOP is a programming paradigm focusing on objects or components to create programs. It’s based on the concept of classes and objects, which allow programmers to create reusable code that can be used to build programs. 

OOP is often used in web automation, as it allows developers to define objects and classes that can be used to create a web application. With OOP, objects can communicate with each other, allowing developers to create complex applications that are efficient and easy to maintain. 

So, the next time you see a web automation robot whizzing around doing its thing, remember — it’s using all the power of OOP under the hood.

#21. Query

A query is just that — a request for information from a database. Queries allow users to retrieve specific database data using a structured query language (SQL). 

For example, a user could query the database to retrieve all customers who live in a particular zip code. Queries are often used in web automation, allowing users to quickly retrieve data from the database. 

A query can be written in various ways, depending on the database being used and the data being requested. For example, a query could be written in SQL or NoSQL, depending on that particular database.

#22. Simulation

Simulation is a computer-based technique used to imitate real-world scenarios. It is commonly used in fields like engineering, medicine, and finance to test and validate theories. 

Simulation is also used in web automation, allowing developers to replicate user interactions with a website or web application. It can help developers identify potential problems and develop solutions faster. 

Simulations can also be used to test different scenarios, such as how an application behaves when a certain number of users are accessing it. That can help developers identify bottlenecks and optimise their applications for better performance. 

Simulation is an invaluable tool in web automation that allows developers to quickly and efficiently test their applications. It can save time and money, as well as improve the quality of the end product.

#23. Parsing

Parsing is a computer science term that refers to the process of analysing and interpreting data. It is commonly used in web automation to break down large amounts of data into smaller, more manageable pieces. 

Parsing can be used to extract information from webpages, such as HTML tags and attributes. It can also be used to inspect forms, identify links, and find images. 

The goal of parsing is to make data easier to understand and work with. It helps developers quickly find the information they need without having to manually sift through large amounts of data.

#24. Workflow Management

Workflow management is the process of managing and automating the steps in a workflow. It’s commonly used in web automation to streamline and automate repetitive tasks. 

Workflow management can help reduce errors, speed up processes, and save time. Organisations can use it to optimise processes, improve communication and collaboration, and ensure that teams work efficiently. 

Workflow management can help streamline development processes, improve customer experiences, and reduce costs. It also helps ensure that all steps in a workflow are completed correctly and on time.

#25. Regression Testing

Regression testing is the process of verifying that changes to a system do not break existing features or introduce new bugs. It’s commonly used in web automation to ensure that changes to a website do not impact existing functionality. 

Regression testing helps teams identify any unexpected behaviours or errors caused by system changes. It can be used to validate features, identify issues, and ensure that changes don’t break existing code. 

Regression testing is an important part of the web automation process, as it helps maintain stability and ensures that the changes you make don’t interfere with the existing functionality.

#26. XML

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. It’s a markup language used to structure, store, and transport data. XML is commonly used in web automation to represent data and pass information between systems. 

Structured data in XML format is easy to parse and convert into other formats. It’s also widely supported and can be used to transfer data between different systems and applications. 

XML is a powerful tool for web automation, as it makes it easy to exchange data between different systems. It can also help automate processes that require structured data, such as document creation and information retrieval.

#27. YAML

YAML stands for Yet Another Markup Language. It’s a human-readable data serialisation language that stores and transports data between different systems. 

YAML is commonly used for data exchange and configuration files, as it’s easy to read and understand. It’s also widely supported and can be used to transfer data between different systems and applications.

#28. Zero Downtime Deployment

Zero Downtime Deployment (ZDD) is a process used to minimise downtime when making changes to a website or application. The goal of ZDD is to make sure that changes can be deployed without interrupting the user experience.

ZDD involves deploying the new version of a website or application in such a way that users are not interrupted, and the change is implemented seamlessly.

#29. Continuous Integration

Continuous integration (CI) is a DevOps process for automating the building and testing of code. CI allows developers to continuously test their code and ensure that it meets the quality standards of their organisation. 

CI involves running a series of automated tests on newly committed code, checking for errors or other issues. That way, developers can be sure their code is of high quality and can be deployed without triggering any issues.

It’s the Final Wrap-Up

There you have it — the web automation jargon to help you get started on your automation journey. From YAML to Zero Downtime Deployment and Continuous Integration in between, understanding the terms associated with web automation is the first step to mastering the craft. 

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

PSG Grants: The Complete Guide

How do you kickstart your technology journey with limited resources? The Productivity Solution Grant (PSG) is a great place to start. The Productivity Solution Grant

Is SEO Better Or SEM Better?

I think we can all agree that Google SEO is pretty cool! A lot of people get to enjoy high rankings on Google and other

Social Media




Most viewed Articles

Top Wood Cutting Services in Singapore

7 Top Wood Cutting Tools: Applications, Functions, Uses: Multiple wood cutting tools can be found retailed widely that may mechanically slice wooden pieces and save

Other Similar Articles