Mbee

Latest/Easiest/Best way of controlling Firefox?

4 posts in this topic

#1 ·  Posted (edited)

I'm trying to determine the latest/easiest/best way (as of May 2016) to control & interact with Firefox using Autoit.

To the best I've been able to determine, there have been two different ways to do this. Once upon a time, there was something called "Mozilla ActiveX control", but given all the security warnings I receive whenever I try to download it (the original host site appears to be absent or invalid), I'd prefer to avoid it. The other approach is/was to use a UDF called "FF.au3" developed -- but apparently no longer supported for English speakers -- by Stilgar (old thread is here: https://www.autoitscript.com/forum/topic/95595-ffau3-v0601b-10/). The most recent thread I could find (in English) was started by Danp2 here: https://www.autoitscript.com/forum/topic/167661-ffau3-v0601b-15/

Although it certainly seems like using the FF UDF is the most recent and possibly only still-valid approach, getting anything sufficiently useful done with it strikes me as rather difficult, in part because the English documentation is so incomplete as to be unhelpful (and apparently incorrect as well), but also because it appears that to accomplish what I need to do might well require intimate knowledge of Firefox internals or APIs (maybe XULs too).  For example, there are functions such as _FFCmd() that takes arbitrary/undocumented strings, and _FFGetValue() and_FFSetValue() with no English documentation at all (besides the minimal function descriptions in the FF.au3 file itself).

So, my question is: What is the latest and/or easiest and/or best way of interacting with Firefox using Autoit?  And what else do I need to learn first in order to use it effectively (such as Firefox developer APIs, etc)?

Thanks!

Edited by Mbee

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@Mbee,

let me offer my personal preferences for web automation:

first - use IE. are you locked on to Firefox? the built-in IE UDF makes IE automation quite easy, plus the advantage of no-one using IE for regular browsing, so you have a considerable amount of freedom to configure it to your needs, and even work with a hidden sessions, for headless automation purposes - so user workflow is not impacted.

(yeah, i know - i never thought i'd actually recommend IE... ;))

there is only one downside to automating IE - automation of download is not possible. this is a "security feature" set by Microsoft.

second - manipulate a 3rd-party engine. you can install the iMacro extension for Filefox. this is a scripting engine designed for browser automation, so the downside is that you need to learn the syntax (not too hard), but the upside is that it is a very capable engine, able to easily operate controls that other methods find difficult. use AutoIt to write the iMacro script at run time, launch the extension to execute the script, and collect the returned information or error.

(note: there are iMacro extensions for Chrome and IE too. the extension only is free, look at the bottom of the download page).

finally - use the FF UDF. if IE and iMacro won't cut it - then i find the FF UDF the best approach.

 

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IUIAutomation - 

 

It was a bit hard for me to grasp it and start to use it for some simple tasks but it seems to work well.  The best thing about learning it is how versatile it is.

It may or may not have all the capabilities you need, but its worth looking at. 

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As far as the FF UDF is concerned I think Stilgar is still developing this UDF.
http://www.thorsten-willert.de/index.php/software/autoit/ff-au3


My UDFs and Tutorials:

Spoiler

UDFs:
Active Directory (NEW 2017-04-18 - Version 1.4.8.0) - Download - General Help & Support - Example Scripts - Wiki
OutlookEX (NEW 2017-02-27 - Version 1.3.1.0) - Download - General Help & Support - Example Scripts - Wiki
ExcelChart (2015-04-01 - Version 0.4.0.0) - Download - General Help & Support - Example Scripts
Excel - Example Scripts - Wiki
Word - Wiki
PowerPoint (2015-06-06 - Version 0.0.5.0) - Download - General Help & Support

Tutorials:
ADO - Wiki

 

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