Creating a PHP Screen Scraper

So, I guess when most people get a 3 week holiday break from work, the first thing they do is try to get away from the laptop.. where is the fun in that I ask you?

This x-mas I took a small trip around the world of PHP and took the opportunity to write some enhancements for my better half’s online retail website.  PHP is very C-like in it’s syntax, but one of the easier languages to get around if you’re not working with coding on a day to day basis.

In my 3 weeks, I essentially wrote a plug-in to the aforementioned website which automatically logs in to other websites and intelligently processes the pages of tabular data behind the authenticated curtain. It then takes this tabular data and squirts it out into an XML file, which is then used for some reporting.

If you are looking to understand a bit about how screen-scraping works, or how to mimic interactive HTTP requests to a web server, this blog may be useful for you.

OK, let’s crack on.

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Web 2.0 – Why the internet got better, why security got worse.

Web 2.0 was recently crowned the one millionth word of the English language.  This is perhaps just one indicator of the impact that Web 2.0 has had on our everyday lives. Why?  In this blog, I’m going to go into what Web 2.0 actually is, some of the underlying technologies and what challenges these bring for security. Continue reading

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Pre-Sales Content

The search engine has fast become the first step in any users attempt to access content on the web.  Businesses and individuals alike have realised the massive potential of delivering your information to peoples web browsers at the click of a button.  Targeting higher rankings on search engines, essentially pushing your content closer to the top of the search listings, has spawned an entire industry of it’s own.  The act of creating, implementing and monitoring strategies for improving search engine rankings is know as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

I’ve recently been assisting my partner with her SEO strategies for her online perfume retailing website.  It seems great prices on perfume, fragrances, aftershaves and gift sets isn’t going to get you to the top of google alone. Continue reading