An Interactive Macro to Automate the Downloading of Digitized Articles
Presented at the SIG 11 (Computer Applications) Show-and-Tell at RESNA 2008.
The client is a full-time journalist and part-time graduate student. She reads voraciously for her work, studies, and personal enjoyment.
Her disability is low-vision. She also has computer-induced repetitive strain injuries. Her preferred way to read magazine and newspaper articles is to download them from the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) Digital Library into a specific folder, rename the files, and upload them to a portable reading device.
She experiences difficulties downloading articles because
- Default file names do not reflect the content of the articles.
- Default file names do not effectively reflect how the files relate to one another — which publication, volume or issue number; or whether the files are articles or letters to the editor.
- Web pages have extraneous links between the links to the articles. The number of extra links varies, but usually is constant for each individual page on the website.
- The act of downloading articles one-by-one is time-consuming and requires high levels of dexterity and concentration.
I developed an interactive Macro Express script to automate the downloading of related articles. When the client presses a hotkey, the macro prompts her to key in:
- The number of articles to download
- The number of tabs between links
- The name of the publication
- A description of the publication e.g., date, volume, or issue.
For each article, the macro sends keystrokes to download a file, and assign it a three-part file name:
Publication - Two-digit article number - Description
After each download, the script increments the article counter and sends the exact number of tabs to reach the next article link. All articles are downloaded to a folder:
New York Times - 01 - June 2008.html
New York Times - 02 - June 2008.html
New York Times - 03 - June 2008.html
The cost to develop the macro was about $100 plus the cost of Macro Express, which the client already owned.