OpenKapow: Not Quite Dapper

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Today, Kapow Technologies has launched a new developer community, OpenKapow, based around their Kapow web-crawling bot. OpenKapow lets anyone use Kapow’s visual IDE (Kapow RoboSuite) to more easily program and share bots that make RSS feeds, REST services, and web clips, which can serve as the backbone for all kinds of mashups. The IDE weighs in at 110MB, so sit tight for a long download. It’s not as sleek as Dapper, with its virtual browser and nontechnical interface, but serves as a good introduction to Kapow’s successful enterprise-level services.

The bot operates much like any other home-grown screen-scrapping bot you would quickly program to grab bits and pieces of pages across the web, but is more flexible and optimized better than bots that rely solely on grabbing html code based on matching text patterns (regular expressions). Instead, Kapow bots follow the DOM structure of a site when grabbing and looping through data.

The IDE’s interface is comprised of three main areas: logical structure of the bot (for loops and all), properties inspector, and an embeded browser you use to direct the bot’s interaction with a web page. Examples of completed bot programs can be found at the community forum page, where all completed bots must be published so that they can be run by Kapow’s servers. Each program can also be downloaded and modified by any user. Look at this NFL sports feed created by one member’s program. With a bit more programming, you can create more interesting mashups based on Kapow data.

Kapow Technologies was founded in Denmark in 1998, with their bot suite originally used to collect the data for the largest marketplace in Europe, Kapow.net. In 2001, Kapow decided to refocus solely on their software. OpenKapow marks a new effort to expose RoboSuite to a wider audience, particularly the mashup crowd. As with Dapper, though, we have yet to see how any copyright issues develop.

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