Screen scraper, pseudo screen scraper, super screen scraper, or what?

We recently hired a company to evaluate our marketing literature and web site to make sure we clearly communicate our value proposition. Part of the vendor research included interviewing a few new, mid, and long time customers for their impression of HostBridge.

I eagerly read the write up of the first interview and was shocked to see a customer describe HostBridge as a “pseudo screen scraper”.  How can than be?  Then a couple days later, a long time customer said their management’s perception of HostBridge is a super screen scraper!  What?

Ever since I joined the HostBridge team, referring to our solution as a “screen scraper” is like scraping finger nails down a chalkboard!  I mean, them there are fightin words…and a dog whistle to immediately explain HostBridge IS NOT a screen scraper, we totally disrespect screen scrapers, and HostBridge was specifically developed to eliminate the problems with screen scrapers-  complex, perform poorly, scale poorly, and break easily.

I went to bed that night fretting over how to break the news to our technical team….some of our customers think of HostBridge as a screen scraper!  To say our tech team takes our product seriously is an understatement.  I mean, they do stuff like go into plan, code, test, and repeat “huddles” for days/nights at a time just trying to shave a few milliseconds off this or that process.  They actually measure stuff in microseconds. When it comes to HostBridge, they are obsessive. If you’ve ever attended a webcast with James or been in a white board session with Russ, you have some idea about how passionate they are about our products….and now I have to tell them some of our customers refer to HostBridge as a screen scraper.  I may have to put Russ, Scott, James, John, and Dan on suicide watch!

I tossed and turned all night. Then a light bulb moment. Many customers came to us to replace screen scraping solutions that became problematic as transaction volume grew. HostBridge doesn’t rely on row/column coordinates (screen scraping).  Instead, leverages the CICS Link Bridge API to intercept CICS data before terminal data streams are generated.  This allows HostBridge to use program field names as metadata for interaction, navigation, and orchestration.  We’re not screen scraping, but are manipulating applications originally meant for terminal input/output.  OK, I understand why customers sometimes describe HostBridge as a “type” of screen scraper. Technically speaking we aren’t a screen scraper, but if you stretch the definition to include a product that web service enables terminal oriented (visual) applications, I’m in.

I’ve decided the next time a client describes HostBridge as a screen scraper, I’m not going to launch in a “no were not” speech.  Instead, will respond HostBridge is more of a screen scraper on steroids.  Just don’t tell anyone in our technical team.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s