UBot Studio and a visual history of automation [Infographic]

We are definitely standing on the shoulders of giants at UBot Studio.

First there was the assembly line. Soon, there will be the self-driving car.

Automation is an incredible tool when used intelligently in both your business and your life. The reason that UBot Studio has been so successful for so many people is that it’s the best way to automate in the place where people now spend huge amounts of their time, and where we make huge amounts of our income: the web.

Imagine the companies today that don’t have web sites. How much more limited are they than they were ten years ago! As the number of web sites grows, more and more business is done online, and automation becomes a requirement, just like having a web site is now.

1 in 4 people spend more time online than asleep (I’m probably one of those people–I don’t sleep much). The average United States internet user spends 32 hours online in a month, although many spend that in a week. It’s not going to change any time soon.

That’s why we released UBot Studio 5, and why we continue making automation easier for businesses. To celebrate its release, we created the infographic below. Forbes.com was kind enough to publish it. Click on the link to see the full article and take a look at the history of automation, culminating not in UBot Studio, but in places we can’t even begin to imagine. 
(On a side note, if you like automation, be sure to follow me on tumblr, where I bring together all the weird, cool news about where it’s going: Seth Turin and the Automata.)

 

UBot and the History of Automation

I have a Mac! Can I use UBot Studio?

The short answer is that UBot Studio is designed to run in Windows, and the bots that you can compile work only in Windows.

But if you’re a design geek, an Apple fanboy, or just a big fan of Macs–don’t worry. There are many resources for you to use UBot Studio even if your main OS is OSX. We spoke with several of our customers about how they do it.

 

Boot Camp:

Cost: Windows Required, $0 – 200

Boot Camp lets you run Microsoft Windows on your Mac. Learn how Boot Camp runs Windows and what the installation requirements are by clicking the link above. Boot Camp requires that you have a Windows license, and the Windows software, but a copy of Windows XP can usually be had for under $30.

If you are looking for a cheap version of Windows, check out Ebay.

 

Wine:

Cost: $0

Wine (originally an acronym for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”) is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, Mac OSX, & BSD. Instead of simulating internal Windows logic like a virtual machine or emulator, Wine translates Windows API calls into POSIX calls on-the-fly, eliminating the performance and memory penalties of other methods and allowing you to cleanly integrate Windows applications into your desktop.

It might sound complicated, but it isn’t. Check out some additional instructions: http://www.cultofmac.com/185565/how-to-run-almost-any-windows-game-on-your-mac-without-boot-camp-or-parallels-feature/. (We don’t know for sure if Wine works for UBot Studio, but it should.)

 

Wine Bottler

Cost: $0

With Wine Bottler, there’s no need to actually install Wine itself., or for your customers to install Wine. “No need to install emulators, virtualizers or boot into other operating systems – WineBottler runs your Windows-based programs directly on your Mac.

WineBottler can pack your .exe into an Mac .app. Double-click your .exe or .msi and convert it into an app with WineBottler. You can run the generated app like every other program on your Mac. For advanced users, WineBottler gives you a selection of options: install special dependencies and even turn your .exe into a self-contained app – that is an app, that contains everything to run it… even on other Macs. Porting to OS X never was easier ;).

You don’t care about generating an app and just want to run it? Double-click the .exe, choose “Run directly” and Wine will run it in a generic environment.”

 

Virtual Private Server

Cost: Variable, $40 – $200/month. (Various providers, LiquidWeb recommended by some customers)

A Virtual Private Server running windows lets you host your websites, your apps, and your bots. Many customers run their UBot Studio-created bots on VPS, but you can also run UBot Studio itself there. With a VPS there’s a monthly fee, usually, but no maintenance fees, no electricity costs, no bandwidth costs, and often times a very quick processor/ram. And a bonus is that you get to use what is usually significantly faster internet connection than the one you have at your house.

 

Amazon Web Services VPS

Cost: Variable, $0 – $4/hour

When Amazon got into the cloud business, they didn’t screw around. Amazon Web Services has a free tier VPS which for tiny instances of bots is a great idea. You can pay on an hourly basis if you want a faster VPS with more GB and bandwidth. Uploaded and running software basically freezes when you turn off the instance, and, you can turn on and turn it off remotely with a mobile app.

 

A cheap/refurbished Windows machine

Cost: Variable, $30 – $250

Newegg, EBay

You can easily buy a computer for running UBot Studio (and the many other applications that only run on Windows). Check Newegg, EBay, or your local computer shop for something around $100-200. (It should probably have 2gb of RAM and Windows XP to run UBot Studio properly.)

 

So, if you’re on a Mac, and you want to use UBot Studio – there are plenty of options. We don’t plan on building an OSX version of UBot Studio currently, but we want you to have access to the best web automation software on the planet, also.

 

Jason

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Merry Christmas from UBot!

 

Great news everyone! If you’ve purchased UBot Studio then you should have gotten an email about our special upgrade deal.

For the next week, we have lowered the price for upgrades by 30%, and we will be donating 30% of the proceeds from upgrades through this special deal to the Child’s Play Charity.

To get this special price, click here:

Developer Edition Upgrade Promotion, Good til Dec 31

Professional Edition Upgrade Promotion, Good til Dec 31

Why do we donate to Child’s Play?

Child’s Play is really simple: Your donations buy toys and video games for children’s hospitals, and sick children can play with them during their hospital stay. Often, these are terminally ill children who have a one-in-a-million chance of making it. With a life so uncertain, all they really want is a chance to just feel like kids. We have the opportunity to give that to them.

This is a first-rate charity and we have been Silver Sponsors for two years, thanks to all of our wonderful customers taking advantage of this promotion.

Enjoy, friends, and have a Merry Christmas!

 

- Seth

Delight Your Users

I am currently in a tiny town in Tennessee called Chattanooga. It’s known for a few things – historically, Rock City, Ruby Falls, and Moon Pies. And bridges.

Chattanooga in the fall

Chattanooga’s Walnut Street Bridge in the Fall

 

But over the last few years, Chattanooga’s grown into a hub for innovative ideas and technology. Some people used to call it the “Scenic City,” thanks to its location along the Tennessee River and the surrounding mountains. More recently it’s gained the name “Gig City”. Here’s why:

Chattanooga is the first city in the Western Hemisphere to offer one-gigabit-per-second fiber internet service to all residents and businesses. At 200 times the speed of the national average, the Gig opens the door to unimagined ways of learning, playing and conducting business.

Since then, the city has been host to new operations from Amazon, Volkswagen, and a few other interesting data analysis companies. It’s a place with lots of small tech events happening every month, and this month, I stopped by a little “guerrilla” conference called TopCon, for graphic designers. I didn’t have high expectations because it was inside of a former mechanic’s shop, it was only $25, and I’m not a graphic designer, but it turned out to be one of the best $25 I’ve spent (and not just because it came with two drink tickets for cocktails from the Chattanooga Whiskey company).

The biggest reason it was so inspiring was a single phrase from the first presenter, Aaron Robbs. Aaron began his career in Chattanooga, eventually moving to Atlanta around 2010, where he spent an uncomfortable amount of time unemployed — until he got a call from a little company called Mailchimp.

As an internet marketing company, Seth Turin Media has tested out several email marketing clients. Many recommend AWeber. A lot of businesses use Constant Contact or GetResponse. But Mailchimp, in my experience, has them all beat on one factor: Fun.

Mailchimp is fun to use. Go to the site and see for yourself if you haven’t before. Sign up for an account–it’s also free for the first 2,000 email addresses you want to email. (If you’re a serious internet marketer, you ought to be able to make a decent monthly income from targeted emails to 2,000 people who trust and respect your opinion.)  I’ve recommended Mailchimp before, but after seeing this presentation, which put into perspective both how far they’ve come and how they put their company attitude into action to produce profitable results, I want to say it again. I love Mailchimp.

Aaron started at Mailchimp when their website looked like this:

 

figure9a from AaronWalter.com
MailChimp.com, circa 2010

As a brand, he explained that Mailchimp had always been “fun.” Their goal was to make a new website that kept that fun while offering a professional, organized appearance. At the time, “There wasn’t an existing grid, spacing, type style…nothing. Meta, Helvetica, Gotham, Lucida Grande, Georgia, and a handful of other typefaces were used freely everywhere.” He began to work on establishing conventions, creating a style guide that would restrict the lack of focus to something more singular, but still keep that sense of playfulness by using things like large fonts, illustrations, and color.

The reason for the company’s intense focus on user experience, he explained, was this motto:

“Delight Your Users.”

And as Aaron repeated that a few times throughout the presentation, it started to sink in. Delight your users.

In 2013 we worked hard on a redesign of UBot Studio, both the software and the website, in an attempt to make them not only more professional, but also, more exciting and fun. We developed a style guide just like Aaron did at Mailchimp, and our artist and designers helped narrow down our visual style with specific colors, lines, and typefaces. I don’t know that we reached quite the drastic shift in our appearance that Mailchimp did after their redesign:

figure9b from Aaronwalter.com

MailChimp after January 2011 Redesign

But I’m confident we moved in the right direction. Even Mailchimp’s site has gone through some changes since then, so it’s clear that constant improvement and working to find the best balance for both delightfulness and clarity is an ongoing process.

One of our main goals in making automation technology available for everyone is to make it not just easy to use, but fun. Learning how to program isn’t necessarily a “delightful” experience, but through features like recording, the drag-and-drop user interface, the new UI Editor, and the colorful and futuristic new UBot Studio software design, we want to make building apps an enjoyable experience. While a lot of our competitors don’t worry too much about this, we take a page from Mailchimp — who grew from 200,000 users to 4 million since that big site redesign — and try to make the experience of using our software not just easy, but delightful, whenever we can.

When people are delighted to use what you build, they will be drawn back again and again. The internet can often seem like a sterile place, filled with websites and products that don’t focus much on experience or personality. But, often times this is what our customers and clients remember most about us.

Remember to delight your users whenever you can, with features, bonuses, and little tricks and tips that make what they do better every day. No matter what you’re building, if you can make the experience dazzling for the user, then they’ll be happy to give you a shot. That conference I went to, in an emptied out windshield repair shop, with a bit of plywood in the corner, a deerhead on the wall, and a “TopCon” sign that broke free from its hanger during the middle of a presentation, was worth well over the $25 it cost to get in. What could have felt unsophisticated and makeshift instead felt candid and forthright, because the content was good, the attitude was relaxed, and the energy was positive. It was delightful.

And don’t worry if it takes some time to get it right. After all, it took Mailchimp’s team ten years to get where they are today. And when they started, their site looked like this:

 

Mailchimp Site circa 2001

 

- Jason

 

PS – I’m still a little bummed that the conference ran out of Mailchimp swag before I could get some. I really wanted one of those stickers. If anybody wants to trade for a couple TopCon pint glasses, email me.

 

Introducing UBot Secure

The biggest fear most people have when they start in online marketing is “What if I fail?”

Don’t worry: We’ve given you all the tools you need inside UBot Studio 5 to make sure that your automation plans will be successful. But there’s a worse fear that we all have:

“What if someone steals my idea?”

We’ve seen it happen dozens of times.

You know that crackers, hackers, scammers, thieves, and pirates are everywhere. People steal software.  And a smart cracker can break most security software that’s on the market.

That’s why we spent the last six months working with security and encryption experts to protect your scripts, through a revolutionary new online security and distribution service called “UBot Secure.”

If you’re signed up to UBot Secure, your compiled bots will automatically be protected. 

We use encryption technology similar to banks, with an algorithm that mangles the original script to be completely unreadable. Your ideas will be secure in the cloud, and only sent in tiny, encrypted packets to users who you have ensured have a license for that bot. The new version of the compiled bots are also coded in C++, which is much harder to reverse engineer than the previously used .Net.

The script tied to the compiled bot will be encrypted and you will be able to control licensing of your compiled bots, as well as deployment of updates, through a simple online dashboard.

Simply put: there’s no security system available with the protection and ease-of-use that you’ll find in UBot Secure. UBot Secure protects your script during the compilation process itself, and continues protecting it during use.

 

 

January 20 Update: UBot Secure now includes automatic API integration for Warrior Plus and e-Junkie!

Woah. This UI turned out cool.

“Easier is better.”

That’s why we’ve put so much effort into making new parts of UBot Studio 5 both powerful and simple, and nowhere is that more clear than in the new UI Designer.

You COULD skip to the end of this post to see a video of it. But first, you should read this. It’s a quick lesson on how the UI in UBot Studio works:

Above the browser window is an area we call the UI or User Interface. This area is how the users of your bot (or perhaps you yourself) will interact with the bot and set options for how the bot runs.

Originally, UBot Studio had commands that, when dropped into the script, would generate UI elements like textboxes and dropdown boxes and the like inside your UI. Then we introduced the UI html panel, a special command that allowed Developers to custom-craft their UIs using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. (This was alongside additional Developer features like specialized color schemes and the ability to remove the UBot Studio logo, set an icon for your compiled bots, and more.)

Now, UBot Studio 5 takes user interfaces to the next level by offering that same level customization in a simple drag and drop UI editor window.

Available for all Editions of UBot Studio 5 (with some very cool stylistic features for Developer users that you can see in the video!):

[Whitehat] Build your own ATM with UBot Studio 5

When I asked some of you whether or not you used UBot Studio to scrape websites, of course the answer was “that’s the main point, isn’t it?”Scraping represents half of what people need to automate. Because in really simple terms, there are only two ways to interact with the web browser: You can put data into it, or you can pull data from it. 

Scraping is often overlooked, but just take a second to imagine the amazing things it lets you do. Instead of searching for information, your script goes out and finds it for you. It will do it faster and more accurately than any human, and it will never get tired. It will come back with a list of all the keywords, prices, contact info, headlines, URLs, posts, and whatever other data you might need, and it will have them sorted and arranged and laid out for you like a pile of $1 bills.

So in UBot Studio 5, we’re adding some powerful new features to make scraping easier and quicker for everyone. 

We’ve used artificial intelligence to make scraping as easy as filling out forms. Just right click the element you want and instantly UBot Studio will create a command to find all the similar elements and put the results into a list. You’ll also be able to scrape individual element attributes and send the results to a variable with the click of a button. Stacked elements won’t be a problem, either, because you’ll be able to easily scrape up the chain of parents, so that for example, if there’s a link and the link has a span inside of it, you can scrape either the span element, or the link element.

The reasons to scrape pages are as wide-ranging as there ways to do business online, but the simplest idea?

The right information in the right hands is valuable, but the internet has nearly limitless information. These new changes make finding the right information even easier. So find the “money data” and build a way to scrape it with UBot Studio. Do that, and you’ve basically built yourself an ATM.

 

- Seth

UBot Studio 5: Watch This.

UBot Studio 5 is almost out. I’ve saved the announcements for what I think are some of the coolest features for last. Here’s one:

While we love the ability to drag-and-drop elements inside your browser into the script window, automatically creating an a “click” command, or a “type text” command, and something like over 100,000 bots have been built like that, we know sometimes it would be easier to just click the links, type the text, and have the bot built automatically for you.

Watch this: 

“The Good ol’ Days”

Some people say it was better back in the old days. “People had manners!” “Summers weren’t so hot!” “UBot had sockets!”

Thanks to popular demand, we’ve brought back this advanced feature from UBot Studio 3.5 for UBot Studio 5.

Here’s why: After asking just a few users how sockets would help them, I got this answer:“I can scrape 1000 results from Google, Yahoo and Bing in about 20 seconds …And I never seem to get cut off.”

Using the socket container command is like opening a new browser window, except there’s no visual representation–it’s pure text. It’s like connecting directly to The Matrix. There’s a way to do this in UBot Studio inside of a hidden browser window, but that often uses extra resources. While using sockets isn’t for everyone, and is definitely an advanced tool, you should consider them for some applications because

1. Sockets are lightweight. 
2. They are extremely fast.
3. You can scale them up a lot. 

You can multithread more easily, complete more tasks at once, and generally build more powerful tools that are as effective as anything a programmer could create. It’s not exactly the same feature from UBot Studio 3.5–we’ve made it more stable. But be warned — it takes a bit more programming knowledge. You’ll want to use this one with caution.

Hope you enjoy.
-Seth

With UBot Studio 5, Fight Back Against Big Data

On the internet, there’s 500,000,000,000 GB of data. When you distill down the data you need, chances are that it won’t fit into a CSV.

But somewhere in that data is the secret of the universe, and also, every dollar you’ll ever make online. See, databases are boring in the same way that sports statistics are boring. But what they represent is amazing. Facebook and Google became internet giants by dissecting, digesting, and dominating incomprehensible amounts of data.

To truly take advantage of how much incredible free information there is, and even to manage your own data, you’re going to need to be smart and use every tool available to your advantage. To compare customers, the products they bought, and purchase dates, or websites you own and keywords you’re trying to rank for, or competitor URLs, pricing, and scan dates, you’re going to have to go beyond the Excel spreadsheet. For instant data connectivity, for updates that you can see immediately on a server, for running comparisons of tables together, and for uncovering the secrets inside all that data, you’re going to have to become a data guru.

And for that, a SQL database is like a magic wand.

When you wave it in the right pattern, gold comes out.

We got several requests for additional SQL server interactivity beyond the MySQL that’s already in UBot Studio, so we’ll be adding SQL Server and SQLite to UBot Studio 5.

Hope you enjoy.

- Seth

PS:

Data

….

Profit!