image provider

Form Filler


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This is designed as a plug-into a browser such as Netscape. The plug-in looks at a form, usually one containing name, address etc. and fills it in reasonably intelligently from a set of canned fields configured into the browser. It would have heuristic logic to decide which data goes in which fields. Test it out at various shopping cart sites and various sites that don’t take email, where they want you to fill in a form to register a complaint. Even if you get it 80% right, you still save the user time typing.

Design a standard set of field names. Give your standard a fancy acronym. Bug websites who don’t follow it and send them a copy, explaining the advantages of standard field naming and giving plenty of examples. Extend for other languages besides English. Make sure you can handle telephone numbers and addresses outside the USA. There was a a bloated commercial product that does this called Gator.

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