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I'm looking for a Windows tool, possibly commercial (budget ~100 USD), that pastes multiple values into multiple fields in a data registration scenario.

A client registers key/value pairs (from PDFs, Word files and e-mails) in a database with a desktop (Win Forms) front end. I have looked for, and not found, a tool that can accept multiple values into its buffer and then paste them all (in a single action) into separate fields in the desktop app.

I'm assuming the tool could collect data in two ways:

  1. Simple: The user highlights the desired value (text) and then uses CTRL-C to copy it to the tool's buffer. It is acceptable if the selection of values has to be done in a particular order.
  2. Advanced: The tool scans the text, looking for key/value pairs.

I'm assuming the tool has to be trained e.g. "this value belongs in this field". If the tool does not understand the WinForm layout model, I'm assuming using coordinates from the top left corner of the window is sufficient.

The effect would be similar to that of supplying URL parameters, but alas, the WinForm app doesn't accept multi-value entry from users in any form.

Does such a tool exist?

  • Most databases also have mechanisms to input a complete record at a time - have you considered using such a mechanism as it is less error prone than form filling. – Steve Barnes Apr 12 '16 at 8:04
  • @Steve The records will be entered by non-IT professionals that use an interface already familiar to them. I'm currently investigating ways to improve their workflow while relying on their existing application. – bjornte Apr 12 '16 at 8:12
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Your question seems to have two distinct parts:

  • gathering the data and
  • submitting the data.

For the first part

For the first part since Windows doesn't support multiple selection to the clipboard in most applications I would suggest that you would be better off defining your data source(s) more specifically and the finding programmatic methods for parsing the data source(s). A lot depends on how the data that you are gathering is structured, if it is a filled in form in pdf, or word, format there are a number of mechanism for parsing the data back out and parsing it. If you control the original form that is filled out you can use named fields if not you will have to parse the document. A couple of tools to look at in the python ecosystem are pdfminer and pywordform.

For the second part

Ideally you could skip the form based interface altogether and simply create records in the database directly - python excels at this as there are bindings for most database back-ends.

Assuming that you just wish to populate the form and possibly allow the operator to check it before submission I suggest that you take a look at Sikuli/SikuliX which uses OCR techniques to interact with any GUI components and is scripted in python, ruby or java.

As such it can locate a field on the screen, by looking for the text or symbol next to it, and can enter any required data into any fields - since it pretends to be the user it can work to automate any application.

All of the above tools are Free, Gratis, Open Source and Cross Platform.

  • Thanks for the recommendations! Unfortunately, the data sources are "defined" by external lawyers. My client has tried to get them to submit structured data for years, but they are resisting. Sikuli/SikuliX looks very intriguing, though. I would have upvoted if I had enough karma :-) – bjornte Apr 12 '16 at 9:03

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