Screen Scrapes and Screen Shots

Its really funny sometimes… the big stuff, world hunger, politicians, war… even things like my car getting broken in to… they don’t really bother me. It all just kinda slides right off my back. But the little things just grate on my last nerve.

I’m a programmer, been doing computers for twenty years and programming for eleven. I’ve worked with all sorts of languages, dealt with umpteen different kinds of servers and thousands of applications, and over time in a career like this, you learn the terminology. Certain things mean certain stuff. For example, when dealing with mainframes or midranges and converting their text displays to another format there is an interim step called a “screen scrape“. It got this term because you are literally scanning the data stream to the terminal or PC, identifying and pulling out text and fields, and munging them through some sort of GUI to display to the user or do stuff to the screen (like autofill certain fields). Then after if they used a GUI, you plug the data back into the fields and submit it to the mainfraim or whatever. You are scraping the screen for data and fields and doing stuff with it. On the other hand, a “screen shot” is an image of the screen captured for display elsewhere (often in user manuals or to accompany a bug report).

Some of the people I work with, some of whom have been around computers longer than I have, keep calling their screen shots “screen scrapes” and its driving me up the wall. And the even worse thing is, because they don’t understand the difference, when I ask for “screen shots”, I usually get back blank stares. Finally they’ll ask, “Do you mean a screen scrape?”

My head explodes on a regular basis.