Rather than limiting you to a single method for recording your actions on a web page, iMacros instead provides you with multiple options for effectively recording any task. The three main recording modes are TAG, DirectScreen, and EVENT.
Not only is it possible to record using a single mode, but you can also switch modes on-the-fly or combine macros after recording in order to mix and match techniques for fine tuning the results.
The TAG mode is the workhorse for recording macros and has been the default recording mode in iMacros since its inception. It’s called the TAG mode because it is most closely related to the underlying HTML code of the web page.
HTML consists of a series of nested tags that can contain attributes and content. Likewise, the TAG command contains parameters for specifying the attributes and content that are captured during recording. This makes understanding the macro commands a breeze for anyone with even a cursory knowledge of HTML. For more advanced users, the TAG command also supports CSS selectors and XPATH expressions.
The DirectScreen mode works by recording mouse movements and clicks as well as keyboard keystrokes and then replays these actions at specific coordinates within the web page.
Using this mode, it is possible to capture complex interactions with elements on a page, such as performing a drag-and-drop operation. It is also quite effective at handling complicated elements like sliders, date pickers, and dynamically populated drop-downs. DirectScreen is also the only mode capable of automating legacy web applications built with Java, Flash, or Silverlight.
Unlike the other recording modes, DirectScreen is not “smart” in the sense that it knows nothing about the underlying HTML and cannot tell whether a command has hit its intended target; it simply executes the command and moves on to the next one. Because of this, DirectScreen is best used in combination with one of the other recording methods and/or Image Validation, rather than using it to record whole macros.
Why Multiple Modes?
While TAG has been the stalwart recording mode for many years and continues to be so, the web is always evolving and therefore iMacros along with it. Having multiple modes at your disposal ensures that your web automation projects have the greatest chances for success. iMacros' close ties with HTML makes it the go-to choice for web-specific tasks over general-purpose desktop automation tools, and having different techniques for recording macros makes iMacros more versatile than similar tools that only offer a single approach.