Bulk Deleting Attributes in Magento with iMacros

Very quickly when testing with Magento you can end up with lots and lots attributes in Magento that you don’t need any more.

Deleting an attribute is easy, deleting lots is a pain and it can be so easily be scripted, because we all hate doing something more than once right?

So that’s what the video below shows you and the code snippet is just below the video for you.


Quickly & easily bulk delete attributes in Magento

The iMacro Code

To make this work for you, you’ll need the macro code below:


How to add this to your iMacro list

To add this to your iMacros follow these steps:

  1. In your iMacros side bar, click on the #Current.iim macro
  2. At the bottom panel press the “Edit” tab
  3. Press “Edit Macro”
  4. Paste the code in from above
  5. Press File > Save As and save it as “bulk delete attributes.iim”
  6. For this new macro to show in the list, on the same edit tab in the left panel, press “Refresh macro list”
  7. Use as you desire

If you don’t have FireFox you can download it for free here and the iMacros extension for Firefox is also free and you can download that here.

Daft point…

Use your common sense when deleting attributes or using any form of automated script.

Make sure you know what it’s doing, have faith in you have a restricted search made and watch it, just in case you delete system attributes (while sipping tea and with the feet on the desk).



Looking for BETA Testers – A Couple of eBay Related Widgets


I’ve been working on a couple of widgets for eBay and I’m wondering if you would be interested in using them to help me make them better before they’re released publicly.

There are a few of them as listed below and I’ll cover them in more detail:

  • Dynamic eBay Store Categories for eBay Listings
    (Now live here)
  • Dynamic Related Items Gallery
  • Terapeak Value Summaries
  • Single & Multi-variation data extraction for sales

If any of these grab your attention, the contact details are at the bottom of this article.


Dynamic eBay Store Categories

Update: This is now live see this article.

Having the eBay shop categories in your listings can be exceptionally important as part of an exit strategy to your listings. So I’ve build a dynamic categories widget that anyone can use.

What does this widget do?

This widget brings in your eBay shop categories into your eBay listing and updates every 24 hours.

A little background

eBay Shop Listing Frame

This widget has been bugging me for months and a few days ago I finally worked how it was done and wrote the code to create them for any account with an eBay Shop.

It’s fine if you have eSellerPro, a special keyword was added called “{{MenuCategoryList}}” that will bring through the eBay shop categories in your eBay listings from the template and allow you to format them (you also need to set some static information in maintenance > accounts for this to work properly).

But even that’s not the ideal solution as if you add or remove categories from your eBay Shop then you have to revise your live listings, which when you have thousands of listings can take hours to complete.

You could of course turn on the listing frame that eBay provides. This will do the same job, but it’s missing one key ability. The ability to style it as it’s outside the iframe that the listing description sits in. So that’s really only a temporary measure at best.

The part that has been bugging me is that not everyone has eSellerPro, even the keyword that they use is not ideal, plus as mentioned above the eBay listing frame is a viable alternative, but you just can’t style it using CSS and to have this as part of your eBay listing template can cost the best part of £100 from a couple of eBay design companies. Nice, but not worth £100 for that alone IMHO.

So now I’ve written a block of code that will give you the eBay shop categories dynamically, just add your eBay ID, paste into your eBay listing and it just works.

For advanced users, I’ve added ID and CLASS tags to the right sections of the category tree, you can style them however you like too. They’re cached overnight and if you add or remove categories, then they’ll be reflected the next day.

Dynamic Related Items Gallery

This also stems from a me seeing a piece of functionality a few weeks ago and putting it on my to-do list and actually getting around to coding this.

What does this do?

This will give you a scrolling related items widget that you can use in either your eBay shop or in your eBay listings and also control what is or what is not shown by shop category or keywords.

If you take a look at this eBay shop http://stores.ebay.de/Crumpler-Outlet you’ll see that there are two pretty cool rotating widgets for “Best Sellers” and “New Arrivals”. A screen shot of this is below:

Related Items Widget

While best sellers and new arrivals are nice for an eBay shop, what would be much better is that such a widget would be better off in the eBay listing and that’s exactly the route I took.

I now have a dynamic related items widget that will accept:

  • No input for all the items in the shop,
  • Items from a specific eBay shop category
  • A specific keyword or set of keywords
  • Or a combination of both a shop category and keywords

Oh and they can be fully customised to your eBay shop/listing template design as shown by the live listing here and in the screen shot below:

Related Items eBay Widget

Terapeak Value Summaries

Terapeak is fab for mining one part of eBay which is sales related. But it has bugged me for months as I just can’t do the maths on the search results quick enough.

This is the first of two scripts that bend rules, hence you’ll need to read the disclaimer section further down when it comes to this and the eBay variations one below.

What does this do?

This will summarise the results page in less than a second for you and add it as summary line on the page. Thus saving you from trying to guestimate the results and give you accurate figures instantly.

I showed this to someone on Friday and they came back with an excellent suggestion (which I’ll add), which is that showing the totals and average sale price was fantastic, but they’d also like to know the market share of that keyword for each seller ID.

So next to eBay Seller ID, I’ll be adding percentage share that each Seller ID has for that specific search term. That’s exactly the reason why I’m sharing these to make them better!

A screenshot of this in action is below. Imagine you wanted to know what the total value of a specific search term(s) , the number of listings, bids, sold quantity as a total and a better idea of a ASP, you can now easily find out:

Terapeak Example

Single & Multi-Variation Data Extraction For Sales History

While we’re on the topic of Terapeak, Terapeak is excellent for working out relatively accurate sales figures for eBay listings, but the part where it falls down is that it does not report on the actual variations of a single or multi-variation listing.

That information is absolutely critical to making a buying decision based on sales history data.

Let me explain this to you with an example. I’ve made a search for “Maxi Dress” on eBay and found this item number http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/300648608435 now let’s assume that we are able to source this or a similar product.

eBay Sales History Example

eBay tells us that +1,000 of these have sold and that’s great. Terapeak will give us a total sales value for that listing, but what it does not tell us is what combinations they sell and in what velocity.

So to make an informed buying decision on the same or similar product, we need to know what has sold, in which variations, at what price and when. That kind of information can make the difference between potentially buying the wrong sizes, the wrong colours and making profit.

This will extract this for you to a CSV file, with each variation on a separate line and able to handle up to 4 variations and for a total of 100 sales. The limit of 100 sales is what is imposed by eBay from the sales history page. Buyer details are not extracted as they’re irrelevant.


The Terapeak script and the eBay extraction script both come with warnings as they both bend terms of service agreements and I’m writing this with two specific people in mind.

In both these instances a user can obtain this data by a basic copy/paste from the page and sorting it out in excel. Neither of these scripts make subsequent calls to other pages (ie: no extra page load because of their usage) and are either manipulating live data on a page or saving it in a well formatted manner for the purposes of bettering the users research activities. Also in both instances, neither are detectable as they are run client side :P

Your Feedback!

If any of these tickle your fancy, please contact me directly here and if you have any comments or suggestions on what I’ve covered above, I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below.

Creating Your Very First iMacro – Web Browser Automation

Following on from my earlier article on How to Install Firefox & The iMacros Addon which also included some performance tips, this video shows you how to create your very first iMacro and also a more complicated macro, that performs a useful action.

In the video I add an extra command called “WAIT”. The wait command allows iMacro’s to pause for a period of time for an action to be performed and as with all commands in iMacro’s the command needs to be in UPPERCASE.

Installing Firefox & The iMacros Addon + Speed Tip’s

The video below takes you through downloading Firefox and the iMacro’s extension, plus some speed tips to improve the performance of your macros in Firefox.


Installing Firefox & The iMacros Addon Video



Helpful Links

Dealing With “Odd” Data Delimiters In Microsoft Excel

In this video I cover the following topics:

  1. What are CSV files
  2. What data inside a CSV files look like
  3. Why the standard comma separator can sometimes not work
  4. An example of a different separator
  5. How to open such files in Microsoft Excel (at 4:00 minutes in)

Website Data Extraction/Scraping & Form Filling Expert

Due to demand, this service is only available to existing clients and is no longer available.

Website Data ScrapingWeb scraping can be hugely advantageous to businesses, allowing them to function more effectively and keep up-to-date with information that is on specific websites more frequently and accurately.

This is especially true when you consider the applications that can be created can be run by numerous members of staff on an ad-hoc basis or even automated everyday at certain times or that they allow the access to complex data from suppliers for more effective merchandising or keeping their internal systems updated more frequently with stock and pricing information.

This can be also a very quick process too, taking only a few hours to complete most projects and then only taking just seconds for small projects to run and depending on the complexity & speed of the users connection to the internet.

I have several years experience with web scraping over many projects and requirements. In this article I cover the details of extraction in more depth and include examples where suitable. If you have a project in-mind, contact me today with your requirements.

I specialise on small & medium scale scraping projects, such as extracting data from supplier websites for product information, stock & prices updates.

However I can readily tackle multi-tiered extractions and also create clean data from complex situations to import into 3rd party applications with little to no input from the user.

Not only can most data be extracted from most websites, the data can also be posted to websites from data files such as CSV.  This could be form filling for job applications, listing products on to websites or online dating requests, not just extracting product, service or article data from a website.

If you can do it in a web browser, then it can most likely it can be automated.

The possibilities are almost endless.

If have a project in mind, Contact Matthew today, it could be completed in just a few hours.


Getting The Edge With Data Extraction

Using automated tools to grab or post data to the web could trim hours off each day or week. Extracting the latest stock & prices from suppliers could mean higher profitability and less back-orders. It could even mean reams of data from suppliers websites and give your business the edge over your competitors.

It doesn’t matter if its behind password protected content, if you can “see it” in your web browser, chances are it can be extracted. If you’re entering data manually into website forms, chances are high that it can be automated too.

I’ve worked on numerous projects where clients have been able to ensure that they’re back-office tools are up to date as possible with the latest information from suppliers and even allowed businesses to work with suppliers they’ve never been able to do with before, because the requirements to extract data from supplier websites has been too restrictive either due to time or cost.

Knowing what your competitors prices are can be a huge advantage when it comes to pricing especially in the eCommerce environment we have today. If you’ve got the data and they can be matched to other sites, within one click and a few minutes, the latest pricing information from competitors could be yours. As many times as you want, whenever you want.

Scraping & data extraction can solve this in a cost effective manner. One script, used over and over. Anytime you want by however members of staff you have.

If you want the edge, Contact Matthew today.


The Required Tools Are Free

Using two free applications, the first is the Firefox web browser and a free add-on called iMacros, simple to very complex web automation can be completed.

This allows completed projects to be run by the owner using free-to-use tools, so that any extraction or processing can be run by the owner or staff members as many times as they require and however often they require.

Also extract processing can be obtained using JavaScript to process complex data inputs or extracted data from websites. I cover this in more detail in the “extra data processing” section.

Don’t worry if you’ve never used either of these before, if you’ve used a web browser and can press a button, its that simple. I’ll help you get started and its very easy to do. I also include instructional video’s to get you set up. It’ll take no more than 10 minutes.

Simple Extraction

In this scenario, data elements from a single page can be extracted and then saved to a CSV file.


This could be a product detail page of a TV and the required elements, such as:

  • Product title
  • Price(s)
  • Stock number
  • Model number
  • Images
  • Product specifics
  • Descriptions
  • Reviews

Are all extracted and then are then saved to a CSV file for your own use.

The time it takes to make a simple extraction of data from a single page varies greatly, this is because the data on the page can sometimes be very poorly formatted or if there are lots of fields that need to be extracted this can take quite some time.

If have a project in mind, Contact Matthew today, it could be completed in just a few hours.

Extra Data Processing

Extra processing can be applied to the extracted data before saving to a CSV file. This is very handy when you only want or require cleaned data to be saved. Most of the time its obvious that cleaning is needed and basic cleaning of the data is included in the macro.

The quickest way of identifying any processing you require on extracted data is to provide an example file of how you would like the final data to look like.


If one of the extracted fields was a complex data field such as and email address held with other data in JavaScript, such as this:

<script language=”javascript” type=”text/javascript”>var contactInfoFirstName = “Vivian”; var contactInfoLastName = “Smith”; var contactInfoCompanyName = ” REALTY LLC”; var contactInfoEmail = “[email protected]”; </script>

Instead of including the extra information in the export, the email address can be identified and only that data field is extracted. Or if all the data held in the JavaScript is required, this could be split into separate columns, such as:

First Name,         Last Name,        Company Name,              Email Address
Vivan,                   Smith,                   REALTY LLC,                        [email protected]

Also, if the data needs to be formatted for import into a 3rd party application, such as ChannelAdvisor, eSellerPro, Linnworks or a website application, this isn’t a problem either. I’m exceptionally competent with Microsoft Excel & VBA and can help you leverage the gained data and format it in a complete solution that requires the least amount of input from you or your staff.

Even if you have basic requirements or highly complex Contact Matthew today, your data extraction project could be completed in just a few hours and fully customised to your business requirements.

Paginated Extraction

This can vary from site to site, however complex extraction could involve navigating several product pages on a website such as search results, then navigating to each product that is in the search result and then processing a simple extraction or a complex extraction on the products detail page.

Example (property)  – Website: Homepath.com

In this example, not only is the requirement is to extract the data found for a specific property; it is also required for ALL the search results to be extracted.

This would involve extracting all the results and then navigating to each property page and extracting the data on the property detail pages.

The time taken to extract the data from such pages varies on both the number of property results to go through and the amount of data that is to be extracted from the property details page.

Example (products) Website: Microdirect.co.uk

In this example similar to the properties, the requirement is to extract the data from each of the product pages, but to also to extract the product details pages data for all the pages in the search results.

The macro would navigate through each of the page results (say 10), identify each of the products, then one-by-one work its way through the products, saving the data to a file.

Need data from pages & pages of a website? Not a problem, Contact Matthew today, it could be completed in just a few hours.

Ultra Complex Extraction

These normally consist of a requirement of data to be processed from a CSV file, then external processing & scraping by the macro and then possibly depending upon the results, further processing or scraping is to be completed. Such projects are normally very complex and can take some time to complete.

Working with multiple tiered drop down boxes (options) fall into this category, as normally by their very nature can be complex to deal with. It’s also worth noting that is possible to work with multiple tiers of options, for example, when making one section, the results cause sub-options to appear. Sites that need image recognition technologies also fall into this category.

However it’s easier to explain an example rather go minute detail.


For this example, you have a CSV file that has a number of terms that need to be searched for on a dating website, once these searches are made, the details are saved and then it is required to contact/email of the persons through another form.

The macro will make intelligent searches for these terms and the matching results (these are likely to be paginated) are saved to a separate file. Then for each result that was saved, the macro will then are then sent customised contact messages through another form found on the same or different website.

Do you feel your requirements are complicated or the website you’d like to extract from or post to isn’t simple? Contact Matthew today, I’ll be able to let you know exact times & can create the project for you at a fixed cost.

Saving Data & File Types

Extracted data is normally saved as CSV files. The data is separated by commas “,” and will open in Microsoft Excel or Open Office easily. For most applications using a comma will work perfectly.

However sometimes, the data that is extracted is complex (such as raw HTML) and using a comma as the separator causes issues with leakage when viewing in Microsoft Excel or Open Office, this is when using other characters such as the pipe “|” comes in very handy to separate the data fields (eg title and image).

The separator can be any single combination of characters you wish, some common examples are:

  • Comma “,”
  • Tab ”      “
  • Pipe “|”
  • Double pipe “||”
  • Semi-colon “;”
  • Double semi-colon “;;”

It will be quite clear from the onset which separator is required either from the data is being extracted or the projects requirements. If you have any special requirements, please discuss this beforehand.

XML or SQL insert statements can also be created if desired, however this can add several hours onto projects due to its complexities.

File types an issue? I can pre-process data files before-hand in other applications id needed.  Contact Matthew today, it could be completed in just a few hours.

Speed of Extraction/Form Filling

As a general rule, the projects I create run exceptionally fast, however there are two factors that will limit the speed of them:

  • The speed of the website being interacted with
  • The speed of your connection to the internet

You can also make project scripts run much faster by ensuring that the following options in your iMacro’s settings are turned exactly the same as those shown below.

You can find the options page shown below by clicking the “Edit” tab on the iMacro’s side bar, then pressing the button called “Options”.

Imacros Option Panel

Even if you above looks complicated, its not. Instructional video’s are included and I’ll make it exceptionally easy for you. Contact Matthew today, it could be completed in just a few hours.

Exceptions & Un-Scrape-able Pages

It is important that your processing requirements are discussed before hand with examples, so that I can confirm whether or not automated scraping will suit your requirements. In most cases it will do, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

In some cases, it is not possible to extract data from pages over & over due to:

  • A poor ‘make up’ of the page
  • Inconsistent page layouts
  • Page structures that vary enormously from one page to another
  • Use of flash or excessive use of AJAX
  • User code ‘capture’ boxes (like recapture)

When this happens, then the only consistent method of extracting data from such pages is by a human and scraping will unlikely be suitable for your requirements. This is rare, but does occur. If I identify this (and I will very quickly), I’ll let you know ASAP.

I am unwilling to work with data of questionable content. The below above are just common-sense really, I’ve added them for completeness.

  • Adult orientated material (porn is a no, services are a no, ‘products’ are ok)
  • Sites that are focused towards children
  • Identifiable records on people such as medical records (order related data is fine if they are yours).
  • Most government sites
  • In situations where I suspect the data will be grossly miss-used for fraudulent or illegal purposes.

Unsure on what your requirements are or just not sure if web scraping is the right way forwards for your business requirements. Contact Matthew now, I’ll be able to help you and turn it into plain English for you.

What Are the Limits of Extraction/Processing?

Most normal limitations are caused by very large or very deep page requirements of a project. That doesn’t mean they’re not possible, just that it could take some time to code for and also for to run each time by you.

The projects that I create suit smaller scale situations, such as one off extractions or extractions that need to be run by the owner over and over, such as on a daily basis to collect the latest product & pricing information from a supplier.

The real limitations come in to force when the requirements are for huge scale extraction, such as hundreds of thousands of records or exceptionally complex and exceptionally deep extractions. This is when using tools such as Pyhon , C++, Perl or other languages that allow spidering of websites would be more suitable.

This is not a speciality of mine, however due to my experience with scraping, I can assist you with project management of such projects with 3rd party contractors. Contact Matthew now if this is what you need.

Anonymity & Use of Proxies

If you need to keep the activities of such scripting hidden to remain anonymous, then this can be achieved on small scale projects using free proxies with no interaction from yourself.

In larger or more repetitive situations then either I can help you setup your browser to use free to use proxies (can be unreliable at times) or in most cases I’ve found leveraging inexpensive a services that are very easy to use and most importantly reliable.

If this is a concern for you, don’t worry I’ve done it all before. Contact Matthew now if this is a requirement for your project.

Do you provide ‘open’ code?

For ‘small’ or ‘simple’ macros, yes the code is open and you or your development team are able to edit as required.

However for some complex or ultra complex macro’s the code is obfuscated due to the extra functions that are normally included. This is non-negotiable as I have developed custom functions that allow me to uniquely deal with complex situations of data extraction & posting.

Is Web Scraping Legal?

The answer to this can be both yes and no depending upon the circumstances.

Legal Data Extraction
For example if you own the site and data that is being extracted, then you own the data and you’re using it for your own purposes. If you gain permission beforehand, for example from a supplier to extract data from their website, this is also legal.

I have worked on projects where an employee has left a company and there is no access to the back-ends/administration consoles of websites and the only way of obtaining the data held on the site is by scraping. I’ve done BuddyPress, WordPress, PHP-Nuke, phpBB, e107 & vBulletin sites previously to name just a few.

Also I have completed many projects where product data is extracted for use by a business to obtain up-to-date pricing and stock information from suppliers websites, along with extra product & categorisation data too.

Illegal Data Extraction
Because the macro’s are run on your or staff computers, scenarios outside of where the sites are owned or permission has been granted, fall into your discretion.

I cannot be held responsible for any legal actions that may proceed from your actions of running such scripts on 3rd party websites. As such I strongly recommended that you contact the 3rd party to seek consent and check any privacy or usage policies that they may have prior to extraction.

Contact Matthew

If you’ve got a clear idea on what you’d like done or just even if you’re just not sure if its even possible, Contact Matthew today and I’ll be able to tell you if it is possible, how long, how much and when the completed project will be with you.

Removing Old Email from Hotmail

If like me, you’ve had a hotmail account for years, there is a high chance that its probably clogged up with, hundreds if not thousands of emails that you’ll never read and I was finally bugged by logging into Windows each time and it telling me I had in excess over 24,000 unread emails. Not funny.

I Googled a bit and the only helpful post was to contact their customer support and ask for them to be removed, thinking this would probably take ages and knowing I could probably do this in a few minutes with iMacros, I put this little macro to work.

Hotmail iMacro:


How to make this work

Over to the right you’ll see I cleaned out almost 25,000 emails and its really easy to do.

But first we need three parts to be able to complete this:

  1. FireFox web browser
  2. iMacros plugin for FireFox
  3. This macro (saved as a zip file)

The web browser and iMacros plugin are pretty straight forward, download and install if you don’t have FireFox, then once installed go to the iMacros plugin page and press the download button and follow the on-screen instructions.

Then download the macro and unzip to your macros directory, by default this is in mydocuments > imacros > macros. Once added, open up Firefox and look for the iMacros button in the header, if its not there press “View” along the top, then “Sidebars” and select “iOpus iMacros” and the side bar will appear.

You should see a list of macros down the left column, if you do not see the Hotmail.iim one, at the bottom there are three tabs, press the edit tab and then press the “Refresh Macro List” button as shown to the left.

This will update the current list with the new macro you’ve added, now we’re almost ready to go!

Login to Hotmail and then go to your inbox, to begin with we’ll just run the macro once to ensure that its working, select the macro from the list and back on the play tab, press “Play”.

You’ll see the macro hit the check box at the top of the emails and then delete them. That’s great, but that is only for first page and if like me, you had hundreds of pages to go through we need the little extra option which I’ll explain now.

With the macro selected, we can run this as many times as we wish to, in this case you can see I’ve set it to 270 times. Hit the “Play (Loop)” button and you’re off!


This macro is not selective it’ll delete everything, which for me frankly was a great idea, as I had already copied the mail over to GMail a long time ago.

Some tips

If you find that your inbox is not updating fast enough and the macro is hitting the delete button too early, then you will want to lengthen the two lines that say “WAIT SECONDS=1” to maybe 2 or if your connection is very slow 5 or more. Tweak until you find a suitable value.

I also found that the flash adverts would delay the page render times, there is another addon called ‘Toolbar Buttons‘ which includes many buttons, but one of them is a flash toggle, allowing you to temporarily disable flash. Once this addon is installed (and Firefox is restarted), right click the top menu and select ‘customise’ and look for the red F button and add it to the tool bar. Then its just a case of pressing it to enable or disable flash. Another alternative (may be easier) is to use this addon.


iMacros are ace, but the simplest ones are the best of all.

Do you have a bloated hotmail account too?