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WWW::Mechanize::FAQ(3)User Contributed Perl DocumentatioWWW::Mechanize::FAQ(3)

       WWW::Mechanize::FAQ - Frequently	Asked Questions	about WWW::Mechanize

       version 2.03

How to get help	with WWW::Mechanize
       If your question	isn't answered here in the FAQ,	please turn to the
       communities at:

       o   StackOverflow

       o   #lwp	on

       o   <>

       o   The libwww-perl mailing list	at <>

   I have this web page	that has JavaScript on it, and my Mech program doesn't
       That's because WWW::Mechanize doesn't operate on	the JavaScript.	 It
       only understands	the HTML parts of the page.

   I thought Mech was supposed to work like a web browser.
       It does pretty much, but	it doesn't support JavaScript.

       I added some basic attempts at picking up URLs in "" calls
       and return them in "$mech->links".  They	work sometimes.

       Since Javascript	is completely visible to the client, it	cannot be used
       to prevent a scraper from following links. But it can make life
       difficult. If you want to scrape	specific pages,	then a solution	is
       always possible.

       One typical use of Javascript is	to perform argument checking before
       posting to the server. The URL you want is probably just	buried in the
       Javascript function. Do a regular expression match on
       "$mech->content()" to find the link that	you want and "$mech->get" it
       directly	(this assumes that you know what you are looking for in

       In more difficult cases,	the Javascript is used for URL mangling	to
       satisfy the needs of some middleware. In	this case you need to figure
       out what	the Javascript is doing	(why are these URLs always really
       long?). There is	probably some function with one	or more	arguments
       which calculates	the new	URL. Step one: using your favorite browser,
       get the before and after	URLs and save them to files. Edit each file,
       converting the argument separators ('?',	'&' or ';') into newlines. Now
       it is easy to use diff or comm to find out what Javascript did to the
       URL.  Step 2 - find the function	call which created the URL - you will
       need to parse and interpret its argument	list. The Javascript Debugger
       in the Firebug extension	for Firefox helps with the analysis. At	this
       point, it is fairly trivial to write your own function which emulates
       the Javascript for the pages you	want to	process.

       Here's another approach that answers the	question, "It works in
       Firefox,	but why	not Mech?"  Everything the web server knows about the
       client is present in the	HTTP request. If two requests are identical,
       the results should be identical.	So the real question is	"What is
       different between the mech request and the Firefox request?"

       The Firefox extension "Tamper Data" is an effective tool	for examining
       the headers of the requests to the server. Compare that with what LWP
       is sending. Once	the two	are identical, the action of the server	should
       be the same as well.

       I say "should", because this is an oversimplification - some values are
       naturally unique, e.g. a	SessionID, but if a SessionID is present, that
       is probably sufficient, even though the value will be different between
       the LWP request and the Firefox request.	The server could use the
       session to store	information which is troublesome, but that's not the
       first place to look (and	highly unlikely	to be relevant when you	are
       requesting the login page of your site).

       Generally the problem is	to be found in missing or incorrect POSTDATA
       arguments, Cookies, User-Agents,	Accepts, etc. If you are using mech,
       then redirects and cookies should not be	a problem, but are listed here
       for completeness. If you	are missing headers, "$mech->add_header" can
       be used to add the headers that you need.

   Which modules work like Mechanize and have JavaScript support?
       In no particular	order: Gtk2::WebKit::Mechanize,	Win32::IE::Mechanize,
       WWW::Mechanize::Firefox,	WWW::Scripter, WWW::Selenium

How do I do X?
   Can I do [such-and-such] with WWW::Mechanize?
       If it's possible	with LWP::UserAgent, then yes.	WWW::Mechanize is a
       subclass	of LWP::UserAgent, so all the wondrous magic of	that class is

   How do I use	WWW::Mechanize through a proxy server?
       See the docs in LWP::UserAgent on how to	use the	proxy.	Short version:

	   $mech->proxy(['http', 'ftp'], '');

       or get the specs	from the environment:


	   # Environment set like so:
	   export gopher_proxy wais_proxy no_proxy

   How can I see what fields are on the	forms?
       Use the mech-dump utility, optionally installed with Mechanize.

	   $ mech-dump --forms
	   Dumping forms
	     mode=all			     (option)  [*all|module|dist|author]
	     <NONAME>=CPAN Search	     (submit)

   How do I get	Mech to	handle authentication?
	   use MIME::Base64;

	   my $agent = WWW::Mechanize->new();
	   my @args = (
	       Authorization =>	"Basic " .
		   MIME::Base64::encode( USER .	':' . PASS )

	   $agent->credentials(	ADDRESS, REALM,	USER, PASS );
	   $agent->get(	URL, @args );

       If you want to use the credentials for all future requests, you can
       also use	the LWP::UserAgent "default_header()" method instead of	the
       extra arguments to "get()"

	       Authorization =>	'Basic ' . encode_base64( USER . ':' . PASSWORD	) );

   How can I get WWW::Mechanize	to execute this	JavaScript?
       You can't.  JavaScript is entirely client-based,	and WWW::Mechanize is
       a client	that doesn't understand	JavaScript.  See the top part of this

   How do I check a checkbox that doesn't have a value defined?
       Set it to the value of "on".

	   $mech->field( my_checkbox =>	'on' );

   How do I handle frames?
       You don't deal with them	as frames, per se, but as links.  Extract them

	   my @frame_links = $mech->find_link( tag => "frame" );

   How do I get	a list of HTTP headers and their values?
       All HTTP::Headers methods work on a HTTP::Response object which is
       returned	by the get(), reload(),	response()/res(), click(),
       submit_form(), and request() methods.

	   my $mech = WWW::Mechanize->new( autocheck =>	1 );
	   $mech->get( '' );
	   my $response	= $mech->response();
	   for my $key ( $response->header_field_names() ) {
	       print $key, " : ", $response->header( $key ), "\n";

   How do I enable keep-alive?
       Since WWW::Mechanize is a subclass of LWP::UserAgent, you can use the
       same mechanism to enable	keep-alive:

	   use LWP::ConnCache;

   How can I change/specify the	action parameter of an HTML form?
       You can access the action of the	form by	utilizing the HTML::Form
       object returned from one	of the specifying form methods.

       Using "$mech->form_number($number)":

	   my $mech = WWW::mechanize->new;
	   # Access the	form using its Zero-Based Index	by DOM order
	   $mech->form_number(0)->action('http://newAction'); #ABS URL

       Using "$mech->form_name($number)":

	   my $mech = WWW::mechanize->new;
	   #Access the form using its Zero-Based Index by DOM order
	   $mech->form_name('trgForm')->action('http://newAction'); #ABS URL

   How do I save an image?  How	do I save a large tarball?
       An image	is just	content.  You get the image and	save it.

	   $mech->get( 'photo.jpg' );
	   $mech->save_content(	'/path/to/my/directory/photo.jpg' );

       You can also save any content directly to disk using the
       ":content_file" flag to "get()",	which is part of LWP::UserAgent.

	   $mech->get( '',
		       ':content_file' => 'stable.tar.gz' );

   How do I pick a specific value from a "<select>" list?
       Find the	"HTML::Form::ListInput"	in the page.

	   my ($listbox) = $mech->find_all_inputs( name	=> 'listbox' );

       Then create a hash for the lookup:

	   my %name_lookup;
	   @name_lookup{ $listbox->value_names } = $listbox->possible_values;
	   my $value = $name_lookup{ 'Name I want' };

       If you have duplicate names, this method	won't work, and	you'll have to
       loop over "$listbox->value_names" and "$listbox->possible_values" in
       parallel	until you find a matching name.

   How do I get	Mech to	not follow redirects?
       You use functionality in	LWP::UserAgent,	not Mech itself.

	   $mech->requests_redirectable( [] );

       Or you can set "max_redirect":

	   $mech->max_redirect(	0 );

       Both these options can also be set in the constructor.  Mech doesn't
       understand them,	so will	pass them through to the LWP::UserAgent

Why doesn't this work: Debugging your Mechanize	program
   My Mech program doesn't work, but it	works in the browser.
       Mechanize acts like a browser, but apparently something you're doing is
       not matching the	browser's behavior.  Maybe it's	expecting a certain
       web client, or maybe you've not handling	a field	properly.  For some
       reason, your Mech problem isn't doing exactly what the browser is
       doing, and when you find	that, you'll have the answer.

   My Mech program gets	these 500 errors.
       A 500 error from	the web	server says that the program on	the server
       side died.  Probably the	web server program was expecting certain
       inputs that you didn't supply, and instead of handling it nicely, the
       program died.

       Whatever	the cause of the 500 error, if it works	in the browser,	but
       not in your Mech	program, you're	not acting like	the browser.  See the
       previous	question.

   Why doesn't my program handle this form correctly?
       Run mech-dump on	your page and see what it says.

       mech-dump is a marvelous	diagnostic tool	for figuring out what forms
       and fields are on the page.  Say	you're scraping, you'd get

	   $ mech-dump
	     source=cnn			    (hidden readonly)
	     invocationType=search/top	    (hidden readonly)
	     sites=web			    (radio)    [*web/The Web ??|cnn/ ??]
	     query=			    (text)
	     <NONAME>=Search		    (submit)

	     query=			    (text)
	     <NONAME>=GET		    (submit)

	     poll_id=2112		    (hidden readonly)
	     question_1=<UNDEF>		    (radio)    [1/Simplistic option|2/VIEW RESULTS]
	     <NONAME>=VOTE		    (submit)

	     source=cnn			    (hidden readonly)
	     invocationType=search/bottom   (hidden readonly)
	     sites=web			    (radio)    [*web/??|cnn/??]
	     query=			    (text)
	     <NONAME>=Search		    (submit)

       Four forms, including the first one duplicated at the end.  All the
       fields, all their defaults, lovingly generated by HTML::Form's "dump"

       If you want to run mech-dump on something that doesn't lend itself to a
       quick URL fetch,	then use the "save_content()" method to	write the HTML
       to a file, and run mech-dump on the file.

   Why don't https:// URLs work?
       You need	either IO::Socket::SSL or Crypt::SSLeay	installed.

   Why do I get	"Input 'fieldname' is readonly"?
       You're trying to	change the value of a hidden field and you have
       warnings	on.

       First, make sure	that you actually mean to change the field that	you're
       changing, and that you don't have a typo.  Usually, hidden variables
       are set by the site you're working on for a reason.  If you change the
       value, you might	be breaking some functionality by faking it out.

       If you really do	want to	change a hidden	value, make the	changes	in a
       scope that has warnings turned off:

	   local $^W = 0;
	   $agent->field( name => $value );

   I tried to [such-and-such] and I got	this weird error.
       Are you checking	your errors?

       Are you sure?

       Are you checking	that your action succeeded after every action?

       Are you sure?

       For example, if you try this:

	   $mech->get( "" );
	   $mech->follow_link( "foo" );

       and the "get" call fails	for some reason, then the Mech internals will
       be unusable for the "follow_link" and you'll get	a weird	error.	You
       must, after every action	that GETs or POSTs a page, check that Mech
       succeeded, or all bets are off.

	   $mech->get( "" );
	   die "Can't even get the home	page: ", $mech->response->status_line
	       unless $mech->success;

	   $mech->follow_link( "foo" );
	   die "Foo link failed: ", $mech->response->status_line
	       unless $mech->success;

   How do I figure out why "$mech->get($url)" doesn't work?
       There are many reasons why a "get()" can	fail. The server can take you
       to someplace you	didn't expect. It can generate redirects which are not
       properly	handled. You can get time-outs.	Servers	are down more often
       than you	think! etc, etc, etc. A	couple of places to start:

       1 Check "$mech->status()" after each call
       2 Check the URL with "$mech->uri()" to see where	you ended up
       3 Try debugging with "LWP::ConsoleLogger".

       If things are really strange, turn on debugging with "use
       LWP::ConsoleLogger::Everywhere;"	Just put this in the main program.
       This causes LWP to print	out a trace of the HTTP	traffic	between	client
       and server and can be used to figure out	what is	happening at the
       protocol	level.

       It is also useful to set	many traps to verify that processing is
       proceeding as expected. A Mech program should always have an "I didn't
       expect to get here" or "I don't recognize the page that I am
       processing" case	and bail out.

       Since errors can	be transient, by the time you notice that the error
       has occurred, it	might not be possible to reproduce it manually.	So for
       automated processing it is useful to email yourself the following

       o   where processing is taking place

       o   An Error Message

       o   $mech->uri

       o   $mech->content

       You can also save the content of	the page with "$mech->save_content(
       'filename.html' );"

   I submitted a form, but the server ignored everything!  I got an empty form
       The post	is handled by application software. It is common for PHP
       programmers to use the same file	both to	display	a form and to process
       the arguments returned. So the first task of the	application programmer
       is to decide whether there are arguments	to processes. The program can
       check whether a particular parameter has	been set, whether a hidden
       parameter has been set, or whether the submit button has	been clicked.
       (There are probably other ways that I haven't thought of).

       In any case, if your form is not	setting	the parameter (e.g. the	submit
       button) which the web application is keying on (and as an outsider
       there is	no way to know what it is keying on), it will not notice that
       the form	has been submitted. Try	using "$mech->click()" instead of
       "$mech->submit()" or vice-versa.

   I've	logged in to the server, but I get 500 errors when I try to get	to
       protected content.
       Some web	sites use distributed databases	for their processing. It can
       take a few seconds for the login/session	information to percolate
       through to all the servers. For human users with	their slow reaction
       times, this is not a problem, but a Perl	script can outrun the server.
       So try adding a sleep(5)	between	logging	in and actually	doing anything
       (the optimal delay must be determined experimentally).

   Mech	is a big memory	pig!  I'm running out of RAM!
       Mech keeps a history of every page, and the state it was	in.  It
       actually	keeps a	clone of the full Mech object at every step along the

       You can limit this stack	size with the "stack_depth" param in the
       "new()" constructor.  If	you set	stack_size to 0, Mech will not keep
       any history.

       Andy Lester <andy at>

       This software is	copyright (c) 2004 by Andy Lester.

       This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under
       the same	terms as the Perl 5 programming	language system	itself.

perl v5.32.1			  2020-11-10		WWW::Mechanize::FAQ(3)

NAME | VERSION | How to get help with WWW::Mechanize | JavaScript | How do I do X? | Why doesn't this work: Debugging your Mechanize program | AUTHOR | COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE

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