screen scraping: v.

The act of capturing data from a system or program by snooping the contents of some display that is not actually intended for data transport or inspection by programs. Around 1980 this term referred to tricks like reading the display memory of a smart terminal through its auxiliary port. Nowadays it often refers to parsing the HTML in generated web pages with programs designed to mine out particular patterns of content. In either guise screen-scraping is an ugly, ad-hoc, last-resort technique that is very likely to break on even minor changes to the format of the data being snooped.