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I recently received a letter from our rental application processor RentApp, a service of Appfolio, informing me that they are discontinuing their online application/screening platform at the end of March. RentApp was the only service I could ever find that provided the depth and breadth of information on rental applicants at a reasonable price point.

Apparently, RentApp was either a loss leader for Appfolio or had too slim of margins. Appfolio management must also be hoping that this move will help convert many of us who are using RentApp for tenant screenings and Buildium for property management to their much, much more expensive Appfolio product. Not a chance! And it is not just the exorbitant setup and monthly costs.

Migrating accounting and tenant data would be a real nightmare. It would be far easier to just switch to another application processor and archive RentApp's applicant data. But how? Downloading by hand the almost 400 rental applications and 200 screening results Clear View Townhomes amassed over the past 2 years that RentApp has been in business and we have been using them is a chore in itself!

Selenium IDE to the rescue. Selenium IDE is a simple to install and use automated testing platform based on JavaScript that runs in Firefox and a short script written in it will help us automate the download of applications and screen capture screening results, but first we need to install it. Don't worry, it is all entirely free!

First, make sure that you have a modern version of Firefox browser - if you don't have it already, get the latest version from Mozilla here, now get the current version of Selenium IDE here and flow control extension for it here.

Now follow the straightforward instructions to install each of the above. Once you are done, download my little RentApp automation script here and save it some place where you are going to be able to find it.

Next, start a fresh Firefox browser window - make sure that this is the only instance of Firefox that you have running. Change Firefox's General Options to save files to your preferred folder without asking - this is critical. Log into your RentApp account in Firefox - go to it's home page. Click on the Selenium IDE icon in the navbar at the top of Firefox to start Selenium. Now from Selenium IDE go to File>Open and open my RentApp automation script.

You are almost there, except that you are going to have to make a couple of small changes to the script so that it knows where to find your applicant database, where to store your screenshots and how many applications you want to archive. Here is what you are changing: 1) Change the base URL to the one that you see in Firefox after logging into your RentApp account - just the base part goes here - all that stuff that appears in the URL before "rental_applications". Insert this same base URL on line 3 in the Target field before rental_applications/${A}. 2) On line 2 of the code, change N in the Target field to the last application you want to archive. 3) In the Target field for the Command captureEntirePageScreenshot in front of ${A}.png insert the local folder address, where you would like to store your png formatted screenshots of completed application screens.

I would suggest that you put the slider at the top of the Selenium IDE window to "Slow." Although this is not strictly speaking necessary, I always like to make sure that I know what's going on and can stop something really bad from happening. Now you are ready to click the "Play entire test suite" button at the top of the Selenium IDE window and retire for the night!

Good luck and if you have any questions, don't try to ask them here - I don't have the time to filter all the spam now. Instead, look for me on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

Appfolio RentApp logo

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