Axiom lets you automate by recording actions in the UI, like an Excel macro or Emacs, only it’s for the whole web. It can plug in to your APIs, too, to reach places tools like Zapier can’t. Gartner et. al. call this ‘RPA’ (Robotic Process Automation), but we don’t use this acronym with customers.
I’ve been a long-time HN lurker and occasional commenter. I decided to do a Show HN 9 months ago with v1.0, and people seemed to find it interesting: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23089243. That post was pretty transformative for us. We got our first users outside our local network in London. We got shared on international sites that syndicate HN content. We suddenly had users in Japan, Korea, Denmark... eventually 111 countries in 9 months.
The HN audience were both usefully kind and critical. With our social automations, you pointed out many violate TOS, and “your team needs to do better” (ouch!). That didn't feel good at the time. But later, we learned this is no way to build a business - battling platform providers like LinkedIn does not scale.
We learned our value prop has to also benefit the platform we're automating. LinkedIn automations - though widespread - don't do this. I think we’ve achieved this with our use cases in e-commerce, like helping Amazon sellers do repetitive data entry or report-generation on their store. When we spoke to Amazon about automating repetitive work for sellers, they offered to introduce us to more. Google’s algorithms eventually boosted us to 3rd on the Chrome store for ‘browser automation’, and Microsoft... added special code in Bing to block us. This would have made us sad except, 2000 users later, we have not yet found someone using Bing.
Axiom has also evolved significantly. The problems we’re trying to solve with the DOM, Ajax and messy web-apps are hard ones. Not deep-tech hard, but if you’ve ever written a Selenium or Puppeteer script and tried to write an algorithm to detect the end of page-load... it’s not simple. Since our Show HN, we’ve extended the library of algorithms for more weird stuff you see in web apps: iframes, infinite scrolls, drag-and-drop - there's a lot more to do. Web UIs are complex; if Axiom doesn't work on a website, please let us know, we improve our algorithms with every edge-case.
Until recently, most of our users were no-code enthusiasts (i.e. users of Zapier or Airtable). They used Axiom in agencies to manage YouTube and Amazon accounts. The dominant use-case was “generate reports by logging into A, B, C and getting data”. Since YC though, we’ve discovered a bunch of developer and startup use cases. A very lightweight automated testing tool is a new one - using Axiom is 10X faster than writing it in selenium/puppeteer + we handle all the annoying logic you need. We're investigating a Node library for this - please let us know if it would be useful. Secondly, startups whose business is ‘we provide an API to do X’ use Axiom to perform whatever the 'X' is behind the API - e.g. booking on a travel website.
Although Axiom is primarily a Chrome extension, our cloud product needs neither Chrome, nor an extension! It has a virtual browser, with a full GUI, like you see in browser testing services. You can run it 24/7, or trigger it from Zapier or your API. If you build a bot on the desktop version, we'll guide you through setting it up in the cloud. If you don't use chrome, and would like cloud access, register here: https://axiom.ai/bot-building-service. Being Chrome-only makes us worryingly dependent on Google - we definitely will support other browsers after YC. Right now though, our small team needs to prioritise fast iteration.
We built Axiom on a pretty popular framework, Puppeteer, which requires desktop binaries to run. This means you need an Electron app, too. Trust me, It hurts us more than it hurts you, supporting Electron on Windows, Mac & Linux. This does make us one of the only cross-platform RPA tools - Mac and Linux users have told us they appreciate this.
Our cloud product doesn’t need any of this- but it does mean we process your data. With our desktop app, your data is processed 100% locally. We store the code which defines your script, but not the data it operates on.
Finally, the community on HN is more influential than you may realize - taking interest in our HN post changed the trajectory of our company entirely. Also, we discovered responding to hard questions from smart people on HN is pretty good prep for talking to investors, or a YC interview. HN's interest was fundamental for us getting in. We'd like to thank the community here. In fact, my first ever submission 4 years ago asked (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15098066), 'Ask HN: what online communities offer a high level of discussion like HN?' There's very few. It's a unique corner of the internet.
If you run into any issues with Axiom, please reach out to support - we're very proactive at getting you running. Otherwise, please post any feedback, ideas, questions or relevant experience - we'd love to hear it again!
Note: M1 Mac users, we have a workaround on our support page for any issues. A hotfix for M1 is imminent.