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BackupURL Takes Snapshots of Web Pages

MZaza [PersonRank 10]

Monday, February 23, 2009
11 years ago3,715 views

Web page archiving site BackupURL takes point-in-time snapshots of web pages on demand—useful for capturing and sharing fast-changing web pages.

To create a snapshot, simply go to BackupURL, paste in the link to the page, and click the Backup button to generate the cached copy, which is accessible from an already-shortened URL. The web application is very simple, and the lack of information makes it questionable for long-term archiving, but it could be very useful for saving a quick copy of a constantly changing news site for sharing with others.

For a similar service with more features (although requiring a browser extension), check out previously mentioned Iterasi, or you can save a web page as an image with PageSaver.

backupurl.com/

via (lifehacker.com)

WebSonic.nl [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Nice service, i did know Iterasi.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Ah, and I was briefly hoping it would return an image file... but it only returns HTML. I'm still looking for a site that would return an image of a web page (say, a rendering of 800x600 within a recent Firefox). Google once provided such a service if you unofficially hooked up to one of their apps, but it is discontinued, and many other services like Thumbshots.org don't provide large-size real-time imagery...

wonder [PersonRank 3]

11 years ago #

[put at-character here]Phillip

Would this suffice? freezepage.com/

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Wonder, this also seems to make an HTML snapshot of the page, but I would love to see a service that returns a JPG of the full page...

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Philipp, I believe DJ[*] Delorie once offered a service like that, way back before there was Firefox, or most other modern browsers though. Some of his other HTML-centered services still survive to this day, e.g. "Web Page Backward Compatibility Viewer" @
delorie.com/web/wpbcv.html
and he may well still have/ and even share with you/ the perl source code for taking those snapshots.

That said, I believe the reason there aren't any such public tools around, is that there now are so many different --down to nightly builds-- versions of browsers, and hardware/ OS platforms, with and without extensions and/or plug-ins, that any pictorial dump client catering to more than few base browsers with selectable image sizes or resolutions, would soon become both untrustworthy and largely unmanageable. Or untrustworthy by becoming stagnant. Just think about it for a moment.

Besides, if you need this functionality that much – how hard could it be to test your own (I presume) pages using piped local files through browser binaries of interest and then gimp, pnm or some such suitable graphic postprocessor?

[*] DJ, two uppercase letters, is Delorie's first name, not any abbreviation of same.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Philipp, it sounds like you want the ScreenGrab extension for Firefox:
addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firef ...

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Of course, had you used MacOSX as any sane web developer, you'd just press Shift-Cmd-3 to grab frontmost window of any app in either png, jpg or as pdf.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Let me rephrase what Philipp said: "I'm still looking for a site that would return an image of a web page (say, a rendering of 800x600 within a recent Firefox)."

He asks for a web service that provides full-sized screenshots for web pages. Something like:

fullscreenshots.com/api/shot?url= labs.google.com --> PNG screenshot for GoogleLabs

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Actually, that's not what he was looking for. Any service offering just one type of snapshot, from a single browser/OS, would be largely meaningless. This makes sense only when one could compare screendumps from several, preferably selected browsers, all taken with the same page aspect ratio and typography. Which is where problems with such a service begin: bandwidth-hogging data files, the need for a complex GUI, mail delivery options, the works.

So, using a make-believe API syntax for such a service, Philipp requested something more akin to (divided here into separate arg-lines)

fullscreenshots.com/api/shot
?url=blogoscoped.com/forum
&fonts=Garamond,Verdana
&gamma=2.2
&client=firefox
&version=3.1
&os=windowsXP
&snapwidth=800
&snapheight=full
&client=Opera
&version=6
&version=latest
&client=SeaMonkey
&version=latest
&client=WebKit
&version=latest
&sendto=info[put at-character here]blogoscoped.com

--> multiple PNG screenshots for blogoscoped.com/forum

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

> Actually, that's not what he was looking for. Any service offering
> just one type of snapshot, from a single browser/OS, would be
> largely meaningless.

I beg to differ. I think that's exactly what Philipp's looking for. I believe he's not bothered about whether it's Firefox, Chrome or IE, so long as it's always the same browser, or the most up to date version of the browser.

He mentioned a service Google once hosted that did exactly what he wanted. I remember that service and all you did was provide it with a URL and none of the other parameters you mentioned.

What you're suggesting would of course make the system more feature-rich, but I don't think Philipp particularly cares about that level of functionality.

I'm guessing he wants to use this to perhaps do a video showing how a web page changes over time...

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

OK, we're leaving the realm of the potential, and entering that of hypothetical, if not straight kremlinological hermeneutics of "Inside the head of one Lenssen, Philipp, calls himself programmer."

If what you claim is valid, then what is it that's stopping Our Lead Protagonist from taking a succession of these bloody snapshots manually himself, and then stitching them into a movie?

- "Ah, but you see, he wants to do that at regular intervals over the course of a couple of years. He's been thinking if there was online tool for that, he could write himself a script to invoke it come rain or shine, thus confirming for himself in the process that he is, indeed, a master programmer!"

- You don't say! Only now we have to inject a Suspense Element into the script, which the Protagonist will have to overcome in a visually-pleasing and memorably played out story arc, or else we don't have a movie! (and neither does he).

- "What element would that be?"

Well, how about he finally comes to a conclusion There Is No Such Online Tool, so he'll have to conjure up some Magick! to DWIM that for him.

... and so on, etc. It gets boring after a while. Which is why I uphold what I said earlier, that a SERVICE of this kind capable of taking just "any snapshots" (and then of third-party pages, which said third parties may be objecting against) of some remote browser's window is largely meaningless. Largely because it is easily done offline in manual or automated fashion, the latter using Applescript or equivalent. A public "fullscreensnapshots" tool would therefore HAVE TO BE much more capable than the basics to be of any use.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Fair enough, but that's not what he was looking for, and isn't what Google used to provide which suited the requirements perfectly until it was pulled.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

ScreenGrab uses Firefox to render the entire web page, not just the part that would be visible in the current window. I presume ianf's shift-cmd-3 just captures the visible part of the window.

If the requirement is to track historical changes to websites, we can do even better. The "Grab Them All" Firefox extension is based on ScreenGrab and captures screenshots of all the sites listed in a text file. You could set up a cron job to automatically capture the websites every week or whatever. (I realise Philipp runs Windows, but surely Windows has something similar to cron jobs to automate repetitive tasks.)
addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firef ...

Other Firefox extensions similar to ScreenGrab are Pearl Crescent Page Saver:
addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firef ...
and Fireshot:
addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firef ...

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

I'm with Roger on this one. I prefer ScreenGrab extension for Firefox. I use it now for any screenshot that needs to be of an entire page and not just the viewable portion.

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

I don't doubt there are some fine screen-capture tools out there, esp. for the built-for-extensibility Firefox, but the larger question remains: after you've taken your fullpage/ beyond screen-boundaries snapshop, what do you do with it, how do you present it on hardware that's nowhere near as tall, say, as the snapshot?

Unless you're going to run it through some industrial-strength continguous-roll inkjet printer, you'll either have to scale it down for the screen or paper, or to show portions of it in some sequence. So in the end the advantage(s) of being able to snap entire renderable page content, not just the viewport part of it, turn out to be illusory.

For gradual comparison of page versions, if not for such of rendering quality, it'd been far better to generate scaled-down instances to begin with, and then (still within the same tool) be able to superimpose, in controllable fashion, earlier or subsequent same-aspect-ratio versions of the page on top of one another. Thus allowing the viewer to see progression, or visual diffs apparent to the naked eye. Something like those Hans Rosling's animations, only for page layout/ rendering purposes.

Yv. [PersonRank 7]

11 years ago #

[put at-character here]Phillip: what you are looking for is browsershots.org/ :

It has an xmlrpc api (havent used it, but does what you want) api.browsershots.org/xmlrpc/re ...

And its response is an image...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Yv., that one might be good but its results aren't real-time... for instance I just submitted a URL and it tells me "Queue estimate: 3 minutes to 1 hour, 35 minutes". On the other hand they say you can buy a premium service for priority pocessing, so this may be the next best thing until there's a free alternative (for which there may be no business model?).

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

Philipp, it's simple – just submit it 3m to 1h35m earlier than you would do that originally, there's your Action Window, and it should come out all right! ;-))

George R [PersonRank 10]

11 years ago #

You could make an immediate html snapshot and then schedule browsershot to make an image of that html snapshot.
You may still have to wait for the image to be available, but it would be an image from the instant you wanted.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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