Web Capture Redux

Hooray for the Internet. I’ve finally managed to get a script together for capturing thumbnails of websites, for Blogwise’s blog info pages.

Last time I posted about this I was working on a Windows solution, and Brian started putting together a Java/IE combo tool (thanks Brian BTW). Both worked well but ideally I’d like a Linux based solution – that saves me leaving another computer on (which isn’t a popular move in this household).

A few weeks ago I spotted this little program. Webthumb is a Perl script that launches Xvfb, a sort-of dummy windows environment, so you can run GUI-based programs within it but not have it display anywhere. It loads up a browser (Mozilla Firefox) within that virtual screen, and takes captures of a website. A little Perl script wrapper of my own, with appropriate resizing and cropping instructions and we’re good to go.

I also made use of a Kiosk addition for Phoenix Firebirdfox to get rid of the toolbars, although it still needs some tweaking to get it working with the latest version of the browser.

There are still a few slight snags. Popups still appear when a plugin is required (e.g. Flash) but they go away when the next website is requested. I still can’t get Firefox to show full-screen either, so the captures are limited to 640×480, which is less than most sites are designed for these days. so I seem to get the top-left of any given website.

These are all minor niggles though, and progress is certainly being made!