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Prototype: BBC Archiver

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 17:20 UK time, Wednesday, 7 April 2010

BBC Homepage archived

There is something amazing about looking at stacks of data over a period of time, and BBC Archiver does exactly that. Some of you might even remember something like it called the BBC home page archive  but James Holden's latest project snapshots the whole page and allows you to view the changes in animated way.

The News only version is here and the homepage is here.

James explains how it works,

The project is running on a C# app I wrote to correctly screen capture the page (harder than you'd of thought) and then using a local webserver it FTP's (via PHP) the resulting 3 images (thumb, medium and large) to the live server.  The comparison tool (a link at the bottom of each image which is easily missed at the moment)  is written and runs on the live server to compare the visual changes, written in PHP/GD.  Obviously I haven't spent any time on the front-end site so that would be the next logical step.

In my head I'd see this as being the ultimate tool for archive.org.  If you go "way back" using their tool you can see that resources are missing and indeed as the browser changes rapidly the result you see in newer browsers doesn't represent the look and feel the user got at the time which is an important point if you trying to look back at the way it was.  Loading Netscape.com in Mosaic back in the mid 90's would have been an altogether different experience than in today's "Chrome's and Firefox's"

Fantastic prototype, which we hope he can keep running for a long time to come.


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