Oliver Nassar

I can be reached at onassar@gmail.com.

For my open source work, check out github.com/onassar


Web-based Screenshot Services and Software

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While it's been a while since the listing of my talks idea, I'm still working towards it.

And in doing so, I've run into the challenge, for technical reasons, of capturing screenshots of individual pages. The short story for this, is that I need to be able to detect diferents in web pages, and screen shots can help me do so visually.

But in researching the area of generating screenshots for a webpage, I ran into a lot of different options.

I narrowed it down to two different approaches:

  1. Create a screenshot service/API on my server
  2. Use a web-based service, which has an API, and request image's directly from them

The former being the most cost-efficient, yet resource intensive, way. The latter being the most efficient, yet costly.

Here is a breakdown of the resources I found online.

SnapCase

This is actually a directory of the competing screenshot providers. It offers a discount to the following screenshot service.

URL2PNG

Seems like the most polishde, if only because their design seems pretty modern. Simple api. Simple options. Good documentation. Prices start at $10/month.

Browshot

Also seems pretty powerful, allowing you to choose which browser/engine you want the screenshot rendered in. Could be pretty useful for a QA environment, especially if your process was automated. Prices seem to be based on credits, which I find preferable than monthly-rates.

Browser Shots

Similar to Browshot above, but pretty slow (a'la a queue system). A lengthy collection of browsers to choose from.

Snapito!

A simple to use service which actually seems free. Descent API documentation and feature set (I was especially impressed by their option to have the entire page, rather than the browser window, captured).

GrabzIt

Server-side solution to the screenshot challenge. Where as many options allow you to specify an inline address for a screenshot (eg. example.com?url=http://web.onassar.com), this one seems to take the route of doing so programmatically through a series of libraries it's built in most languages.

wIMG

Basic service with powerful options, seems to have a free model as well as a paid version. Free model simply stamps a watermark on the bottom right, which may or may not be okay with you.

Bluga.net WebThumb

Credit-based screenshot service, which while seeming a little out-of-date, seems to be functional.

Thumbalizr

A screenshot service which feels a little slow, perhaps due to an apparently-similar queue system. Offers free and paid services, along with unique features such as file-type and delaying a screenshot.

kwout

More of a consumer-based-service, kwout seems to offer visitors the ability to define a webpage to render a screenshot of, in addition to marking a specific part of the page. This link can then be shared.

immediatenet.com

I spent quite some time reading the documentation on this one. It seems very robust, if feeling a little legacy. It has solid features, doesn't seem to be queued up, allows for inline <img /> tags to be specified for a screenshot, and, seems free. While I've had trouble with requesting a full-page (rather than browser window) of a url, it seems really solid, and I'll look into it more.

Conclusion

I'll add any noteworthy ones I run into to this ongoing list, as well as highlight which I choose for my project and why, once I make that decision.