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Data Basket UI calls for preview of web pages (bookmarks of type Weblink).

  • Do some research on "web preview" and find if there are web services that we can use.
    • Try google and wikipedia first. Try to find a comparison of such services
    • work 4h, then report back your status
  • Basic functionality
    Given a page URL, the service should return an image URL of the preview
  • Questions about the service:
    • must be free
    • API. Simplicity of use, synchronous or asynchronous?
    • performance and stability
    • does it handle JS and Flash sites
    • if there's no preview of a certain page, can one request a preview to be generated, and pick it up in a few seconds
  • Potential services
    • Google shows such previews in search results
    • a couple years ago there was a company called Snap, don't know whether they still work
    • Mitac reports they created on for Namerimi, based on the Konqueror browser renderer. But didn't handle Flash, needed to install X Windows, and quickly hit some scalability problems
    • It is an option to deploy an internal service (eg based on the Mozila Gecko layout engine, or the Webkit), if there is an open source software implementing such service

After research

I found many Web Preview services, but in most cases the service is limited

The Online Website Screenshot Generator “webthumbnail"

Offers a simple to use API for generating website screenshots on demand.

  • How does it work
    You simply type an url address of a webpage, and server is adding this address to the queue. On the other side there is a cloud of robots, each robot is taking addresses from the queue and makes screenshots, which are being uploaded later on. The number of robots can be increased simply by adding new nodes.
  • Pros
    • makes screenshots from 70x70 up to 2048x4096 pixels;
    • uses real web browsers (firefox, opera, chrome);
    • saves to three image formats (png, jpg, gif);
    • supports flash and html5;
    • offers simple based on url parameters;
    • can serve even 500 ready thumbnails per second;
    • the infrastructure is fully scallable so if you need dozens of thumbnails per minute its possible;
    • performance and stability is good consider other web preview services and components that they support;
    • free of pricing;
  • Cons
    • There is slightly delay from about 30 to 60 seconds by loading the website preview image;
    • There is no good documentation;
  • Syntax
invoke syntax
  • Parameters
    • width - the width of a thumbnail in pixels, values from 70 up to 2048;
    • height - the height of a thumbnail in pixels, values from 70 up to 4096;
    • format - output image format, possible values: png, jpg, gif;
    • browser - type of a browser, possible values: chrome, firefox, opera;
    • url - the url address to capture with "http://" prefix;
  • Example
    access the service


qTip is a tooltip plugin for the jQuery framework. It's cross-browser, customizable and packed full of features - support web preview.

  • Pros
    • the api is simple for use;
    • asynchronous;
    • no pricing;
  • Cons
    • does not support js and flash;
    • performance – there are some problems with IE;
    • stability – functionality moving and rewrite from qTip to qTip2 – it’s not stable;
    • support Websnapr( online service for web preview) – it’s too limited;
      • Websnapr service details
        • snap impressions per month - 100 000;
        • available snapshot sizes - Micro (90x70) Small (202x152);
        • caching period of snapshots - 30 days;

API Reference:


The older version which is obsolete !

Vlado questions:

  • it says "qTip1 will soon be obsolete, see qTip2"
  • the previews at the demo page say "Websnapr". So what are the limitations of that service?
  • is there a comparison of such services?
  • try to answer all "Questions about the service", esp.
    • performance and stability
    • does it handle JS and Flash sites
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