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The joys of web archiving

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Posted by MadaboutDana
Aug 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM

 

I’m an obsessive collector of web articles and pages, and am always on the lookout for tools that enable me to collect/extract/analyse/search through/archive/organise web pages of all kinds.

On the PC, my favourite apps were Notebooks and OneNote – I have extensive web page collections in both.

On the Mac, however, there is a positive embarras de choix. Not least because so many apps enable ‘Print to PDF’ services in the standard system print dialog box.

I started with GrowlyNotes, but as mentioned elsewhere, found the search function too slow, and also found it surprisingly difficult to move pages from the scrapbook (where they are ‘printed’ by default) into other notebooks. Shame, I love the app otherwise.

So I moved on. I discovered Yojimbo, which is remarkably useful and easy to use, and have already saved several hundred pages there. I also experimented with Together. Both of them have iOS apps, and this cross-platform support was a key factor in choosing them.

But their iOS apps are not really very good. Yojimbo’s iOS search function is rudimentary, and Together too often fails to synchronise at all. I know the developer of GrowlyNotes is working on an iOS app, but it won’t appear for a while yet.

What about Curio? Or Scrivener? Both support web archives (Scrivener has a wonderful ‘Add web page’ function, Curio has its ‘Sleuth’ function).

But Curio is unlikely to appear as an iOS app in the near future, or even in the medium term. And Scrivener’s lovely developer has just posted a lengthy blog article detailing the trials and tribulations of producing an iOS app that does full justice to the desktop version (worth a read: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/blog/?p=405), and explaining that it’s unlikely to be available until 2015 (although it sounds as if it’ll be brilliant, especially on iPad).

So. A bit frustrating. And then I discovered Stache.

Now, I have Stache on my iPad, but I haven’t yet experimented with the synchronisation function – I shall be doing that in the near future. But the Mac app is so splendid I thought I would write about it anyway.

Stache is similar to Yojimbo, except that it’s optimised for web archiving. It has nice little extensions you can use on almost any browser (I have the ones for Safari and Opera – my preferred web browser for research purposes – and they both work extremely well, even when Stache itself isn’t open). It saves web pages as screenshots, but also as web archives – Amazing. And its search function is extremely quick. No, it doesn’t highlight search terms as such, but it zeroes in on web pages instantaneously. It also has a very good tagging facility, although I’m still rather baffled by the ‘collections’ concept (appears to be like folders, but doesn’t seem to work very well).

So it’s got flaws – so what? It’s unbelievably quick and convenient, and you can export web pages either as web archives or as screenshots, so your data isn’t trapped in Stache.

It also appears to be in ongoing development, which is encouraging.

For researchers, academics, writers and anybody who has to build up knowledge bases at speed, I can thoroughly recommend it. I shall continue to explore it (especially the cross-platform aspect) and update my findings as and when.

Cheers,
Bill