Microsoft

How do I ... monitor Web sites and their changes with Wysigot?

Wysigot is an application that will capture the content (including scripts, flash, and cookies) of the sites you follow and alert you when something changes. Jack Wallen explains how it works.

Have you ever wanted to employ an application that will monitor sites you follow and inform you of any changes? Imagine being able to easily be apprised of all new updates and/or changes to the sites you follow (even within your own company). Without help, that task can be fairly daunting. But fear not, help is on the way.

Wysigot is an application that will capture the content (including scripts, flash, and cookies) of the sites you follow and alert you when something changes. When you then view these updated sites, all new content is even highlighted for you. This application can save you quite a bit of time and effort, which, in turn, can make you a more productive worker.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download. Wysigot Light is also available from the TechRepublic Software Library.

Wysigot comes in two versions: Light and Full. As you would guess, the Light version is the free version and doesn't offer all the features of the Full version. However, the Light version offers features such as:

  • Site capture
  • Download displays
  • Unlimited page captures
  • Ability to resume interrupted downloads
  • Compatibility with former versions of documents
  • Black list
  • Automatic highlighting of new content
  • Automatic or scheduled updates
  • Alarms
  • Off-line form completion
  • Monitoring and backing up any file on your local computer or a remote computer on your local network
  • Automatic or manual document organization
  • Favorites import from Internet Explorer

The Full version adds features like:

  • Export (viewing sites outside of Wysigot)
  • Conditional alarms
  • Automatic updates
  • Printing
  • Advanced searching
  • Annotations

Getting and installing

As you would expect, installing Wysigot is simple. Download either the Light or the Full version and double-click the downloaded .exe file. During the installation you will be asked a couple of simple questions that apply to your connection (direct access vs. proxy, etc). Once the installation is complete, you can launch Wysigot from your Start menu.

How to use Wysigot

When you fire up Wysigot, the main window where you do all of your work will open (Figure A). You do not actually view the monitored Web sites in your standard browser (although you can easily open each site with a press of the F12 button).

Figure A

You will also be greeted with a Tip of the Day every day.
The first thing you need to do is open the Capture New Site window. Do this by clicking the File menu and then selecting the Capture New Site entry. When this new window opens (Figure B), enter the URL for the site and a name for the site.

Figure B

The type of file you want to open can be http, ftp, or file.
When the site opens, it should look fairly normal (Figure C). You will also notice a directory tree on the left side. This directory tree allows you to browse the various elements throughout the site. So not only is Wysigot a good tool for checking changes in a site, it is also good for checking various elements in a site.

Figure C

TechRepublic's main page as seen through Wysigot.
Now let's say you want to be alerted when the TechRepublic Open Source blog is updated. To do this, you will need to add that URL with the Capture New Site wizard. Once you have done that you will see your site listed in the left navigation tree. If you right-click the site in the left navigation you will see the Properties entry. Click on the Properties to open a new window where you can take care of a number of tasks (Figure D).

Figure D

If you need a login name or password for the site, you can enter it here.

Click on the Alarms tab where you can choose to be notified either the next time or every time this page is changed. If you have the Full version of Wysigot you can also be alerted when particular expressions are changed on the page.

From this same window you can configure how deep into the site Wysigot is to capture and, if you have the Full version, what file types to capture.

Highlighting new content

You can quickly see what is new on the page from the main window. In the lower tool bar, to the right of the magnification buttons, you will see the Highlight button. Click on this button to see all new content highlighted in yellow (Figure E).

Figure E

As you can see TechRepublic has new content on the front page.

Once you have glanced at the new content, you can mark it as Read by right-clicking the Web page and selecting the Mark As... submenu. From this submenu, you can mark the site text as either Read or Not Read. When you mark the text as Read, the highlighting will go away and you're ready to check for a new set of updates.

Site information

Another really nice feature of Wysigot is the ability to check site information. This not only shows you information about the page, but you can also make changes to your update notifications, including how many versions to keep, how deep to follow, what the current state is, and much more. To see the information about a site, click the Information button on the main tool bar to reveal the site-specific information page (Figure F).

Figure F

Make sure you click the Accept Changes button if you make any changes to the information page.

Final thoughts

If you check multiple sites throughout the day and depend on updated information, your day will become much more productive by employing Wysigot. This handy application will keep you up to date more efficiently than the standard refresh button.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

8 comments
TheOldCodeToad
TheOldCodeToad

On a related but much more, ah, "industrial strength" note... I have a vague memory of a tool used to crawl on-line merchant sites and either capture prices or detect price and SKU changes. My memory is that it had some db file management and integration with BI/DW features as well. Price is everything in merchandising, and change management is everything in supply chain sites. The case for such a tool is a no brainer for large sites. Naturally crawlers are not all that hard to build. The other stuff is rather standard fare for anyone running an e-tail site large enough to need such a thing. Sometimes COTS, though, does the trick with less pain and pays off when you're compensated by outcomes rather than by in-house IT glory (not much of that these days). Does this application ring a bell for anyone?? Thanks!

davebaker
davebaker

I will explore Wysigot, but I have been a very happy user of Website-Watcher by Martin Aignes for many years. It is the single most useful application I have! -- Dave Baker

karthikbalaguru79
karthikbalaguru79

I have to constantly check for the release of new standards/specifications or updations of standards/specifications as the standards are evolving. I am currently manually checking the website and also there are various module based specifications that need to be checked individually by visiting the particular page. Sometimes, some updates would get missed. Now, this would be solving it. I think, this would be of great help to me. I will try it. Karthik Balaguru

raftguidecourse
raftguidecourse

Great, now how do I direct it to my Reader, so I don't have two go to two different applications to check for changes.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

How do you track your favorite Web sites? RSS feeds, site alerts, or a tool like Wysigot?

Aakash Shah
Aakash Shah

I use a free web based service called "Follow That Page" (www.followthatpage.com) that can check for changes to a webpage on a daily basis. I use this often for some websites I visit that don't have a notification feature.

RodneyMac
RodneyMac

Some fun IT people also have them...

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