How to make a thumbnail of a website or grap snaphot
Nowadays a lot of webmasters are looking for a website snapshot tool in order to make data presentation more attractive to their visitors. Examples of usage could be target website thumbnail in the search results, on the product details page, etc. Making website thumbnail manually is a routine process, needs much time, and for big sites can lead to hiring someone dedicated mostly to making website thumbnails for their needs. Below we'll provide some suggestions on automating this process.
Automation can be done in few ways.
- Grab website thumbnail images from other sites.
Some search engines, like http://www.alexa.com, http://www.exalead.com, etc. provide us with website snapshots. Special utility can be written in scripting language (like PHP, Perl, etc.) to grab website image from their search results.
Pros: cheap solution small server load since you do not need to create thumbnails on your server Cons: you become dependent on third-party servers most likely you will only be able to get thumbnail for the top page only. These are not generating thumbnails for subpages. may slow down your pages load if remote server is performing slow some of them can ban your IP for this type of activity. Your tool can use anonymous proxies, but it will slow down page load you will not be able to get website thumbnail if thumbnail was not generated yet on provider's site. This means you will often receive "No thumbnail" images. thumbnails are usually of predefined size which may not feet your needs
- Use existing website thumbnail creator services/tools.
Some website thumbnail/snapshot creator tools are currently available for free. You should place a block of provided html on your page and it will show thumbnail (hopefully).
The example could be a PHP tool from artViper (http://www.artviper.com/tools.php). It is said that it's a PHP script utilizing a C++ coded DLL to generate website thumbnail.
Another example of free website thumbnail creator service would be http://www.websitethumbnails.net
Pros: free (only basic functionality) small server load since you do not need to create thumbnails on your server Cons: you become dependent on third-party servers (sometimes they can be even down) most likely you will only be able to get thumbnail for the top page only. Mostly these are not generating thumbnails for subpages, need to pay for extra features. may slow down your pages load if remote server is performing slow you will not be able to get website thumbnail if thumbnail was not yet generated on provider's site. This means you will often receive "No thumbnail" images. thumbnails are usually of predefined size which may not feet your needs need to pay for extra features like true color thumbnails, image format, etc.
- Have your own website thumbnail generator utility.
Solution would be to use/write a custom program which would run on your hosting server, using some browser to render a website thumbnail. The process would look as follows. Custom written tool receives request to generate website thumbnail for site-thumbnail.com It opens browser (as a process invisible to your visitor) on your hosting server, and feeds it with site-thumbnail.com Grabs website screenshot from browser (i.e. it gets website thumbnail), and saves it as thumbnail for later use.
Pros: you are not dependent on anyone, full control over thumbnail fast, since you do not need to go to another server to get thumbnail relatively cheap solution (think it would be more expensive than solution #1) can create thumbnail for any page you want, topmost, subpage, etc. possibility of making it payed service Cons: may cause high server load since tool will create thumbnails on your server may be incompatible with some hostings hosting which allows such type of activity is usually more expensive
Website Image Creator is one of such tools.