Screenshots of URLs from RSS feeds?
September 15, 2007 2:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a tool that takes an RSS feed and makes a screen shot of every URL referenced therein.

I got hooked on, which automatically takes screen shots from all the URLs in certain RSS feeds and presents them in a lovely Flash-interface. This makes browsing the popular feed much more like... watching tv.

The problem is that only provides a small number of feeds. I want a tool that takes an arbitrary RSS feed and gives me screenshots that I can browse later. I don't care if it's a web based service, locally installed software, Firefox extension or something else. I would even pay a small-ish amount for a tool like that.

There are several previous threads on related questions, particularly this one, but none of the posters mention solutions as easy and automated as what I would be looking for.

Any ideas, dear MeFites?
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, that is really cool! I've been thinking about how screenshots can help navigation for a while now, and have lots of time on my hands.. so I might put something like that together. If I do, I'll drop you an e-mail. I will, however, keep an eye on this thread as this sort of navigation is interesting.
posted by wackybrit at 3:50 PM on September 15, 2007

No answers but fichey looks like a very interesting site. It looks ideal for mindless but fun web browsing.
posted by aerotive at 5:56 PM on September 15, 2007

This may be totally unhelpful, but it's all I've got: the latest Opera lets you set up to nine home pages, and displays those pages as thumbnail preview screenshots whenever you open the browser.
posted by davejay at 9:56 PM on September 15, 2007

wackybrit, please do! How would you approach a software like this?

I was thinking along the lines of using Mozilla for taking the screen shots. I even found an extension named Screengrab! that is able to take screenshots of entire pages. Since I was looking for a simple solution, I was thinking along the lines of externally (via DCOM oder whatever API) oder internally (JavaScript?) automating Firefox by script. But that may be total nonsense.

Maybe we could exchange some thoughts on this or even collaborate on such a tool?
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 2:46 AM on September 16, 2007

Oh, and by the way, one can achieve a similar effect by hacking the config files of SpaceTime, but this is somewhat kludgy.
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 4:45 AM on September 16, 2007

This is one of many sites I frequent that do something similar to what you're asking about. Maybe send an email to Francois and ask him how he does it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:44 PM on September 16, 2007

Thanks, stavros. Your link led me to this promising python script.
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 1:31 PM on September 17, 2007

If I were doing it, I'd just set up a script that retrieved the feed(s) on a regular basis and processed their items before passing the URLs into a queue for a screenshot system to process (there are quite a lot of these online, but it's not hard to rig one up). Then I'd present all this info when someone came to view it at whatever site I put it on. I wouldn't do it as a local application, which seems to be the route you're thinking along, but as an online service.
posted by wackybrit at 9:31 PM on September 17, 2007

FWIW, on OS X this would be about a 50 line Ruby script plus webkit2png, if you're on that platform and just wanted some rudimentary whipped up :)
posted by wackybrit at 9:32 PM on September 17, 2007

Who would have thought?
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 3:31 PM on October 2, 2007

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