Making an online archive of all your bookmarked pages

Final Thoughts and Advice

I have shown how this integrated bookmarking and archiving system is both flexible and, at least on the archival side, backward-compatible. Porting the system to a different archiver is quite simple, as is importing bookmarks previously archived with other systems. Replacing Shaarli with another bookmarking tool is more difficult, but it is still possible.

The last thing I want to share about archiving web pages is that some issues cannot be solved by coding. No automatic archival procedure for old bookmarks can travel back in time. If a page is 10 years old, archiving it today has quite a different value and meaning, than archiving it on the day it was published. And if an archived page has a dynamic Breaking News box, that box will likely display different breaking news every time you load it, not the news of the day when it was archived.

Another big issue is completeness. ArchiveBox works very well, but the only way to be 100 percent sure that you did archive usable copies of all your bookmarks is to check all those copies yourself, one by one. A problem could arise because a website might generate error pages that ArchiveBox does not recognize. Another issue is that websites might deliberately serve misleading information to clients that they do not recognize, or that do not execute JavaScript automatically. For instance, Medium.com served articles to my browser without problems, but when I tried to access the page through ArchiveBox, a message told me that the page did not exist.

I later discovered that if I loaded the archived copy in a text-only browser, it would display the whole article. It turns out the error message was caused by a JavaScript file. When I renamed that file and reloaded the archived copy, it rendered almost exactly as the original page.

The Author

Marco Fioretti (http://stop.zona-m.net) is a freelance author, trainer, and researcher based in Rome, Italy, who has been working with Free/Open Source software since 1995, and on open digital standards since 2005. Marco also is a board member of the Free Knowledge Institute (http://freeknowledge.eu).

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