Web Devil 6.0.1 & Webstractor 1.5


Offline browsing is less essential in these days of broadband, but it’s still convenient to download Web content for later viewing. The two products here take different approaches to the task. Web Devil from Chaotic Software sucks all text, images and other content into a hyperlinked archive, while Webstractor from Softchaos displays Web pages in its customized browser for saving complete and whole, if so required.

Web Devil
Web Devil has been around for a while, but has been updated for Mac OS X. As well as an Aqua interface, there is support for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Just enter a URL and click to download the site. This can take a while but you end up with an offline version of the site, with fully working hyperlinks redirected to the downloaded content. You choose the level of links to follow (five is default and 0 is infinite) and which content to ignore.

Version 6.0 of Web Devil also includes new tools for viewing and sorting downloaded content. There’s a new image browser that can show thumbnails of several downloaded images at once or an individual, full-size image in the Preview drawer. A similar tool is the Media Viewer & Sorter, which addresses the biggest problem with previous versions of Web Devil of how to access the downloaded data and sort it in a useful and straightforward manner. Previously you could only really view Web Devil’s content via a browser, now you can add files to Media Viewer & Sorter and preview them as thumbnails. You can move or copy files from their current locations to new ones via sort bins, view images and movies (or any QuickTime supported file) in a list, move files to the Trash, or choose to open them in an external application like QuickTime. It’s also a great way to download Flash content.

Newly updated in version 6.0, the Incremental URL Downloader lets you download sequential URLs on the same site. For example, if there are URLs on a remote server, which are all the same except for a single number, this tool can be used to set them all up for download at once, automatically incrementing the name of the URL. There’s also a new Event Log with detailed download status in this release.

However, Web Devil still cannot save dynamically served pages to the archive properly. This limits the utility as when you browse the archive offline, certain .php pages are just displayed as lines of code. In its defence, Chaotic makes no claims for its softwareto be anything more than a tool to grab images andother content off Web pages, or to make local copiesof Web sites for easy maintenance. With the new tools in version 6.0 it performs these functions well.

The Softchaos software places an entry in your browser’s contextual menu to launch the currently viewed page into Webstractor. Here you can view pages exactly as they look in your browser. Each URL is displayed inthe entry list, from where you can easily access it again. At any time you can click on the Start Editing buttonto convert the loaded page into a fully editable document. All hyperlinks remain live and text can be cut, modified and reformatted using a variety of word-processing tools. You can add notes and highlight important sections, remove ads and print or export as a PDF for research purposes.

When online, the Links Inspector command instantly displays a list of URLs contained in the extracted page, with descriptions of those sites. If they look to be of interest, all you need do is click to load that page into Webstractor. As you can do this without leaving the application, it provides a really smooth workflow. Another useful feature is the Webstractor Radar. You can set this to periodically compare the pages you have added to your documents with their original versions on the Web. If a page has changed it will show that there is a newer version available by changing the icon in the Status column for that page. Webstractor can also be told to automatically add a new instance of a Web page to the saved document, whenever these changes occur, by clicking the checkbox in the Radar column. There are comprehensive options for this feature, such as checking for changes to body text only. It will also keep all older captures by default.

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