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Tool to email me when a website changes

Posted on 2016-08-02
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Last Modified: 2016-09-14
I need to monitor a particular website so I can be emailed when it changes. Someone told me that there are free tools to this end.

Does anyone have a suggestions?

Thanks,
Steve
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Question by:Stephen Kairys
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Jason C. Levine earned 250 total points
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Versionista or Visual Ping.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Thank you. Which do you think is better/more reliable?
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by:Jason C. Levine
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Honestly? Six of one, half-dozen of the other.

The bigger issue will be the site you are tracking.  If it does anything like rotate banners or dynamically pull content from a third party site, these tools will be pretty useless.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Oh, man, that's a great point.

The site in question has a pick list of vendors. The user chooses a vendor, and then the site emails a hunk of JavaScript source code (customized for that vendor) to him/her. I need to detect when the source code change.

So, unless I would know the URL of the page containing this source code, sounds like I'm out of luck.

Thanks.
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by:Jason C. Levine
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In that case, start with Versionista as I think you can set it to check the HTML.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Would checking the HTML apply to this page:

http://prebid.org/download.html

e.g if I care only about the AOL JavaScript code, how would I tell Versionista that I don't want to be emailed any of the other numerous vendors' code changes....

Thanks!
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by:Jason C. Levine
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Not sure you're still in the free realm with these things, but https://versionista.com/faq says you can limit using CSS selectors.  So if that area generated by the script has an ID, Versionista will still work.

Generally speaking, these are pretty blunt tools when free. You might be better off writing a quick spider script and then compare output that way...
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Sorry, blanking out here. By "free realm" are you implying that I'm looking for a feature that I'd have to pay to use?
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by:Jason C. Levine
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Maybe.  I've only ever used tools like this on relatively simple pages when I wanted to know if a new post was up and they didn't offer a subscribe option.  You're looking for slightly more advanced functionality and I don't know if the free version of Versionista offers that kind of advanced targeting.  

Worst case scenario for you at this point is sign up for the free service and see if it does what you want.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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OK thanks. I'll check it out and get back to you later this week. Have a good evening.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Hi, Jason.

Well, I just realized the source code in question could can change in a way that does not matter to my client. Every time it's generated to download via email, a comment is inserted with today's date (not the date the developer wrote the program code).  e.g.
/* JS Code Date: 8/3/2016 */

So, I need to abandon this solution.

That said, you've spent significant time helping me and want to give you credit. So, I've set up simple monitoring of another site via Versionista. Once I confirm it works, I'll close ticket and assign points to you.

Thanks!
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by:Jason C. Levine
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a comment is inserted with today's date (not the date the developer wrote the program code).  e.g.
/* JS Code Date: 8/3/2016 */

Ugh. Any way to get around that by using the selector targeting to look past that code comment?
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Update:
It took four days for Versionista to send me something, even though the website I used to test - a page on Weather.com - changes more frequently.

Expected behavior?

Thanks,
Steve
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Hey Jason (or anyone else):
Did you see the above?

Btw, FWIW, I now will need to monitor another website where the content is right there on the page (not downloaded). Accordingly, I would need Versionista (or equivalent tool) not to wait four days before sending me a notification.

Do I need to set a parameter in Versionista? Something else?

Thanks,
Steve
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by:Jason C. Levine
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Don't know.  When I've used it out of the box, it would pick up changes daily.  At this point, I would ask them directly or try a different service.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Thanks. I'll have to check if it has settings I can change.

Anyhow, as of today, I'm off work for a while so may not be following up until the week of 8.22.16. Thanks.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Hi all. Sorry for the lag in responding. Was on other projects.

Anyhow, I found a setting in Versionista that may explain why it was notifying weekly only. I changed it to daily, and will see how it goes.

Versionista - how often
Thanks,
Steve
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Update and question:

I activated daily updates for two sites on 9/6. Call them Site A and Site B. Site A was already being monitored weekly, and changes every day. Site B was added on that day and changes infrequently.

Results:
9/7 (next day): Reports for both sites, even though I doubt Site B changed.  For Site B, i see the following:
Versionista report - newly added page
9/8 (second day): Report for Site A, not for Site B.
-----------------
Accordingly, is the above considered normal behavior? (A report for a newly added site the first day after I started monitoring)?

Thanks,
Steve
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by:mccarl
mccarl earned 250 total points
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I'm coming to this discussion late, but I'll try to help you anyway. I don't have much to assist you with the website monitoring tools, I've never used them. However, I can possibly help with the original question...

The user chooses a vendor, and then the site emails a hunk of JavaScript source code (customized for that vendor) to him/her. I need to detect when the source code change.
So, to the original question, a website monitoring tool would never have helped here because it's not the website that is changing. The website accepts a request... that's all.

However, the code that you are looking to track does come from a github repository, and so theoretically, if the code that you would get sent changes, it would be because there was a corresponding change to the github source code. Therefore, if you were to track changes to the github source, you might get what you are looking for.

Now there are probably a number of options for which page to track, but maybe the best option is this page....  

https://github.com/prebid/Prebid.js/commits/master/src

If the source code changes, then there would be a new entry on the top of that list and a website tracker should be able to pick that up. Additionally, this would get around the problem that the emailed source code has a "today's date" that would always make it look like it had changed.
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Expert Comment

by:noci
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Then again you can build up a query / script using curl or libcurl.
And pinpoint the changes you want to monitor.
And build your own checker from that.
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by:lenamtl
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Hi,

What I like with https://visualping.io/ is that you don't need to create an account and
you can set interval and trigger, have you tried it?

other solution exists:
https://www.followthatpage.com/
https://www.google.com/alerts

If you want to monitor your website you can also use Tripwire with cronjob
https://github.com/lucanos/Tripwire
This is very basic, I mean there is no versioning maybe you can adapt it.
This is working well I'm using it since a year.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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All,
Thank you for your responses.

I guess I should have updated the original question, since my needs changed. All I need to do now is to monitor a web page as we decided not to use the source code in the repository.

Accordingly, I have been trying Versionista, and would rather stay with that potential solution. To that end,  my question posed in  this comment to clarify.

@Mr Wolfe: Thanks for pinging the experts on this question! :)
@Experts - Thanks again.
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Will do. I'll create the new question as a related question. Thanks for keeping me in line! :)
Steve
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by:Stephen Kairys
Stephen Kairys earned 0 total points
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Hi,
I'm adding this comment as an "assisted solution" . I want to clarify which info helped me.

I went with Versionista.

I did not have time to try the other solutions, as well-intended as they may have been. What remains to figure out is how to interpret Versionista's output, but, per the mod (Mr. Wolfe) that's for another question.

Thanks, everyone!
Steve
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by:Stephen Kairys
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Thank you all for your info!
Steve
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
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A website change program won't be useful here.
How prebid works:
At a high level, header bidding involves just a few steps:
The Prebid.js library fetches bids from various partners
Prebid.js passes information about those bids (including price) to the tag on page, which passes it to the ad server as query string parameters.
The ad server has line items targeting those parameters.
so each request is unique.  You can implement the code in your own solution that would compare the returned data to your database and modify the database of any changes, you could then run a report for new items. You would have to run this program on a periodic basis. (daily/hourly/every minute)
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by:Stephen Kairys
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OK, i guess I wasn't clear. I think the prebid.js page has code blocks that you can download that do not change from ad server request to ad sever request. Thanks.
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