Thursday, April 19, 2007

Viewing websites without a live connection?

What's the best method for displaying webpages in a presentation, when you don't have Internet access?

This question was posted on a recent listserv. There were several suggestions offered, including taking screen shots, or saving the website as an archive. Some of these may be helpful to you as well.

A simple method for showing web pages offline, is to print the website to "PDF" and use Adobe Reader's "full screen mode" or Preview's "slide show" to present the various pages captured.

I was quite fond of the feature in Internet Explorer for the Mac that allowed users to save a website as an archive for later viewing, or to create a snapshot of the page using the "Scrapbook" feature (is this feature still available in the Windows version ?). In my current version of Safari (2.0.4) you can save as a web archive from the "File" menu:

However, you don't have options to be able to archive more than the current view. (In Explorer you could specify how many levels of "followed links" should be included). If you save it as a web archive, all the graphics are saved and links continue to work as long as the destination webpages are available. Web archives are especially useful for pages that might not be on the web for long, such as receipts.

In Firefox, (version 2.0) users can save as "Web Page, Complete" which save the whole web page along with pictures. This choice allows you to view it as originally shown, but it may not keep the HTML link structure of the original page. Firefox creates a new directory where the page is saved to save pictures and other files necessary to show the whole web page.

iCab, an alternative web browser for Mac, also allows users to archive web sites as many levels deep as they would like.

And, one feature I love in Apple's Keynote program (part of iWork 06), is the ability to insert a "web view" of any website in your presentation.

The nifty part of this is that you can opt to have the view "update automatically" whenever you revisit the presentation (so much better than a screen shot that has to be taken over and over as the website changes), and if you have a live connection, the image can act as a link to the site as well.

If you know you won't have a live connection, be sure to remember to turn it off while your connection is still live, or you will see a blank page during your presentation. The caveat to this is you are unable to scroll down the actual web page, so you are limited to what is viewable when you visit the site -- however, you can "position" the view further down the page.

Finally, there are software applications designed to capture websites such as WebWhacker for the PC, and a $12 shareware application that looks interesting for Mac users called DeepVacuum, available on the Apple downloads page: The description states, "Allows users to download: complete single pages, entire sites, ftp catalogs, link lists from a text file, pictures, music, clips, and more."

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