Software to automate website screenshot capture



I needed a software that allowed me to capture screenshots of a web application I developed. The software should do it automatically (batch capture). This way it’d save me a lot of time.

How do I used to do that?
I visited each web page I wanted to take a screenshot. It took me about 1 hour to finish the work.

I posted a question at Super User as always: Software to automate website screenshot capture and got an answer suggesting that I use a combination of a URL fetcher + Selenium capability to take screenshots.

Well, I tried Selenium (.NET bindings selenium-dotnet-2.0rc3.zip ) to test its screenshot capture feature but it doesn’t seem to fit the job because it doesn’t allow you to configure screenshot properties as size (height x width). Moreover it doesn’t work well with Ajax (requires you to write a lot of code to check for the existence of Ajax calls, etc). This kills a screenshot that needs everything in place (I mean every DOM object should be part of the screenshot). I tried the 3 drivers available: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Screenshots taken with Internet Explorer driver were close to what I expected.

This is a sample code I used based on the code taken from here:

using System;
using System.Drawing.Imaging;
using System.Text;
using NUnit.Framework;
using OpenQA.Selenium;
using OpenQA.Selenium.Chrome;
using OpenQA.Selenium.Firefox;
using OpenQA.Selenium.IE;
using OpenQA.Selenium.Support.UI;

namespace SeleniumTest
{
    [TestFixture]
    public class SeleniumExample
    {
        private FirefoxDriver firefoxDriver;
    
        #region Setup

        [SetUp]
        public void Setup()
        {
            firefoxDriver = new FirefoxDriver();
        }

        #endregion

        #region Tests

        [Test]
        public void DisplayReport()
        {
            // Navigate
            firefoxDriver.Navigate().GoToUrl("http://localhost/FitnessCenter/Report/TotalPaymentsByPeriod");

            IWebElement startDate = firefoxDriver.FindElement(By.Name("StartDate"));
            
            startDate.Clear();
            startDate.SendKeys("January 2011");

            IWebElement generate = firefoxDriver.FindElement(By.Id("Generate"));
            generate.Click();

            var wait = new WebDriverWait(firefoxDriver, TimeSpan.FromSeconds(5));
            wait.Until(driver => driver.FindElement(By.Id("Map")));

            SaveScreenShot(firefoxDriver.Title);
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Saves a screenshot of the current error page
        /// </summary>
        public void SaveScreenShot(string fileName)
        {
            // Get the screenshot
            Screenshot screenshot = firefoxDriver.GetScreenshot();

            // Build up our filename
            StringBuilder filename = new StringBuilder(fileName);
            filename.Append("-");
            filename.Append(DateTime.Now.ToString("yyyy-MM-dd HH_mm_ss"));
            filename.Append(".png");

            // Save the image
            screenshot.SaveAsFile(filename.ToString(), ImageFormat.Png);
        }

        #endregion

        #region TearDown

        [TearDown]
        public void FixtureTearDown()
        {
            if (firefoxDriver != null) firefoxDriver.Close();
        }

        #endregion
    }
}

Indeed, Selenium is powerful for what it does, that is, helping you automate browser interactions while you test your code. It even allows you to take a screenshot let’s say when something goes wrong (a test fail for example). That’s great and that’s what it does best. It’s a choice for every operating system since it’s an API that can be programmed against.

Paparazzi! beautiful application iconWhat I needed was something more specialized to take screenshots. A software that allows me to configure screenshot properties. The good news is that I managed to find such piece of software and it’s called Paparazzi! - a very suggestive name by the way. One drawback is that it’s only available for Mac OS. As one would expect, it uses Safari browser engine behind the curtains to capture the screenshots. Paparazzi! has minor bugs but it gets the job done. It doesn’t have documentation. I had a hard time trying to make it work. It has batch capture capability but no docs explaining how to do it. So I hope this post will shed some light…

The following lines describe what I did to achieve my objective with Paparazzi!:

1 - Created a list of URLs I’d like to take screenshots of. Like this (one URL per line):

http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Account/ChangeCulture?lang=en&returnUrl=%2FFitnessCenter%2F
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Student
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Student/Create
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Student/Edit/79
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Student/Details/79
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Student/Delete/79
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Anamnesis
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Anamnesis/Create
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Anamnesis/Edit/79
http://192.168.1.106/FitnessCenter/Anamnesis/Details/79

.
.
.

2 - Open Paparazzi! and click the Window menu => Batch capture (really difficult to find this option Disappointed smile ):

Paparazzi! difficult to find Batch Capture menu optionPicture 1 - Paparazzi! difficult to find Batch Capture menu option

3 - Drag and drop a text file .txt (the file that contains the URLs) to the Batch Capture window:

Paparazzi! Batch Capture window surfacePicture 2 - Paparazzi! Batch Capture window surface

Here is where I think I found a limitation and it’s by design. This should definitely not happen IMHO. If you try to add a file clicking on ( + button), Paparazzi won’t let you select a text file. The only way I got it working was selecting the .txt file and then drag and dropping the file to the Batch Capture window.

4 - Configure screenshot properties by clicking the list button (see mouse cursor above it):

Paparazzi! screenshot process basic configurationsPicture 3 - Paparazzi! screenshot process basic configurations

You can define the screenshot size. There are pre-defined values for standard screen resolutions. It allows you to define new presets.

You can also delay the capture to wait the page finish loading, etc.

There are a set of configurations available related to the batch capture functionality. To access these configurations, go to Paparazzi! menu and select Preferences:

Paparazzi! Preferences… menu optionPicture 4 - Paparazzi! Preferences… menu option

The first configuration worth mentioning the Default Filename Format available in the General section:

Paparazzi! General preferences sectionPicture 5 - Paparazzi! General preferences section

Above I’m defining this format:

%t = page title
%Y = year
%m = month
%d = day
%H = hour
%M = minute
%S = second

The example in the picture is pretty clear… Smile

Another set of configurations is available in the Batch capture section:

Paparazzi! Batch Capture preferences sectionPicture 6 - Paparazzi! Batch Capture preferences section

Here you can choose where to save the screenshots as well as the type of the images.

After configuring the batch capture session, it’s the gran finale time...

5 - Click the Play button, go take a coffee and relax while the computer does the job for you Fingers crossed.

Paparazzi! Batch Capture in actionPicture 7 - Paparazzi! Batch Capture in action

Hope you have found this post interesting and that it’s useful to help in documenting a little bit of this small but really powerful application.

Pointing up Now I get all the screenshots in less than 1 minute!

References
Paparazzi!
http://derailer.org/paparazzi/