Tuesday, January 06, 2009

WebTracer2 for website structure visualization

I periodically review web sites. And when I do, I like to be able to see graphical illustrations of their structures. In the past I've created these using aharef. The graphs this site creates are helpful, but there's no interactivity - you can't point to a node and find out what page on the website it represents, you can't click on a node to be taken to the page, etc.

Well, I've just found a software app that takes this concept to the next level. Called WebTracer2, you run the "spider" program to create a map file of your site, and then you run the "visualizer" program to see the illustration. WebTracer2 has 3 advantages over aharef:

  • When you hover your mouse over a node, it displays the url of the page the node represents.

  • When you click on a node, the page represented by that node is displayed in your web browser.

  • You can use your arrow keys to zoom in and out and rotate the graph.

It's not perfect - it requires a lot of horsepower, and you can't make it display the url's for all of the nodes simultaneously; but it is a big jump in the right direction.