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Python WayBack for web archive replay and live web proxy

Project description

pywb is a python implementation of web archival replay tools, sometimes also known as ‘Wayback Machine’.

pywb allows high-quality replay (browsing) of archived web data stored in standardized ARC and WARC, and it can also serve as a customizable rewriting proxy to live web content.

The replay system is designed to accurately replay complex dynamic sites, including video and audio content and sites with complex JavaScript.

Additionally, pywb includes an extensive index query api for querying information about archived content.

The software can run as a traditional web application or an HTTP or HTTPS proxy server, and has been tested on Linux, OS X and Windows platforms.

pywb is fully compliant with the Memento protocol (RFC-7089).

Getting Started – Run your own Web Archive

With release 0.9.0, pywb provides new simplified, directory-based init system to create and run your own web archive replay system (wayback machine) directly from archive collections on disk.

A new utility, wb-manager performs the most common collection management tasks from the command line.

1. Archive a Web Page

If you do not have any web archive files (WARCS), you can create easiely create one from any page by using the free service

For example, you may visit, then (after a few seconds), click Download -> Web Archive (WARC) to get the WARC file (.warc.gz)

Everything you have seen in your browser during the recording session was archived.

2. Create a new Collection

Each collections contains an arbitrary amount of WARC files.

Once you have at least one WARC/ARC file, you can set up a quick collection as follows, including installing pywb:

pip install pywb
wb-manager init my_coll
wb-manager add my_coll <path/to/warc>

Point your browser to http://localhost:8080/my_coll/<url>/ where <url> is a url you recorded before into your WARC/ARC file. (If you just recorded, you should be able to view http://localhost:8080/my_coll/

If all worked well, you should see your archived version of <url>. Congrats, you are now running your own web archive!

A more detailed tutorial is available on the wiki

Using Existing Web Archive Collections

Existing archives of WARCs/ARCs files can be used with pywb with minimal amount of setup. By using wb-manager add, WARC/ARC files will automatically be placed in the collection archive directory and indexed.

If you have a large number of existing CDX index files, pywb will be able to read them as well without having to reindex. It is recommended that any index files be converted to the latest JSON based format, which can be done by running: wb-manager cdx-convert <path/to/cdx>

To setup a collection with existing ARC/WARCs and CDX index files, you can:

  1. Run wb-manager init <coll name>. This will initialize all the required collection directories.

  2. Copy any archive files (WARCs and ARCs) to collections/<coll name>/archive/

  3. Copy any existing cdx indexes to collections/<coll name>/indexes/

  4. Run wb-manager cdx-convert collections/<coll name>/indexes/. This step is optional but strongly recommended, as it will ensure that the CDX indexes are in a consistent format.

This will fully migrate your archive and indexes the collection. Any new WARCs added with wb-manager add will be indexed and added to the existing collection. You may use the auto-indexing features (explained below) to add new content to the existing collection.

Legacy installation instructions contain additional information and testing examples, and use a custom config.yaml file. These instructions are from previous releases but still compatible with pywb 0.9.x.

Custom UI and User Metadata

pywb makes it easy to customize most aspects of the UI around archived content, including a custom banner insert, query calendar, search and home pages, via HTML Jinja2 templates.

You can see a list of all available UI templates by running: wb-manager template --list

To copy a default template to the file system (for modification), you can run wb-manager template --add <template_name> <collection>

pywb now supports custom user metadata for each collection. The metadata may be specified in the metadata.yaml in each collection’s directory.

The metadata is accessible to all UI templates and may be displayed to the user as needed.

See the Collections Manager Tutorial and the and UI Customization page for more details.

Automatic Indexing

pywb now also includes support for automatic indexing of any web archive files (WARC or ARC).

Whenever a WARC/ARC file is added or changed, pywb will update the internal index automatically and make the archived content instantly available for replay, without manual intervention or restart. (Of course, indexing will take some time if adding many gigabytes of data all at once, but is quite useful for smaller archive updates).

To enable auto-indexing, you can run the wayback -a when running command line, or run wb-manager autoindex <path/to/coll> as a seperate program.

Samples and Tests

To run with the bundled sample and test suite, you’ll need to clone pywb locally:

  1. git clone; cd pywb

  2. python install

  3. wayback to run samples

  4. Browse to http://localhost:8080/pywb/*/ to see capture of

To run tests on your system, you may run python test

(The HTTPS proxy tests require the optional certauth package and are skipped if the package is not installed)

Additional Samples and Other Projects

Additional (older) samples can be found in the pywb-samples repository.

For additional reference on how pywb is being used, you may check some of the public projects using with pywb

Desktop Web Archive Player

There is now also a downloadable point-and-click Web Archive Player which provides a native OS X and Windows desktop client application for browsing web archives, built using pywb.

You can use this tool to quickly check the contents of any WARC or ARC file through a simple point-and-click GUI interface, no command line tools needed.

pywb Tools Overview

In addition to the standard Wayback Machine, pywb tool suite includes a number of useful command-line and web server tools. The tools should be available to use after installing with pip install pywb:

  • wayback – The Wayback Machine application itself.

  • wb-manager – A command-line utility for managing collections, adding WARC/ARC files, metadata and UI templates. See wb-manager --help for an up-to-date listing of commands and options.

  • live-rewrite-server – a demo live rewriting web server which accepts requests using wayback machine url format at /live/ path, eg, /live/ and applies the same url rewriting rules as are used for archived content. This is useful for checking how live content will appear when archived before actually creating any archive files, or for recording data. The service extends upon this functionality.

  • cdx-indexer – a command-line tool for manually creating CDX indexes from WARC and ARC files. Supports SURT and non-SURT based cdx files, optional sorting, and several formats. See cdx-indexer -h for all options. Using wb-manager is recommended for higher-level collection file management, but this tool can be used for any custom indexing needs.

  • cdx-server – a CDX API only server which returns a responses about CDX captures in bulk. See CDX Server API for an updated documentation on the latest query api.

Latest Changes

See CHANGES.rst for an up-to-date changelist.

Running as Rewriting Live Web Proxy

In addition to replaying archived web content, pywb can serve as a rewriting proxy to the live web. This allows pywb to serve live content, and inject customized code into any web page on the fly. This allow for a variety of use cases beyond archive replay.

For example, the pywb-webrecorder demonstrates a way to use pywb live web rewriting together with a recording proxy (warcprox) to record content while browsing.

The project provides an example of using pywb to inject annotations into any live web page.

Running in HTTP/HTTPS Proxy Mode

pywb can also be used as an actual HTTP and/or HTTPS proxy server. See pywb Proxy Mode Usage for more details on configuring proxy mode.

To run as an HTTPS proxy server, pywb uses the certauth tool for generating a custom self-signed root certificate, which can be used to replay HTTPS content from the archive. (The certificate should be used with caution within a controlled setting).

Using these features requiring an extra dependency: installing certauth with pip install certauth. (This will also install the pyOpenSSL package which is used to handle the ssl functionality).

Collection and Timestamp Selection In Proxy Mode

When running in proxy mode, the current collection and current timestamp are not included in the page url and need to be set separeately. pywb provides several options for ‘resolving’ the collection and timestamp:

  • By Proxy Auth: Proxy Authorization settings are used to select a (fixed) collection and Memento API can be used to pick the timestamp.

  • By IP: Settings for current collection and timestamp can be set per-IP using a seperate HTTP request to the proxy. Useful for fixed-IP deployments, such as when running in Docker.

  • By Cookie: The most complex but dynamic option, this allows a user to switch collection and current timestamp through cookies that are propagated across domains.

For more info, see Proxy Mode Usage.

The pywb-proxy-demo project also contains a working configuration of proxy mode deployment.

Running with any WSGI Container

The command-line wayback utility starts pywb using the standard Python library WSGIRef server. This should be sufficient for basic usage and testing, but is not recommended for production. In the future, a different default option will be provided.

Since pywb conforms to the Python WSGI specification, it can be run with any standard WSGI container/server and can be embedded in larger applications.

When running with a different container, specify pywb.apps.wayback as the WSGI application module.

For production deployments, uWSGI with gevent is the recommended container and the uwsgi.ini and `` scripts in this repo provides examples of running pywb with uWSGI.

Wayback Machine Compatibility

pywb is compatible with the standard Wayback Machine url format, which was developed by the Internet Archive:

Replay: http://<host>/<collection>/<timestamp>/<original url>

Query Listing: http://<host>/<collection>/*/<original url>

Additional Reference

  • The wiki will have additional technical documentation about various aspects of pywb

  • The sample config.yaml file, although not required, provides a listing of various advanced configuration options: config.yaml

Contributions & Bug Reports

Users are encouraged to fork and contribute to this project to improve any and all aspects of web archival replay and web proxy services.

Please take a look at list of current issues and feel free to open new ones.

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