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A simple web spider with pluggable recursion strategies

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A simple web spider with several recursion strategies. Home page is at

It doesn’t do much except follow links and report status. I mostly use it for quick and dirty smoke testing and link checking.

The only unusual feature is the --traversal=pattern option, which does recursive traversal in an unusual order: It tries to recognize patterns in URLs, and will follow URLs of novel patterns before those with patterns it has seen before. When there are no novel patterns to follow, it follows random links to URLs of known patterns. If you use this for smoke-testing a typical modern web app that maps URL patterns to views/controllers, this will very quickly hit all your views/controllers at least once… usually. But it’s not very interesting when pointed at a website that has arbitrarily deep trees (static files, VCS repositories, and the like).

Also, it’s designed so that adding a new recursion strategy is trivial. Spydey was originally written for the purpose of experimenting with different recursive crawling strategies. Read the source.

Oh, and if you install Fabulous, console output is in color.

For lazy, zero-configuration smoke testing, I typically run it like:

spydey -r --stop-on-error --max-requests=200 --traversal=pattern --profile --log-referrer URL

There are a number of other command-line options, many stolen from wget. Use --help to see what they are.


Usage: spydey [options] URL

  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -r, --recursive       Recur into subdirectories
  -p, --page-requisites
                        Get all images, etc. needed to display HTML page.
  --no-parent           Don't ascend to the parent directory.
  -R REJECT, --reject=REJECT
                        Regex for filenames to reject. May be given multiple
  -A ACCEPT, --accept=ACCEPT
                        Regex for filenames to accept. May be given multiple
  -t TRAVERSAL, --traversal=TRAVERSAL, --traverse=TRAVERSAL
                        Recursive traversal strategy. Choices are: breadth-
                        first, depth-first, hybrid, pattern, random
  -H, --span-hosts      Go to foreign hosts when recursive.
  -w WAIT, --wait=WAIT  Wait SECONDS between retrievals.
                        Wait from 0...2*WAIT secs between retrievals.
  --loglevel=LOGLEVEL   Log level.
  --log-referrer, --log-referer
                        Log referrer URL for each request.
  --transient-log       Use Fabulous transient logging config.
                        Maximum number of redirections to follow for a
                        Maximum number of requests to make before exiting. (-1
                        used with --traversal=pattern means exit when out of
                        new patterns)
  --stop-on-error       Stop after the first HTTP error (response code 400 or
  -T TIMEOUT, --timeout=TIMEOUT
                        Set the network timeout in seconds. 0 means no
  -P, --profile         Print the time to download each resource, and a
                        summary of the 20 slowest at the end.
  --stats               Print a summary of traversal patterns, if
  -v, --version         Print version information and exit.



  • Remove useless pattern stats unless –stats is given

  • Fix to prevent spanning hosts when following redirects, unless -H is on.


  • Add --stop-on-error option

  • Add --max-requests=-1 to mean stop after all patterns are seen (when used with –traversal=pattern)

  • Add usage text automatically to pkg info


  • Better redirect handling: obeys -A, -R, –max-redirect, and –max-requests options

  • Minor bugfixes and refactoring

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