Knowledgebase: FAQs
Can Your Service Capture and Show Screenshots in Real Time?
Posted by Duane Roumel on 13 April 2011 02:37 PM

If the image exists in our database already, we will deliver it instantly.

However, if it doesn't exist, there is no feasible way to instantly capture it. All captures take time to render the web page, capture, and deliver the image. Some similar services claim to 'instantly capture' and avoid showing a 'queued' message, but those services can only work while they are small, as a novelty. At any real volume, they cannot keep up with demand and quality of service goes down quickly.

In some cases, a dedicated, in-house solution may suffice. However, there are many consideration to an in-house screenshot solution.

We typically try to steer people away from real-time integrations, because to remain fully scalable, we must employ a "queued" model. 

There is no such thing as an "instant capture," because there are too many steps to the process that depend on outside influences. These include the speed of the web page you want to capture, the latency of the connections to that site (especially if it is not a US-based site), the loading time of the page itself, the upload of the page to our storage cluster, and then the delivery of that image to you.

Our process looks like this:
request -> queued (1s-10s*) -> generator capture (1s-10s for US-based sites) -> upload to our cache (1s) -> delivery (2ms)

*If there are only a few (we consider 500 in any given second to be a few) requests in queue, then the wait will be lower. If the queue is very high, there could be extreme delays (like minutes or hours). The only way around that is by using dedicated generators, but those are costly and not publicly offered. We have some ways in the works that will further optimize the process, but getting there takes time (or money but we only have time.. hah). 

There are similar services that claim to do this for you but they use an in-line or queue-less capture process that slows down your page load until it completes. 

1. Once a service like that becomes popular, then it will slow down greatly and cause issues for all of its users. Services like that tend to come and go quickly.

2. Delaying a page load waiting for capture quickly becomes annoying for your users. 

It is not a scalable model, so it is not something we have offered, as of 2016. However, we are considering to offer dedicated screenshot capture services that would provide queue-less capture, where your script will wait on the capture response and cache the image, if successful, to your local server, FTP, or cloud storage. This is presented as an "idea" in our feedback forum, which is accessible once you sign in to your ShrinkTheWeb account and click "New Features". 

 

Keywords: realtime screenshots; real-time screenshots

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