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Browsertrix Crawler User Guide

Welcome to the Browsertrix Crawler User Guide. This page covers the basics of using Browsertrix Crawler, Webrecorder's browser-based high-fidelity crawling system, designed to run a complex, customizable, browser-based crawl in a single Docker container.

Getting Started

Browsertrix Crawler requires Docker to be installed on the machine running the crawl.

Assuming Docker is installed, you can run a crawl and test your archive with the following steps.

You don't even need to clone the Browsertrix Crawler repo, just choose a directory where you'd like the crawl data to be placed, and then run the following commands. Replace [URL] with the website you'd like to crawl.

  1. Run docker pull webrecorder/browsertrix-crawler
  2. docker run -v $PWD/crawls:/crawls/ -it webrecorder/browsertrix-crawler crawl --url [URL] --generateWACZ --text --collection test
  3. The crawl will now run and logs in JSON Lines format will be output to the console. Depending on the size of the site, this may take a bit!
  4. Once the crawl is finished, a WACZ file will be created in crawls/collection/test/test.wacz from the directory you ran the crawl!
  5. You can go to and open the generated WACZ file and browse your newly crawled archive!

Getting Started with Command-Line Options

Here's how you can use some of the more common command-line options to configure the crawl:

  • To include automated text extraction for full text search to pages.jsonl, add the --text flag. To write extracted text to WARCs instead of or in addition to pages.jsonl, see Text Extraction.

  • To limit the crawl to a maximum number of pages, add --limit P where P is the number of pages that will be crawled.

  • To limit the crawl to a maximum size, set --sizeLimit (size in bytes).

  • To limit the crawl time, set --timeLimit (in seconds).

  • To run more than one browser worker and crawl in parallel, and --workers N where N is number of browsers to run in parallel. More browsers will require more CPU and network bandwidth, and does not guarantee faster crawling.

  • To crawl into a new directory, specify a different name for the --collection param. If omitted, a new collection directory based on current time will be created. Adding the --overwrite flag will delete the collection directory at the start of the crawl, if it exists.

Browsertrix Crawler includes a number of additional command-line options, explained in detail throughout this User Guide.

Published Releases / Production Use

When using Browsertrix Crawler in production, it is recommended to use a specific, published version of the image, eg. webrecorder/browsertrix-crawler:[VERSION] instead of webrecorder/browsertrix-crawler where [VERSION] corresponds to one of the published release tag.

All released Docker Images are available from Docker Hub, listed by release tag here.

Details for each corresponding release tag are also available on GitHub under Releases.