One of the most valuable and comprehensive sources of information on the internet, the Wayback Machine, is getting some love from its parent, the Internet Archive.
New features are coming to this digital archive of web pages that, according to its founders, aims to provide universal access to all knowledge.
That's not only a big undertaking – the sheer amount of information provided to users in this way means the service must also equip them with the necessary tools to efficiently find what they're looking for, and contribute by easily adding URLs.
Currently, the Wayback Machine offers many features that help users suggest pages and search the database of this massive collection of web page snapshots, and now several others are in the beta testing phase.
These new features include the possibility of clicking on the “changes” link at the top of the interface to compare two snapshots of the same page. It's essentially a diff tool, like those used to compare code, that displays pages side by side and visually highlights any differences between them.
Users are now also able to suggest which URLs the service should add to its archive by using the Save Page option on the site.
Another new feature is an improved “Save Page Now” functionality: from now on it will archive all the embedded links and outlinks with just one click, the Internet Archive said. And users can create “personal but public” bookmarks by saving pages to their archives.
Collections are yet another feature that explains the reason the Wayback Machine archives a URL. Collections refer to different crawl groups that serve different purposes or target sets of domains such as top domains, pages with broken links, or regional site.
And when visitors click on the Calendar view, they will be presented with all snapshots of a page for a particular date – useful with those pages that are updated several times per day.
In its announcement, the Internet Archive said that the Wayback Machine is designed to prevent “digital extinction,” noting that on average, web pages are changed or deleted every three months. In this context, the role of the service is described as “making history by saving history.”