Monday, February 05, 2007

Link checking with Firefox

Monday, February 05, 2007

OK, so checking your blog or web site for dead links is never going to be glamorous or fun. Really the best you can hope for is to make the tedious process as painless as possible. I checked several hundred links in a matter of minutes with the aptly named Firefox extension, LinkChecker, and didn't blub like a baby once so I reckon we're on the right track.

Unlike most other link checkers this one embeds the results within the very page it's probing in real time in the form of multi-coloured highlights. Invalid links become red, valid ones turn green, forwarded, forbidden or otherwise inaccessible ones get a splash of yellow, while skipped ones are greyed out. Because these colours emerge sequentially and piecemeal(ially) you can manually test and fix broken links as the extension continues to chug away in the background.

If your pages contain links that you'd rather not have tested, maybe because they are sure to work, or connect to internal sign out, delete et al commands, you can opt to exclude them from testing. Note that while the exclusions list refers to 'keywords', they do not necessarily have to appear in linked text. Entering domain or sub-domain names works just as well providing you don't include any dots as they seem to confuse LinkChecker.

You might find that some links are automatically skipped despite them not containing any of your banned words. I assume this is because the extension respects rules declared by robots.txt files. How thoroughly decent and considerate. Pfft!

That aside my only other gripe is that it fails to skip excluded links if they happen to be internal anchors - something about the # symbol seems to be knocking it off balance.

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