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SiteSweeper
Workstation & Enterprise editions

SiteSweeperSS.gif (12163 bytes)

Type of Program: Site Maintenance
Supported Platform: Windows 95/NT
Company Name : Site Technologies
Version: 2.0
Price: free to try/ $295 Workstation/$795 Enterprise single-site
license $4995 Enterprise multi-site license
Installed size: 3.16M

Download/Homepage

If you maintain a web site for your business or organization, you've made every effort to make a quality presentation for your visitors. But, as content changes and grows (and possibly, too, the number of people who're helping you with the programming, writing, graphics, etc.), it's no longer a matter of simple link-checking the site contents on your local drive before you post. Especially if changes are being made by more than one person, maybe even from different machines, on different platforms, using different authoring tools. How do you tie it all together?

SiteSweeper is a comprehensive page and site diagnostic tool that scours the depths of your online web site, for defects that erode its quality --no matter where the pages originate from. It checks for 80 different types of defects in the areas of slow-loading pages, different types of broken links and anchors, missing meta tags and ALT attributes, distorted images, problem titles, and missing height and width parameters. Just get online and point it at your site. (SiteSweeper does not check local drive content, which, given its objective, seems like a moot point to me: if you have a multiple-contributor setting, all site content is unlikely to reside on just your local drive anyway.)

First, I found that SiteSweeper's complete ease-of-use and very simple user interface belies it reporting power; but, once you see the results it gives you, you're not likely to underestimate its usefulness. Second, I chose the broadest default settings and image checking options I could, in order to see how long the longest type of sweep would take, how it would affect my ability to use my machine meantime, and how useful the final report would be. (Numerous options and settings are available, so you can fine-tune your sweeps to look for specific things, or for everything but the kitchen sink. In my test, I threw in the kitchen sink too.)

All Site Sweeper really needed from me was the URL on my test site, and off it went, working in the background. While there are quick spot-sweeps you can do, don't think a complete site sweep will finish over your coffee break. SiteSweeper is not a speed demon, but I didn't find this a problem since it also did not gobble up resources and hold me hostage. In the 2 hours, 1 minute, and 12 seconds it took for the complete sweep over a 28.8K connection, I used my email, word processor, publisher, FTPed a few things, and generally forgot about Site Sweeper.

During those 2 hours on auto-pilot, SiteSweeper had faithfully checked 1,568 links, 908 URLs, spanning 18 different sites and 17 different servers, and deposited a 14-page HTML-formatted report in my Documents folder. This report is like the pot at the end of the rainbow -- pure gold, since it is spectacular to look at, and you can use every bit of it. It's structured like a well-tuned web site. Everything is cross-referenced by hyperlinks, to put amazingly detailed information at your fingertips by just navigating around via browser. The SiteSweeper report provides a concise overview of your existing site organization with a Site Atlas, plus a Quality Summary, Page Summary, Link summary, an Image Catalog, and a Problem Page fixit-list. You can argue whether you think such things as missing ALT attributes are a problem (I think it shows attention to detail to include them, and it's very nice for visitors who may be speed-browsing with graphics toggled off), and so forth.

The point is, SiteSweeper can show you every detail -- the follow-up action is up to you and your team to determine. It's an ideal tool for remote management and administration. A web consultant could also use SiteSweeper reporting to troubleshoot every quality-related aspect of client's site, and the report is presentation-quality too, complete with color charts and graphics. Since SiteSweeper saves each report neatly in a stand-alone folder, it's a simple matter to distribute too -- I chose to upload it to a private URL for others to access at will, although attachment to email is just as easy.

(Optional email notification of a completed sweep is offered in the Enterprise edition. The Enterprise edition also offers centralized control, automation and security options.)

If quality control is spinning out of control for your growing site, SiteSweeper is a serious diagnostic tool that could save you many costly hours of frustration. It may even find problems you never knew lurked on your site, and show you how to more effectively organize pages and content. If the price seems high, consider the time savings in administration, and I'll bet SiteSweeper would pay itself off within the quarter. Probably sooner. It can be downloaded, fully functional, for a 7-day trial. The product help files are excellent, and support is offered to registered users.

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Reviewed by Bobbie Crowell rjaye@mail.inforum.net
ICQ # 9407183


The Workstation edition installs on a Windows 95/NT with 486 or higher, and requires Netscape 3 or higher, or Internet Explorer 3 or higher. The Enterprise edition installs on NT4 (Workstation or Server) or MS Information Server, with the same browser requirements. Both versions were tested.


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