What software can I use to keep track of a bunch of websites?

I need to keep track of a bunch of government-run websites. Each of the websites from from time to time each post notices of upcoming changes to laws and rules. Right now what I do is check them manually, but I’d like to figure out some way to automate the process.

What I’d like is some piece of software that would work as follows. I give it a list of urls. It checks each URL every morning at, say 4:00 am, and downloads the text from the page at that URL. Then it compares that text to whatever text was on the site yesterday. If there is any change, it creates a report, or emails me, or something, letting me know (1) the URL’s for pages that have changed since yesterday, and (2) whatever text has been added to or deleted from the page at that URL.

Can anybody recommend a piece of software that will do this for me, or point me in the right direction?



What kind of machine must this program run on? I can do it in about a dozen lines of Perl, if you want.

I think the Mozilla Firefox browser has a feature like this in it… a “notify me if the site is updated” kinda thingy. Maybe it’s an extension (add-on).
Ah! Yes! I got off my lazy ass and looked it up for you! Save the site as a bookmark, then set the properties to schedule a check for updates. It will then notify you with any number of options (new icon, play a sound, etc).

Get firefox here.

That option’s also present as standard in the Mozilla browser.

Got FileMaker? (Everyone should have FileMaker, btw)

Create a new blank database file with one field, Web address, and any additional fields in which you’d want to record stuff like “Last Checked Date”, “Last Changed Date”, “Describe Changes”, “Notes”, etc.

Write a script with one single script step:

Open URL [by field value, specify field “Web address”, no dialog]

Is that easy or what?

Oops. That’s what I get for reading too quickly. OK, you don’t want to merely auto-open the web sites, you want to auto-compare them to what was up there previously.

Could use FileMaker for that, too, using comparison functions and putting the website code into fields, but other tools are more specific to that function.


This is all great stuff. Thanks to everyone who responded. That changedetect site looks like EXACTLY what we are looking for.