PositivePress: A heavy-duty DIY Web archive

Want to start saving the Web? Iterasi's got a new service aimed at pros who want to permanently archive RSS feeds and search queries.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read

Web archiving service Iterasi is launching a new product late Wednesday called PositivePress. It lets users passively monitor and archive RSS feeds that are saved forever--even if a site disappears, or makes changes to its content. Users can compile pages they want to share into a single report, then send it off to others for review.

The service is aimed mainly at public relations firms, but it could also end up being a really versatile tool for historians, political sites, and Web archiving enthusiasts. It's also a distinct departure from Iterasi's original product (now called "Iterari Personal"), which would require users to either manually choose pages to save, or have them install a browser extension that could do so on a schedule of their choosing.

PositivePress simply saves pages as soon as an RSS feed is updated, which removes some of the need for taking scheduled snapshots. It can also archive fresh pages from search results on engines including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Digg. In a meeting last week, Iterasi's CEO Pete Grillo explained to me that the scheduling feature would no longer be included in the free version since the mechanism that saves pages has moved to the cloud. One of the biggest positives about the new product is that you can now leave your computer off, or not have your browser running, and continue to have it archive.

PositivePress saves Web pages from RSS feeds or search queries. These can be viewed long after a site has gone offline. CNET

There are four individual plans for Positive Press, ranging from $99 a month for the "pro" level, all the way up to $699 for the "platinum." There are also 5- and 10-user monthly licenses that run at $399 and $699 a month, respectively.

The main difference between all these plans is the number of RSS feeds and pages that can be saved. On the $99 product you can capture up to 25 feeds and 5,000 pages, whereas on the higher-end plans that number is close to unlimited. Grillo anticipates that it will be enough to meet the needs of most of Iterasi's clients, and that heavy users can simply augment it on months they anticipate heavier use.

Adding new feeds is simple with preset blogs and search engines. Here I'm setting up a Twitter search for the phrase "Microsoft is awesome." PositivePress will then go out and archive every tweet with that. CNET

One thing that the product cannot currently do is allow users to collaborate on a single listing of feeds and archived pages. The higher-end corporate plans simply offer multiple-user licenses. Grillo says this could make it into future versions, but that for now, users can simply fire off reports to their colleagues which contain a listing of archived pages which can be viewed and re-shared.

These reports are one of the areas where PositivePress shines. The service lets users brand these to match their company. It also tracks how many people have viewed it and who originally put it together, meaning that if it's stuck into an e-mail, the creator knows how many people have seen it while he or she gets the credit for making it.

It's also smart about handling of certain types of pages. For instance, on saved Twitter messages, the entire art style of the tweet is archived (background and all), along with any links--even if they're shortened. This means that you can view the mentioned page years later, even if both the tweet and linked pages have gone offline or been changed. It doesn't do this on everything though; saved search queries from Google or Digg simply take you to the results pages.

With the fear of folding URL shorteners is grabbing headlines, services like this can play a big part in keeping a running history of the Web that search engine caches, and Archive.org cannot hope to offer.

PositivePress can also position itself to play an important role in a company's strategy to keep track of their online record, and make it available to seen even if third party sites have failed to keep it up. To be honest, I would have loved to see the free Iterasi personal product continue in this consumer-oriented direction, but considering who had really been using it (PR people and companies), PositivePress was the clear next step.