Web Scrapbook Manual

By Sheila Brennan

These instructions will help you begin using the Center for History and New Media's Web Scrapbook application. The application is very simple to use and encourages collaborative work.

The Web Scrapbook allows you to save images, excerpts, whole web pages, and other material that you find on the web. In addition to copying these materials into your scrapbook, you can annotate (add text) to whatever you save. Because you can allow others to access your scrapbook (or selected folders within your scrapbook) and they can let you have access to theirs, you can exchange ideas about what you’ve found with your friends and colleagues. This application works well in the classroom as it fosters collaboration among students, and allows teachers to easily check the progress of assignments.

To begin using the scrapbook, follow these easy instructions.

I. Creating a new account

The first thing to do is to go to the Scrapbook home page and create a user account for yourself. Click on the link that says “Create a new account.”

Fill in all the information requested and then click on the “Create new account” button at the bottom of the page. The system will let you know that it has created a new account for you, and ask you to login with your new username and password.

Note: If you plan to work collaboratively using the scrapbook, ask colleagues or students to create their own accounts. This is necessary to share access to your Scrapbook folders.

II. Starting your Scrapbook

When you log in, you will come to the main Tools page. Click “Enter the Scrapbook” to arrive at your Scrapbook files.

Once in the Scrapbook, you will notice two main areas within the homepage: in the top left is your filing system in which you will create folders for each project, delete pages or folders, and find instructions for adding pieces; in the center of the page is an Inbox, for now, where all added materials arrive into your Scrapbook. See my Scrapbook below. This is your workspace for open folders that you are about to create. From here you control who may access any of your files, you may annotate any item, or upload saved files from your computer.

Create a folder

Click on the new folder icon . You will be prompted to name the new folder. Once named, this folder will appear under My Scrapbook in the order created. Clicking on your new folder, which I named “Test,” opens the folder in the center section of your Scrapbook page where you can manage the functions within this project folder: folder permissions, feeds, move folder to trash, add memo, and upload file.

III. Folder Functions

Folder permissions
This function allows you to share your work with others, or for a class to collaborate on projects together and for a teacher or professor to keep track of that work electronically. To set permissions for each folder, click on “Folder permissions,” which takes you to a separate page.

Add user names of all of those in your group with whom you plan to share this folder.
Note: This requires that everyone with whom you share this folder creates an account and they give you their user name. Email addresses will not work in this field.

Below is an example of the permissions for user “sheilab” in my Test folder: they may view all contents, edit details, and delete items. This user does not have permission to move, copy, or add new items. As the owner of the folder, you determine what functions each user may perform. Be sure to save your permission settings.

  • At any time you may remove a user’s access to your folders by checking “remove this user.”
  • Also at any time you may add users to access your folder.
  • Perform this exercise with any collaborative folder projects.
Feeds (See Advanced Uses)
Move Folder to Trash

 Clicking on this link will delete your entire folder immediately, be careful.

Add memo

Clicking this function allows you to write a note and place it in your folder. Title the memo and write a note for yourself or to the entire group.

Upload Files
  • Clicking this takes you to a dialog box where you click the “browse” button to look through your computer’s hard drive for image or text files to insert into your Scrapbook. Images must be in GIF, JPEG, or PNG format and be less than 500 KB. Text files must be in plain text format. In Microsoft Word, use “Save As” under the “File” menu to save a Word document as “Text Only.”
  • Select the file you wish to upload, then click on the “Upload file” button on the upload page. A confirmation screen will appear if the file was uploaded successfully (this may take a little while depending on the size of the file and the speed of your Internet connection).
  • Note: All uploaded files will be placed in your Inbox folder. To move them to another location, drag their icon or thumbnail into the appropriate folder.

IV. Adding Items to Your Scrapbook

Your web Scrapbook can hold whole web pages, images, passages of text, and entire text files. At the present time the Scrapbook cannot store other types of files, such as Microsoft Word documents or audio clips, but that capability will be added in future versions. Once your folders are created, you may add items to the Scrapbook using two different methods.

  1. Uploading Files: As we saw in the Folder Functions section, you may add a memo or upload a previously-saved image or text file into your Scrapbook.
  2. Bookmarklets: These allow you to add web-based links, pages, images, snapshots, and passages to your folders. The Bookmarklets below do not go to other web pages like normal links (so do not click them). They are small programs that you activate while surfing the Web to add all or part of the web page you're currently visiting to your web Scrapbook.
  3. Using Bookmarklets
    • First, you must add them to your web browser's “Favorites bar,” “Bookmarks”, or “Links” area at the top of your browser (usually just below or to the right of the bar that contains the address of the Web site you're currently visiting).

    • Click and hold down the click and drag the links below (or their less verbose forms) to the Favorites bar, Bookmarks bar, or Links area of your web browser. In Windows you can also right-click each link and then select “Add to favorites”; on a Mac you usually can click and hold the click (don't release it) on each link until a menu appears (you may have to move the mouse slightly after holding the click for a few seconds) and then choose “Add link to favorites” or “Bookmark this link.”

    • Once you've added these bookmarkets to your web browser, clicking on them in the favorites bar, bookmarks bar, or in the links area will take the action described in the link.

    • These commands are encoded with your username and password so the Scrapbook knows where to put the items you've selected. If you change your password you will have to come back to this page and reload fresh copies of them into your browser. Even though your password is encrypted, you should remove these links from any browser on a public computer when you're done using them.

    • Note: Depending on how busy the web Scrapbook server is, how much traffic there is on the Internet, and the policies or configurations of certain web sites, attempts to take snapshots of web pages or to save an image from a web page may fail. For instance, websites completely designed in Flash typically do not allow individuals to copy images or take snapshots.

    Save the Bookmarklets
    • From your Scrapbook homepage, click the  button taking you to “Adding things to your web scrapbook.”

    • From here, scroll down to find the custom links encoded with your password information.

    • Those bookmarklets allow you to save the following:

      • Images from web pages
      • Links to web pages
      • Snapshots of web pages
      • Highlighted text from web pages


V. Viewing and annotating items in your Scrapbook

You can now check to see if the items you saved really are in your Scrapbook. If you logged out of the Web Scrapbook system to surf the web, log back in on the Scrapbook homepage. If you are still logged in and opened another window to surf in, go back to the Web Scrapbook window and click the “Refresh screen” link in the right-hand column.

Viewing your folders

Any items you added to the Scrapbook appear in the Inbox, waiting for you to file them in the appropriate folder. In your folders, you will see thumbnails of images, webpage links, and web snapshots. Memos and text appear with the symbol “S,” and filed under either the file name or “Memo.”

Moving or Filing items

Simply click on an item, such as a webpage snapshot, and drag it into the desired folder on the left side of your screen under “My Scrapbook.” The folder will open when you are directly over it with your cursor to ensure you file it correctly.


Items in the Inbox, or any of your named folders, will have various options for annotations available in a task bar directly above its entry into your folder:

  • View: Allows you to view the item without any commentary.

  • Show details & comments: Shows you the title, file type, date added, who added the object, source info, keywords, and any annotations or comments by you or others in the group. A dialogue box appears for you to write additional comments. The comments appear in a blog format, running in reverse chronological order.

  • Edit details: Allows you to edit various elements of the Scrapbook entry. When finished be sure to click “Submit Changes” button to save your work. Scrapbook will confirm the changes and allow you to return to your main folder.

  • Images: Add annotations to images and keywords in dialogue boxes.

  • Webpage links: Add annotation to links and keywords in dialogue boxes. Also gives you the option to go to the website in another browser window.

  • Webpage snapshots:Add comments, or annotations in a dialogue box. Also gives you the option to view the snapshot within same browser page or to view in another page.

  • Text files: Add comments, source info, keywords, or other notations in the dialog box.

  • Memo: Change the text of the memo, add source info, or keywords.

  • Refresh snapshot: Only for web snapshot, this refreshes the look of the page you captured. Some sites, like newspapers, update their content frequently. This function gives you an up-to-date image of a snapshot.

Deleting Items

Follow the same procedure as for filing or moving files, by clicking on the item you desire to delete. Drag it directly over the trash can icon  under My Scrapbook, and drop the item. Once in the Trash, the item is not permanently deleted. You may recover items if you mistakenly dropped it into that folder.

Permanently deleting items

After dragging unwanted items into your Trash file under My Scrapbook, place your cursor over the trash icon , which will say “Empty Trash.” You will be asked to confirm emptying the trash. After clicking “Ok,” your Trash file will empty and permanently delete all of those items.

VI. Advanced Uses, Feeds

You can use the Scrapbook not only to store and organize materials, but also to publish them to the Internet, either using our standard displays or including a raw feed of Scrapbook objects in your own site.

If you are not concerned with publishing your Scrapbook content into a webpage, jump to the conclusion of the user guide.

Using a standard scripting language of your choice (Perl, PHP, ASP, etc.), you can dynamically include feeds of Scrapbook materials in pages on your own site. These feeds are plain HTML, tagged only with the <div>’s that you would need to style them using your own stylesheet.

Feed Types

The generic form of a Scrapbook Feed URL is: http://chnm.gmu.edu/tools/scrapbook/FolderID/feeds/type/

The “FolderID” is the unique ID number for a specific folder (for this particular folder it is 8250) and “type” is the kind of feed you want. Available feed types include:

  • “Images”: All images in a folder
  • “imagethumbs”: Thumbnails of all images in a folder
  • “links”: All links in a folder
  • “linkthumbs”: Thumbnails of all links in a folder

In its most generic form, a Scrapbook feed contains nothing but the objects listed above.


Additionally, you may add “flags” at the end of a URL that offer additional flexibility. The order of the flags doesn't matter, as long as the letter is included, it will be processed:


Currently available flags include:

  • c = Includes object caption (annotation)
  • t =  Includes object titles
  • o = Does not include object (if for example, you only wanted to list titles)
  • h = Sort by title (ascending)
  • i =  Sort by title (descending)
  • j =  Sort by date saved (ascending)
  • k =  Sort by date saved (descending)
  • a = Wrap thumbnails with links to objects

You can also specify a range of scrapbook objects to return, using the following syntax:

  • http://chnm.gmu.edu/tools/scrapbook/FolderID/feeds/type/numObjects
  • http://chnm.gmu.edu/tools/scrapbook/FolderID/feeds/type/numObjects/start/

In this feed,  “numObjects” is the number of Scrapbook objects that you want returned in the feed (or to be visible on your site), and the optional “start” value specifies the object with which to start the feed (setting “start” to 3, for example, would skip the first two objects and start the feed with the third).

Finally, if you want to be really fancy, you can throw some flags in as well: http://chnm.gmu.edu/tools/scrapbook/FolderID/feeds/type/numObjects/start/flags/

Sample feeds for this folder:

VII. Conclusion

You now know everything you need to know to get started with the Web Scrapbook. If you have any other questions or need additional help, please check the help page. Good luck!

Conceived, designed, and programmed by Dan Cohen
Additional programming by Simon Kornblith and Josh Greenberg
Illustrations by Charlie Lawing

Building a Better Yesterday, Bit by Bit