Integrity is a piece of Donationware for Mac OS X that should be in every webmaster’s toolbox, as far as I’m concerned. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t actually maintain a website, but after trying out Integrity, I can easily see how it would be useful, especially to someone who maintained multiple websites, or one large one, with many links.
Why is that?
Because Integrity, as the name hints, makes sure that every link on your website is valid. Think about it. As the Integrity website copy says:
“If you’ve maintained a website for any length of time, you’ll know that links very quickly become broken.
We all move, delete or change pages, and when we do, it not only results in our own internal links breaking, but other people’s links to our website becoming broken. Similarly, when other people alter their pages, our own external links become broken.”
It’s true! Think about how often you go to a website and click a link, only to get the dreaded 404 web page. That happens for one of two reasons. Either the website you’re currently on linked to a nonexistent page (or formatted its link incorrectly), or else the page being linked to no longer exists, or has been moved. How frustrating!
And think about the webmaster, and his/her hundreds or thousands of links, all of which need to be checked. It takes forever!
Thankfully, there is Integrity. Integrity takes any URL you give it, and immediately checks every link present on that page, checking to make sure that every link has a corresponding web page. This helps out not only you (making your website users happy), but also other websites, as their users (assuming those websites link to your pages), will also not be faced with links to pages no longer where they “should” be.
I tried out a copy of Integrity using the ESPN.com home page. Knowing that ESPN.com has thousands of web pages, I told Integrity to only check links on the front page. It did, and found just more than 300 links. Every single link checked out but one, which came back with a script error.
What’s nice is that (although Integrity doesn’t allow me to fix incorrect links – you need different tools for that), Integrity can show me exactly which link is bad, and what happens when it tried to navigate using the link. Also, you can arrange all the links, so you can view just the bad ones (and not have to scroll through more than 300 links!). Finally, if you want to export your links to a different format, such as CSV, Integrity is able to do that as well.
Now, Integrity isn’t the be-all, end-all link checking tool. It can’t alert you to every linking error, because it isn’t human. Let’s say you linked to a page that (when you created the link), talked about the American Revolution. Only the website you linked to changed the page so it now talks about the Vietnam War. If the website didn’t change the URL of that link, but only the content, Integrity will assume the link is correct, since the page exists that you linked to… just not the page you thought it should be. So a pair of human eyes, and the human intelligence that goes along with them, are still necessary. But in spite of that, Integrity is a great warning system that something might not be okay, and as I said, something like this, or this in particular, should definitely be in every webmaster’s tool kit.
As mentioned, Integrity is Donationware. This means that while no set price has been set by the Integrity creator, those who use and continue to use the product are expected to pay something. Unlike the more popular Shareware approach, however (where the price is set by the creator), Donationware allows the user to pay what he/she feels is an appropriate price.