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Heritrix3 (or 'H3' for short) refers to releases 3.0 and up of Heritrix.

The official Heritrix 3.0.0 Release is now available (December 2009).

Future releases planned on the H3 line are a 3.0.1 patch release with minor fixes and enhancements in the first half of 2010, and a 3.2.0 release with new functionality on the themes of ease-of-use, continuous crawling, and large-scale crawling.

Available Heritrix3 documentation includes:

The 3.X releases have a new Spring-container-based configuration system and web-service-only browser and remote-control interface.

3.X also moves to a model where a single job, in a single job directory, may be be relaunched in place many times (instead of creating a new job directory before each launch).

Table of Contents

Running Heritrix3

Current Limitations

Current versions of H3 through 3.0.0 have the following limitations:

  • All pre-launch configuration editing is via the files on disk or web UI's textarea raw file editor.
  • Settings changes or reconfiguration made during a built/running crawl is performed directly on the active crawl's object state, and will not automatically be reflected in the configuration for future launches.
  • When a job is relaunched, previous logs are renamed aside, with new names based on the time-of-new-launch.
  • When job reports are generated (on view request or at end-of-crawl), they overwrite previous reports. (Copy any reports elsewhere you want to save.)

We are considering other new ways to document and assist both pre-crawl and during-crawl configuration, but something analogous to the long-form guided field-editing of H1/H2 will not come until some time after the 3.0.1 release.


Heritrix3 requires a Java 6 (JDK1.6) runtime. Java 6 was officially released in December 2006, and offers better performance, relevant fixes, and useful new libraries. We recommend Sun's Java wherever it is available.

Our official target platform is Linux and Heritrix gets the most testing there. However, many users (including some of the core team) report success on Windows and MacOS, and we welcome reports/fixes of any glitches encountered there.

(To build Heritrix3 from source requires a recent Maven2, which will automatically fetch all required 3rd-party libraries.)

Download and Installation

As of 2009-12, the official 3.0.0 release is available from Sourceforge:

The 3.0.0 release is now available for download at Heritrix 3.0.0 at Sourceforge.

The 'heritrix-3.1.1-SNAPSHOT-dist.tar.gz' or '' packages with the latest dates (will be of most interest.

All development builds which pass auto-testing (which will include issues fixed post-release, but may also include new problems) collect in this area of our Maven2 repository (latest at the bottom):

One of the distribution packages named like heritrix-3.1.1-XXXXXXX.XXXXXX-XX-dist.tar.gz are most commonly of interest. Also, the very latest development auto-build (even if it fails tests) may always be downloaded from the working directory dist/target/ on our Continuum build box

As with previous releases, expand in a convenient place and ensure the bin/heritrix script has proper execute permissions.

Launching and Contacting Heritrix

Similar to previous releases:

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Unlike with previous releases, the web control interface is only made available via secure-socket HTTPS, and corresponding to this change the default port has changed to 8443. Additionally, unless you supply a compatible keystore via the new optional '-s' command-line switch, an 'ad-hoc' keystore with a new locally-generated SSL-capable certificate will be created (and then reused on future launches).

To then contact the web interface from a browser running on the same machine, visit the URL:

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(If you need to contact the web interface from another machine, your launch of Heritrix needs to tell it to listen on other of the machine's IP addresses. You can use the command-line option '-b IP_ADDRESS[,IP_ADDRESS]' or '-b /' to listen on all addresses.)

Unless you've done some very uncommon configuration of both Heritrix and your browser, your browser will not initially recognize the Heritrix HTTPS session as coming from a trusted source -- and so your first connection will trigger a warning.  In most browsers, you can however accept the ad-hoc Heritrix certificate as a permanent exception. (You should manually verify that the certificate ingerprint shown in the browser matches that echoed where Heritrix was launched.) From that point on you will only receive a fresh browser warning if a new certificate is encountered (as if discarding or installing over the certificate originally generated).

titleFireFox3 self-signed certificate error (workaround)

If Firefox does not offer the option of adding an exception directly in the browser content window, an exception can also be entered via preferences:

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FireFox > Preferences > Advanced > Encryption > View Certificates >
Servers > Add Exception [ localhost:8443 ] Get Certificate >
Confirm Security Exception > OK

Engine Summary Page

The /engine/ path in the web interface shows the software version, memory usage, and a list of all job/profile directories found in the engine's active 'jobs' directory.

(By default, this is the 'jobs' sub-directory of the Heritrix installation, but another directory may be specified instead with the '-j' command-line option. Any subdirectory of the jobs directory including a '.cxml' crawler-xml file is considered a job/profile directory.)

A profile is a special kind of job that may be edited and tested for configuration errors, but not launched -- it is meant to serve as a reusable template for other jobs. Any job whose '.cxml' primary-configuration file begins 'profile-' is considered a profile and locked against launching.

In a fresh installation, launched as above, the only job shown will be 'profile-defaults'.

Profile Summary Page

Visiting the 'profile-defaults' page will show the Job Summary page for this profile:


The two files which make up this job configuration, profile-crawler-beans.cxml (the primary configuration) and defaults.xml (which is included by an 'import' statement from the primary) may be viewed and edited. The 'build' button may be used to assemble the crawl (instantiate a Spring ApplicationContext, triggering all configuration-wiring) as a way to test the configuration for problems.

Any problems will be reported in a new log, the 'job log', which exists per job/profile. The latest 5 lines of this log (with most recent first) will be excerpted in the summary page. (The 'more' link will show the entire log.)

Two kinds of configuration problems can be discovered by building a job/profile.

  1. First, there could be configuration inconsistencies which prevent Spring instantiation from completing. (For example, required settings might be missing, or autowired properties might need instances that are not declared.) These will appear as exceptions reported in the job log.
  2. Second, even after Spring instantiation completes, a 'validation' step will be triggered where components can object if any configured values fail to match expected ranges/patterns/etc. These are reported as validation problems in the job log.

As with previous Heritrix versions, the bundled default profile has an intentional flaw that must be corrected before it will build and validate: you must supply your own crawl-operator contact URL that is added to the crawler's 'User-Agent', so that any sites visited by your crawls know who to contact in the event of problems. (See below for more about customizing the default profile as a launchable job.)

Even when a profile builds/validates successfully, it may not be launched, to prevent filling the profile/template with the droppings of a specific crawl run. Instead, a profile should be copied to a separate job directory before launching. The very bottom of the summary page includes a 'Copy' option, taking the new job name, to copy the current profile to a new job. (Jobs may also be copied, and checking the 'profile' box will cause the new copy to be named as a new profile, whether starting from a job or profile.)

Job Summary Page

For a non-profile job, the Job Summary page also offers options to launch, control, and monitor a running job. If using the above 'copy' functionality to copy the profile-default to a new job called 'testjob', then the 'testjob' summary page will be at:

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Spring-based Crawl Job Configuration

See also: Spring Crawl Configuration

Currently, configuring a job involves editing the Spring 'beans' configuration file(s) which describe how to assemble a crawler from all available components for a specific job.

These files may be edited directly in the web interface, by making use of the 'edit' links alongside the discovered primary 'cxml' file name (and any other imported files).

The default profile has collected all usual, required components into the 'defaults.xml' file, which is imported at the beginning the primary 'crawler-beans.cxml' file. If building a configuration based on the defaults, it should never be necessary to edit 'defaults.cxml' -- even if you want to completely replace one of its definitions, simply placing a definition with the same 'id' in the 'crawler-beans.cxml' will supercede the imported definition.

The only two changes absolutely necessary to launch a job based on the default profile are (1) adding an operator-contact-URL, so that the built job will validate; and (2) adding a suitable set of seed URLs. Areas for setting these values are highlighted in the default 'crawler-beans.cxml'.

Job Control and Monitoring

If a job builds and validates, the 'launch' button on its summary page will be available. Once launched, the 'pause', 'unpause', and 'terminate' buttons are available for a running job. (The 'discard' button discards an assembled job, allowing a re-build/re-launch, possibly after changing the configuration.)

In previous Heritrix versions, it was expected each job directory would be run once, then not reused. (To launch a similar job, a new job directory would be created.) Heritrix3 instead expects that a job will be repeatedly relaunched in the same directory -- possibly automatically reusing information from previous launches to minimize fetches or storage of duplicate material, or to optimize the rate at which URIs ar revisited. The history of launches is evident in the persistent job log.

Once a job is built, the job summary page displays status information equivalent to the 'console' of previous versions. Links also offer direct-viewing of all configuration-paths, and report links both generate a report to a local file, and then display it. (Note that each time a report is regenerated, including at the end of a crawl, it will replace the previous version on disk.)

The last 10 lines of the crawl.log -- latest on top -- are shown, and a link offers a paged browsing through the entire log. 

Editting the configuration file cannot affect a running crawl -- only the next crawl built from that configuration.

Two advanced options for interacting with a built/launched crawl are the 'scripting console' and 'browse beans' options. The scripting console allows any script in a supported language (Beanshell, JS, Groovy) to be executed with access to the assembled crawl. The bean browser offers views of the crawl's assembled components ('beans') by their configuration bean names or 'bean paths'.

Latest Updates

The latest functional additions and changes of interest to test-version users are described at H3 Dev Notes for Crawl Operators.