I'd like to detect when a website has changed, in particular when new products are announced on a site that doesn't change to often. Here's the code I wrote but I don't think it is perfect. Also the site might block me if I ping it too many times...

content = Hash@URLFetch["www.wolfram.com"];
$c = 0; Dynamic[$c]

 If[content =!= Hash@URLFetch["www.wolfram.com"], 
  SendMail["To" -> "[email protected]", 
   "Subject" -> "The wolfram site has been updated!", 
   "Body" -> {"Check wolfram now"}, 
   "From" -> "email", "Server" -> "smtp.gmail.com",
    "UserName" -> "email", "Password" -> "pass",
    "PortNumber" -> 587, "EncryptionProtocol" -> "StartTLS"];
     content = Hash@URLFetch["www.wolfram.com"]], 100]

I'd also like to create a standalone executable for running this process in the background without mathematica being open.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You can you use Hash instead of comparing the contents. $\endgroup$
    – Spawn1701D
    Apr 16, 2013 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ Good point! @Spawn1701D $\endgroup$
    – user4364
    Apr 16, 2013 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ The most likely reason for getting blocked is because your headers will show you're not using a regular user-agent. You might want to change the headers, which you can do with URLFetch, so it looks like you're using a web browser. $\endgroup$
    – C. E.
    Apr 16, 2013 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ I think the CloudDeploy can help.. $\endgroup$
    – yode
    Jun 12, 2017 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


Instead of fetching the entire page you could fetch only the headers and track/compare the Last-Modified header.

modified = URLFetch["www.wolfram.com","Headers"]["Last-Modified"];
$c = 0; Dynamic[$c]

 If[modified =!= URLFetch["www.wolfram.com","Headers"]["Last-Modified"], 
  modified = URLFetch["www.wolfram.com","Headers"]["Last-Modified"]], 100]

Sorry if my syntax is a bit off, I'm a bit rusty.

PS: You would also need to check for that header being omitted, and fall back on another method.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This won't work. For many sites, like apple, they update every second, even though the content doesn't change. $\endgroup$
    – user4364
    Apr 16, 2013 at 18:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user4364 apple.com and wolfram.com don't provide a last-modified header, and I updated my answer to mention needing a fallback option. however, if a page provides that header then it should be authoritative. if it's wrong then the page/site is broken. the explicit purpose of that header is for caching and other uses similar to what you're trying to do. $\endgroup$
    – Sparr
    Apr 16, 2013 at 19:14

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