IS Department

The Wayback Machine – Helped Me Do My Job

Posted in Programming,Uncategorized by Brian Russell on November 19, 2007

I just had an incident today that I thought I would share with you, and expose you to a new resource if you don’t already know about it.  The Wayback Machine.  I have used it in the past for mindless fun.  You know, to look how Google’s main page barely changes, and Yahoo’s exploded into a unreadable mess.  This time, I actually had a work reason to visit it.

Our website was written by a third party, and when we first deployed it we didn’t have the complete source in our source control repository.  We noticed something that needed tweaked at one point on our job listing page (the wording caused confusion for people), and we went to the web server and directly tweaked the html on our job page since we didn’t have the source to update and deploy from.  This prompted us to get the source code in our repository, better late than never!

Anyway, here is the text before the change:

in-process 1

and here is the text after the change:

in-process 2

I know it wasn’t a huge change, but the wording was previously approved and delivered by HR and I didn’t remember it.

Fast forward past that change and a few revisions, we noticed that this text was no longer on the site.  I needed to put the text back onto the site.  The problem was, I didn’t remember what the exact text was that needed to be there and the HR rep was out of the office.  I went through our source control to look at the different versions of the file to find the text, but the initial upload and future changes didn’t include the wording because we tweaked it directly on the server itself.

I could go hunt through some backups, but I would rather pull my teeth out.  That was when I remembered the Wayback Machine (internet archive).  I ran our site through it, and was presented with a bunch of different versions I could easily look through to find what I needed.  Once I found it, I copied the text, pasted it in the source controlled file, deployed a new version of our site, and everything is now good!

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