Its development started in 2001, to automatically download the daily Dilbert strip. It has been released, since the first steps of its development, as free software, under the terms of GNU General Public License.
phpGrabComics is now a stable software and supports a huge number of comics. Since December 2003, phpGrabComics is part of the GNU project.
phpGrabComics architecture is based on three different components.
The phpGrabComics server is the main application. A phpGrabComics server is in charge of getting comics from different sources and allows to save comics for personal use. A phpGrabComics server will not re-publish the comics. The phpGrabComics server will instead share information that can be used by other programs to download the comics and will publish the location of the comics themselves.
The phpGrabComics clients are software that can be used to connect to a phpGrabComics server and to download the comics. phpGrabComics clients can be generic applications (like web browsers or RSS readers) or applications specifically developed for phpGrabComics (phpGrabComics ports).
The phpGrabComics bots (robots) are software that is used to automatically send commands to a phpGrabComics server. A phpGrabComics bot can be used, for example, to tell the phpGrabComics server to download the daily strips. phpGrabComics command line is the phpGrabComics robot.
Some web sites running phpGrabComics are listed here.
Several other projects have aims that are similar to the ones of phpGrabComics:
- Tapestry is a directory of RSS feeds for online comics.
- Komics is a comic viewer for KDE (runs on Unix-like operating systems only).
- dailystrips is a comic download utility in Perl (not often updated, but includes several hundreds modules).
- GrabCartoons is a comic viewer written in Perl, that makes HTML pages with links to the images, without downloading the comics (not often updated).
- Webcomics Collector is a python script for Posix platforms, supporting several hundreds comics.
phpGrabComics has several advantages, in comparison with similar software.
- phpGrabComics servers (there are several phpGrabComics servers) export RSS feeds for the comics. This means that you can see your daily comics in any RSS client (as Firefox or Thunderbird), without having to install phpGrabComics.
- phpGrabComics server runs on any operating system supporting PHP (that means, many operating systems).
- You can see how phpGrabComics works before installing it, browsing one of the demo sites. The main difference is that the main web site does not allow you to see or save comics, while if you install your own copy of phpGrabComics, you can.
- phpGrabComics is providing extensive documentation and support for users and developers.
- Command line interfaces are available. This allows advanced users to build their own scripts to download comics.
- You can install a phpGrabComics server and forget about it until the moment that you want to read your comics. Your favourite comics will be downloaded automatically, day by day.
- phpGrabComics ports are a very easy to install option to enjoy daily comics.
- phpGrabComics server is updated and maintained regularly, with a fast development cycle. Comic retrievers need to be updated regularly: when a web sites changes the structure of the URL of the daily comic, its module needs to be corrected. Hundreds of modules supported do not imply hundreds of modules available.
- It is really easy to add new classes, or to modify existing ones if required.
- phpGrabComics loves interoperability: you can use phpGrabComics XML feeds in your applications.
- phpGrabComics loves web standards and usability, and is compliant to XHTML 1.0 strict, CSS 1/CSS 2, and to WAI Priority 1 checkpoints.