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Basic searching and navigation through the archive

The basic search form accepts keywords and URLs or even just web addresses without the http:// part. Keywords are used to perform a full text search on the contents of the archive. This includes the contents of web pages but also of PDF and Microsoft Office documents linked to by archived web pages too.

If a URL is entered AGWA will search for occurences of that URL within the archive and report on the dates on which it was 'harvested' or 'captured'.

Search terms

The following are all valid search terms:

There are a few restrictions on keyword searches in the current version of AGWA. Keywords currently must not contains numerical digits as doing so causes AGWA to return empty search results. This may be fixed in a future version of AGWA but currently it works with indexes which do not support searching for numbers. You can search for phrases by enclosing keywords in double quotes — e.g. "annual report".

Keywords can be excluded by prefixing them with a minus sign — e.g. -unwanted.

As demonstrated above in the examples of valid search terms, URLs can be entered with or without the http:// prefix.

Context sensitive help

The icons which appear throughout AGWA's user interface are there to provide users with context-sensitive help. Help can be toggled on and off by clicking on these icons. An example is shown below:

Keyword (full-text) search results

Clicking on the Search button produces paged search results, a condensed example of which is given below:

Clicking on a search result, rather than taking you straight to the document, causes AGWA to search for snapshots of the selected document in the archive. The 'capture dates' are then graphically displayed. More of this in the next section.

Incidentally, the words 'capture' and 'snapshot' are used almost interchangeably throughout this help documentation – 'capture' both as a verb and noun, but 'snapshot' just as a noun.

Clicking on the Search button passes the AGWA search terms directly to the National Library of Australia's Trove discovery tool which then produces its own search results. These results are displayed in a new browser window/tab, leaving the AGWA search results untouched.

Capture dates

The image below shows the 'Capture dates' view for a URL. The blue circular markers indicate months in which the selected URL has been captured in the past. The larger the marker, the more captures there are for that month.

Clicking on the marker associated with a month displays the dates and times of the individual captures as shown below:

Clicking on a particular date from the popup list will cause AGWA to 'replay' the snapshot of the archived resource captured on that date.

Replaying a URL

The image below shows a web page being 'replayed' from the archive.The area highlighted in red just below the main menubar (Search | About | Help) contains the URL and date of the document being replayed and some controls for navigating to other snapshots of the document including a 'time slider' and set of 'capture buttons'.

Time slider and capture buttons

In the 'replay' screenshot above the time slider has a range stretching from Jan 2011 to Dec 2013. The snapshot currently being replayed from the archive is represented by the green slider handle. The small grey markers elsewhere on the slider give a quick overview of other snaphosts available in the archive. Dragging the green slider left or right and then letting it go will cause it to snap to the nearest marker and that snapshot will then be replayed.

The image below shows the slider handle having been dragged towards the right hand side of the slider's range (beyond the date of the most recent capture):

Releasing the slider here causes it to 'snap' to the nearest capture time-wise as shown below, in this case 9 April 2013:

The buttons to the right of the time slider also allow temporal navigation of the different snapshots available in the archive. They are, from left to right respectively:

<<Replay earliest capture
<Replay previous capture
>Replay next capture
>>Replay most recent capture

In the previous screenshot the slider handle is located at the latest snapshot available in the archive so the > and >> buttons are greyed out (i.e. there is no 'next' snapshot and we are already viewing the 'most recent' snapshot).

URL actions menu

The image below shows the options available when clicking on the ▾URL actions button:

These options are described below:

Search within … This option takes you to the advanced text search form (which can also be reached via the main menu under Search → Advanced text search ) and pre-populates the form so that searches are limited to the web domain of the current URL (in the example above environment.gov.au).
Show capture dates This option simply takes you to the capture dates view described above.
Visit live site This option is self-explanatory and takes you to the live site on the internet – of course the site may not exist anymore in which case the browser will inform you that the page cannot be loaded.
List other URLs from this site under …

This feature takes the current URL (in the example above http://www.environment.gov.au/water/australia/index.html) and allows you to search for similar URLs within the archive. It is probably best explained by example:

→ /water/australia/ - searches for all URLs beginning with http://www.environment.gov.au/water/australia/

→ /water/ - searches for all URLs beginning with http://www.environment.gov.au/water/

The results produced by clicking on the → /water/ item are shown below:

Making more space in the browser window to view archived content

When viewing a replayed web page you might find yourself wishing that more of the browser window could be given over to displaying the archived content. Well this is possible by clicking on the button at the top right of the AGWA user interface labelled Hide NLA header and footer. This minimises the space take up by AGWA's user interface and leaves more room for the all important archived content.

The following screenshot shows the replay of a site about Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park with AGWA's user interface in its default state (NLA header and footer displayed):

The next screenshot shows the same document but now with the header and footer hidden. The Hide NLA header and footer button has expanded to the full width of the content and now displays the label "This is an archived web page from the NLA's Government Web Archive (click to restore the web interface)".

Bookmarking archived documents

Archived documents can be bookmarked using standard web browser bookmarking functionality. Find the document you want to bookmark in the archive and once it is being replayed just use your browser's 'bookmarks' or 'favourites' function.

AGWA URLs take the general form:


For example:


The 20130329094454 part is the timestamp of the URL being replayed in the form YYYYMMDDHHMMSS - Year, Month, Day, Hour, Minute, Second. The environment.gov.au URL itself appears after the next forward slash. So in other words this URL says 'replay the version of http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/ which was captured at 09:44:54 UTC on 29/03/2013'.

Try copying the following URL into the browser address bar:


This URL replays the home page of the National Library of Australia as it appeared in March 2012.

Citing or linking to archived documents

If you wish to cite or link to an archived document but don't want to link to a version archived on a particular date, you can replace the timestamp part of the URL with the asterisk (*) wildcard, for example:


This URL delivers the 'Capture dates' calendar view from which you can select which archived copy you wish to view. This may be useful as content is added to the Archive over time and multiple versions of the website or document may exist.

Advanced searching

This section describes the advanced search functionality provided by AGWA. This consists of two forms: the advanced text search form and the advanced URL search form both of which are described below.

The image below shows the advanced text search form which is available from the main menu under Search → Advanced text search.


The keywords field accepts the same values as were described in the section on search terms.

File types

You can limit keyword searches to return only certain types of documents using the "File types" field. The document types currently supported are PDF, Microsoft Office and OpenDocument.

Unfortunately due to current limitations in the indexes used by AGWA you cannot search for images although this would be a useful addition in a future version.

Web Domains

The image below shows what happens when you type keywords into the Select web domains by archived site titles field. A popup list of titles matching the keywords you have typed appears and the contents are dynamically updated as you type.

Selecting one of the titles replaces your keywords with the web domain of the site with that title. Then you can add this web domain to the list of domains to search by clicking on the + Add to list button as shown below:

Once the web domain has been added to the Web domains to search list you can type in your search keywords in the Keywords field and click on the Search button. AGWA now searches for documents containing the keyword 'tasmania' within the ephc.gov.au domain.

To remove web domains from the list just click on the '-' button at the right hand side of the domain you wish to remove.

Advanced URL search

The image below shows the Advanced URL search form which is available from the main menu under Search → Advanced URL search:


The URL field accepts full URLs or web addresses such as nla.gov.au which are missing the http:// part.

Show capture dates

This option searches for occurrences of the URL or web address within the archive and displays the capture dates as described earlier. This option is selected by default.

Show similar URLs

This option searches the archive for URLs which begin with the URL supplied. We have come across this functionality before in the URL actions menu as List other URLs from this site under …