Review: Rage Software WebCrusher

Compact your web site to make it load faster. (December 24th, 2008)

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Product Manufacturer: Rage Software

Price: $49.95 US

The Good

  • Good manual. Easy to use program. Doesnít effect original files. Lets you compare original and optimized pages and graphics. Can FTP your files. Works on PPC and Intel Macs.

The Bad

  • Difficult to edit optimized pages.

Many of the web page design applications, such as Adobe GoLive, Dreamweaver, or iWeb, have a tendency to add HTML or CSS code that isn't really needed. Your graphics might be large and need to go on a diet as well. This extra code and bloated graphics take up space on your web server and can slow your web page load time. You may not think this is a big deal if you have oodles of server space, but unfortunately, we who have high-speed modems forget that there are still people using dial up services. There are ways to design pages for those with 56K modems; you know, the kind that attach to a phone line and make the harsh squawk sound when they connect. These folks experience very slow load times, and WebCrusher helps that immensely. You can also help pages load more quickly on a mobile phone.

There are many things that you can do to optimize web pages on your site and that's where Rage Software's WebCrusher helps. WebCrusher optimizes pages and is especially useful for those not familiar with HTML or CSS code. If you use visual programs to create web pages, such as Dreamweaver or iWeb, you maybe able to look at the created code and touch it up or skinny it down, but it's time consuming and unfortunately, lots of people don't know how.

WebCrusher fixes 17 common problems. Just go into the preferences and check the click boxes to turn on or off items that you can automatically fix. Some items just delete unneeded spaces or optimize JavaScript, CSS, and PHP code. It can also remove comments you added and no longer need. If there are files that you don't want touched, you can have WebCrusher exclude them from the process.

WebCrusher provides 26 different choices to optimize tags in the preferences also. You can remove unneeded close tags or replace one tag with another. For example, replace the strong tag with the bold tag. You can also remove META information. Some HTML checkers prefer one tag over another or require some of the information that WebCrusher can remove, so make sure your code still meets the HTML specs you use on your site, such as the HTML 3 or HTML 4 specification. The World Wide Web Consortium offers a free Markup Validation Service, if you need it.

The size of your graphics also effects the load time of your pages. Web graphics don't have to be 300dpi resolution. If you need to use larger files, it makes more sense to create a 72 or 100dpi version for your page and add a link to download the larger version. When you reduce the quality settings of JPEG and PING files from maximum to normal or minimum quality, you dynamically reduce the size of your graphics, often without effecting how the image looks on the screen. webcrush13-open.jpg

How it works

WebCrusher couldn't be easier to use. Open WebCrusher and drag the folder with your site into the simple dialog.

 WebCrusher screen

First Dialog - Just Drop in Your Web Folder

Next, open the preferences from the tools menu or the Application menu and select which items you want compacted and optimized.

 WebCrusher screen

Optimization Preferences

Your dialog shows you a list of all your pages, and you simply press the Go button to activate the program and compress your files.

 WebCrusher screen

Web Folder File List

The optimization is completed within seconds to a few minutes. WebCrusher creates a comparison list of your files including file name, its original size, optimized size, and percent optimized. A large site may take quite a while to process. Click Export to save the optimized files.

 WebCrusher screen

Web Folder File List with Crushed Sizes

You can compare the originals to the compressed page or graphic in a separate window. If you think the quality of an optimized image isn't good enough and that the original image is the one you want to use, no problem; just select the image you want to use. Once optimized, WebCrusher even helps you transfer your work to your web server.

 WebCrusher screen

Graphics Comparison Preview

Don't worry about losing your files, because WebCrusher makes a copy of them in a folder inside your Documents folder and only works on the copies, not the originals. The optimized files are saved into that folder.


This program is very simple to use. Once it is set up, you simply drag and drop. I dropped a web site with 115 files into the WebCrusher box. I created these files in Adobe GoLive and then converted them to Dreamweaver 8. I didn't go through any of the code before optimizing it with WebCrusher. The original size was 2,813,219 bytes and it was optimized to 2,629,197 bytes for a saving of 184,022 bytes. I think they use bytes to add to the drama. Of the files, the PDF, GIF, class, Java, and text were not changed. My reduced files should improve the load time from 10 to 20%.

One drawback is that once WebCrusher compacts your HTML pages, they can be very difficult to edit. No more comments, no more spaces between tags, so while the code is lean and mean, the page may be too difficult to read. Ilene notes that BBEdit, for example, creates table tags that are spaced across a page so that you can see easily the start and end of tables. WebCrusher doesn't preserve that alignment, unless you uncheck a preference. She did pare over 7MBs of space from a 100MB site though.

The sites I tested didn't involve much CSS, and I had edited and resized my graphics to reduce their size. My HTML authoring program helps me reduce my HTML pages, but I could reduce my graphic file sizes even more. It was handy using WebCrusher to do that for me. If I had to work with a small amount of server space, I would want to optimize every file. WebCrusher is worth its reasonable price. For those who have a tendency to use two spaces after a period or drop extra spaces into your text, WebCrusher can be of great value.

This review covers WebCrusher 1.2.2, but on Dec. 3rd Rage Software released the 1.3 update that adds color coded optimizations, fixed some PNG optimizations, and some issues with RapidWeaver and iWeb based web sites. I did not find any obvious bugs in the program though. If you build any web pages, you should download a copy and give it a try.

by Rick Curran and Ilene Hoffman


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