Itemizing Third-Party Scripts

If I want to see all the third-party requests included with a webpage, I have a few options (that I know of):

  • Look at the code in the <head> and before the </body> tags
  • Use a browser extension like Ghostery to see what’s being served
  • Utilize services like Calibre or SpeedCurve for in-depth analysis
  • Inspect the page—use developer tools (network & sources panel)
Sources tab
Chrome inspector sources tab at (arbitrarily chosen)

But if I want to itemize that information and make it portable (e.g., paste it into a spreadsheet for filtering or further analysis), the process is not as straightforward.

Save as HAR

From inside some browsers’ web inspectors (Chrome, Firefox, Edge), you can save a HAR (HTTP Archive format) file (further reading). Among other things, this captures all the requests a site is making. Note that HAR files can contain sensitive data, so save and share with care.

Saving a HAR file
Saving a HAR file from the Firefox network panel

So how do you open a HAR file? has a list of helpful tools. I gravitated towards Charles.

Charles is an HTTP proxy / HTTP monitor / Reverse Proxy that enables a developer to view all of the HTTP and SSL / HTTPS traffic between their machine and the Internet.

Viewing a HAR file
Viewing HAR file via Charles Proxy

You can learn a lot poking around the app. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a way to export or copy this info into text or a table. (Update)

This approach (and level of analysis) gives me a good perception upgrade for what’s happening in a browser when third-party scripts, iframes, etc. load with a webpage. Next, I’ll be taking chunks of this information for multiple sites and running some comparisons to see what scripts/services are most common.

I’m figuring all this out as I go, so if you have advice or better ideas, let me know!


My friend Matt Weinberg from Vector Media Group informed me that you can export a full session from Charles app as a CSV file (File->Export Session->CSV), which is ideal. He also pointed out that “a HAR file is just a JSON file with inlined content. So any tool that can parse JSON can do whatever you need to with a HAR.” Bingo. Thanks, Matt!