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I'm researching building a site by looking at what other people have done but I don't know how to determine what technologies or platforms are being used. How can I tell what any given site is running when I visit it?

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The Pro Webmasters FAQ states that the scope of this site "covers the operation of websites which you control", however, this question comes up often so I am converting this to a Community Wiki for closing out past and future duplicates. –  danlefree Mar 10 '13 at 2:34

4 Answers 4

There are four basic things you can check to determine what any given site is running:

  1. Source code. Do a view source on the page and look at what scripts are being called in. Typically you will see things like JQuery, Modernizr, and other common javascript libraries and these will give you some clues about how things were built. If the site is using a common CMS, you may also see paths that tip you off as to which CMS it was (e.g. /wp-content/ for WordPress).

  2. Server. Checking to see what web server a site runs can also help give you clues as to how it was built. Sometimes this is pretty easy to figure out...if you see a file extension of .cfm or .asp/.aspx then you are on pretty solid ground with knowing which technologies are in play. If a site uses permalinks or other method to obfuscate the extension, check it against Netcraft to get a report of what server it is running on or you can use some tricks like issuing a telnet to servername on port 80 or a curl command to see the response header and that will tell you what the server environment is like. Combining what you learn in these two steps with experience and some extra Googles will usually tell you what you want to know.

  3. humans.txt. Check http://example.org/humans.txt to see if developers already listed everything for you.

  4. Ask. Believe it or not, people may just tell you.

There are also browser plugins and other tools that will analyze a site and show you what is running. One of the more popular examples of this is Wappalyzer which has extensions for both Firefox and Chrome and is worth a look for you.

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nice suggested edit JCL1178 n1 –  bybe Mar 10 '13 at 1:01
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Grumble grumble community wiki grumble grumble no rep grumble. Grumble. –  JCL1178 Mar 10 '13 at 17:05
    
none the less you still get virtual respect points from me :P –  bybe Mar 10 '13 at 17:10

You can get a breakdown of what different components a site uses using Built With.

When a site uses a content management system such as Wordpress, it usually shows up there. In the case of the site you are asking about, it does not show a content management system but the following libraries: jQuery, FancyBox, JQuery Mousewheel plus a number of widgets.

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The Chrome Sniffer extension for Google Chrome detects what web applications and JavaScript libraries a site is built on and displays icons in the address bar accordingly.

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See this question over on Stack Overflow for a pretty complete answer

SO - How do you determine what technology a website is built on?

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