Webstrates A research prototype enabling collaborative editing of websites through DOM manipulations.

Webstrates keeps track of which documents users have been active in (i.e. created or modified) through the oplog, but also through an explicit database containing information about the last time the user modified any webstrate and makes this information available through webstrate.user.history().


The oplog (a record of all “operations”) keeps track of any permanent changes made to a webstrate through the DOM. Having an oplog is essential to base Webstrates functionality. (See more in Versioning and How it works).

This oplog can be accessed either through the HTTP API or using webstrate.getOps().

webstrate.getOps(fromVersion, toVersion, callback) returns (through the callback) an array of ops from fromVersion (inclusive) to toVersion (exclusive). callback will be called with two arguments, the first being a potential error (or undefined), the second an array of ops.

The following example will print an array of 10 ops (10, 11, … 19):

webstrate.getOps(10, 20, (err, ops) => console.log(ops));

Activity History

webstrate.user.history([options]) returns a promise that resolves to an object containing information about the last time the calling user modified any webstrate.

The options parameter is an optional object that allows the user to specify a limit to how many webstrates to query for. When limiting, the returned webstrates will always be the most recently modified. The default limit is 50.

A call with a limit of 5 will look like:

await webstrate.user.history({ limit: 5 });

And will give back the user an object that looks something like:

  angry-kangaroo-24: "2019-03-01T15:00:24.000Z"
  cuddly-kangaroo-97: "2019-03-20T15:59:09.906Z"
  friendly-kangaroo-22: "2019-03-01T14:39:25.000Z"
  massive-kangaroo-91: "2019-03-01T14:39:29.000Z"
  weak-kangaroo-65: "2019-03-20T16:13:19.585Z"

To get back the entire history, one may just specifiy an appropriately large limit, for instance { limit: Number.MAX_SAFE_INTEGER }.

Creating Activity History retroactively

When updating Webstrates from a previous version without the Activity History feature, old documents will not have been added to the activity history, and as a result will not show up in the results returned by webstrates.user.history(). To build the activity history retroactively, the below script can be executed from the Webstrates root directory.

const MongoClient = require('mongodb').MongoClient;
const ObjectID = require('mongodb').ObjectID;

global.APP_PATH = __dirname;
const configHelper = require(APP_PATH + '/helpers/ConfigHelper.js');
const config = global.config = configHelper.getConfig();

const printProgress = (i, total) => {
  process.stdout.write(`Progress: Op ${i} of ${total} (${(i / total * 100).toFixed(2)}%)`);

const sessionMap = new Map();

MongoClient.connect(global.config.db, async (err, db) => {

  const userHistory = db.collection('userHistory');

  const sessions = await db.collection('sessionLog').find({
    userId: { $ne: 'anonymous:' }
  }, {
    userId: 1, sessionId: 1

  while (await sessions.hasNext()) {
    const session = await sessions.next();
    sessionMap.set(session.sessionId, session.userId);

  const ops = await db.collection('o_webstrates').find({}, {
    _id: 1, d: 1, src: 1

  const TOTAL_OP_COUNT = await ops.count();
  let i = 0;

  while (await ops.hasNext()) {
    const op = await ops.next();

    const userId = sessionMap.get(op.src);
    if (!userId) continue;

    const timestamp = ObjectID(op._id).getTimestamp();
    const webstrateId = op.d;

    const $set = {};
    $set[`webstrates.${webstrateId}`] = timestamp;

    userHistory.update({ userId }, { $set }, { upsert: true }, (err, res) => {
      if (err) console.error(err);

    printProgress(i, TOTAL_OP_COUNT);

  printProgress(i, TOTAL_OP_COUNT);

After having run the script, the activity history will be up date and stay that way. If the script gets interrupted, the collection accidentally wiped, or the user wishes to rerun the script for any reason, it is safe to do so.

The script can be run while the Webstrates server is running, but keep in mind that on exceptionally large databases, the script may take as long as 20 minutes to finish and performance might be slightly on the Webstrates server during this time period.