Generating Screenshots of URLs Using Google’s Secret Magic API

The Problem

Being a developer, I have always wondered what would be the best way to capture screenshots of URLs. There are a lot of use cases for this. Consider the following ones:

When a link is posted, we could show a thumbnail of it.
When a URL is inputted by the user, we can fetch the screenshot to show if that’s the intended one.
Testing the URL on different browsers.
Testing if the URL is accessible by the public.
And so on. Getting a screenshot of a rendered URL requires a lot of work:

You need a complete headless server that’s connected to the internet.
The server should have a browser that’s compatible with the web standards.
There are also screen resolution requirements – mobile or desktop.
When I tried looking at the available options that I have, here’s what I get:

Having said everything above, I gave up my idea of getting this thing working. I started


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