Screenshot with headless Chromium

In this example, we use Modal functions and the playwright package to screenshot websites from a list of urls in parallel. Please also see our introductory guide for another example of a web-scraper, with more in-depth examples.

You can run this example on the command line, like this:

python 02_building_containers/ ''

This should take a few seconds then write a /tmp/screenshots/screenshot.png file. This is what the file should look like:



First we import the modal client library:

import os
import sys

import modal

stub = modal.Stub()

Defining a custom image

We need an image with the playwright Python package as well as its chromium plugin pre-installed. This requires intalling a few Debian packages, as well as setting up a new Debian repository. Modal lets you run arbitrary commands, just like in Docker:

image = modal.Image.debian_slim().run_commands(
        "apt-get install -y software-properties-common",
        "apt-add-repository non-free",
        "apt-add-repository contrib",
        "apt-get update",
        "pip install playwright==1.20.0",
        "playwright install-deps chromium",
        "playwright install chromium",

Defining the screenshot function

Next, the scraping function which runs headless Chromium, goes to a website, and takes a screenshot. This is a Modal function which runs inside the remote container.

async def screenshot(url):
    from playwright.async_api import async_playwright

    async with async_playwright() as p:
        browser = await p.chromium.launch()
        page = await browser.new_page()
        await page.goto(url, wait_until="networkidle")
        await page.screenshot(path="screenshot.png")
        await browser.close()
        data = open("screenshot.png", "rb").read()
        print("Screenshot of size %d bytes" % len(data))
        return data

Entrypoint code

Let’s kick it off by reading a bunch of URLs from a txt file and scrape some of those.

if __name__ == "__main__":
    url = sys.argv[1] if len(sys.argv) >= 2 else ""
    filename = "/tmp/screenshots/screenshot.png"
        data = screenshot(url)
        with open(os.path.join(filename), "wb") as f:
        print(f"wrote {len(data)} to {filename}")

The raw source code for this example can be found on GitHub.