Web Scraping

Extracting content from websites is not an easy task. Therefore, data scraping is the best option. In fact, web scraping is becoming widely popular due to the easy accessibility of data. Moreover, web scraping has gained momentum due to efficient ways of copying large chunks of information online. Most businesses use a web data extraction system to analyze competitors.

Did you know that data scraping was born of a different purpose? In fact, it took more than two decades for it to transform into web scraping we are familiar with now. The scraping method has helped businesses and industries explore their possibilities. With the help of web scraping tools, one can quickly analyze competitors and their business portfolios.

Everything You Need To Understand About Web Scraping

The Birth : The origin of very basic web scraping dates back to 1989 when English scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. Initially, the idea here was to share information between scientists in universities and institutes worldwide automatically. The World Wide Web gave three significant features that are the critical elements for every web data scraping. The URLs which we now apply to indicate a scraper to specific websites The embedded hyperlinks that allow navigating through the designated website Web pages that contained various types of data- text, images, audios, videos, etc

The Earliest Browser : After developing the World Wide Web, two years later, Tim Berners-Lee invented the first web browser, an HTTP:// web page all run from his NeXT computer, giving people access and interacting with the World Wide Web.

The Wanderer : In 1993, the first idea of crawling was developed. The Wanderer or the World Wide Web Wanderer developed by Mathew Gray at MIT was the first of its kind. The Pearl-based web crawler had the sole purpose of measuring out the size of the web. Likewise, the Wanderer was used to generate an index called Windex. The Wanderer with Windex had the potential to become the first general-purpose World Wide Web search engine.

Visual Web Scraper : No sooner was web scraping born, the scrapy software Web Integration Platform version 6.0 was launched. It allowed users to highlight the necessary information of a web page structure that data into a usable excel database. Besides, it provided an opportunity for non-programmers to join and scrape data from the web. In the current scenario, as technologies and industries are progressing exponentially, businesses are looking to gain an advantage over their competition. Due to the fact, the amount of information available on the internet is growing exponentially; web scraping is popularising. In fact, it is one of the most well-known and widely-used methods of acquiring data across various industries and business spheres.

Web Scraping Tool, Framework & Technologies

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Scrapy is an open-source web scraping framework in Python. It is used to build an advanced web scraper. Here, you get all types of tools you need to extract data from websites, process them as you want, and store them in the preferred structure and format. One of the main advantages is that it's built on top of a twisted asynchronous networking framework. For projects with large web scraping requirements, scrapy is the best option. It also comes with a couple of handy built-in exports such as JSON, XML, and CSV. Data scraping here is much faster and can be used for multiple purposes, from data mining to monitoring and automated testing; however, as it's a full-fledged framework, it not for beginners.

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  • Selenium

Websites come with complex and dynamic code. Moreover, it's better to have all the page content rendered using a browser first. Selenium utilizes a real web browser to access the website. This makes it look as if a real person is accessing information in the same way. The browser allows you to load all the web resources with the web driver and executes the javascript on the page. At the same time, similar to any other browser, it stores all the cookies created by websites and sends complete HTTP headers. While it's mainly applied for testing, Selenium can be used for scraping dynamic web pages. Running it is the right solution to understand if a website works efficiently or not with other browsers. However, the scraping process can be slower as the browser needs to wait until the whole page gets loaded.

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Beautiful Soup

  • Beautiful Soup

Beautiful Soup is a Python library for extracting data out of HTML and XML files. It is designed for projects like screen scraping. The library provides simple methods and Pythonic idioms for navigating, searching, and modifying a parse tree. In fact, here, the tool allows you to automatically convert incoming documents to Unicode and outgoing documents to UTF-8. With the recent version of Debian or Ubuntu Linux, one can swiftly install Beautiful Soup with the system package.

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AWS Lambda

  • AWS Lambda

The AWS Lambda is fantastic for smaller tasks. In fact, it's integrated with every Amazon service. The scraper is operated inside a Docker container. Every day AWS CloudWatch event rules trigger lambdas to dispatch scraping jobs. You can set up a schedule to run and not worry about starting and stopping the server yourself. Likewise, it runs using cron, too, which is a similar setup as the local mac. However, using Lambda is challenging as there is no persistent local storage like the EC2. This means the Lambda is invented for data transformation but lag in data transportation or storage. Also, the documentation can be pretty tricky.

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  • PhantomJS

The PhantomJS is approximately 6 to 10 times faster as compared to Puppeteer. However, the PhantomJS is no longer being developed and might get detected and blocked by websites. The PhantomJS headless browser crawls the website and extracts data from the front-end JavaScript code. Similarly, the crawler is based in the Apify Legacy PhantomJS Crawler.

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  • Colly

Colly is a Go package for writing both web scrapers and crawlers. It is based on Go's net/HTTP and Goquery. With Colly, you get a lightning-fast, elegant scraping framework for Gophers. It provides a clean interface to write any crawler/scraper/spider. Colly allows users to extract structured data from websites easily. Data can be further used for a wide application, i.e., data mining, data processor archiving.

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  • Puppeteer

Puppeteer is a Node library. It comes with a powerful yet simple API that allows controlling Google's headless Chrome browser (sending and receiving requests with no GUI). However, it works in the background, performing the action as instructed by an API. If you need to generate information, the Puppeteer combines API data and JavaScript code. The Puppeteer can take the screenshots of web pages visible by default once you open a web browser. Puppeteer's API is similar to that of Selenium. However, it works only with Google Chrome. Also, Puppeteer has more active support than Selenium if you plan to work with Chrome.

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Scraper API

  • Scraper API

The Scraper API has been developed, keeping in mind the challenges developers face regularly. It is not only easy to integrate but is equally easier to customize. The Scraper API can scrape any page with a simple API call. The web service here handles proxies, browsers, and CAPTCHA so that developers can extract HTML from any website. Here, the products manage to find a unique balance between functionalities, reliability, and ease of use.

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Zyte (formerly Scrapinghub)

  • Zyte

From the creators of Scrapy and Scrapinghub, Zyte is a data extraction solution that provides tailor-made data services to companies of any size. It offers an intelligent proxy network that allows users to focus on the data while all the proxy management is done at the beach end. It comes with easy integration between tools and a built-in quality assurance toolkit. As a Web Scraping tool, It helps save time.

Web Scraping Challenges & Ways to Overcome It

Web Scraping is undoubtedly a hot topic running in the market. The rising demand for data has forced businesses and industries to hire web scraping experts. But, scrapers also come with similar challenges. Challenges such as blocking mechanisms will arise when scaling up the web scraping process. Moreover, this hinders people from getting data. Here are some ways that may curtail your project.

Bot Access : You need to be sure that the target website allows data scraping or not. If the website disallows scraping via its robots.txt, you may ask the website owner for scraping permission. However, make sure you explain the needs and purpose. If denied, it's better to find some alternative site that offers similar information.

IP Blocking : IP blocking is a standard method used to stop scraping software to access the data of a website. The website may figure out if there have been many requests from the same IP address. What the website may do is either restrict access, totally ban or break down the scraping process. However, there are numerous IP proxy services like Luminati which can be integrated with automated scrapers. Actually, this helps save people from such blocking. Cloud extraction is one such process that our experts recommend. It helps to scrape websites by utilizing multiple IPs at the same time.

Captcha : CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing Tests To Tell Computers and Humans Apart, is a tool that detects scraping tools over humans. It runs images and logical problems that humans can solve but not scrapers. Likewise, there are web scraping tools that can solve the CAPTCHA and ensure non-stop scraping. While the technology to overcome CAPTCHA can help acquire continuous data feeds, they might slow down the scraping process to some extent.

Honeypot Traps : Honeypot is a trap most website owners run on their pages to catch scrapers. These might look invisible to humans but trap once the scraper moves along. If the scrapy falls into the trap, the website can use the information it receives to block the scrape. To overcome such challenges, there is software available. One such is the XPath that precisely locates items to click or to scrape. This reduces the chance of falling into the trap.

Dynamic Content : Websites these days apply AJAX in order to update dynamic content. For instance, lazy loading images and infinite scrolling show more info by clicking a button via AJAX calls. Moreover, one can conveniently view more data on such a website. However, these may not allow scrapers. At Cloudifyapps, we can deal with such challenges. Our experts apply different functions like scrolling down the page or AJAX load and help scrape it.

Login Protected Page : Website data scraping can be pretty challenging with protected sites. In fact, you may need to log in first. Once a visitor login credentials, the browser automatically appends the cookie value to multiple requests you make to the site. Now, the website understands you're the same person who just logged in earlier. If the scraping website requests for login, the cookies must have been sent with the requests. Our experts simply help users log in to a website and save the cookies like the browser to manage the challenge.

Where The Future Lies? In recent years, web scraping has grown immensely. Scraping Services Company In India offers Web Data Extraction that helps to continue upward growth. As of now, the commercial Web Scraping Automates towards gaining a competitive advantage by collecting leads, scraping competitors, price monitoring, etc. Likewise, with the technological advancement and inclusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI), data has become more accessible and crucial to different aspects of life. In fact, web scraping will advance with it and produce new and remarkable applications. We shall look forward to more than scraping, helping businesses understand and analyze their competitors.

Is Web Scraping Legal? Whether web scraping is allowed or not is a popular query amongst people. Since it is copying data, therefore, there must be some kind of barriers concerned with it. However, the answer may be yes and no. More precisely, Scraping Services Company In India has not come across any such regulations that forbid website data scraping. However, it would be great if you also kept that in mind, websites come with Terms & Conditions; therefore, one needs to be very careful when working on them.

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