If you have a project that requires you to retrieve or Scrape websites for data of a product on an online store or to compare the prices between different stores, you need to gather this information from those websites and display them properly. But with those stores adapting different content management systems to present the products, scraping becomes harder to achieve easily and then it requires more work.
What is web scraping?
Scraping is the act to extract data from a website and export it in a form of an API or any other format that is more useful for the user.
In the past, if you needed to get some elements of a product page like the price image and other details, you needed to go over the DOM elements and pick them one by one, and hard code them to retrieve all the details correctly. However, now we have online tools and APIs to accomplish this goal efficiently without complications.
Scrape websites with a tool
With the growth of the internet, a lot of websites start to block scraping work on them, since they don’t believe in open data, and working hard to build big databases doesn’t give scrapers the right to retrieve all this data with a piece of code. For this reason, websites introduce some techniques like puzzles, captchas, and more to prevent bots from extracting data easily. By this means, scraping should be made carefully, and legally.
The Best Language to Scrape Websites
Since we are using online APIs to scrape data, it doesn’t matter what language will be used since an API call can be made by all of them, nonetheless, choosing the right framework depends on the type of project you are working on. For example, it is advised to use PHP or Nodejs while working on an online application, and to use Python since it is easy to write and efficient in such tasks in web-based or desktop applications, Java, Kotlin, Swift, and more languages can also be used in a scraping project for a mobile application. Briefly, you need to find what framework fits your project properly and use it to scrape data.
How to find the best scraping tools?
Finding the right tool is easy if you answer the following questions:
What type of data do I need to gather?
Although retail scraping is the most common, there are more targets in this industry like real estate data, social media content, and more directories, so knowing the targeted data source will narrow the search for the tool.
What is my budget?
If you are testing or starting a small project and you don’t have the budget, the tool you need to use must have a free plan, and a budget plan so the money doesn’t hold back your project.
Hoverer if you are building a commercial application and you are investing money you should find a tool where the pricing matches its features.
How many requests do I need per month?
The majority of tools charge per request, so you need to know the volume of calls to be made from your application in order to figure out what is the best price for this feature.
What type of details do I need to retrieve?
There are specialized tools to scrape retail data, and others to get social media details and other categories, so with the source of data in mind, you can look for a tool to conquer this specific request or a tool with a wide spectrum of sources to scrape data from.
Why I use Scraping-bot:
From my experience working on different projects that need a scraping mechanism to retrieve data, Scraping-bot was the best for these 5 reasons:
- It offers 300 tries per month for free which is great for testing but you need to use them wisely.
- It covers different data sources like Retail, Real Estate, Social networks, and more, so whatever the project I am working on, Scraping-bot got me covered and I build a familiarity with the tool, so I don’t need to work with a new scraping protocol every time I switch categories.
- It can charge you per scrape, so if you run out of credits, your application will not stop working, yet, it will charge you per scrape, just 0.00044$ per scrape, which is ridiculously low.
- It supports Geotargeting which is great if your app is targeting users from distinct countries with online stores showing diverse details depending on customers’ location.
- Great customer support. Although the documentation is detailed and helpful, the support team can help you to solve the technical problems you’re dealing with.
How to code a simple Web Scraper?
I will use PHP in my example since it is efficient, easy to use, and can run on any type of server.
The process is easy, just declare your credentials, specify the params needed to scrape the data, call Scraping-bot API Endpoint with the URL of the product you want to scrape, and parse the response received. Check my detailed tutorial on how to write the code in this post.
Please don’t hesitate to reply with your questions or feedback, and I will be happy to answer. Good luck with your next project.