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Web crawling might sound like a complicated technical jargon that you should be staying away from if you are not a technical person yourself. Unfortunately, staying away from web crawling and big data is no longer an option since the data revolution has already begun. Every company is gearing up with web scraping technologies to harvest relevant data for their business development. Now that there is no question of avoiding it, let’s face it- you will have to deal with web crawling if you need data for business intelligence. However technical it may sound or it really is, you don’t really need to learn it all to enjoy the benefits of web crawling. We explain how dealing with web crawling is much easier than you imagined it was.
All you need to know is your sources
Getting data from the web sure includes complicated programming and crawler setup. This doesn’t mean you should be involved in the technical part. With a trusted web scraping service provider, all you will have to know is where you need the data from and what data you need. Defining your source websites and the data points you need from them is a no brainer if you know about your business well enough. Once provided with these inputs, the web crawling service can figure out how to programmatically extract the required data from your sources.
The data formats
Dealing with huge quantities of data in formats that you’re not familiar with can be a problem. But this is not the case with web crawling since the data output formats are always the popular ones that most people are familiar with. A good web scraping service can provide the scraped data in formats like CSV, JSON and XML. Since these are the widely used file formats for documents, there are thin chances of you running into a compatibility problem with them. Also, being the common data formats, these are extremely easy to import into your database or convert into various other formats as per your requirements. Having the freedom to choose your output data format is one of the main highlights of going with a web scraping service.
Providing inputs for crawls
Many a times, the crawls are regular and doesn’t need continuous inputs after the initial setup. But when your requirement calls for having a constantly changing factor, there is a need for continuous input. Inputs for the crawls can be provided using FTP/Dropbox or google drive. Since these are services meant for the end users, you wouldn’t have to face any technical issues dealing with them. The technical team from the scraping service reads the input files from these sources and performs the crawls accordingly. The crawled data is either uploaded to the same source or provided to you via the API.
Importing the data to a database
Once you get the structured data in your desired format, you would probably want to import this data into your database for further processing, analyse it or use it in a website/app project. Dealing with databases doesn’t have to be a nightmare with simple user friendly databases like MS Access for your rescue.
Microsoft Access is one of the easiest to use database management systems that you can use to handle the data you acquire. With its graphical user interface, anyone with some excel skills can learn and use it within no time. It also comes with various software development tools that comes handy in data handling.
Why it’s always better to go with a crawling service
We’ve discussed how easy it is to acquire and use data when you have a reliable web scraping vendor to help you with the whole process. However, this is not the case if you are planning to do web crawling in-house. The underlying technology behind web crawling and data extraction is indeed complicated and should be left for the experts to take care if your company doesn’t have the resources and technical labour to undertake it. Learn more on why you should go with a web scraping service instead of in-house scraping.
It’s time to go get the data
With the advancements in web crawling and associated technologies, data acquisition and management is not as complex as it once used to be. There are reliable web scraping services that can take the pain in data acquisition from your shoulder and help you succeed as a business. The flexible options provided by the crawling service will ensure that you won’t be stuck with large quantities of data that you have no clue how to manage and use.
Stay tuned for our next article on Ruby on Rails.
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