What is Scrapy?
Scrapy has long been counted as a very popular free and open-source web-scraping framework. Although initially, it was only supposed to crawl the web, it can also be used for extracting data using APIs. It uses the concept of multiple “spiders”- self-contained crawlers each having a set of instructions. Although it is a python library, it also has an interactive shell script for non-python developers, but then its coding opportunities are limited to Python. A steep learning curve and it’s language based limitations has brought us to some other alternative ways to scrape data for your business.
Some of the notable Scrapy alternatives are:
Portia, an open source visual scraping tool which uses annotations to extract data from web pages. No prior programming knowledge is required to use it. Annotating pages you’re interested in will enable Portia to create a spider to extract data from similar pages.
Having personally used BeautifulSoup, I can vouch for the fact that this python library is a hit among developers scraping data from web pages. Using the requests library, one can request a web-page (while sending Chrome or Firefox headers to avoid detection), download the HTML page locally and then parse and scrape it using BeautifulSoup. The library basically converts an HTML page into a tree-like format and you can easily specify a particular node structure to extract all the data from similar nodes. It is a free and “open to all” library that is used in many experimental projects.
Although hailed by most as a tool that automates browser functionalities, Selenium is also popular in the field of web scraping. Selenium helps in the automation of Python scripts that interact with a web browser. Using web driver for Chrome along with Selenium, it is easy to set up automated scraping algorithms as long as you have some basic knowledge of python and the intent to dive deep into the code.
PyQuery is a jquery-like library for python, that allows you to make queries on XML documents, using LXML for fast XML and HTML manipulation. It works in a manner similar to BeautifulSoup, where you download the HTML page into your local system and then extract certain parts of it using python code.
Web-harvest an open source web data extraction tool written in Java. It uses techniques of text and XML manipulations like XSLT, XQuery, and Regular Expressions. Its main use is in HTML/XML based web sites that still make up most of the web content. At the same time, you could use other Java libraries in conjunction with it, to boost its capabilities.
Its benefits include:
- Supports concurrency
- Better fit for verticals
- Flexible and modular
- Written in Native GO
- Can be customised based on a company’s requirements.
So you can see that there are multiple free web crawling frameworks available in the market. However, setting up a dedicated crawling team and maintaining it is tough, leave alone the infrastructure requirements and cost.
It is much better to take the help of a service provider to whom you will hand over your requirements, and who will, in turn, get back to you with the data in a useable and plug and play format. This is where PromptCloud comes in. PromptCloud is a unique web crawling service that prefers to call itself a DaaS provider. We have an online requirement submission engine called CrawlBoard which you can use to specify your web scraping requirements and the rest will be taken care of by our team. We pride ourselves in building the end to end pipeline – from building and maintaining the crawler to cleaning, normalising and maintaining the quality of the data.