Development of the web scraping tools: what you need to know

Data extraction from Internet websites is an essential process for marketing, lead generation, research, E-Commerce, and other competitive web industries. Scrapping can be done manually by copying and pasting. However, when it comes to large amounts of information on multiple pages, it requires too many human resources and too much time. For significant one-time data extraction, using ready-made SaaS services is a reasonable decision. However, if there is a need for constant web scrapping and crawling, custom software will do better.

Custom web scraping tool development allows us to create a product while strictly following your requirements. It means that the end-result product will be a perfect fit for 1) your business needs, 2) your target audience, 3) your plans concerning scalability, 4) your budget.

Web scraping tools can be used to:

  • retrieve products’ descriptions for E-Commerce;
  • fetch price history;
  • generate leads and obtain their contact information;
  • retrieve information about hotels, restaurants, cafes for traveling apps;
  • source talents;
  • organize real estate information;
  • migrate websites data to a new version of it.

For a web scrapper to be integral and fully-functioning, there is a set of basic features it needs to have.

  • creating separate extracting projects. It helps to organize data from different scraping sessions;
  • extract text from HTML;
  • schedule scraping sessions and automatically launch them;
  • scraping for multi- and single-pages;
  • web crawling on login-requiring websites;
  • solving re-captchas;
  • blocking irrelevant ads;
  • export data into a chosen database (e.g. MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB);
  • export data into excel tables;
  • scrape certain categories of data while ignoring irrelevant ones;
  • scape images;
  • bypass cookies.

Often there appear doubts about the legal use of web scrappers. Many websites consider it an intrusion into their privacy or a violation of their terms of use. However, the US and European courts state that it all depends on many factors, and there is a need to analyze each separate case. If the scraped information is sensitive or used for internet piracy, scrapping is more likely to be illegal. If it is used for research, information analysis, or cases that don’t violate websites’ terms of use then it is legal. Last year the 9th circuit court of Appeals proclaimed that web scrapping does not violate any rights if the website is public.

Web scraping software development consists of 5 development stages that usually iterate.

1. Requirement discussion and choosing technology stack.

Requirements give us an understanding of what you want from the project as a client. The more precise they are the better time management and planning. The project’s requirements must contain a project start date, desirable date of production, the scope of work, possible constraints, required professionals to hire, deliverables, features, and budget estimation. After our chief technology officer estimates the viability of the requirements, we choose the relevant tech stack that fits all aspects.

2. Design

Usually, this stage consists of UI and UX design. However, in the case of web scrapping, the UX part is more important. Usually, such a type of product is not sold to the end-users but rather created for a company’s or personal purposes. That’s why it is more important to arrange an admin panel.

3. Development

The development of a web scraping product consists mainly of backend development. Web scrawler works on servers, not visible to the users or even the people who trigger a scraping process. Backend developers build a web crawler as well as all other functional features of your app. They connect the web scraper with a database or excel tables.

4. Testing

Testing is a vital process in any development. It helps to detect fallacies before production, making the app’s performance better. Usually, testing detects some inconsistencies in code. Only after the developers solved every issue, we are ready for deployment.

5. Analysis of performance and upgrades

If the client needs to improve the web scraper, scale its capabilities or add more features, there is a separate stage. Usually, we detect what needs changing and create new requirements. The process iterates.

Web scraping development is a challenging task. The system will have to deal with great amounts of data and many boundaries (logging in, re-captchas). Our experience has taught us how to overcome all issues and improve development processes. SapientPro teams have created a solution that scraped millions of products from E-Commerce giants. Read more about our web scrapping services here. Write to us if you are ready to discuss your project!

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