Web Scraping

Isidro Finely

12 Aug 2021

Some websites can contain a very large amount of invaluable data. Stock prices, product details, sports stats, shopping niche...

If you wanted to access this information, you’d either have to use whatever format the website uses or copy-paste the information manually into a new document. Here’s where web scraping can help.

Web scraping refers to the extraction of data from a website. This information is collected and then exported into a format that is more useful for the user. Be it a spreadsheet or an API.

So, how do web scrapers work? Automated web scrapers work in a rather simple but also complex way. After all, websites are built for humans to understand, not machines.

First, the web scraper will be given one or more URLs to load before scraping. The scraper then loads the entire HTML code for the page in question. More advanced scrapers will render the entire website, including CSS and Javascript elements.

Then the scraper will either extract all the data on the page or specific data selected by the user before the project is run.

Ideally, the user will go through the process of selecting the specific data they want from the page. For example, you might want to scrape an Amazon product page for prices and models but are not necessarily interested in product reviews.

Lastly, the web scraper will output all the data that has been collected into a format that is more useful to the user.

Most web scrapers will output data to a CSV or Excel spreadsheet, while more advanced scrapers will support other formats such as JSON which can be used for an API.

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