There have been significant advances in the web scraping domain in the past few years.

Web scraping is being used as a means for gathering & analyzing data across the web. To support this process, there have been numerous frameworks that have come up to satisfy different requirements for various use-cases.

Let’s take a look at some of the popular web scraping frameworks.

The following are self-hosted solution so you got to install and configure yourself. You may check out this post for cloud-based scraping solution.

Scrapy

Scrapy Web scraping Framework

Scrapy is a collaborative framework based on Python. It provides a complete suite of libraries. A fully-asynchronous that can accept requests and process them, faster.

Some of the can benefits of Scrapy include:

  • Superfast in performance
  • Optimum memory usage
  • Quite similar to the Django framework
  • Efficient in its comparison algorithm
  • Easy to use functions with exhaustive selectors support
  • Easily customizable framework by adding custom middleware or pipeline for custom functionalities
  • Portable
  • Provides its cloud environment to run resource-intensive operations

If you are serious about learning Scrapy, then I would refer you this course.

MechanicalSoup

MechanicalSoup Web scraping Framework

MechanicalSoup can simulate human behavior on web pages. It is based on a web parsing library BeautifulSoup which is most efficient in simple sites.

Benefits

  • Neat library with very less overhead of code
  • Blazing fast when it comes to parsing simpler pages
  • Ability to simulate human behavior
  • Support CSS & XPath selectors

MechanicalSoup is useful when you try to simulate human actions like waiting for a certain event or click certain items to open a popup rather than just scraping data.

Jaunt

Jaunt facilities like automated scraping, JSON based data querying, and a headless ultra-light browser. It supports tracking of every HTTP request/response being executed.

The significant benefits of using Jaunt include:

  • An organized framework to provide for all your web scraping needs
  • Allows JSON based querying of data from web pages
  • Supports scraping through forms and tables
  • Allows controlling of HTTP request and response
  • Easy interfacing with REST APIs
  • Supports HTTP/HTTPS proxy
  • Supports Search Chaining in HTML DOM navigation, Regex based search, basic authentication

One point to note in case of Jaunt is that its browser API does not support Javascript-based websites. This is resolved by use of Jauntium that is discussed next.

Jauntium

Jauntium is an enhanced version of the Jaunt framework. It not only resolves the drawbacks in Jaunt but also adds more features.

  • Ability to create Web-bots that scrape through the pages and perform events as needed
  • Search through and manipulate DOM easily
  • Facility to write test cases by leveraging its web scraping abilities
  • Support to integrate with Selenium for simplifying frontend testing
  • Supports Javascript-based websites which are a plus compared to Jaunt framework

Suitable to use when you need to automate some processes and test them on different browsers.

Storm Crawler

Storm Crawler is a full-fledged Java-based web crawler framework. It is utilized for building scalable and optimized web crawling solutions in Java. Storm Crawler is primarily preferred to serve streams of inputs where the URLs are sent over streams for crawling.

Storm Crawler Web scraping Framework

Benefits

  • Highly scalable and can be used for large scale recursive calls
  • Resilient in nature
  • Excellent thread management which reduces the latency of crawl
  • Easy to extend the library with additional libraries
  • The web crawling algorithms provided are comparatively more efficient

Norconex

Norconex HTTP collector allows you to build enterprise-grade crawlers. It is available as a compiled binary that can be run across many platforms.

Norconex Web scraping Framework

Benefits

  • Can crawl up to millions of pages on an average server
  • Able to crawl through documents of Pdf, Word as well as HTML format
  • Able to extract data right from the documents and process it
  • Supports OCR to extract textual data from images
  • Ability to detect the language of the content
  • A speed of crawling can be configured
  • Can be set to run repeatedly over pages to continually compare and update the data

Norconex can be integrated to work with Java as well as over the bash command line.

Apify

Apify SDK is a NodeJS based crawling framework that is quite similar to Scrapy discussed above. It is one of the best web crawling libraries built in Javascript. Although it may not be as powerful as the Python-based framework, it is comparatively lightweight and more straightforward to code upon.

Benefits

  • Inbuilt support NodeJS plugins like Cheerio, Puppeteer, and others
  • Features AutoScaled pool which allows starting crawling multiple web pages at the same time
  • Quickly crawls through inner links and extracts data as needed
  • Simpler library for coding crawlers
  • Can throw out data in the form of JSON, CSV, XML, Excel as well as HTML
  • Runs on headless chrome and hence supports all types of websites

Kimurai

Kimurai is written in Ruby and based on popular Ruby gems Capybara and Nikogiri, which makes it easier for developers to understand how to use the framework. It supports easy integration with Headless Chrome browsers, Phantom JS as well as simple HTTP requests.

Kimurai

Benefits

  • Can run multiple spiders in a single process
  • Supports all the events with the support of Capybara gem
  • Auto-restarts browsers in case the javascript execution reaches a limit
  • Auto-handling of request errors
  • Can leverage multiple cores of a processor and perform parallel processing using a simple method

Colly

Colly is a smooth, fast, elegant, and easy to use framework for even starters in the web scraping domain. Colly allows you to write any type of crawlers, spiders as well as scrapers as needed. It is primarily of great importance when the data to scraped is structured.

Colly Web Scraping Framework

Benefits

  • Capable of handling over 1000 requests per second
  • Supports automatic session handling as well as cookies
  • Supports synchronous, asynchronous as well as parallel scraping
  • Caching support for faster web scraping when doing repetitively
  • Understand robots.txt and prevents from scraping any unwanted pages
  • Support Google App Engine out of the box

Colly can be a good fit for data analysis and mining applications requirement.

Grablab

Grablab is highly scalable in nature. It can be used to build a simple web scraping script of few lines to a complex asynchronous processing script to scrape through million pages.

Benefits

  • Highly Extensible
  • Supports parallel as well as asynchronous processing to scrape through million pages at the same time
  • Simple to get started with but powerful enough to write complex tasks
  • API scraping support
  • Support for building Spiders for every request

Grablib has inbuilt support for handling the response from requests. Thus, it allows scraping through web services too.

BeautifulSoup

BeautifulSoup is a Python-based web scraping library. It is primarily used for HTML and XML web scraping. BeautifulSoup is normally leveraged on top of other frameworks that require better searching and indexing algorithms. For instance, Scrapy framework discussed above uses BeautifulSoup as one of its dependencies.

The benefits of BeautifulSoup include:

  • Supports parsing of Broken XML and HTML
  • Efficient then most parsers available for this purpose
  • Easily integrates with other frameworks
  • Small footprint making it lightweight
  • Comes with Prebuilt filtering and searching functions

Check out this online course if interested in learning BeautifulSoap.

Conclusion

As you might have noticed, they all are either based on Python or Nodejs so as a developer you must be well versed with an underline programming language. They are all either open source or FREE so give a try to see what works for your business.