Web scraping helps you get a large volume of data. The massive scale at which the data extraction occurs can sometimes compromise efficiency. Hence, it becomes pertinent to optimize your web scraping system.
It’s no longer enough to have scrapers scouring the web for you because every hour, troves of data surface on the internet. This results in an urgent need for tools to help web scrapers work better, faster, and more accurately.
This article’s essence is solving this need, which leads to a deep dive into performance-inducing tools for your web scraping efficiency.
What are the obstacles to web scraping?
During web scraping, your bot mines data from target websites and neatly arrange them for storage. Leaving the software without help causes it to face some process-related obstacles. Here are some problems with web scraping experiences:
Web scrapers are software that probes into the structure of web pages to accumulate data. This is a standard practice because most websites allow automatic crawling. However, some websites have settings that prevent automated crawling and scraping.
Restrictions as such are hassles to scrapers and can render the process ineffective. Website owners are doing everything they can to ensure competitors don’t gain an advantage over them.
Captchas are designed to decipher humans apart from bots. Captchas come up with logical problems that are easy to solve for humans but impossible for bots. By doing this, captchas can reduce spam visits to the website they are placed on.
The presence of captchas on a website leads to the disabling of basic scraping scripts. This necessitates some advanced tools to skirt the captchas’ influence ethically.
Frequent structural changes
Design is an ever-evolving industry, introducing new concepts and styles that force HTML and CSS (and its frameworks) to make syntax and semantic changes. These changes result in websites having novel structures that may be hard for web scrapers designed for initial web versions to come to terms with. The new structure distorts the functionality and performance of the web scraper, which may result in data loss. Hence, staying abreast with UI/UX changes on websites you want to scrap is important.
When a web scraper not connected to a proxy sends numerous requests to a website at rates beyond human capabilities, it’d most likely be banned. Technically, such a flurry of requests from one IP address flags off the process as the presence of a web scraper, which many websites find unethical – and a sign of competition stealing data.
To use a web scraper, you must be ready for these countermeasures. Tools like puppeteer proxy can help with that – as it’d supply your web scraper with distinct IP addresses, which makes scraping undetectable. Check it out to learn more about puppeteer proxy.
Tools to maximize web scraping efficiency
Puppeteer is a web scraping tool. However, it does much more than that. As a node.js library, Puppeteer allows you to control the Chrome browser using a high-level API. The headless browser can also be tweaked to work for non-headless Chromium or Chrome.
Beyond this, Puppeteer also facilitates the following:
- Screenshot and PDF generation of web pages.
- The creation of an updated and automated testing environment
- Diagnosis of performance issues across the website
- Web scrawling single page applications to execute server-side rendering.
- Execute runtime analysis and test chrome extensions
Beyond these uses stated above is the case of Puppeteer proxy, which refers to handling proxy requests alongside other functionalities like HTTPS support, cookie handling, and errors. However, you’d need to choose your main proxy to start browsing the internet without revealing your location.
You can also integrate a third-party proxy with Puppeteer via the following steps:
Specifying your proxy
The first step is to tell chrome where your proxy is situated. The following command line will help with this:
After this, you may be required to input a password or not. If you need a password, do the next step. Else, skip.
Most proxies want you to log in with a password and name for authentication. You can do the authentication in one of two ways:
First: Using the page authenticate method. This method involves passing value login values during network requests. The code looks as follows:
You can also have these values input into your JSON object.
Second: You can use the page.setExtraHTTPHeaders method to forward your authentication details. Use the code below:
‘Proxy-Authorization’: ‘Basic username:password’,
Authorization: ‘Basic username:password’,
When doing this, ensure that your details (password and email) are encoded to base64.
Other tools to maximize web scraping
Beyond Puppeteer proxy, here are other tools you can leverage to maximize your web scraping efficiency.
- Cheerio: A library used to parse markups, which helps to manipulate data structure during web scraping.
- Request-Promise: This tool is used when dealing with non-dynamically rendered content or websites that pose authentication issues.
- Osmosis: A HTML/XML parser that doubles as a web scraper.
There are several other tools out there that can help with web scraping. The tool you choose is solely based on your needs. Conduct your research, know your problems, and find the right tools to solve them.