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Author Topic: web scraping  (Read 294 times)

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Offline chrisNova777

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web scraping
« on: April 09, 2018, 10:30:07 PM »

Web scraping, web harvesting, or web data extraction is data scraping used for extracting data from websites.[1] Web scraping software may access the World Wide Web directly using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or through a web browser. While web scraping can be done manually by a software user, the term typically refers to automated processes implemented using a bot or web crawler. It is a form of copying, in which specific data is gathered and copied from the web, typically into a central local database or spreadsheet, for later retrieval or analysis.

Web scraping a web page involves fetching it and extracting from it.[1][2] Fetching is the downloading of a page (which a browser does when you view the page). Therefore, web crawling is a main component of web scraping, to fetch pages for later processing. Once fetched, then extraction can take place. The content of a page may be parsed, searched, reformatted, its data copied into a spreadsheet, and so on. Web scrapers typically take something out of a page, to make use of it for another purpose somewhere else. An example would be to find and copy names and phone numbers, or companies and their URLs, to a list (contact scraping).

Web scraping is used for contact scraping, and as a component of applications used for web indexing, web mining and data mining, online price change monitoring and price comparison, product review scraping (to watch the competition), gathering real estate listings, weather data monitoring, website change detection, research, tracking online presence and reputation, web mashup and, web data integration.

Web pages are built using text-based mark-up languages (HTML and XHTML), and frequently contain a wealth of useful data in text form. However, most web pages are designed for human end-users and not for ease of automated use. Because of this, tool kits that scrape web content were created. A web scraper is an Application Programming Interface (API) to extract data from a web site. Companies like Amazon AWS and Google provide web scraping tools, services and public data available free of cost to end users.

Newer forms of web scraping involve listening to data feeds from web servers. For example, JSON is commonly used as a transport storage mechanism between the client and the web server.

There are methods that some websites use to prevent web scraping, such as detecting and disallowing bots from crawling (viewing) their pages. In response, there are web scraping systems that rely on using techniques in DOM parsing, computer vision and natural language processing to simulate human browsing to enable gathering web page content for offline parsing.

Web scraping is the process of automatically mining data or collecting information from the World Wide Web. It is a field with active developments sharing a common goal with the semantic web vision, an ambitious initiative that still requires breakthroughs in text processing, semantic understanding, artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions. Current web scraping solutions range from the ad-hoc, requiring human effort, to fully automated systems that are able to convert entire web sites into structured information, with limitations.

Human copy-and-paste
Sometimes even the best web-scraping technology cannot replace a human’s manual examination and copy-and-paste, and sometimes this may be the only workable solution when the websites for scraping explicitly set up barriers to prevent machine automation.

Text pattern matching
A simple yet powerful approach to extract information from web pages can be based on the UNIX grep command or regular expression-matching facilities of programming languages (for instance Perl or Python).

HTTP programming
Static and dynamic web pages can be retrieved by posting HTTP requests to the remote web server using socket programming.

HTML parsing
Many websites have large collections of pages generated dynamically from an underlying structured source like a database. Data of the same category are typically encoded into similar pages by a common script or template. In data mining, a program that detects such templates in a particular information source, extracts its content and translates it into a relational form, is called a wrapper. Wrapper generation algorithms assume that input pages of a wrapper induction system conform to a common template and that they can be easily identified in terms of a URL common scheme.[3] Moreover, some semi-structured data query languages, such as XQuery and the HTQL, can be used to parse HTML pages and to retrieve and transform page content.

DOM parsing
Further information: Document Object Model
By embedding a full-fledged web browser, such as the Internet Explorer or the Mozilla browser control, programs can retrieve the dynamic content generated by client-side scripts. These browser controls also parse web pages into a DOM tree, based on which programs can retrieve parts of the pages.

Vertical aggregation
There are several companies that have developed vertical specific harvesting platforms. These platforms create and monitor a multitude of “bots” for specific verticals with no "man in the loop" (no direct human involvement), and no work related to a specific target site. The preparation involves establishing the knowledge base for the entire vertical and then the platform creates the bots automatically. The platform's robustness is measured by the quality of the information it retrieves (usually number of fields) and its scalability (how quick it can scale up to hundreds or thousands of sites). This scalability is mostly used to target the Long Tail of sites that common aggregators find complicated or too labor-intensive to harvest content from.

Semantic annotation recognizing
The pages being scraped may embrace metadata or semantic markups and annotations, which can be used to locate specific data snippets. If the annotations are embedded in the pages, as Microformat does, this technique can be viewed as a special case of DOM parsing. In another case, the annotations, organized into a semantic layer,[4] are stored and managed separately from the web pages, so the scrapers can retrieve data schema and instructions from this layer before scraping the pages.

Computer vision web-page analysis
There are efforts using machine learning and computer vision that attempt to identify and extract information from web pages by interpreting pages visually as a human being might.[5]

There are many software tools available that can be used to customize web-scraping solutions. This software may attempt to automatically recognize the data structure of a page or provide a recording interface that removes the necessity to manually write web-scraping code, or some scripting functions that can be used to extract and transform content, and database interfaces that can store the scraped data in local databases. Some web scraping software can also be used to extract data from an API directly.

Example tools
cURL – command line tool and library for transferring (including getting) data with URLs supporting a wide range of HTTP methods (GET, POST, cookies, etc.)
Data Toolbar – web scraping add-on for Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome Web browsers that collects and converts structured data from web pages into a tabular format that can be loaded into a spreadsheet or database management program.
Diffbot – uses computer vision and machine learning to automatically extract data from web pages by interpreting pages visually as a human being might.
Heritrix – gets pages (lots of them). It is a web crawler designed for web archiving, written by the Internet Archive (see Wayback Machine).
HtmlUnit – headless browser that can be used for retrieving web pages, web scraping, and more.
HTTrack – free and open source Web crawler and offline browser, designed to download websites.
iMacros – a browser extension to record, code, share and replay browser automation (javascript)
Kantu – uses screenshots and OCR for scraping
Selenium (software) – a portable software-testing framework for web applications
OutWit Hub – Web scraping application including built-in data, image, document extractors and editors for custom scrapers and automatic exploration and extraction jobs (free and paid versions)
watir –
Wget – computer program that retrieves content from web servers. It is part of the GNU Project. It supports downloading via the HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP protocols.
WSO2 Mashup Server –
Yahoo! Query Language (YQL) –
Data Scraping Studio – Stand alone windows desktop software to scrape data using CSS selectors and REGEX.

Javascript tools
PhantomJS – scripted, headless browser used for automating web page interaction.

SaaS version
Agenty – SaaS solution, paid versions available from $29 (06/09/17)
Apify – Web scraping and automation platform, free and paid versions available (10/10/17) – SaaS solution, free and paid versions available from $119 USD (31/10/17) – Turn websites into datasets, free and paid (from $9.99 USD) subscriptions available (02/05/18)
fScraper – Facebook friendly scraper, SaaS solution, free and paid versions available – SaaS solution, paid versions available from $299 USD (06/09/17) – HTML to Excel in seconds, free SaaS service (04/10/17)
Mozenda – SaaS solution, is a web-based platform for web data extraction (01/22/18)
uScraper – SaaS service, free and paid versions available. Functionality primarily for scraping email addresses.

Web crawling frameworks
These can be used to build web scrapers.