Scraping or getting information from a website is a technique employed by a number of companies and organizations that wish to collect a large volume of data on a certain subject. Learning the mechanics of web scraping tools is quite a complicated process. Data is usually harvested from a specific website using browser plugins, HTTP, python scripts or other custom built methods like a crawler or a bot.
So, what can harvesting web data be used for? Turns out, it can be essential for a whole range of topics including data mashups or republication, price comparison in e-commerce, monitoring tools and others. That’s why we have put together a quick guide on top 10 best web scraping tools out there hoping that our shortlist will make your time searching for the right product an easy choice.
Despite having limited data extraction features, this Chrome extension is helpful for making online research, and exporting data to Google Spreadsheets. This tool is not overly complicated and can be used both by beginners and experts. Data can be copied to the clipboard or store to the spreadsheets using OAuth.
Scraper is a free tool, which works right in your browser and auto-generates smaller XPaths for defining URLs to crawl. One of the drawbacks is that it doesn’t offer you the ease of automatic or bot crawling, although to be honest, beginners are hardly ever up to tackling messy configuration.
Web-Harvest is another superb open source web extraction tool written in Java. In order to collect desired web pages extract useful data from them Web-Harvest mainly focuses on HTML/XML based web sites which still make vast majority of the Web content.
On the other hand, it could be easily supplemented by custom Java libraries in order to augment its extraction capabilities.
Scrapy is a high-level screen scraping and web crawling framework that operates very fast and is used to crawl websites and extract structured data from their pages. It can be used for a vast range of purposes such as data mining ,monitoring and automated testing.
Python is quite easy to learn and use when it comes to scraping. This tool gives you all the necessary features,documentation, and examples to help you get started
To use Scrapy, you will need Python installed, and some basic understanding of the command line and the Python programming language.
Compared to other tools Fminer has an added bonus of reliability as it is downloaded to your computer and used directly from your desktop, although this in its turn can involve some additional server costs.
You can harvest and crawl nested data like a search engine crawler but return huge volumes of information like HTML, text, prices and other generic and cataloged information.
Fminer’s web scraper technology can export your data in a range of formats including txt files, csv, MySQL, JSON, Oracle and more depending on your needs. These and many other features make Fminer a powerful software that employs advanced algorithms and retrieves and stores large amounts of data effectively and quickly.
You can save time with Fminer using their multi threaded support and get around web security with their captcha support.
OutWit is a Firefox extension that poses dozens of data extraction features to simplify your web searches. This tool has the option of automatically browsing through pages and storing the extracted information in a proper format. OutWit offers a single interface for scraping both small and large amount of data, depending your needs.
With OutWit you can scrape any web page from the browser directly and even create automatic agents to extract data and format it per settings. Being one of the simplest data scraping tools OutWit allows you to extract web data without writing a single line of code.
Data Toolbar automates web data extraction process for your browser. If you want to collect data fields, all you need to do is point to them and the tool will do the rest for you.
The software enables information providers and business users to monitor, extract and deliver market intelligence, product pricing, financial and real estate data, and news information from various sources on the web.
With Data Toolbar you get cost-effective web data extraction, integration and automation to drive your information services and offerings.
Irobotsoft is a free web scraping tool that has a rather steep learning curve to figure out how to work it, and the documentation available appears to reference an old version of the software.
As a pretty cool added bonus though, you can consider the option to customize your own Web robots to click links, submit forms, extract and save data.
One of the best features of iMacros is that it automates repetitive task. Whether you choose the website, Firefox extension, or Internet Explorer add-on, it can automate navigating through the structure of a website to get to the piece of info you so desperately need.. Record your actions once, navigating to a specific page and entering a search term or username where appropriate. The rest will be done by iMacros.
This tool can also help convert Web tables into usable data.
Google web scraper is a browser based tool that works just like Outwit and is designed for plain text extraction from any online pages and can export to spreadsheets via Google docs. Google Web Scraper is downloaded and installed as an extension within seconds. In order to use it you can highlight the part of the page you need and choose “Scrape similar…” by right clicking . Anything that’s similar to what you highlighted will be rendered in a table ready for export, compatible with Google Docs™.
Extracty is a lesser known free web scraping tool that outs the power of the machine readable API to the web. Using this tool you can create an API or crawl an entire website in seconds after initial setup.
Which is your favorite web scraping free tool or add-on? What data do you wish to extract from the Internet? Do share your story with us using the comments section below!