How to Extract Data from a Web Page: The Definitive Guide
What is web data extraction?
Web data extraction also is known as web scraping or web harvesting which is used for extracting a large amount of data from websites to local computers or databases.
Websites undoubtedly are the repository of valuable data. However, the perceived web data takes many forms, from text and URLs to images and videos. And they are only accessible when we browse the internet or copy-paste the information into a local drive. This would take up your time on collecting valuable data in time and organizing into a feasible format. This is how web data extraction comes to our rescue. Because of this, you don’t have to keep doing mundane work over and over again. Instead, web data extraction provides you with the ability to obtain web data from multiple sources at one time.
How can you extract online data
Speaking to web data extraction, you might quickly jump to the conclusion that this is another privilege for the techie. Web data extraction seems great on paper but faces many challenges in practices. Despite a large scope of programming knowledge required to build a scraper, you might need to consider the time and effort you put on the maintenance. Websites aren’t static. They change to adapt to the fast-changing internet. The same scraper you just created might not work two days later, and you need to keep fixing the bugs whenever needed. On the flip side, the expenses of outsourcing are burdensome for individuals and small businesses.
But it does not have to be necessary like that, there is an easier way to get around even more complex web structures with robust functionalities — data extraction tools
But here is the catch
Data extraction tools automated the process of web harvesting at many levels. They are intelligent enough to inspect the web structures, parse the HTML, fetch the data, and integrate into your database all in one suite.
The popularity of web data extraction tools is obvious. You save your time and pocket. Now, there are many choices on the market, which one you should count on? Your decision should be based on the evaluation of your team’s unique needs. I would recommend taking one-two weeks of POC(Proof of Concept) and testing out whether it can get you desired data.
In general, there are two types of extraction tools — web extension scraper or computer software.
A web extension scraper like a small plug-in to your browser. It’s convenient like you add it and good to go. However, it has limited functionality due to its simplicity — they can’t cope with anti-scraping technologies. Moreover, security-wise is still questionable.
Whereas, data extraction software is a lot safer even though you have to download and install it on your local computer. If you deal with sensitive data and need more advanced functionalities, I recommend you to have software.
Why I Recommend You to use Octoparse
Octoparse is a no-brainer for large scale extraction from a lot of webs sources. Anyone will benefit from its intuitive features. It not only possesses all the features of an average scraper but also surpasses most tools with its comprehensiveness.
It consists of three modes designed for beginners and season pros to customize scrapers to get desired data effortlessly. As more dynamic websites are involved during the process, you can leverage its robust features including task scheduling, JSON scraping, RegEx editing, etc to advance your scraping venture.
That’s not all, the most stunning feature is the scraping templates. They are pre-built extraction modules ready to get instant results without any complex configuration. Over 50 templates are covering major websites ranging from e-Commerce to Social Media.
I’m a strong believer in learning-by-doing. Here is the deal, give yourself a chance to try its 8.1 version. Discover the new features for free and for fun. Keeps in mind don’t get your jaw dropped in surprise.