There are many web scraping tools, including MechanicalSoup, lxml, Scrapy, Python Requests, and BeautifulSoup. BeautifulSoup and Scrapy enjoy the most popularity among data scientists and developers.
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Read on to learn more about Scrapy and BeautifulSoup and when you should use them. We’ll also cover the disadvantages of scraping with Scrapy vs. BeautifulSoup and how you can bypass these shortcomings through Scraping Robot.
Scrapy vs. BeautifulSoup
Scrapy is a collaborative open-source framework for extracting data quickly and simply. Besides extracting data through APIs, Scrapy can also be used as a general-purpose web crawler and scraper.
Scrapy also comes with a mechanism for extracting data known as selectors. Because selectors make it easier for data scientists to pick categories of data to extract, Scrapy is often used for complicated applications such as automated testing and data mining.
BeautifulSoup, on the other hand, is a Python parsing library that helps developers get specific elements out of a source site, such as a list of images or videos. Unlike Scrapy, it isn’t a full-suite solution and fetches only the contents of your source URL. If you want to scrape with BeautifulSoup, you will have to build something similar to Scrapy. Note that you can’t use only BeautifulSoup to make crawlers and bots — you will need other libraries like urllib and requests.
In short, the difference between Scrapy and BeautifulSoup is quite significant. Scrapy is a framework created for downloading, editing, and saving data from the web, while BeautifulSoup is a library that helps you pull data from web pages.
As for the popularity contest of BeautifulSoup vs. Scrapy, BeautifulSoup is preferred by experienced web scraping developers since it requires coding experience to use. Scrapy is more popular across the board since it can be used without a thorough knowledge of Python.
BeautifulSoup vs. Scrapy For Data Scientists
If you are new to web scraping, you should use Scrapy. Not only does Scrapy have everything you need to get started, but it will also help you tackle numerous issues you would otherwise have to handle yourself.
- Holds your hand from beginning to end: Unlike BeautifulSoup, Scrapy is a full-suite framework for extracting data. You don’t need to download other programs, parsers, or apps.
- Streamlines the error-handling process: When scraping web pages, you will often encounter errors, such as internet connectivity problems, server errors, and “page can’t be found” errors. Scrapy empowers you to tackle these errors by giving you the ability to resume scrapes that have stopped mid-way.
- Helps you write sensible spiders: Scrapy lets you program sensible spiders — web spiders that require little to no maintenance — to extract data from pages that frequently change their layouts and designs.
- Allows you to throttle the scraping speed: Your target server might shut down or block you for abuse if you scrape too many pages at once. Luckily, Scrapy lets you bypass this issue by giving you the ability to throttle your scraping rate. By lowering your scraping rate at specific times of the day (i.e., when traffic is high), you’ll be able to scrape without getting banned or blocked.
- Executes multiple requests simultaneously: Scrapy can run multiple requests simultaneously, allowing you to scrape at lightning speed.
- Allows you to post-process any data: Scrapy also enables you to process any data you find on the web. This can help you organize your scraped data much easier, especially if the source data isn’t in your preferred format. For instance, your scraped data may have random commas and extra line breaks.
However, if you’re an experienced web scraper who doesn’t need scraping guidance, you may consider using BeautifulSoup. While you will have to do more legwork, BeautifulSoup gives you more freedom to experiment and create your own parameters from scratch. You should also consider choosing BeautifulSoup if you want to create one-time scraping scripts that you won’t maintain in the long run.
Scrapy vs. BeautifulSoup: Which One To Use?
Knowing the advantages of Scrapy vs. BeautifulSoup isn’t enough to answer this question. You also need to consider the disadvantages:
Disadvantages of using Scrapy
Although Scrapy is a powerful tool for web scraping professionals, it has some significant drawbacks:
- Complicated installation process: Scrapy isn’t the easiest to install, especially if you’re new to web scraping.
- Light documentation for beginners: Scrapy provides limited documentation. This can be challenging for beginners, particularly if you don’t know how to code.
Disadvantages of using BeautifulSoup
BeautifulSoup is a flexible tool tailored for scrapers with programming experience. Unlike Scrapy, it has ample documentation, making it easy to learn once you’ve grasped the basics. However, BeautifulSoup has many disadvantages, including:
- Many dependencies: As a parser, BeautifulSoup can’t work on its own. You must install dependencies to use the tool.
- Laggy: BeautifulSoup can be slow when used with dependencies, particularly when compared to Scrapy and other full-suite solutions.
- Requires Python knowledge: If you’re not skilled at Python and don’t know how to use libraries to scrape, you will have difficulty using BeautifulSoup.
- Not good with larger projects: Since BeautifulSoup can lag, it’s best for smaller web scraping tasks.
- Minimal proxy support: Unlike Scrapy, BeautifulSoup doesn’t allow for the easy use of proxies. As such, it’s hard to use BeautifulSoup to extract large amounts of data from the same server without getting your IP banned or blocked.
Scraping Robot: An Alternative to Scrapy vs. BeautifulSoup
As covered above, Scrapy and BeautifulSoup have major drawbacks, making them difficult to use for complex scraping projects that involve massive amounts of data. These two tools are particularly challenging to use if you’re scraping dynamic websites, big data, and real-time data.
That’s where Scraping Robot comes in. Robust, flexible, and sleek, Scraping Robot is a complete scraping solution for developers and non-programmers alike.
We offer the following features and more:
- Hassle-free scraping: With Scraping Robot, you won’t have to worry about common scraping issues, such as server management, proxy management and rotation, CAPTCHA solving, browser scalability, and looking for new anti-scraping updates. Scraping Robot will handle all of this so you can focus on getting valuable data from source sites.
- Metadata is parsed for you: Scraping Robot’s scrapers use parsing logic to return the data you need. Say goodbye to downloading or building a separate parser to handle metadata.
- Usage and stats: Our tool will also show you beautiful graphs of how many scrapes you’ve done in the last day, week, and month. You can access previous results by looking at your most recent projects and modules.
- Ample documentation: Scraping Robot provides plenty of documentation to help you get started. You can also use our Postman documentation to experiment with our API if you’re a programmer. All of our APIs provide structured JSON output of parsed sites’ metadata.
- 24/7/365 customer support: Our experienced customer support team is available at any time to answer questions.
- Frequent module and improvement updates: Scraping Robot has regular updates, unlike many scraping solutions. Not only do we proactively add modules, but we’re also open to requests. So if you have an idea for a module, feel free to contact us. If we think that other customers will benefit from your idea, we’ll add it to Scraping Robot for free.
We will also implement the following features in the near future:
- POST requests: Some data can only be fetched by sending a POST request to a site. Our tool will allow you to send these requests to get this data.
- Screenshots of browser: You’ll be able to see what the page looked like when you scraped data from it! This will help you verify your results with the live site.
- Output to Sheets or Zapier: Integration with Sheets and Zapier will let you extract your data into the ideal format.
- Webhook callbacks: Once this feature comes out, you won’t have to check your results regularly to see if you’re finished. Instead, you can provide us with a webhook URL, and we’ll post your results once they’re ready. You can choose to:
- Get all of your results at once after the queue has finished.
- Get your results one by one as they process.
- Session management: You’ll be able to ensure that you’re getting consistent results with the same cookie that was in your scraping project. We’ll help you by letting you keep a scraping session open while sending multiple scraping requests to ensure consistency.
Experience the Scraping Robot Difference
Choosing the right scraping tools can be difficult, like BeautifulSoup vs Scrapy, particularly if you’re new to scraping. Many scraping tools, like BeautifulSoup and Scrapy, don’t offer a complete scraping solution and may not be easy for beginners to install or handle.
That’s why you should consider Scraping Robot. A simple scraping solution for beginners and pros, Scraping Robot lets you scrape a broad range of sites and data, including dynamic sites, big data, and real-time data.
What’s more, we provide a simple pricing structure with no subscriptions or hidden fees. Instead, we offer the following payment tiers:
- Free: 5,000 free scrapes with all features included.
- Business: 500,000 scrapes per month at $0.0018 per scrape
- Enterprise: 500,000 scrapes per month at rates as low as $0.00045 per scrape. You can also make custom API requests.
Interested in learning more about how Scraping Robot works? Sign up today and get 5,000 free scrapes.
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