Rust Web Scraping: How It Works

Scraping Robot
January 19, 2023
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Rust is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language that is gaining traction. Although it’s mostly used by programmers to create games and apps, entrepreneurs and marketers can also use it for web scraping — that is, using a web scraping bot to extract data from a website.

Table of Contents

Read on to learn more about Rust web scraping, what is a Rust web scraper, and how to create a Rust scraper for extracting e-commerce data.

What Is Rust Web Scraping?

learn about rust web scraping

Rust web scraping is scraping in the Rust programming language. To give you a better understanding of how it works, let’s break down what Rust and web scraping are.

What is Rust?

Rust is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language designed for safety and performance. It is blazingly memory-efficient and fast with no garbage collector or runtime. It can run on embedded devices, power performance-critical services, and easily integrate with other languages, including C++.

Rust also boasts the following features:

  • Detailed documentation
  • Predictable performance
  • An ownership model that guarantees thread safety and memory safety
  • Manual memory management where programmers have explicit control over when and where memory is allocated and deallocated
  • The ability to add abstractions without affecting performance, leading to improved code quality and readability
  • A user-friendly compiler with easy-to-understand error messages
  • First-rate tools, including smart multi-editor support with type inspections and autocompletion, an integrated build tool and package manager, and an auto-formatter
  • A reliable command line (CLI) tool
  • Pattern matching, which Rust uses along with “match” expressions to give programmers more control over the project’s control flow. Combinations of patterns include wildcards, literals, placeholders, variables, and arrays.
  • Two code-writing modes: Safe Rust and Unsafe Rust. Safe Rust requires programmers to follow additional restrictions such as object ownership management to ensure the code works properly. Unsafe Rust gives the coder more autonomy, but the code may break. It may also be less secure. As such, programmers must take extra care when programming in Unsafe Rust.

Rust is an open-source project originally developed by Mozilla Research. However, in 2021, the Rust Foundation took the torch and is now driving the development of the language. It solves many problems that C++ web scraping users have been struggling with, including concurrent programming and memory errors.

You can use Rust to create a wide range of applications, including:

  • Microcontroller applications
  • Operation systems
  • Websites
  • Video games
  • Scraping bots or web scrapers

What is web scraping?

Also known as web data extraction, web scraping is extracting information from websites. Marketers and entrepreneurs often use web scraping to monitor the following:

  • Industry trends and news
  • Market developments
  • Competitor trends and products
  • Competitors’ prices

Although web scraping can be done manually, marketers and business owners typically use automated tools like web scrapers for web scraping because they are less expensive and faster. Web scrapers or web scraping bots are robots for accurately and quickly extracting data from web pages.

Here’s a breakdown of how web scrapers work:

  1. The user gives the web scraper one or more URLs to load before scraping.
  2. The scraper loads the whole HTML code for the page. Some advanced scrapers can render the whole site, including JavaScript and CSS elements.
  3. The user selects the specific data they want from the source. For instance, for a scraping book or web scraping book project, they might want to scrape a bookstore product page for reviews but not for the books and prices.
  4. The web scraper will output all of the data in the user’s preferred format. Most web scrapers will output data to an Excel sheet or CSV, but some advanced scrapers also support other formats such as JSON.

You can also use web scraping application programming interfaces (APIs) to extract content. Unlike web scrapers, APIs create an automated data pipeline between you and a target website. You can use an API to manually or automatically pull data as needed. Unfortunately, APIs often require you to have some degree of programming knowledge. Specifically, they may require you to create a custom application for querying data.

How To Create a Rust Scraper for Extracting Information from eCommerce Sites

how to build scraper to extract ecommerce data

Many marketers use Rust to create web scrapers to extract information from target sites. Follow these steps to create a Rust scraper:

1. Install Rust

The first step in Linux, Windows, and iOS is to install Rust.

You can install Rust by going to the Rust downloads page. Then, download the rustup utility by clicking on the Download RUSTUP-INIT button. Rustup installs the Rust coding language from official channels, allowing you to easily pivot between beta, stable, and nightly compilers and keep them up to date.

After you’ve installed everything, run the rustup-init executable to open a command prompt window. This popup tells you that Visual Studio C++ build tools should be installed. Follow the instructions on the screen to continue with the installation and review the information. Once the installation is complete, close the command prompt window to ensure all the changes have been made.

2. Choose target site(s)

The next step is to choose your target e-commerce sites. Think about the following when selecting your target site(s):

  • What e-commerce trends do I want to learn more about?
  • Which competitors do I want to learn more about?
  • What products and services do I want to learn more about?
  • What do I want to achieve by scraping? How can I use my scraping results to attract more clients, strengthen my brand, and increase revenue?

3. Setup Rust

Open the command prompt or terminal and run the $ cargo new ecommerce_scraper command.

This will create a folder called ecommerce_scraper with necessary folders and files, including Cargo.toml and main.rs. Open Cargo.toml in an integrated development environment (IDE) or text editor and declare two dependencies: reqwest and scraper. Download the dependencies and start the code compilation process.

4. Make an HTTP request

Download the Rust library to send HTTP POST or GET requests. For this tutorial, we will use the convenient reqwest Rust library to make HTTP requests.

5. Parse HTML with Rust scraper

We will now build a web scraper using the scraper Rust library. Scraper lets you use CSS selectors to extract the HTML elements you want from the target.

Go to the Cargo.toml file and enter the following under dependencies:

scraper = “0.13.0”

Then, open the main.rs file and use parse_document to parse the target page. Follow these steps:

Locate products using CSS selectors

Spot the CSS selectors with the data related to the product types you want to extract. In this example, the product type is a computer. Open the target site in your browser and look at the HTML markup of the page. The selector article.product_pod will select a computer, which means we can start a loop over all of the computers and fetch individual data.

Follow the instructions in your Rust library and CSS selectors documentation to use the selector. Feel free to add more CSS selectors to extract additional data about each computer.

Extract the product description

Create two selectors before the for loop. Then, use the selectors on individual computers. Note that the computer name is in the <a> element’s title attribute and the price is in the element’s text. Save the files and run $ cargo run from your terminal.

Extract product links

You can also extract product links in a similar way. To start, build a selector outside the for loop. You can then print the scraped values to the console.

6. Write scraped data to a CSV file

You can’t use your scraped data without a place to store your results. Accordingly, you must create a CSV file to store your results.

Create a CSV file by using the CSV Rust library. Remember to go through every step, including adding csv=”1.1″ to the dependencies in the Cargo.toml file and creating a CSV writer before the for loop. Your scraper will now extract the scraped data to a CSV file.

Scrape Even Faster With Scraping Robot

scraping robot is also best for scraping data

As you can see, web scraping in Rust can be challenging, especially if you have limited Rust programming knowledge and experience. For the same reason, building and using web scrapers in other languages like Python and C++ can be an uphill battle, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of target sites.

Fortunately, Scraping Robot’s here to help. Unlike Rust, Python, and C++ scrapers, Scraping Robot’s API and web scraper are completely automated. In other words, we will handle everything for you, including:

  • Proxy rotation and management
  • Metadata parsing
  • Updating Scraping Robot with frequent improvements and new monthly modules
  • CAPTCHA solving
  • Identifying and staying on top of target websites’ anti-scraping updates

We also offer:

  • 24/7/365 customer support
  • Browser scalability
  • Access to your most recently used projects and modules
  • Usage and stats, including beautiful graphs of how many scrapes you’ve performed recently

If you’re interested in using Scraping Robot to analyze industry trends, sign up today to get 5,000 free scrapes per month. For more scrapes, you can join our Business tier, which provides a maximum of 500,000 scrapes per month at only $0.0018 per scrape. You can also join our Enterprise tier for over 500,000 scrapes per month at rates as low as $0.00045 per scrape. Your credits will never expire.

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