The Only List You Need: Web Scraping Tools, APIs, and Frameworks
Web scraping is becoming an increasingly popular practice nowadays.
It has begun to play a significant role in the lives of developers and companies that are constantly investing in massive data extraction, whether they want to build better products, make a better business strategy, or investment decisions. But still, the world of web scraping can be complicated. Or let’s not call it complicated, but complex.
There are many objectives and needs that must be met and many products that can do that. From hundreds of tools and APIs to frameworks and providers available on the market, for sure, all are built for the right person, company, or goal.
But how do you know what is right for you and where to start to make a choice from so many options of tools, frameworks, and managed services?
I asked myself the same question, and that’s how I started writing this article. Thus, continue to discover the best tools, APIs, and web scraping frameworks. For a better overview, in this article, you’ll be impressed by discovering the following:
The Best Web Scraping APIs
When we think of web scraping and APIs, we can talk about a common goal: access to web data. Extracting data from any website can be done by going through the web scraping process using an API. This is a very handy option that saves not only time but also financial resources. Moreover, using a web scraping API makes obtaining data really easy, reliable, and customizable to each user’s needs.
Long story short, an API does the tedious work so you can focus on your goals after obtaining the data.
Here are some options worth mentioning:
WebScrapingAPI is the tool that you can immediately access if you are looking for a flexible and trustworthy web scraping tool. With a simple and free account creation, you can access some of its key features that make this product one of the very best available on the market.
Being part of the freemium products category, you can always upgrade to the desired subscription. With a paid plan, you enjoy advanced features that will help you eliminate the classic and challenging process of obtaining web data.
Using WebScrapinAPI, you won’t have to deal with proxies, IP rotations, or even CHAPTCHAs. The tool allows you to scrape any website without getting blocked. This is due to a large pool of proxies, datacenter, residential or mobile IPs, from hundreds of ISPs, with 12 geographical locations to choose from.
Bonus: WebScrapingAPI offers 1000 free API calls, request available monthly in the free plan.
ScraperAPI is a data extraction tool with many features that make the product one of the best developers’ options. These translate in handling proxies, browsers, and CHAPTCHAs so that developers can get raw HTML from any online source.
What is essential to know is that the Scraper API uses the standard data export format, JSON. Furthermore, it offers software development kits for programming languages such as NodeJS, Phyton, Ruby, and PHP.
Among all these benefits, you can consider the advantageous price packages that reflect the full potential of ScrapingAPI, even if it does not offer a free plan.
Bonus: ScrapingAPI offers one-time 1000 free API calls, and you can then benefit from one of the available paid plans.
ScrapingBee is one of the web scraping APIs built around one of the most important web scraping features: headless browsing and automatic server rotation.. Using both classic and premium proxies, the API allows you to scrape websites without getting blocked.
After any scraping process using this tool, you can get the data in JSON format.
Lastly, a strong point of ScrapingBee is that it provides explanations regarding the use of the product: from the basic to the advanced mode. These explanations are accompanied by code examples available anytime on their communication channels.
Bonus: ScrapingBee offers one-time 1000 free API calls, and you can then benefit from one of the available paid plans.
The Best Proxy Solutions for Web Scraping
Choosing the right proxy provider can sometimes be challenging. This can be a big deal for many developers, especially when scraping large amounts of data.
Well, because without proxies, either your IP address would get blocked, or the process of scraping would take way too long because of the anti-bot protections that make the Internet safer.
So, if you want to avoid this impediment while scraping, take the following options into consideration.
Luminati is one of the most popular proxy providers. And for a good reason. From datacenter and mobile proxies to a large pool of residential ones, Luminati is the provider that offers you plenty of options. As such, they have a network of 770k+ IPS spread across 95+ countries, 110k+ static residential IPs in 35+ countries, and much greater numbers of residential and mobile IPs around the globe.
In most cases, Luminati services are used for web data extraction, brand protection, stock market data collection, e-commerce data gathering, price comparison, and many other options.
What makes Luminati an exceptional service provider stands out in its key features. Firstly, handling the proxy pool is simple. All with the help of an open-source proxy manager, which can be used without coding knowledge. Other key features include a data collector, data unblocker, search engine crawler, proxy API, and proxy browser extension.
Bonus: Luminati offers a 7-day free trial for the residential proxy pool.
NetNut is the provider that can’t help you build a web crawler or a scraper, but the proxy services it offers are built just to integrate with such services. Through the helpful documentation available on their website, the integration can also be done with various web scraping tools.
Their main asset is the speed of the proxies offered. The NetNut network can automatically choose the most optimal proxy to use after selecting the location you want to use for a maximum speed point.
The solution offers a large pool of residential proxies, but a Chrome extension is also available if you just want to browse the Internet. This can be a great timesaver. All you have to do is log into the extension, turn the proxy on, change the location and start rotating your IP.
In terms of prices, there are many plans from which you can choose, bandwidth and request-based ones. The prices may seem a little high, but they are justified by the offers’ consistency and service quality.
Bonus: NetNut offers a 7-day free trial.
SmartProxy is a great proxy provider, ideal for many use cases such as market research, social media, product releases, and much more. Their offering focuses on rotating residential proxies, which means that traffic will be routed on real devices, with the IP changing based on session or time limits.
With a number of 40 million rotating residential proxies in more than 195 locations, SmartProxy manages to help you overcome any restrictions and blockers.
An exciting feature of SmartProxy is that their datacenter proxies have over a hundred subnetworks. Plus, every residential IP in the pool is unique, so users can use the proxies with all major targets without being detected.
Other features of the services are advanced rotation of proxies, high anonymity of proxies, or unlimited connection requests. All this to help consumers scale their business.
Bonus: You can create a free account and benefit from a flexible price offer. If something doesn’t meet your needs, you can take advantage of a 3-day money-back guarantee.
The Best Web Scraping Tools for Non-Coders
Everywhere on the Internet, we find numerous web scraping tools. And of course, there are options for those who don’t have the technical knowledge to put them to work or the time required to build such a tool. These options are convenient for no-coders because they can accomplish their goals quickly and simply.
Let’s discover the tools!
Octoparse is a visual web scraping tool. It is very easy to understand and handy to everyone who wants to quickly scrape the web without struggling with code pieces. Thanks to its user-friendly interface, the tool allows extracting data in a few simple steps and export it in different formats (Excel, CVS, or sent directly to an API or database).
If you are thinking of using this tool but want to extract a considerable amount of data, Octoparse offers you cloud services so your machine doesn’t catch fire.
Being a freemium product, you can try the tool starting with a free account and then adjust your plan according to your needs and the extra features you require.
If you’re thinking about what Octoparse is good for, these are some examples: e-commerce, market research, lead generation, price and product intelligence, etc.
Parsehub is a tool that is also part of the visual data extraction products category. It can be said that it is a tool for anyone without coding knowledge or experience. Whatever system you are running, whether it’s Windows, Linux, or Mac, you can use this tool without any problems.
Being a pre-built tool, the whole scraping process happens on Parsehub servers, so all you have to do is work your way up to the application to get what you want. Whether you are a journalist, researcher, or work in e-commerce, media, or social media, Parsehub can be the ideal product for you as it was created as such.
With its features such as automatic IP rotation, cloud-based store services, scheduled web scraping, the data extraction process becomes very handy. Exporting it can be done in JSON, Excel, or API format.
Like Octoparse, Parsehub is a freemium product, so you can test it anytime using the free plan. If you like the experience, you can switch to a paid and advantageous package at any time.
WebScraper is probably one of the most popular web scraping Chrome extensions. If you want to scrape the web as easily as possible, WebScraper allows you to follow a few steps and obtain the desired web data. The process is effortless: you download the extension, do the installation, configure your scraper and start scraping any website.
Being a browser extension, you don’t have to worry about technical knowledge. If you are among those who work in e-commerce, branding, marketing, retail, sales, and so on, this tool might be very useful. As a freelancer or the company you work for, you can use the extracted data to monitor the competition and brands, collect information about products and prices, help make better business decisions or strategic moves.
What makes the product very good and easy to use are the following features: the possibility to scrape text, images, URLs, and more from multiple pages, browse data, and download it in a CSV file. This can be further imported into Google Sheets, Excel, or cloud services.
Even though the extension is free, Web Scraper also offers more complex, paid service packages.
The Best Web Scraping Frameworks
There are plenty of web scraping tool options for those who love to code, or at least have some coding knowledge, and want to build their own web scraper. If you are one of them, it would be a pity not to use one of the open-source web scraping libraries and frameworks out there.
Thus, you can find some of the most used framework options in the lines below for Python and NodeJS.
Scrapy is a fast and powerful tool, a Python framework for large-scale web scraping. It runs on Linux, Windows, Mac, and BSD and has a one-size-fits-all approach: extracting, processing, and structuring data in the preferred format.
It provides many middleware modules available to integrate various tools and handle several use cases. Additionally, it is an extensible product, both as design and as functionalities, without touching the core.
As an open-source tool, Scrapy is completely free.
Beautiful Soup (Python)
For those who want to build web scrapers in Python, there is also Beautiful Soup. It is a great open-source Python library for parsing HTML and XML documents.
There are three features that make Beautiful Soup a powerful library:
- it provides a few simple methods for navigating, searching, and modifying a parse tree;
- it automatically converts incoming documents to Unicode and outgoing documents to UTF-8;
- it sits on top of popular Python parsers like lxml and html5lib.
The framework’s documentation will give you various things that the library can help you with, from extracting all of the text from the HTML tags to altering the HTMLS within the document you are working with.
Cheerio is an open-source NodeJS library that helps extract useful information by parsing markup and providing an API for manipulating the resulting data. It is designed to be a more lightweight framework while parsing, manipulating, and rendering are incredibly efficient because it works with a simple, consistent DOM model.
Cheerio can parse nearly any HTML or XML document and offer fast and helpful text, HTML, or classes extraction methods.
Puppeteer is also a NodeJS library used to get control of Chrome or Chromium by providing a high-level API. The tool was designed by Google and runs headless by default.
Using Puppeteer, you can do most of the things you can do manually with your browser. That includes generating screenshots, PDFs of pages, UI testing, automate form submission, web scraping, etc.
Playwright is a NodeJS library built to automate Chromium, Firefox, and Safari (WebKit) with a single API. If you want to work with Playwright, you need to declare which browser you are using explicitly. However, whatever browser you choose, Playwright is designed to make sure to enable cross-browser web automation.
Playwright was developed by the same team that designed Puppeteer. Thus, they have similar APIs, and migrating from Playwright to Puppeteer isn’t difficult at all.
What suits YOU best?
That was quite a list. Isn’t it?
Whether you are among those who know code or not, I hope that these lines will be useful for you, your projects, or your businesses. If you want to read more about web scraping in general, tools, or anything in between, check out my other stories.