Washington Web Scraping

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Web Scraping – Effective Way of Improving Market Presence

Web scraping is a technique that is fast making its presence felt in the world of internet by its sheer weight of being effective. It is a technique that uses software to crawl through the internet and gather up all the relevant and important information that one would need for their products.

The information gathered by the web scraping can be used for various things such as data integration, web mashup, online comparison of price and much more. Web scraping uses sophisticated software that crawls through the internet and gathers up all related information for the entity that you are looking for. The information that is gathered up is an automated, systematic, and very structured way. This allows for easy understanding of the gathered information. Though this is one of the best ways for data extraction there are quite a few things that one must be aware of before getting into web scraping.

Being aware of the following things keep you at a better position not only leverage the best deal, but also to negotiate properly.

•    For data mining the first thing that one should be very sure of is the kind of data they want. One has to define properly what kind of data they want and also what would be the purpose of the same. For an instance if you wish to get a closer look at your competitors, it would be a wise to let the data scraping service providers know who your competitors are. This would allow them to gather better information. Similarly if you are looking for getting new customers getting contact data from existing players in the respective industry would be helpful.

•    One should also be aware of the structure in which they want the data. A simple data structure has the entity name in the row and the property of the entity is kept in the cells of the rows. However, one can also opt for data structure in chart. Apart from the above, there is just one more thing that one needs to keep in mind while using the data mining services; it is the number of data extraction. At times a onetime data extraction would be sufficient whereas at other times periodic extractions or general reports are required.

If you are aware of all the above points, then you are very much inline of going ahead and taking the help of scrape website data. Knowing the above points would allow you to know what exactly to ask from your vendor and likewise quote. One can make the most of the data extraction services with the help of either the web scraping or web crawling services.

Source: https://3idatascraping.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/web-scraping-effective-way-of-improving-market-presence/

Monday, 27 April 2015

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel - The Perils of Online Article Marketing

Many online article marketers so desperately wish to succeed, they want to dump corporate life and work for themselves out of their home. They decide they are going to create an online money making website. Therefore, they look around to see what everyone else is doing, and watch the methods others use to attract online buyers, and then they mimic their marketing, their strategies, and their business models.

Still, if you are copying what other people (less ethical people) are doing in online article marketing, those which are scraping the bottom of the barrel and using false advertising and misrepresentations, then all you are really doing is perpetuating distrust on the Internet. Therefore, you are hurting everyone, including people like me. You must realize that people like me don't appreciate that.

Let me give you a few examples of some of the things going on out there, thing that are being done by people who are ethically challenged. Far too many people write articles and then on their byline they send the Internet surfer or reader of the article to a website that has a squeeze page. The squeeze page has no real information on it, rather it asks for their name and e-mail address.

If the would-be Internet surfer is unwise enough to type in their name and email address they will be spammed by e-mail, receiving various hard-sell marketing pieces. Then, if the Internet Surfer does decide to put in their e-mail address, the website grants them access and then takes them to the page with information about what they are selling, or their online marketing "make you a millionaire" scheme.

Generally, these are five page sales letters, with tons of testimonials of people you've never heard of, and may not actually exist, and all sorts of unsubstantiated earnings claims of how much money you will make if you give them $39.35 by way of PayPal, for this limited offer "Now!" And they will send you an E-book with a strategic plan of how you can duplicate what they are doing. The reality is whatever they are doing is questionable to begin with.

If you are going to do online article marketing please don't scrape the bottom of the barrel, there's just too much competition down there from what I can see. Please consider all this.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Scraping-the-Bottom-of-the-Barrel---The-Perils-of-Online-Article-Marketing&id=2710103

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

What are the ethics of web scraping?

Someone recently asked: "Is web scraping an ethical concept?" I believe that web scraping is absolutely an ethical concept. Web scraping (or screen scraping) is a mechanism to have a computer read a website. There is absolutely no technical difference between an automated computer viewing a website and a human-driven computer viewing a website. Furthermore, if done correctly, scraping can provide many benefits to all involved.

There are a bunch of great uses for web scraping. First, services like Instapaper, which allow saving content for reading on the go, use screen scraping to save a copy of the website to your phone. Second, services like Mint.com, an app which tells you where and how you are spending your money, uses screen scraping to access your bank's website (all with your permission). This is useful because banks do not provide many ways for programmers to access your financial data, even if you want them to. By getting access to your data, programmers can provide really interesting visualizations and insight into your spending habits, which can help you save money.

That said, web scraping can veer into unethical territory. This can take the form of reading websites much quicker than a human could, which can cause difficulty for the servers to handle it. This can cause degraded performance in the website. Malicious hackers use this tactic in what’s known as a "Denial of Service" attack.

Another aspect of unethical web scraping comes in what you do with that data. Some people will scrape the contents of a website and post it as their own, in effect stealing this content. This is a big no-no for the same reasons that taking someone else's book and putting your name on it is a bad idea. Intellectual property, copyright and trademark laws still apply on the internet and your legal recourse is much the same. People engaging in web scraping should make every effort to comply with the stated terms of service for a website. Even when in compliance with those terms, you should take special care in ensuring your activity doesn't affect other users of a website.

One of the downsides to screen scraping is it can be a brittle process. Minor changes to the backing website can often leave a scraper completely broken. Herein lies the mechanism for prevention: making changes to the structure of the code of your website can wreak havoc on a screen scraper's ability to extract information. Periodically making changes that are invisible to the user but affect the content of the code being returned is the most effective mechanism to thwart screen scrapers. That said, this is only a set-back. Authors of screen scrapers can always update them and, as there is no technical difference between a computer-backed browser and a human-backed browser, there's no way to 100% prevent access.

Going forward, I expect screen scraping to increase. One of the main reasons for screen scraping is that the underlying website doesn't have a way for programmers to get access to the data they want. As the number of programmers (and the need for programmers) increases over time, so too will the need for data sources. It is unreasonable to expect every company to dedicate the resources to build a programmer-friendly access point. Screen scraping puts the onus of data extraction on the programmer, not the company with the data, which can work out well for all involved.

Source: https://quickleft.com/blog/is-web-scraping-ethical/

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

How to Build Data Warehouses using Web Scraping

Businesses all over the world are facing an avalanche of information which needs to be collated, organized, analyzed and utilized in an appropriate fashion. Moreover, with each increasing year there is a perceived shortening of the turnaround time for businesses to take decisions based on information they have assimilated. Data Extractors, therefore, have evolved with a more significant role in modern day businesses than just mere collectors or scrapers of unstructured data. They cleanse structure and store contextual data in veritable warehouses, so as to make it available for transformation into useable information as and when the business requires. Data warehouses, therefore, are the curators of information which businesses seek to treasure and to use.

Understanding Data Warehouses

 Traditionally, Data Warehouses have been premised on the concept of getting easy access to readily available data. Modern day usage has helped it to evolve as a rich repository to store current and historical data that can be used to conduct data analysis and generate reports. As it also stores historical data, Data Warehouses are used to generate trending reports to help businesses foresee their prospects. In other words, data warehouses are the modern day crystal balls which businesses zealously pore over to foretell their future in the Industry.

Scraping Web Data for Creating Warehouses

The Web, as we know it, is a rich repository of a whole host of information. However, it is not always easy to access this information for the benefit of our businesses through manual processes. The data extractor tools, therefore, have been built to quickly and easily, scrape, cleanse and structure and store it in Data Warehouses so as to be readily available in a useable format.

Web Scraping tools are variously designed to help both programmers as well as non-programmers to retain their comfort zone while collecting data to create the data warehouses. There are several tools with point and click interfaces that ease out the process considerably. You can simply define the type of data you want and the tool will take care of the rest. Also, most tools such as these are able to store the data in the cloud and therefore do not need to maintain costly hardware or whole teams of developers to manage the repository.

Moreover, as most tools use a browser rendering technology, it helps to simulate the web viewing experience of humans thereby easing the usability aspect among business users facilitating the data extraction and storage process further.


The internet as we know it is stocked with valuable data most of which are not always easy to access. Web Data extraction tools have therefore gained popularity among businesses as they browse, search, navigate simulating your experience of web browsing and finally extract data fields specific to your industry and appropriate to your needs. These are stored in repositories for analysis and generation of reports. Thus evolves the need and utility of Data warehouses. As the process of data collection and organization from unstructured to structured form is automated, there is an assurance of accuracy built into the process which enhances the value and credibility of data warehouses. Web Data scraping is no doubt the value enhancers for Data warehouses in the current scenario.

Source: http://scraping-solutions.blogspot.in/2014/09/how-to-build-data-warehouses-using-web.html

Monday, 6 April 2015

What is HTML Scraping and how it works

There are many reasons why there may be a requirement to pull data or information from other sites, and usually the process begins after checking whether the site has an official API. There are very few people who are aware about the presence of structured data that is supported by every website automatically. We are basically talking about pulling data right from the HTML, also referred to as HTML scraping. This is an awesome way of gleaning data and information from third party websites.

Any webpage content that can be viewed can be scraped without any trouble. If there is any way provided by the website to the browser of the visitor to download content and use the same in a highly structured manner, in that case, accessing of the content programmatically is possible. HTML scraping works in an amazing manner.

Before indulging in HTML scraping, one can inspect the browser for network traffic. Site owners have a couple of tricks up their sleeve to thwart this access, but majority of them can be worked around.

Before moving on to how HTML scraping works, we must understand the reasons behind the same. Why is scraping needed? Once you get a satisfactory answer to this question, you can start looking for RSS or API feeds or various other traditional structured data forms. It is significant to understand that when compared with APIs, websites are more significant.

The most important advantage of the same is the maintenance of their websites where a lot of visitors visit rather than safeguarding structured data feeds. With Tweeter, the same has been publicly seen when it clamps down on the developer ecosystem. Many times, API feeds change or move without any prior warning. Many times, it can also be a deliberate attempt, but mostly, such issues or problems erupt as there is no authority or an organization that maintains or takes care of the structured data. It is rarely noticed, if the same gets severely mangled or goes offline. In case the website has certain issues or the website no longer works, the problem is more in the form of a ball in your court requiring dealing with the same without losing any time. api-comic-image

Rate limiting is another factor that needs a lot of thinking and in case of public websites, it virtually doesn’t exist. Besides some occasional sign up pages or captchas, many business websites fail to create and built defenses against any unwarranted automated access. Many times, a single website can be scraped for four hours straight without anyone noticing. There are chances that you would not be viewed under DDOS attack unless concurrent requests are being made by you. You will be seen just as an avid visitor or an enthusiast in the logs, that too, in case anyone is looking.

Another factor in HTML scraping is that one can easily access any website anonymously. Behavior tracking can be done with a few ways by the administrator of the website and this turns out to be beneficial if you want to privately gather the data. Many times, registration is imperative with APIs in order to get key and with any request being sent, this key also needs to be sent. But, in case of simple and straightforward HTTP requests, the visitor can stay anonymous besides cookies and IP address, which can again be spoofed.

The availability of HTML scraping is universal and there is no need to wait for the opening of the site for an API or for contacting anyone in the organization. One simply needs to spend some time and browse websites at a leisurely pace until the data you want is available and then find out the basic patterns to access the same.

Now you need to don a hat of a professional scraper and simply dive in. Initially, it may take some time to work up figuring out the way the data have been structured and the way it can be accessed just as we read APIs. If there is no documentation unlike APIs, you need to be a little more smart about it and use clever tricks.

Some of the most used tricks are

Data Fetching

The first thing that is required is data fetching. Find endpoints to begin with, that is the URLs that can help in returning the data that is required. If you are pretty sure about the data and the way it should be structured so as to match your requirements, you will require a particular subset for the same and later you can indulge in site browsing using the navigation tools.

GET Parameter

The URLs must be paid attention to and see the way it changes as you indulge in clicking between the sections and the way they divide into various subsections. Before starting, the other option that can be used is to straight away go to the search functionality of the site. Certain terms can be typed and the URL needs to be focused again for watching the changes on the basis of what is being searched. A GET parameter will be probably seen like q which changes on the basis of the search term used by you. Other GET parameters that are not being used can be removed from the URL until only the ones that are needed are left for data loading. Before a query string, there must always be a “?” beginning.

Now the time has come when you would have started to come across the data that you would like to see and want to access, but sometimes, there may be certain pagination issues that require to be dealt with. Due to these issues, you may not be able to see the data in its entirety. Single requests are kept away by many APIs as well from database slamming. Many times, clicking the next page can add some offset parameter that helps in data visibility on the page. All these steps will help you succeed in HTML scraping.

Source: https://www.promptcloud.com/blog/what-is-html-scraping-and-how-it-works/