Web Scraping

The term Web scraping refers to the process or technique of extracting information from various websites using specially coded software programs. This software program stimulates the human exploration of the Web through various methods that include embedding Web browsers like the Mozilla and the Internet Explorer browsers or implementing HyperText Transfer Protocol (or more popularly known as HTTP). Web scraping focuses on extracting data such as product prices, weather data, public records (Unclaimed Money, Sex Offenders, Criminal records, Court records), stock price movements etc. in a local database for further use.

General techniques used for web scraping

Although the method of web scraping is still a developing process, it favors more practical solutions that are based on already-existing applications and technologies as opposed to its more ambitious counterparts that require more complicated breakthroughs and knowledge to work. Here are just some of the various Web scraping methods available:

  • Copy-pasting. The manual human examination and copy-pasting method may sometimes prove irreplaceable. At times, this technique may be the only practical method to use especially when websites are setup with barriers and machine automation cannot be enabled.

  • DOM Parsing. In order to dynamically modify or inspect a web page, client-side scripts parse the contents of the web page into a DOM tree. By embedding a program into the web browser, you can then retrieve the information from the tree.

  • HTTP Programming. Using socket programming, posting HTTP requests can help one retrieve dynamic as well as static web page information.

  • Recognizing Semantic Annotation. Most web pages have semantic annotations/markup or metadata that can be easily retrieved. This could be a simple case of DOM parsing if the metadata is just embedded in the web page. Web scrapers can also use the annotations located in the semantic layer of the web page before actually scraping it.

  • Text Grepping. Using Python programming languages or Perl, one can use the UNIX grep command to extract valuable data and information from web pages.

  • Web scraping Software. If you do not want to manually use web-scraping codes, you can make use of a software that can do the web scraping for you. It can automatically retrieve the information off the web page, convert it into recognizable information, and store it in a local database.

Our web scraping process

We at ITSYS Solutions specialize in developing anonymous and non-intrusive web scraping tools that are able to scrape dynamically generated data from the private web as well as scripted content. Our customized website scraping programs begin by identifying and specifying as input, a list of URLs that define the data that is to be extracted. The web scraping program then begins to download this list of URLs and the corresponding HTML text.

The extracted HTML is text is thereafter parsed by the application to identify and store the needed information in a data format of your choice. Embedded hyperlinks / images that are encountered can be either followed or ignored, depending on requirement (Deep-WebData extraction).

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