4 Web Scraping Tools To Save You Time On Data Extraction

March 18, 2015

8:00 am

Either you are working on a product website, struggling to add live data feed to your app or merely need to pull out a huge amount of online data for analysis, an accurate web scraping tool can save you loads of time and keep you sane. Here are four powerful web scraping tools to save you from copy-pasting or spending time on writing your own scripts.

1. Uipath

Uipath specializes in developing various process automation software including web scraping and screen scraping software for desktop and web. Uipath web scraper is perfect for non-coders and easily surpasses most common data extraction challenges including page navigation, digging through flash and even scraping PDF files. All you need to do is open the web scraping wizard and simply highlight the data you need to extract. The tool will scrape all the data following this pattern at all pages you’ve chosen and sort it accordingly. You can add as many items for scraping as you like and have them sorted in respective columns. As a result, you receive a neat Excel or CSV document with all the data eliminated from duplicates.

Moreover, Uipath isn’t just about scraping. This software can be used not only for extracting data, but to manipulate the interface of another app, thus establishing data transfers among the two of them. Basically, this tool could be used to conduct any repetitive task a human could do, yet much faster and with higher accuracy.

Pros: You can automate form filling, clicking buttons, navigation etc. Uipath scraper is impressively accurate, fast and simple to use. It “reads” all types of data on screen (JS, HTML, Silverlight and more), plus you can train the software to emulate human actions of various complexity.

Cons: Premium software runs at a premium price. Uipath is an affordable professional solution, but may be a bit too pricey for personal use.

2. Import.io

 

Import.io offers you a free desktop app to help you scrap all the data you need from an unlimited amount of web pages. The service treats each page as a potential data source to generate API from. If the page you’ve submitted has been previously processed, you can access its API and get some of the data. In other case, Import.io will guide you through the process of creating the scraping matrix by building connectors (for navigation) or extractors (to pull out the needed data). Afterwards, you submit a request for extraction and it’s typically processed within 24 hours. All the data is private and you can schedule auto refreshments at any chosen period of time.

Pros: The service is easy-to-use with no tech skills needed. It can  pages with data (those that needed login/pass), plus it’s free. Minimalistic effective design and simple navigation comes along.

Cons: Improt.io has hard times navigating through combinations of javascript/POST and cannot navigate from one page to another (e.g. click next, second page etc).  Sometimes, it takes over 24 hours to receive the report.  Besides, it’s a browser-only app, non-compatible with other applications.

3. Kimono

 

Kimono is a popular web scraper among app developers who prefer to power up their products with live data and no additional code. It saves you tons of time when you need to fill up your app with mashing data. Install Kimono Browser bookmarklet; highlight page elements you need to and provide some positive/negative examples to train the tool. After labeling all the data you can download it in CSV/JSON/a web endpoint format. The APIs created for your pages are stored in the cloud and you can run them on schedule. So far, Kimono is free to use with pro and enterprise solutions to be launched soon.

Pros: The tool works pretty fast and works great with scraping newsfeeds and prices. The data is rather accurate.

Cons: No page navigation available and you need to spend quite a lot of time to train Kimono before it starts to pull out the multi items data accurate enough. In general, I’d say Kimono is more of an app mash-ups creator than a full-scale web scraper.

4. Screen Scraper

 

Screen scraper is pretty neat and tackles a lot of difficult tasks including navigation and precise data extractions, however it requires a bit of programming/tokenization skills if you’d like to run it super smooth. Launch the software, add a proxy, start recording the list of your actions and creating extracting patterns (some coding required). Works great with HTML and Javascript, however you should test it with Citrix and other platforms. Basically, screen scraper helps you writing simple web scraping scripts and lets you download the extracted data in txt/csv/excel format.

Pros: When set correctly, there’s no data extraction tasks Screen scraper fails to handle.

Cons: The tool is pricey and you’ll have to go through documentation and have basic coding skills to use it.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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