The internet provides all the information you could ever want, right at your fingertips. While it’s made accessing information—like market research, stock information, and content aggregation to name just a few—much easier, manually grabbing data from websites can still be a daunting, time-consuming task. By investing in web scraping software web scraping software, you can streamline workflows that involve finding information on web pages, eliminate manual data entry, and cut down on errors.
What is Web Scraping Software?
Web scraping software extracts data and other information from a website. Web scraping tools send HTTP requests to web servers to retrieve the HTML content on a web page. Then the tool parses and extracts the data needed from the web pages. Organizations use web scraping and screen scraping to speed up manual data gathering and eliminate errors for processes like data analysis, price comparison, or content aggregation to name a few.
Web scraping tools start by making a request to a website server, and then waiting for a response with the text, links, images, and other data to be scrapped. Then, the software parses the web page information and finds the pieces of data the user requested to be extracted. Finally, a web scraping tool moves and transforms the data to be saved in a database, application, or other system for future use.
Benefits of Using Web Scraping Software
In addition to saving time, reducing errors, and streamlining processes, using web and data scraping tools come with many advantages over using Python or other scripts and code for web scraping:
Web scraping tools are built with varying levels of user accessibility to provide scraping capabilities to citizen developers and business users.
With automated features, the best web scraping tools can provide the ability to automate and schedule jobs to run at specific times to get you the most up-to-date data.
Better Data Management
Unlike coding, web scraping tools don’t just extract data from websites, but they also can transform the data to make it more usable in the format of your choosing like CSV, Excel, JSON, or more.
Handle Dynamic Content
Custom code has limits when you need to scale up your web scraping efforts. And if a coder retires or leaves the company, you could have to start from scratch. Web scrapers can provide more efficiency by letting you reuse workflows to handle more incoming data.
When an issue arises with custom code, there’s no one to turn to except yourself. With web scraping tools, get access to documentation and a support team willing to step in and help when needed.
4 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Web Scraping Tool
When adding any tool to your tech stack, it’s important to consider the overall value—not just the price tag—it can bring to your organization. This is especially true with web scraping tools. As mentioned above, we’ve covered why screen scraping software is a better option than using code, but as you evaluate your options, ask yourself these questions:
What functionality am I getting?
Think about the functionality of the product you need for your web scraping tools. If it’s being used primarily by developers or the IT team, low-code options are a good fit. But if it’s needed for business users, look for screen scraping software with no-code features like drag-and-drop functionality and screen recorders to make building automation easy.
Is this a legitimate tool?
There are many rules and regulations to consider when using web scrapers. It’s important to choose a tool that stays within compliance so that any screen scraping complies with applicable laws and respects a website’s terms of service.
What are the customer support options?
Support is so important, we’re mentioning it again! Great support is hard to find, especially when trying to scale your web scraping projects. Does the tool you’re looking at offer documentation or training? What level of product support is available? Great support options add to your web scraping tool’s ROI.
What else can the tool do?
The goal for any new tool is that it doesn’t contribute to IT bloat. First decide if your organization needs just a web scraper, or if a solution that offers more than just web scraping—like other process automation capabilities—will give you more bang for your buck and not operate in a silo.
What is the pricing structure?
It’s important for any new software tool to not only deliver ROI, but scale without adding too much cost. Web scraping tools offer many types of pricing models based on number of pages scraped, number of API calls, or subscription-based models. Make sure the pricing model of any potential web scraping software can meet your needs while allowing room to grow.
The Best Web Scraping Tool in 2024
When looking through the options for best web scraping tools, consider Fortra’s Automate. Automate’s RPA capabilities fulfill your web scraping needs—and more—and is built for employee-driven, enterprise-wide automation. Not only does Automate provide a scraping tool, but it also transforms web data without adding additional tools. Information can go directly from a website and into an Excel file, uploaded into your ERP, any database, or other systems and applications.
Automate integrates with web services and can navigate through webpages to interact with web data by initiating searches and logins, entering data, clicking through links, and extracting tables and entire webpage source information. This happens through a native action library with specific actions for web browsers, HTTP, XML, and other web services, that can be invoked without writing a line of code—for a user-friendly approach that brings automation to everyone.
Automate features a powerful API integration kit that connects your most critical apps along every step of your data processes—whether that’s web scraping, data entry, ETL, or more. With drag-and-drop capabilities, 70+ native actions to applications including Microsoft, FTP, OCR, AWS, and more, Automate is powerful enough for IT, yet easy enough for citizen developers. Plus, a robust screen recorder lets users easily create recordings for DIY, no-code, UI-driven automation. The recorder gives you the ability to build, edit, and update screen recordings for both desktop and browser-based applications. And you can add logic and non-UI actions to recordings for the right balance of flexibility and power.Pricing starts at $5,000 annually, with no limits to the number of webpages you can scrape.
10 Other Web Scraping Tools to Consider
There are plenty of other options for web scraping tools that can fit all kinds of needs. We’ve put together a list of 10 more data scraping tools that run the gamut from free to developer heavy to click-and-point.
ScraperAPI is a web scraping tool that features proxy management, headless browsing, and data extraction from various sources. The tool uses an API call to scrape HTML from web pages and can also handle CAPTCHAs and IP blocking. ScraperAPI features a simple REST API interface but may require some developing knowledge as it’s built for developers and IT teams. This web scraping software offers 1,000 free API credits, with plans starting at $49 a month for hobbyists, $299 a month for business, and an enterprise option with custom pricing.
Octoparse is a no-code scraping tool with a visual interface that’s easy for all types of users. The tool lets you build web scraping bots that support collection of various data formats and uses an AI web scraping assistant. Octoparse is cloud-based and has a free plan that allows for 10 scraping tasks. Standard plans start at $900 a year, professional plans for $2,499 a year, and also an option for enterprise plans.
ParseHub is a web scraping software that works via desktop application that touts a simple point-and-click option for data collection. The scraping tool can collect data from multiple web pages and interact with elements like AJAX, forms, and dropdowns. Results can be accessed via JSON, Excel, or an API. Machine learning engines screen the web pages to understand the elements more easily. ParseHub offers a free option, and pricing plans start at $189 per month for standard, $599 per month for professional, and also has an option for an enterprise plan.
Scrapy is a free, opensource scraping tool that uses the Python framework to build web crawlers that can run on Linux, Windows, Mac, and BSD. Scrapy provides a free tool for web developers to extract web data in a simple way. However, this tool is not built for citizen developers or other business users as it requires programming knowledge.
Import.io provides web data extraction to help users with market intelligence. Their data scraping tools feature a point-and-click interface that’s easier to build on for business users, and also have the option for AI-powered APIs. Import.io helps collect search terms, results rank, ratings, and other information to help aide in market research. Plans start at $399 a month, $599 a month for standard, $1099 a month for advanced, and the option for a customized enterprise plan.