Best Programming Languages for Web Scraping

Updated on April 11, 2018

What is web scraping?

Before starting with the best programming language for web scraping, let's have a brief introduction regarding what is web scraping and benefits of it.

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Web scrapping also referred to as data harvesting or extraction is a process through which you can get a large amount of data from a website(s).

What is the need of Web Scrapping?

There are many jobs for which we need a large amount of data from multiple websites. This huge amount of data is stored in local files or in the cloud in spreadsheet format for further data analytics. Web scraping can help your business to grow because it's useful in comparison with competitors, get email ids for email marketing and much more.

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Extracting data from multiple websites manually is a tiresome process. However, there are online tools as well as languages that make this process extremely simple for you.

Some of the important processes for which web scrapping is very important are:

  • Collecting data for market research and analysis
  • Getting contact info like email and phone numbers
  • Stock traders using this to track stock prices across different markets
  • Getting information for any research

There are several online tools that help you in web scrapping process. However, if you want some custom based research and extracting process, then nothing beats like using a programming language for this purpose.

However, before you chose any language for making web scrapping program look for the following features in it:

  • It should be easy to use and flexible for doing a different kind of tasks
  • It should have the capacity to feed the database
  • It should require a minimum amount of coding
  • It should provide you the option of scalability

Here we are giving you some of the best programming languages that help you a great deal in extracting the information of your choice from multiple websites.

1) Ruby

This a very robust language that allows you to build a program that will not only crawl the web looking for information relevant to a subject but also scrap and save them at a local file.

This is a totally object-oriented program that is ideal for web scraping services.

You can use this program to a great effect due to its host of advantages like production deployment and string manipulation.

Ruby also features Nokogiri. This is an HTML, XML, SAX and Reader Parser. It can search relevant documents through the XPath or CSS3 selectors.

Nokogiri enables you to analyze a huge number of web pages very quickly and accurately for any relevant information.

It can with the help of a range of extensions allow you to use Ruby effectively to handle even HTML and HTML fragments.

Ruby is also very efficient in cloud development and deployment and its bundler system is just great for managing and using packages from GitHub.

2) Node JS

This program has a huge library that provides the programmer with a range of options and tools to deploy for extracting the information that you will need for further analysis.

Besides, when you use Node.js to build a data scrapper, then its fantastically fast library Libuv allows it to do its job in double quick time for you. It is especially fast for interactive apps.

In Node.js, it does not matter how you have set up this program, the dependencies are installed locally (and not globally as in many other languages).

As this program is relatively new, its library is properly maintained that allows you to do any kind of programming relating to web scraping services you want with it without any trouble.

Node.js provides great support to WebSockets. This allows it to respond to any unsynchronized requests.

3) Python

If you are new to programming tools for web scraping services, then we suggest that you go for Python.

This language thanks to its simple syntax easy to follow (and remember) rules make it easy to learn compared to other programming languages.

If you are looking for faster development, long-term maintainability of the project or speed of readability of the readability of the code (it almost looks like an English sentence), then this program should be your best choice as afirst-timer.

Thanks to a large community of developers in python language, it allows you to get a host of functionalities important for web scrapping effectively and accurately. Some of these functionalities are:

  • Better handling of requests
  • Faster extraction of data
  • Allows you to scrape data from a large number of websites through its spiders that can cover a wide portion of the website quickly looking for relevant information

Python is an interpreted scripting language. This will help you a great deal in the coding process. You don’t have to compile the program after you make any minor changes in the program.

The two libraries of Python called NumPy and SciPy are excellent for academic and data research world. The reason for its superior function in these fields is due to their ability to figure out big and complex mathematical calculations.

This robust language comes with support for CSV and JSON. There are several libraries compatible with Python that will help you to store data in the spreadsheet for further analysis.

Thanks to the natural language processing ability of Python due to NLTK and spaCy, you can collect a big quantity of data through web scrapping. You can then use the NLTK and spaCy to analyses it later on.

4) PHP

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PHP is another simple to use and yet powerful programming language that you can use for web scrapping.

One of the most important factors that makes it so popular amongst programmers looking to build web scrapping programs is that it does not create any issue regarding scheduling or extracting the resource from multiple websites that many other programming languages do.

If you are not good at coding and want a powerful ready to use application that will scrape websites for you to get the requisite information, then you can look at some of these:

  • Import.io
  • Webhose.io
  • Dexi.io
  • Scrapinghub
  • ParseHub
  • VisualScrapper
  • Spinn3r
  • 80legs
  • Scrapper
  • OutWit Hub

While they are excellent in proving their job of scrapping the websites for getting relevant information, they are pricey have limited functionalities.

Therefore, look at the web scrapping languages to build programs that will provide you with unmatched performance and custom design that a ready to use application cannot match.

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