What is web scraping?

Web scraping, which is also known as web data extraction, web harvesting is the collection of information from multiple sources across the internet.
This process involves the use of software programs which simulate an activity likened to that of a human, surfing the web in a bid to acquire specific data from multiple sources/websites. It is essentially, a form of data mining. The data collected from such campaigns is often used by companies to create structured data which can be used to understand their customers and create better value for those mentioned above demographic. The unstructured data is obtained from the web, after which it is rearranged into structured data such that it can be understood by applications which provide significant business value.
What is web scraping
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Web scraping has however caused a lot of controversies as some websites do not allow certain kinds of data mining to occur on their platforms, despite this challenge, web scraping arguably remains one of the most popular and capable ways of collecting information on the internet.

Web scraping usually involves the consumption of large amounts of data which means its process has to be automated for it to produce any significant results, a few core components or steps are usually followed to ensure efficiency, they are as follows:
Crawling: This is the first step in web scraping, it starts at the source of the data, a website or webpage and then scans the websites for links to other useful data that match the ought after content.

Scraping: As the name implies, this process involves the actual collection of data from the websites by the crawler, in this process, the specific data gotten from the website is copied out on a separate platform.

Extracting: This process involves sorting through the scrapped data and extracting meaningful information. The extractor could either be extracting names, phone numbers, prices, job descriptions, image information or video details, etc.

Formatting: Once the data has been extracted, it is then fed into a user application in a bid to reach the final user. Some of the common formats used in presenting this data are JSON, CSV, XML, etc.

Uses of Web Scraping
Most web scraping techniques range from ad-hoc solutions, requiring human effort, to fully automated systems that are capable of converting entire websites with raw data into structured information. Using web scraping software sitemaps that are able to navigate a site and extract specific data can be created, with the use of various selectors the web scraping tool can navigate the site and extract multiple types of data including text, tables, images, links, etc.
06 August / 2019