Web scraping is one of the most useful computer techniques that can be used to obtain data from the World Wide Web. It is an automated process that gathers particular information from a website and transfers it to another database or spreadsheet through the use of a bot.
The process of web scraping is almost similar to the traditional “copy and paste” method except that it does not require manual copying and pasting of information from a web page to a document sheet. Since it is an automatic process, web scraping consumes less time than other data extracting techniques when processing web page information. This is also the reason why a lot of web crawlers can offer real time web scraping function.
The Process of Data Scraping
Web crawlers are software bots that perform web scraping. The higher the speed and quality of a web crawler, the more it can perform real time web scraping. In web scraping, a bot fetches a web page and subsequently extracts the required data from it. The data to extract can be anything: images, text, email addresses, products, contact numbers, or videos.
Once data is extracted, it is converted into a specified format that is usually more organized and readable for the user. Then, it is transferred to a destination like a spreadsheet or a database. Real time web scraping means regularly repeating this whole process each time the source web page changes its data or adds another data to its site.
Importance of Real Time Web Scraping
Real time web scraping is an important function for any web scraper as most of the web pages today are subject to frequent changes like structure changes, format modifications, or even content replacements. When this happens, only a real time web scraping function can keep a user updated to such changes.
Real-life examples of data that are subject to constant updates include stock prices, daily weather, real estate listings, and price changes. The function of real time web scraping is to keep track of the changes in these data so the user is able to monitor them in real-time.
Real-Time Data Extracting Programs
Web scraping is actually easy to do so long as you have the appropriate tools. Fortunately, there are hundreds of programs that you can use for web scraping. You can even use Microsoft Excel as your web scraping tool.
However, not all of the web scraping software can offer real time web scraping. And to help you decide which among the hundreds of available software programs to use, here are some of the best programs that feature real time web scraping functions:
This is an all-in-one software that can convert data and submit outputs without the need of having an account to sign in. Aside from its real time web scraping feature, the software also allows you to create your own template for your outputs. You may also edit contents using its Content Mix Rule option.
Since you can customize your own template, Contentbomb can save new contents to any specified format. It can even import outputs directly from a third-party software so you can use them without changing their formats.
Contentbomb also comes with a default list of common web page sources. The list includes google RSS and other well-known content directories. You may add new content sources manually if you want to extract data from web sources other than the included sites.
Additionally, Contentbomb can provide real time web scraping by automatically sending newly extracted contents to your desired destination (e.g. spreadsheet or site) on a 24/7 basis. You can find this option in the settings.
This is a cloud-based web scraping tool that provides real time web scraping service as one of its offers. Its primary objective is to help users extract data from websites and normalize its format to produce a simple and organized output.
Diggernaut is good for both programmers and non-programmers. It has a comprehensive meta-language documentation that can guide web-developers or programmers in building their own configuration or settings.
For non-programmers, on the other hand, Diggernaut offers a Visual Extractor tool that can help them extract the specific data they want from a web page and convert it into their desired format and structure.
Examples of data that Diggernaut can extract are government licenses and permits, statistical data, news and events, product prices, tax information, and real estate listings. All of these can be extracted in real-time using the software’s real time web scraping feature named “data on demand.”
It is like Diggernaut, Octoparse offers cloud services for web scraping which makes it a lot faster than normal software applications. This application is great for non-programmers as no coding is needed to make the software function. Plus, it is easy to use.
Octoparse has 6 to 14 servers that work simultaneously, which makes real time web scraping possible for the program. It also offers scheduling options that let you schedule the exact hours when you want to extract data automatically.
Octoparse also has a built-in browser where you can just type in the web page from which you want to extract the data. There are no limits to how many web pages you want to scrape as it can scrape hundreds of pages at once. Further, its cloud-based web crawling can scrape data 24/7 so real time web scraping is always possible to this program.
The content extracted through Octoparseâ€™s real time web scraping can be downloaded as an Excel file, an API (application program interface), or a CSV (comma separated values) file. It can also simply be sent and saved to a database.
Web Scraping: a Decision Making Tool
Aside from real time web scraping, data scraping also has other various functions including data mining, website change detection, price monitoring, web indexing, and web mashup.
Through the use of the programs listed above or any real time web scraping tool like MyDataProvider, a decision maker can extract up-to-date contents and can therefore make better decisions whether in business or in any other field.