In a hurry?
The best open source web scraper in 2023, as found in our independent testing, is Scrapy!
In today’s world, the biggest source of information is the internet. You can turn to Google for anything and get relevant results within seconds.
But you can never be sure that the information available on websites will always stay there.
It is also tiresome to refer to different pages to access information on one topic.
That’s where web scraping comes in.
Best Open Source Web Scrapersl Tools in 2023
A comparison of the best open source web scrapers available in 2023 can help you figure out which one you should try.
Although all of them come with amazing features, it is best to choose one and focus all of your efforts on it instead of trying to work with multiple scrapers at the same time.
- Scrapy – 🏆 Winner!
- Apify SDK
- Apache Nutch
The most popular web scraping framework in 2022 is Scrapy. There are a number of reasons behind the popularity of Scrapy.
It was written in Python, which is one of the most popular programming languages in the world.
Python is also the most popular programming language among web scrapers developers.
The framework is maintained by ScrapingHub, which is a trusted name in the world of web scraping.
With Scrapy, you can develop high-performing web crawlers and scrapers.
Speed has never been an issue with Scrapy, so you can develop your scraper quickly and begin crawling the web for data extraction straightaway.
Another plus point of Scrapy is that it can efficiently handle large web scraping projects for you.
It also gives you the option to store data in your preferred format, including JSON and CSV.
Since Scrapy comes with both a parsing tool and an HTTP library, it is preferred by web scraper developers over other web scraping frameworks.
- Detailed documentation to facilitate users
- Endless resources
- A healthy community of developers that are always ready to offer help
Heritrix is the perfect tool for anyone who wishes to preserve the information currently available across the World Wide Web.
It was developed for the purpose of web archiving by the Internet Archive.
Most web scrapers do not respect the robot.txt exclusion directives and end up disrupting the normal functioning of a website.
On the other hand, the Heritrix tool does not overload a website by respecting the robot.txt exclusion directives.
Heritrix has a web-based UI that you can access from a browser.
- High extensibility
- Web-based UI accessible from a browser for operator control
- Respects the robot.txt exclusion directives
Pyspider is another Python-based web scraping framework that can be used for writing web crawlers as well as for coding powerful scrapers.
Some of the features of Pyspider that give users control over the scraping process include project manager, result viewer, and task monitor.
Pyspider is very easy to use, which is that those that are new to web scraping can also turn to it for help.
- Powerful web-based user interface
- Distributed architecture
Web-Harvest is a Java-based web extraction tool. Java developers can make use of the Web-Harvest library to develop powerful web scrapers for extracting data from web pages.
It can be used for parsing content from a downloaded HTML document.
Web-Harvest makes use of different techniques and technologies to filter content from both HTML and XML based web sites.
Developers can also enhance the extraction capabilities of this tool by supplementing it with custom Java libraries.
- Supports file handling, looping, and variable manipulation
- Supports real scripting languages
- Works on both HTML and XML based web sites
5. Apify SDK
If you are looking for a free web scraper that can help you with large-scale web scraping of any website, then the Apify SDK is what you should choose.
It is a complete automation tool that can help you automate different actions on the internet.
Despite its useful features, Apify SDK is pretty easy to use. It can be run on Apify platform as well as Integrated into your code.
It has built-in support for popular Node.js plugins like puppeteer, playwright, and Cheerio.
Another great feature of Apify SDK is that you can start with multiple URLs at the same time. You can also run the scraping tasks to the maximum capacity of your system.
- High-performing, large-scale scraper
- Pool of proxies in the Apify cloud helps avoid detection
- Autoscaled Pool and RequestQueue to run tasks at maximum capacity
MechanicalSoup is a python-based tool that can mimic how humans interact with websites in a browser.
You can automate online tasks with the help of MechanicalSoup. It will handle everything from storing and sending cookies to submitting forms and following links.
Since you can automate tasks with this tool, it is ideal for web scraping. However, it can be perfectly used for mimicking human behavior online.
Due to this feature of MechanicalSoup, it can help you solve captchas and arrive at the intended web page sooner rather than later.
- Imitates human behavior perfectly
- Scrapes simple websites at record speed
- Easy to understand documents for new users
Node-crawler is a lightweight Node.js library that comes with a lot of useful web scraping features.
It can be used by developers to develop simple and efficient web scrapers and crawlers.
With Node-crawler, you don’t have to write regular expressions since it supports the rapid selection of DOM.
It can also improve the efficiency of crawler development to ensure you get the desired results at the end.
While using Node-crawler, you will have the option to use Cheerio for parsing or replace it with a DOM parser of your choice.
Since Node-crawler supports hard coding, it is an excellent choice for experienced developers.
- Efficient and easy to use
- Supports rapid selection of DOM
- Pool size and retries can be configured
8. Apache Nutch
Apache Nutch is a scraper that is coded entirely in Java. It is an open-source scraper that allows developers to create plug-ins for data retrieval and media-type parsing.
It has a highly modular architecture, which makes it ideal for custom implementations.
In fact, Nutch provides extensible interfaces which improve user experience considerably.
Apache Nutch gets updated regularly, which is a huge plus point for developers who wish to work on the web scraper. The tool can be integrated into your project.
It is one of the few web scrapers that obey txt rules. All these features make Apache Nut an excellent web scraper.
- Regular updates eliminate errors in the scraper and give developers more to work with
- Vibrant community that can help you with your queries
- Highly scalable
Jaunt is a Java-based project that can be used for web-automation. It can also be used by programmers for the development of web scraping tools.
One of the best features of Jaunt is its fast and ultra-light browser that not only has web scraping functionality but also provides you with control over every HTTP request and response.
- Ultra-light and headless browser
- Perform JSON data extraction
- Supports both HTTP and HTTPS
Crawler4j is an open-source Java library that is pretty easy to use. You can set it up pretty easily thanks to its simple APIs and then use it to scrape data off web pages.
With Crawler4j, you can set up a multithreaded web scraper within minutes.
Since Crawler4j is an open-source library, you can not only modify it for personal use but also make public contributions.
If you think that the code base needs modification, then you can share your contribution with other programmers.
- Easy set up of multithreaded web scraper
- Scrapes off data from URL and downloaded pages
- Easy-to-understand guide to teach you how to use the library
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the process of extracting useful data from websites. The data can then be exported in a format that will be helpful to you.
Although you can copy content from a website and then paste it into a document on your computer, you would lose a lot of important data this way.
It would also take you a long time to copy everything from a website, not to mention the websites that don’t let users copy their content.
So, how does web scraping work? Simply put, there are tools and software that can scrape data off the web for you.
Some of these software are available for free, while the rest are paid.
Before you decide to pay for software, it is important to make sure that it is simple enough for you to work with.
There are different types of tools available for web scraping, and not all of them will be useful for you.
Overview of Open Source Web Scrapers
When choosing a web scraper, you should not only consider the data that you wish to extract but the amount of control you want.
Although most scrapers let users select the data they wish to extract, they still might not have all the features you want, or they may not work with the kind of content you want to copy.
The best way to avoid that is to choose open-source web scrapers.
Open-source software can be inspected and modified by anyone. The copyright holders give people the right to change the source code of their software for any purpose.
So, if you want complete control over the scraping processes, you should work with an open-source web scraper.
If you use an open-source web scraper, you can easily scrape in a fast and extensive way.
If you have sufficient programming knowledge, then there’s no reason for you to choose anything but an open-source web scraper.
What Are the Uses of Web Scraping?
You may wonder what’s the point of web scraping when you can visit different websites to access the information you want.
But if you have ever turned to a website that compares the prices of different products, then you have already benefited from web scraping.
A company can get help from a scraper to extract extensive data and then analyze it to draw industry-specific insights.
Companies can sell this data to other companies in the relevant industry.
This data is quite valuable as it can inform companies of various trends in the industry and help them make fruitful decisions.
Real Estate Listings
You can see multiple listings on the website of a real estate agent. These listings are often scraped off MLS listings.
These listings are scraped off to build an API so the data can be sent to the website of the real estate agent or agency.
If someone finds the listing on a real estate agent’s website, they can act as the agent and earn a commission once the deal is sealed.
Whether you are thinking of buying a mobile phone or a home appliance, you would choose multiple options, compare their prices, and then make a decision.
There are different websites you can turn to compare the prices of various products. These websites are often set up with the help of a web scraper.
Prices of different products are scraped off Amazon and other online stores and added to the website for comparison.
Multiple web scrapers are specifically designed for extracting information about prices from different websites.
Digital marketing is all the rage these days, but if companies don’t have the contact information of potential customers, there isn’t much they can do.
Fortunately, web scraping can help companies with lead generation by extracting the contact information of potential customers from various websites.
If a company has the contact details of potential customers, it can easily reach out to them about offers and discounts.
Turning potential customers into regular customers can become possible this way. Web scraping is also helpful in the business-to-business space.
Customers in this space post their contact details openly so extracting information about them won’t be difficult.
Social Media Analysis
Things change pretty quickly on social media websites. If you are too late to join a trend, it might already be over.
Businesses can lose the opportunity to act on the latest trends and attract new customers.
But with web scrapers, you can easily extract data from multiple social media websites.
The analysis of social media posts is not only important for businesses but also for politicians and policymakers.
The analysis can show the decision-makers how people are reacting to different things and what is their opinion on policy matters.
If you are looking to invest in real estate, you can make use of a scraping tool to find out about promising neighborhoods.
You can focus on keywords like highest-rated houses and attractive renting locations.
Real estate agents use the scraping tool to learn about good neighborhoods and make investments in property accordingly to make money.
Is Web Scraping Illegal?
The biggest concern people have about web scraping is whether it is legal or not. The answer to this question depends on the kind of data you are scraping off a website.
For instance, if you are extracting data that is not publicly available, scraping becomes illegal. Local laws might also play a role in deciding the legality of web scraping.
The Features of a Good Web Scraper
There are various factors that can help you figure out which open-source web scraper to go for.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is the programming language the scraper runs on.
Even if you are familiar with both Java and Python, it is better to go for the one you have worked with for longer.
The second thing to consider is the interface and ease of use. Even the best feature would be useless if you can’t figure out how to use it.
If a web scraper is easy to use and also comes with detailed documentation on how to run it, then you should definitely give it a try.
A good web scraper must also be reliable and quick. You don’t want it to stop halfway through a scrape and waste your time.
It is also important for a good scraper to offer multiple output formats so the users can get data in the format of their choice.
A web scraper can be a great way of extracting the information you need from web pages.
But in order to make your scraping experience worthwhile, you must choose the right web scraper.
All the open source web scraping tools mentioned above have been tried and tested by multiple developers.
So, if you need to scrape data off the web, try one of the web scrapers mentioned above and see which one best suits your requirements.