Web scraping is a powerful tool for data collection and analysis. It is an essential part of any data science project. The purpose of web scraping is to gather and extract information from a website, process it and then save the data for further use.
Scrapy is a Python scraping library that has been designed to provide developers with a robust and scalable framework for web scraping applications. It provides a number of features to ensure the best possible experience for both novices and advanced users alike, while minimizing the amount of manual coding that needs to be done.
The main component of Scrapy is Spiders, a class that you define and which Scrapy uses to scrape content from a website. Each Spider must subclass Spider and define the initial requests that it makes, how to follow links in the pages, and how to parse the downloaded page content to extract the needed information.
Besides Spiders, Scrapy also has several other tools and frameworks that you can use to enhance your web crawling application. These tools include logging, item pipelines and more.
Logging is a powerful feature of Scrapy and it allows you to easily set different levels of logging for your scraper. This enables you to track the number of URLs that have been scraped as well as what pages have been crawled.
It can even automatically detect duplicate URLs and keep track of them so that you don’t have to. This is particularly useful if you have to crawl large quantities of data as it will make your application more robust and efficient.
Items pipelines are another important aspect of Scrapy and they allow you to create functions in your spider that can perform certain operations like replacing values in data or removing them altogether. You can also create functions that can process the raw data from a site to provide you with a ready-to-use dataset for further processing in another program.
CSS selectors are a very powerful feature of Scrapy and they are based on the popular query language XPath expressions. XPath expressions are very flexible and can be used to find any HTML get help document object or element that you want to extract data from.
Unlike other libraries, such as BeautifulSoup or urllib2, Scrapy handles a lot of common functionality for scraping projects out of the box. This means that you don’t have to add extra code to handle redirects, retries, cookies and more on your own.
It also makes the crawling process asynchronous so that even if one request fails, or a few errors happen, the incoming requests continue to be processed without any disruptions. This enables you to run your web crawler on multiple machines at the same time and increase the overall speed efficiency of your scraping processes.
You can use XPath selectors to scrape data from online pages and they are particularly useful for e-commerce websites as they can contain different prices and discounts for the same product. Moreover, you can even combine different XPath expressions for different products to get an accurate result.