What is Data Scraping: Web Scraping vs. Screen ScrapingMonday, November 09, 2020
Table of contents
1 What is data scraping?
Data scraping is a process that undertakes automatic capturing of data on websites, applications or legacy systems. As data/information is scattered around a great number of different places on the Internet, data scraping is a powerful technique for people to integrate needed data and information spanning across various channels.
Below we will look into two main branches of data scraping: Web Scraping and Screen Scraping.
2 Web scraping: scraping data from websites
We browse websites using a browser. That’s because information is written in a HTML form and browser is the tool to help display it in a readable way. Scraping data from websites is very much like human behaviors browsing over a number of sites. The difference is, in order to get information available in a local file, web scraping can extract data and resources from webpages into neatly organized documents for download.
Some of the web scraping tools are capable of API connection. In this case, the application can be tuned to work in harmony with another system. As they are well connected, scraped data in the application will be simultaneously updated on the given system.
Web scraping is the most part of data scraping that generates business values. The use of web scraping may be more extensive than you think, ranging from e-commerce business, recruitment and staffing, consulting industry to journalism and even gambling (Scrape Betting Odds).
Web scraping is adopted by people from all walks of life for different purposes, just to name a few:
E-commerce Marketing - with a scheduled scraping, users can get real time data from various online marketplaces simultaneously. Pricing information will be used for price monitoring. Sensational analysis can be made as buyers’ reviews scraped. More data such as sales, stocks, ranking of products will help a lot for marketers to make a wiser decision.
Content Aggregation - many people and businesses are making money by sourcing valuable content online, reworking and aggregating them into organized structure. People would love to pay for such service to prevent themselves being swallowed by a sea of information. Building a job board is a bit like this - gathering valuable job postings from different channels. However, there are more about content aggregation.
Academic Research - Octoparse is serving more than 400 educational institutes in support of their research projects, both quantitative and qualitative. Research topics involve financial data, development of a specific industry, and linguistic studies, etc.
Web scrpaing tool: Octoparse
1 Free for life plan
2 Easy to use with auto-detection of web data
3 Templates to scrape from popular sites - Amazon, Facebook, Yelp...
4 Advanced functions to keep the process smooth - IP rotation, Schedule scraping, API, Cloud service...
Octoparse not only is a handy tool for non-coders to get data from websites easily, but also offers advanced service for enterprises to get specific data. It is friendly for new starters with great user support. You can find tutorials in the Help Center and community is also available for Q&A.
Click to learn more web scraping tools...
3 Screen scraping: scraping data from screen
Screen scraping is also one of the data scraping techniques. Unlike web scraping, screen scraping does not specifically target information on websites or help parse the information selected. It’s more like a visual detector to extract directly from the computer terminal screen.
Screen scraping is applicable to scrape information from the UI of the applications or texts from scanned documents (See Copyfish below). OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is applied - if you have ever used a tool to transfer PDF into WORD, you know what I am talking about.
And for many companies, screen scraping is also used to retrieve data from Legacy systems. The system itself is outdated by today’s standards but still contains vital data. For many reasons, rewriting the source code as a way to update the Legacy system could be such a costly project, or even impossible. Thus, people would use screen scraping to get the data from the screen and pass it to a modernized UI for display. In this way, screen scraping can help save heavy IT costs as a modernization solution to an obsolete system.
Screen scraping tool:
- Screen OCR for Citrix or virtualized applications
- Works everywhere - Flash, PDF, Legacy, Siebel
- Screen scraper - extract screen text from running apps
In screen scraping, Uipath offers 100% accurate text capture from Win32 apps, MS Office, Java, WPF, PDF, Flash, etc. Besides, Uipath also offers solutions pertaining to automation and Artificial Intelligence.
Copyfish is a Chrome extension for easy screen scraping. It’s browser-based. You can extract texts from the UI of the browser, no matter if it is an image or a video clip. Anytime you want to copy the content which is protected and not allowed to select by click, this could be a helpful tool to crack it.
Only profound, solid data analysis can guide corporations with valuable insights and shed light on what decision should be made to further boost the business. Data scraping therefore is widely adopted by all businesses. Pick a tool and start your journey on data scraping. The efforts will pay back.
Author: Cici Edited by: Cici