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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Powerful Web Scraping Software – Content Grabber Review

Powerful Web Scraping Software – Content Grabber Review

There are many web scraping software and cloud based web scraping services available in the market for extracting data from the websites. They vary widely in cost and features. In this article, I am going to introduce one such advanced web scraping tool “Content Grabber”, which is widely used and the best web scraping software in the market.

Content Grabber is used for web extraction, web scraping and web automation. It can extract content from complex websites and export it as structured data in a variety of formats like Excel Spreadsheets, XML, CSV and databases. Content Grabber can also extract data from highly dynamic websites. It can extract from AJAX-enabled websites, submit forms repeatedly to cover all possible input values, and manage website logins.

Content Grabber is designed to be reliable, scalable and customizable. It is specifically designed for users with a critical reliance on web scraping and web data extraction. It also enables you to make standalone web scraping agents which you can market and sell as your own royalty free web scraping software.

Applications of Content Grabber:

The following are the few applications of Content Grabber:

  •     Data aggregation – for example news aggregation.
  •     Competitive pricing and monitoring e.g. monitor dealers for price compliance.
  •     Financial and Market Research e.g. Make proactive buying and selling decisions by continuously receiving corporate operational data.
  •     Content Integration i.e. integration of data from various sources at one place.
  •     Business Directory Scraping – for example: yellow pages scraping, yelp scraping, superpages scraping etc.
  •     Extracting company data from yellow pages for scraping common data fields like Business Name, Address, Telephone, Fax, Email, Website and Category of Business.
  •     Extracting eBay auction data like: eBay Product Name, Store Information, Buy it Now prices, Product Price, List Price, Seller Price and many more.
  •     Extracting Amazon product data: Information such as Product title, cost, description, details, availability, shipping info, ASIN, rating, rank, etc can be extracted.

Content Grabber Features:

The following section highlights some of the key features of Content Grabber:

1. Point and Click Interface

The Content Grabber editor has an easy to use point and click interface that provides easy point and click configuration. One simply needs to click on web elements to configure website navigation and content capture.

2. Easy to Use

The Content Grabber point and click interface is so simple to use that it can easily be used by beginners and non-programmers. There is certain built in facilities that automatically detect and configure all commands. It will automatically create a list of links, lists of content, manage pagination, handle web pages, download or upload files and capture any action you perform on a web page. You can also manually configure the agent commands, so Content Grabber gives you both simplicity and control.

3. Reliable and Scalable

Content Grabber’s powerful features like testing and debugging, solid error handling and error recovery, allows agent to run in the most difficult scenarios. It easily handles and scrapes dynamic websites built with JavaScript and AJAX. Content Grabber’s Intelligent agents don’t break with most site structure changes. These features enable us to build reliable web scraping agents. There are various configurations and performance tuning options that makes Content Grabber scalable. You can build as many web scraping agents as you want with Content Grabber.

4. High Performance

Multi-threading is used to increase the performance in Content Grabber. Content Grabber uses optimized web browsers. It uses static browsers for static web pages and dynamic browsers for dynamic web pages. It has an ultra-fast HTML5 parser for ultra-fast web scraping. One can use many web browsers concurrently to boost performance.

5. Debugging, Logging and Error Handling

Content Grabber has robust support for debugging, error handling and logging. Using a debugger, you can test and debug the web scraping agents which helps you to build reliable and error free web scraping solutions because most of the issues are addressed at design time. Content Grabber allows agent logging with three detail levels: Log URLs, Log raw HTML, Log to database or file. Logs can be useful to identify problems that occurred during execution of a web scraping agent. Content Grabber supports automatic error handling and custom error handling through scripting. Error status reports can also be mailed to administrators.

6. Scripting

Content Grabber comes with a built in script editor with IntelliSense that one can use in case of some unusual requirements or to fine tune some process. Scripting can be used to control agent behaviour, content transformation, customize data export and delivery and to generate data inputs for agent.

7. Unlimited Web Scraping Agents

Content Grabber allows building an unlimited number of Self-Contained Web Scraping Agents. Self-Contained agents are a standalone executable that can be run independently, branded as your own and distributed royalty free. Content Grabber provides an easy to use and effective GUI to manage all the agents. One can view status and logs of all the agents or run and schedule the agents in one centralized location.

8. Automation

Require data on a schedule? Weekly? Everyday? Each hour? Content Grabber allows automating and publishing extracted data. Configure Content Grabber by telling what data you want once, and then schedule it to run automatically.

And much more

There are too many features that Content Grabber provides, but here are a few more that may be useful and interest you.

  •     Schedule agents
  •     Manage proxies
  •     Custom notification criteria and messages
  •     Email notifications
  •     Handle websites logins
  •     Capture Screenshots of web elements or entire web page or save as PDF.
  •     Capture hidden content on web page.
  •     Crawl entire website
  •     Input data from almost any data source.
  •     Auto scroll to load dynamic data
  •     Handle complex JAVASCRIPT and AJAX actions
  •     XPATH support
  •     Convert Images to Text
  •     CAPTCHA handling
  •     Extract data from non-HTML documents like PDF and Word Documents
  •     Multi-threading and multiple web browsers
  •     Run agent from command line.

The above features come with the Professional edition license. Content Grabber’s Premium edition license is available with the following extra features:

1. Visual Studio 2013 integration

One can integrate Content Grabber to Visual Studio and take advantages of extra powerful script editing, debugging, and unit testing.

2. Remove Content Grabber branding

One can remove Content Grabber branding from the Content Grabber agents and distribute the executable.

3. Custom Design Templates

One can customize the Content Grabber agent user interface design with custom HTML templates – e.g. add your own company branding.

4. Royalty free distribution

One can distribute the Content Grabber agent to anybody without paying royalty fees and can run agents from the command line anywhere.

5. Programming Interface

Programming interfaces like Desktop API, Web API and windows service for building and editing agents.

6. Custom Web Scraping Application Development:

Content Grabber provides API and Visual Studio Integration which developer can use to build custom web scraping applications. It provides full control of the user interface and export functionality. One can develop both Desktop as well as Web based custom web scraping applications using the Content Grabber programming interface. It is a great tool and provides opportunity for developers to build general web scraping applications and sell those to generate revenue.

Are you looking for web scraping services? Do you need any assistance related to Content Grabber? We can probably help you to achieve your scraping-based project goals. We would be more than happy to hear from you.

Source: http://webdata-scraping.com/powerful-web-scraping-software-content-grabber/

Sunday, 11 September 2016

How to Use Microsoft Excel as a Web Scraping Tool

How to Use Microsoft Excel as a Web Scraping Tool

Microsoft Excel is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools to manage information in a structured form. The immense popularity of Excel is not without reasons. It is like the Swiss army knife of data with its great features and capabilities. Here is how Excel can be used as a basic web scraping tool to extract web data directly into a worksheet. We will be using Excel web queries to make this happen.

Web queries is a feature of Excel which is basically used to fetch data on a web page into the Excel worksheet easily. It can automatically find tables on the webpage and would let you pick the particular table you need data from. Web queries can also be handy in situations where an ODBC connection is impossible to maintain apart from just extracting data from web pages. Let’s see how web queries work and how you can scrape HTML tables off the web using them.
Getting started

We’ll start with a simple Web query to scrape data from the Yahoo! Finance page. This page is particularly easier to scrape and hence is a good fit for learning the method. The page is also pretty straightforward and doesn’t have important information in the form of links or images. Here is the URL we will be using for the tutorial:


To create a new Web query:

1. Select the cell in which you want the data to appear.
2. Click on Data-> From Web
3. The New Web query box will pop up as shown below.

4. Enter the web page URL you need to extract data from in the Address bar and hit the Go button.
5. Click on the yellow-black buttons next to the table you need to extract data from.

6. After selecting the required tables, click on the Import button and you’re done. Excel will now start downloading the content of the selected tables into your worksheet.

Once you have the data scraped into your Excel worksheet, you can do a host of things like creating charts, sorting, formatting etc. to better understand or present the data in a simpler way.
Customizing the query

Once you have created a web query, you have the option to customize it according to your requirements. To do this, access Web query properties by right clicking on a cell with the extracted data. The page you were querying appears again, click on the Options button to the right of the address bar. A new pop up box will be displayed where you can customize how the web query interacts with the target page. The options here lets you change some of the basic things related to web pages like the formatting and redirections.

Apart from this, you can also alter the data range options by right clicking on a random cell with the query results and selecting Data range properties. The data range properties dialog box will pop up where you can make the required changes. You might want to rename the data range to something you can easily recognize like ‘Stock Prices’.

Auto refresh

Auto-refresh is a feature of web queries worth mentioning, and one which makes our Excel web scraper truly powerful. You can make the extracted data to be auto-refreshing so that your Excel worksheet will update the data whenever the source website changes. You can set how often you need the data to be updated from the source web page in data range options menu. The auto refresh feature can be enabled by ticking the box beside ‘Refresh every’ and setting your preferred time interval for updating the data.
Web scraping at scale

Although extracting data using Excel can be a great way to scrape html tables from the web, it is nowhere close to a real web scraping solution. This can prove to be useful if you are collecting data for your college research paper or you are a hobbyist looking for a cheap way to get your hands on some data. If data for business is your need, you will definitely have to depend on a web scraping provider with expertise in dealing with web scraping at scale. Outsourcing the complicated process that web scraping will also give you more room to deal with other things that need extra attention such as marketing your business.

Source: https://www.promptcloud.com/blog/how-to-use-excel-to-scrape-websites