Scrape and Automate Websites Using Puppeteer
While the generation of data continues to increase every day, only about 26% of companies around the globe have attained an absolute data-driven culture.
A data-driven culture refers to the complete reliance on high-quality, valid, relevant, and accurate data. And companies that observe such culture usually have to wait on useful market data before making any business decisions.
Of course, the result of such reliance is that these companies dominate the market and accrue more revenue than those who neglect data in making key decisions.
However, the small percentage indicated above could be due to the inability of more companies to find simpler ways of getting data.
Data extraction can be gruesome if not properly done, and there is the need to use the simplest tools and processes if the extraction must be sustained and successful.
Scraping and automating data extraction with a library such as Puppeteer is one simple way to go. And in this short article, we will explain how to do this and why a Puppeteer tutorial may be important.
A Brief Description of Web Scraping
Web scraping can be defined as the automated process of collecting structured and unstructured data from several sources across the internet.
The structured data may then be saved for immediate or later use, while the unstructured data would need to undergo conversion and parsing before it is saved.
Regardless of what data type is involved, the entire process needs to be automated to require minimal human input and save time and energy while boosting productivity and performance.
Hence, web scraping is considered a smart way to obtain accurate market data harvested in real-time quickly.
A Brief Description of Puppeteer and Puppeteer Tutorial
Puppeteer can be defined as an open-source library developed by Google and built to emulate the popular Chromium.
It is mostly used for automated web scraping and website testing and offers the full capabilities of doing both tasks using Chrome as a headless browser. This means that you can fully control it remotely without needing a Graphical User Interface.
And because it works with a headless browser, the process can be faster and quicker while saving a lot of resources, including GPU and CPU.
However, it has a major limitation as you can only automate or test using Chrome. This means that you cannot test the compatibility of your website with other browsers aside from Chrome.
Features and Unique Benefits of Puppeteer in Web Scraping
Some of the things especially unique to Puppeteer include the following:
- Simple Control
Just like the name implies, Puppeteer offers you the ability to remotely control the browser and run tasks such as web scraping, data mining, and website testing in the easiest and simplest way possible.
Additionally, it allows you to do all of these on the world’s most popular browser.
- API Feature
Puppeteer also allows you to build and control different types of APIs. These become very important when data extraction cannot occur through regular web scraping but API interaction.
Several platforms and data sources discourage web scraping but allow you to interact with an API to get their content.
Puppeteer ensures that you never leave any important data behind. Whether it is normal web scraping or API that a data source permits, Puppeteer offers to grab the data you need.
- Different Operations
Another unique thing about Puppeteer is the number of operations you can perform using the library. From taking screenshots to scraping single or multiple pages to saving extracted data in different formats, including PDFs.
You can also easily change your location to mitigate issues such as geo-blocking, which is one of the greatest challenges that people face during data collection.
- Automating Boring Tasks
Online operations such as web scraping are immensely boring and often take too long to achieve manually.
Puppeteer offers the user the ability to automate almost the whole process to solve this issue and make the exercise less mundane.
Yet aside from this, automating the process also ensures it is achieved with more accurate results.
How Web Scraping Can Be Automated Through Puppeteer
It is easy to automate web scraping using Puppeteer. The first step is to set up and initialize the environment using NodeJS and Puppeteer. You will, however, need some basic knowledge of how to write and call a command line which tutorial is important.
Once that is done, you may write and build your scraper with the package and create your project folder.
Next, you can include the target URL from where you wish to scrape. And once the web scraper is initiated, the process can occur and run automatically to get you the data you require. You can also include a selector to provide a direct path to the data, and once you have grabbed the data, you can convert it to JSON if it is in another format before saving the available storage unit.
Puppeteer allows you to control Chrome and scrape data or automate the process remotely. You may choose to scrape a single page or multiple pages and sources. Or you can choose to perform other operations such as simulating inputs, website testing, and much more.