Business enterprises today have turned to digital resources for the development and implementation of strategies. Likewise, investing in reliable ways of gathering data for your business through web scraping should be a priority. However, even after gathering market intelligence with your spider, you need data parsers to analyze it to make it usable by your company.
Data parsers convert data into readable and understandable data. If you’re looking for a way to understand your relevant scraped web data, then sit tight! Just below we are going to breakdown everything you need to know to scrape, parse, & analyze web data.
Web scraping for your business
Web scraping involves the extraction of bulk data from websites. The software used for the activity uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The scraping can also be through a web browser. The extracted data is saved in your computer in a local file or sent to a database as a spreadsheet. This data can be used to build target audiences, optimize marketing strategies, or analyze emerging trends.
When researching and collecting data, you will find that most of the data you find can only be viewed on a web browser. Furthermore, if you wish to save a copy of scraped data for future reference for your business, that just won’t be. Web browsers don’t allow you to copy data.
That process leaves you with the tedious and time-consuming option of manually copying and pasting data from the web pages. Web scraping automates this process for efficiency and to save time.
This automation includes the loading and extraction of data from many web pages. What your web scraper avails depends on the robot.txt file settings. The robot file comprises the script you write for your scraping robot on the type of data it should collect.
You can customize your scraping software for a specific website that has data that your company needs. It’s possible, too, to configure your spider to intuitively scrape data from any website.
Working with a Web Scraper
The following steps guide you on what to do to scrape data with your web scraper:
- Collect a list of URLs relevant to the nature of data your company needs
- Depending on the script you have set, the web crawler will either extract specific data that you commanded it to collect or all the data on the relevant webpage before it runs the project.
- The web scraper downloads the collected data to a CSV file or an Excel spreadsheet. More advanced scrapers can support additional formats like JSON.
The role of a data parser in web scraping
To start off, a parser has no link to a data format. A data parser only converts data from one format into another. How it performs the conversion, and the final format of the data depends on how the parser was created.
The creation of a parser refers to the pre-written rules and code. Following those settings, it will distinguish the appropriate information from the HTML string that comes from the scraped data. It will then pick the data and convert it into the desired format according to the given commands.
Uses of data parsers
Data parsers serve crucial functions in computer programming and technologies:
- Database languages and SQL
- Scripted languages
- Programming languages including Java
- Interactive data language
- Modeling languages
- Object definition languages
- Internet protocols like HTTP
Acquiring a data parser
Seeing the importance of a data parser in your web scraping endeavors, you come to a point where you have to decide between outsourcing and asking your technical team to create one. If you have the skills within your team, creating one within the company costs less.
Another advantage of seeking an in-house solution to procuring a parser is that you can customize it to suit the nature of business intelligence you need. Also, your company decides on the updating and maintenance schedule of the parser depending on your business data needs.
Creating and managing a parser instead of buying poses some challenges. Your company might be forced to train a tech team or hire skilled employees for the task. It will be prudent for your company to purchase or build an efficient server that will parse data at a reasonable speed.
Parsers, like other software, need periodical maintenance. It will require your business to allocate resources in financial and time considerations to support such a sophisticated project. It also requires time for testing and planning to ensure it runs as desired.
If you choose to hit the market for your parser, note that it will cost your company considerable financial commitment. Your team will have minimal control over it, which could negatively affect the scraping goals of your project.
However, buying a parser will save your business on time and human resources. Your team will have few problems running it since it will have been built and tested to acceptable standards. In conclusion, whether you decide to build one or buy, invest in a reliable and efficient parser to ensure it doesn’t crash.