Data scraping or more preferably web scraping is extracting data from a website into a local file or spreadsheet on your computer. It is a method of importing information to a human-readable output. Data scraping also termed as Web Harvesting or Web Data Extraction is employed to extract a large chunk of data and save it to a database in spreadsheet format. It is most efficiently used to collect data from various websites. Even data scraping helps in channeling information from one website to another. Generally, data transfer from one program to another is totally computer-centric. No involvement of human interaction is required. Data scraping is generally considered, inelegant technique, often used only as a “last resort” when no other mechanism for data interchange is available. Data displayed by websites can only be seen using browsers. There are no functionality of the option for saving an offline version in your device. One has to manually copy and paste the data which is a very tedious and time-consuming job It can take days to extract data and import it to a local file in your device. To curb this problem and to make the process easier data scraping software is used. They perform the same task within a fraction of second. This web scraping software would automatically load and extract data from multiple sites depending upon your preference and requirements. Just one click away you can file and document the information directly from the websites. The basics for web scraping is relatively easy to master.
Data scraping is used popularly to channel constructive data from website to another or from multiple websites to your local file on computer. Data scraping Popular uses of web data scraping includes–
- Research purposes- Generally when we intend to do research on a particular topic, this technology comes handy in analyzing and channeling data directly between various websites offering you the information as per requirement.
- Comparing cost and price change monitoring – It is also used for travel booking of tickets in various price comparing sites.
- Contact scraping- It is used to obtain access to customer’s email account for marketing purposes.
- Sending product details from an e-commerce site to another online vendor.
- Weather data comparison.
- Gathering real estate listings.
- Web data integration and web mashup.
Web scraping is process of automatically mining and extracting information from internet and document it. The field is actively developing. It ranges from fully automatic computerized programs to programs requiring human-computer interaction. Data scraping are structured on basis of- Human manual copy-and-paste, Text pattern matching, HTTP programming and parsing, computer vision webpage analysis and so on.
Dark side of Data Scraping
Despite having the positive views, data scraping technology gets abused by a small proportion. The most prevalent misuse being email harvesting leading to scamming and spamming of email addresses of the customers. There is an ongoing legal battle prevalent between the data scrappers and website developers.
Data scraping in modern times has advanced the internet usage, marketing and management to a whole new dimension. The job which demanded days can be finished within few seconds. Extensively used in marketing and artificial intelligence analysis it’s importance cannot be ignored.