Proxyrack - August 8, 2023

Getting Started With Octoparse

Tutorials

Whether you're conducting market research, analyzing social media trends, or seeking insights to launch innovative products, data accessibility is key.

Web scraping has revolutionized data collection by automating and simplifying how to get valuable information from websites at an unprecedented volume and speed.

Traditionally, this process can be complex since one needs to write long, complex codes. Thankfully, there's a solution that simplifies and automates the process: Octoparse.

In this tutorial, we'll walk you through the basics of Octoparse and how it can help you harness the potential of web scraping for your market research, social media analytics, and business needs.

But first, let's look at what web scraping is.

What Is Web Scraping?

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites into a useful format for users. This process often involves using tools, software, or programming languages’ library to access the website's HTML codes or structured data to extract the desired information.

You can also scrape data from emails using email web scrapers

But how does this work? The process is the same for most.

  1. Provide the URL of the website you want to get information from. 

  2. A tool, library, or software is used to load and access the HTML code. In some cases, the CSS and JavaScript elements are also loaded.

  3. The web scraper extracts all the data based on what the user needs.

  4. The output from the web-scraping process is stored in a format that you, the user, can appreciate. This is often a CSV, Excel spreadsheet, or JSON file.

A few examples of web scrappers include Octoparse, Puppeteer, and Parsehub. However, for this post, we'll focus on Octoparse.

What Is Octoparse? 

Octoparse is a low-code/no-code web-scraping tool that allows users to automate data collection from websites and social media platforms effortlessly.

Octoparse does this through its workflow designer and built-in AI engine to auto-detect and accurately receive the data. This way, you can extract vital information from websites to get accessible data in a friendly, intuitive, and manageable streamlined way that isn't complex.

Also, since Octoparse is a low-code/no-code tool, the barrier of entry is low. Thus, without coding experience, your nontechnical teammates can scrape data, build web scrapers, and visualize the entire web-scrapping workflow in Octoparse’s workflow designer.

So say "hello" to easy web scraping and endless possibilities!

Scrape Websites With Octoparse in 4 Steps

Before you can start web scraping with Octoparse, you'll need to download Octoparse and install it on your device (Mac or Windows). You'll also need to sign up for a free account to log in and follow along with this tutorial.

Once you've done that, you can follow the steps below.

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Step One: Create Your Web-Scraping Task

To create your web-scraping task, you first need to identify the website you want to get information from. This tutorial will explore the Lagos properties page of Bookings.com.  You can also use demo.octoparse.com, a demo website page created by Octoparse, or any website you choose.

Once you've done that:

1. Open the Octoparse application and paste the URL in the search bar of the homepage

2. Click Start to start the web-scraping process. Octoparse loads the page within its browser and automatically starts detecting data available on the webpage.

Step Two: Create and Configure Your Web-Scraping Workflow

Once the data has been auto-detected, it gets previewed in the Data Preview section. To start your workflow, click the Create Workflow button to engage the Octoparse web crawler.


Although data has been auto-detected, you can always customize the data field you want by clicking the position of the data on the page.

It's important to know that Octoparse also automatically supports pagination. This enables Octoparse to see and use the Next button on the webpage to look through pages to get data without you manually navigating to that page. 

Once you've clicked Create Workflow, click the Run Task Now button.

Step Three: Run Your Task

In this step, you pick where to run the web-scraping task: locally or in the cloud. 

Running in the cloud is limited to just premium Octoparse users. This feature allows users to run up to 20 concurrent cloud processes, schedule tasks, automatically back up data, download images, and access advanced API features.

This is recommended for projects where you need to continuously get data off these websites and websites that have content updated frequently.

Free users will have to run the task locally. To do this, click on Standard Mode.

This will initiate your web-scrapping task.

A visual display of how your data is being extracted can be seen within the Octoparse application.

Step Four: Export the Data

You'll need to export your data once the data extraction step is complete. To do this:

  1. Click on Export. Octoparse, however, allows you to export the data now or later.

  2. Simply click on Extract All. You can also remove duplicates from your data. I will, however, advise that you leave all data cleaning to your third-party transforming tool.

  3. Select the format you want your data exported in and click OK. Available formats are Excel, CSV, HTML, JSON, or XML. You can alternatively export the data directly to Google Sheets, SQL Server, or MySql for further analysis.

Zapier automation is also available for premium users. This will enable you to automate the extraction process. 

You can learn more about Octoparse by checking the help center and exploring the beginner-friendly built-in task templates that cover over 25 websites.

Limitations of Low-Code/No-Code Web-Scrapping Tools

As much as these tools simplify the web-scraping process and offer convenience, users could face a few limitations and roadblocks.

Some websites implement login-protected areas, captchas, and human verification checks, making it difficult for standard automated scraping to bypass these security measures. Additionally, a few others frequently undergo structural changes, rely heavily on JavaScript to load their content, or have nested data that can pose further obstacles to effective scraping.

Other websites restrict access and block requests based on IP restrictions and anti-scraping mechanisms like honeypot traps. Moreover, rate-limiting measures can hinder the volume of requests an IP address can make within a specific timeframe, causing delays and disruptions in the scraping process.

Fortunately, there are solutions available to overcome these challenges. Coupling your web-scraping tools with comprehensive proxy products like Proxyrack will let you scrape data seamlessly without worrying about captchas, bans, and lags. Proxyrack's powerful proxies enable you to navigate IP restrictions and have uninterrupted access to the data you need.

Scalable Web Scrapping with Proxyrack

Proxyrack stands out as an exceptional choice for your data-acquisition needs, boasting a range of impressive features that set it apart. It's also committed to protecting your identity from potential malware threats.

Other key strengths of Proxyrack lie in its unwavering reliability, diverse data sources, and compatibility with all major protocols, including HTTP, HTTPS, SOCKS4, SOCKS5, and UDP.  This versatility ensures that you have a seamless fit for all your use cases so you can easily carry out any web-scraping project.

Regardless of the web-scrapping tools you use, Proxyrack is a potent ally on your data-acquisition journey. 

So start with a free trial or subscribe to one of our flexible plans and experience seamless, robust, and secure cost-effective web scraping without any compromises!

This post was written by Ifeanyi Benedict Iheagwara. Ifeanyi is a data analyst and Power Platform developer who is passionate about technical writing, contributing to open source organizations, and building communities. Ifeanyi writes about machine learning, data science, and DevOps, and enjoys contributing to open-source projects and the global ecosystem in any capacity.

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