Collecting email addresses, competitive analysis, website overhauls, pricing analysis, customer data collection; these are just a few reasons why you might need to extract text and other data from HTML documents. Unfortunately, doing this by hand is painfully slow, and in some cases simply impossible. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools that can be used for this purpose. The following seven ‘scraping’ tools range from extraordinarily simple tools that are designed for beginner users and small projects to advanced tools that require coding knowledge and are intended for larger, more difficult tasks.
Iconico HTML Text Extractor
You are on a website of a competitor, and you want to pull out the text, or look at the HTML behind the scenes. Unfortunately, right click has been disabled. So has your ability to copy and paste. Many web developers are now taking steps to disable view source and otherwise lock down their pages. Fortunately, Iconico has an HTML text extractor that you can use to bypass all of that. Even better, the product is super easy to use. You’ll be able to highlight and copy text, and the extraction feature simply runs as you surf.
UiPath has a suite of process automation tools. This includes a web scraping utility. To use the tool, and get practically any data you wish, simply pull up the page, go to the design menu in the tool, and click on web scraping. In addition to the web scraping tool, the screen scraping tool allows you to pull off any content from a web page. Using both of these tools means that you can grab text, table data, and other pertinent information from any web page.
Mozenda allows users to extract, web data, and that export that information to a variety of business intelligence tools. Not only can it scrape text, it can pull out images, files, and content from pdf files. Then, it exports that information to xml files, csv files, Json, or users can opt to use the API. Once extracted, and exported, you can use your BI tools for analysis and reporting purposes.
This one is pretty bare bones, but in some cases it’s all you need for your custom writing. This online tool extracts text from HTML source code, or even just a URL. All you have to do is copy and paste, provide a URL, or upload a file. Select the options button to let the tool know the output format that you want and a few other details. Click on convert, and you will have the text information that you need.
Octoparse features a point and click user interface. Users with no previous coding knowledge can extract data from websites and send it to a variety of file formats. This includes the ability to pull emails from pages, job listings from job boards, and much more. The tool works on dynamic and static web pages as well as on cloud data. There is a free version of the tool which should be perfectly effective for most, and a paid version that is a bit more feature rich.
If you are scraping websites in order to conduct competitive analysis, you may have been banned because of this activity. Octoparse contains a feature that cycles your IP address, making it difficult to recognize and ban you via your IP.
This free, open source tool uses web crawlers to extract information from websites. Using this tool does require some advanced skills, and coding knowledge. However, if you are willing to work your way past the learning curve, Scrapy is ideal for large web extraction projects. The tool has been used by CareerBuilder and other major brands. Finally, because it is an open source tool, there is a lot of good community support available to users.
Kimono is a free tool that takes unstructured data from web pages, and extracts that information into structured formats such has xml files. The tool can be used interactively, or you can create a scheduled job to pull the data that you need at a specific time. You can extract data from search engine results, web pages, even slideshare presentations. Most importantly, as you are setting up each workflow, Kimono creates an API. This means that when you return to a website to extract more data, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
If you are struggling with a task that requires you to pull unstructured data from one or more web pages, at least one of the tools on this list should contain the solution that you need. Even better, you should be able to find what you need here, no matter what your price point is. Simply check them out, and determine which one is best for you. Remember that businesses thrive on big data, and your ability to collect the information that you need matters.