Alternatives to Scrapy for web scraping in 2024

Scrapy compared with 5 alternatives for web scraping in both Python and JavaScript. Which one will you try?


What is Scrapy?

Scrapy is one of the fastest and most powerful web crawling frameworks. Written in Twisted - an event-driven framework that gives it asynchronous capabilities - Scrapy is one of the most popular choices for web scraping in Python. It allows you to extract data from multiple pages in parallel and export it.

Why use Scrapy? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Unlike many alternatives, Scrapy is designed specifically for data extraction. It has built-in support for handling requests, processing responses, and exporting data. Scrapy makes it easy for you to post-process any data you find while crawling and scraping the web. It can handle many requests at the same time, which makes scraping runs faster. It also provides the building blocks you need to build spiders for web crawling that require a minimum amount of maintenance.

That all sounds great. So, why would anyone look for Scrapy alternatives? One reason is that Scrapy is a Python library, so if you’re a JavaScript developer, you might want to know what Node.js alternatives are out there. But even for Pythonistas, Scrapy is as notorious for its disadvantages as it is famous for its strengths.

The first disadvantage is its complexity. Scrapy is known for its steep learning curve. If you’re new to web scraping, you’d probably want to go for a beginner-friendly alternative, such as Beautiful Soup.

The other disadvantage is that Scrapy cannot scrape dynamically loaded content on its own. To extract pages loaded dynamically with AJAX or data rendered using JavaScript, you’ll need to render the pages like a real user. HTML scrapers aren't capable of that, but drivers that can control headless browsers are. So, in such cases, you’ll need to pair Scrapy with a driver such as Playwright or Selenium.

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Learn more about Scrapy

5 alternatives to Scrapy for web scraping

We looked at five alternatives to Scrapy for both Python and JavaScript:

  1. Beautiful Soup
  2. Selenium
  3. Playwright
  4. Cheerio
  5. Crawlee

The table below is a basic comparison between them and Scrapy for ease of use, language support, browser automation, scalability, support for dynamic content, and more.

Python alternatives to Scrapy

1. Beautiful Soup

Beautiful Soup is a popular Python library for parsing HTML and easily navigating or modifying a DOM tree. However, parsing is only one aspect of web scraping, so it isn’t a full-featured web scraping library. Beautiful Soup is renowned for being user-friendly and much easier to learn than Scrapy. Extracting HTML and XML elements from a web page requires only a few lines of code, making it ideal for tackling simple scraping tasks with speed. However, its lack of asynchronous support means that it isn’t great for scalability and large web scraping projects.

Is Scrapy better than Beautiful Soup?‌‌

For beginners and small projects, Beautiful Soup is a better option. For scalability, Scrapy beats Beautiful Soup.

Learn more about Beautiful Soup

2. Selenium

Selenium is an open-source suite of tools to automate web browsers across multiple platforms. It has a huge community largely due to its age and wide-ranging language support. Though it was primarily developed for web testing, it’s commonly used for scraping due to its ability to control headless browsers, render JavaScript on a page, and scrape dynamic websites. ‌‌

Nonetheless, given it wasn’t designed for web scraping, it isn’t the most user-friendly option, nor is it ideal for large-scale data extraction, as scraping large amounts of data is slow and inefficient in comparison with other alternatives.

‌‌Is Scrapy better than Selenium?

For scalability, Scrapy wins again. But Selenium wins for its cross-language support and efficiency in scraping dynamic content (though scraping dynamic content is possible with Scrapy via plugins).

Learn more about Selenium

3. Playwright

Since its launch in 2020, Playwright has been rapidly growing in popularity among Pythonistas and JS fans alike due to its cross-browser and multi-language support, ease of use, and other cool modern features. Although it’s primarily for controlling browsers, its versatility and auto-awaiting function make it a very popular choice for data extraction. If it’s Python you want, check out the Playwright for Python documentation.

Is Scrapy better than Playwright?

Although Playwright is a JavaScript and Node.js library, its consistent support of Python makes it worth comparing to Scrapy. As with Selenium, Playwright outperforms Scrapy on the dynamic content front. Yet Scrapy remains the better option for scalability.

Learn more about Playwright

JavaScript alternatives to Scrapy

4. Cheerio

You could say that Cheerio is the JavaScript/TypeScript counterpart to Beautiful Soup, inasmuch as it's an XML and HTML parser rather than a full-fledged web scraping library. Cheerio is easy to learn if you already know jQuery. It offers great flexibility and works with a simple and consistent DOM model that makes it highly efficient at parsing and rendering.‌‌

Learn more about Cheerio

5. Crawlee

Crawlee is the only Scrapy alternative on our list that is a full-fledged web scraping and browser automation library. The browser automation part is significant, as this makes it an even more complete web scraping library than Scrapy. ‌‌

When it comes to web data extraction, Crawlee has a couple of significant advantages over other alternatives. It's more efficient than Scrapy in extracting dynamic content and offers the capability of browser fingerprint generation, which is imperative to avoid blocking. Blocking and dynamic content are the two biggest challenges for modern web scraping.‌‌

Crawlee makes HTTP requests that mimic browser headers and TLS fingerprints. It lets you easily switch your crawlers from HTTP to headless browsers, automatically manages concurrency based on available system resources, smartly rotates proxies, and more.‌‌

Learn more about Crawlee

Explore this open-source web scraping library for JavaScript and Typescript via the short video below.

Crawlee: the ultimate JavaScript alternative to Scrapy

Let's recap

While many of the alternatives presented here are ideal for specific needs, Scrapy remains the most powerful and complete Python library for web scraping. However, when it comes to JavaScript, Crawlee stands out as the most complete and versatile library for both web scraping and browser automation. With over 12,000 stars on GitHub (and counting) since its launch in the summer of 2022, it's clearly meeting the needs of web scraping developers.

Theo Vasilis
Theo Vasilis
Writer, Python dabbler, and crafter of web scraping tutorials. Loves to inform, inspire, and illuminate. Interested in human and machine learning alike.

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