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.
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.
Python alternatives to Scrapy
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.
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.
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?
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.