Web scraping is an automatic method that extracts large amounts of data from websites. This proves to be extremely convenient when you’re dealing with large-scale data collection. Sure, the process can be done manually, but it would take ages and an entire dedicated team to complete a task of such size quickly. Instead, web scraping makes everything much easier by employing intelligent automation methods to get this data in a much shorter amount of time.
One company offering excellent web scraping services today is Octoparse. In this review, we take a closer look at its dedicated tool for extracting data from the Web.
Note: This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Octoparse. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.
Simple to Use, Yet as Efficient as They Come
Octoparse is an easy-to-use web scraping tool that collects web data and exports it to formats of your choice. This includes Excel, HTML, TXT, CSV, and databases like MySQL, SQL Server, and Oracle. Best of all, Octoparse doesn’t require any coding knowledge, so anyone can easily learn to use this data-mining software. The service works with both static and dynamic websites.
Octoparse can be used to extract various kinds of data, such as product data from major e-commerce websites like Amazon, eBay, Target, Walmart and similar. Additionally, Octaparse can be employed to collect posts, images or comments from all major social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.
The software can also track hotel prices, ratings, and reviews from popular travel sites like Booking.com or TripAdvisor, as well as scan job boards, such as Indeed, Linkedin, and Glassdoor, and pull out relevant info.
Octoparse comes in the form of a Windows (XP, 7, 8, 10) or macOS (10.10 and above) application, which users need to download and install on their devices.
For those who aren’t all that familiar with web scraping, Octoparse requires a moderate time investment to start using it. Fortunately, its creators provide a rich library of tutorials that effectively teach users how to start extracting data.
Tutorials Are Your Friend
Whenever you’re in doubt, go to the Tutorials page on Octoparse’s official webpage. From the Home screen in Octoparse, click on the Next button in the lower part of the display next to the two tutorial thumbnails.
Search the library for whatever issue you’re facing. Some of the top videos you should watch cover topics such as:
- Octoparse basics
- Optimize your data
- Get data
Octoparse operates using two modes. The first is called Template mode and provides users with the possibility to create tasks (or scrapers) based on various templates.
With Advanced mode, users can extract data from any website they want by using a flexible configuration. This is actually the mode you want to be using, as it allows you to gather data from all kinds of websites and is capable of extracting data behind logins, keyword searching and more.
Setting Up Advanced Mode
Setting up Advanced mode in Octoparse is not as scary as it sounds. First, you need to decide which website you want to scrape information from. For example, let’s say you require a list of accommodations in an area. The list should be complete with addresses, phone numbers and websites.
The scraping process in Octoparse begins by entering the targeted webpage’s URL in the application. The page will load inside the program.
Next, Octoparse will automatically detect the web page data and extract the relevant information from the page. You can view the results in the lower part of the display.
Below, you can check whether Octoparse has included all the required information. You can delete certain fields you don’t need simply by tapping on the Recycle Bin button.
In order to ensure Octoparse scrapes data from all pages of the website, you also have to set up a “Pagination loop.” Locate the Next page / View more button on the website and click on it.
A series of suggested actions will show up in the orange Tips box in the lower-right corner of the display. Select the “Click on ‘Load more’ button” option. Once activated, the workflow will get updated to include the new pagination loop.
Get Guidance from the Tips
If Octoparse didn’t select the data you need automatically, you can pick it out yourself manually. You will have to create a second loop item so that Octoparse can click on every item in the list and select the data to scrape. After you’ve configured all these steps, everything is ready for the scraping to begin.
Users can do the extraction in two different ways: on their local machine with Local extraction or in the cloud with Cloud extraction. The second option is available only for premium users. While the first one can do a good job, the process can be limited by the user’s network speed and hardware capacity.
In our experience, setting up a task with Octoparse was quick and painless after watching a few tutorials to understand the basics of how the software operates. The extraction results were accurate overall, and we had no problem saving them in an Excel file.
Octoparse features are comprehensive and far-reaching, so you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time using the program before you familiarize yourself with all of them. The services expand beyond mere data extraction. You can use the software to refine the data you’ve obtained as well.
For example, by using the RegEx tool, it will generate regular expressions to replace matched strings in the extracted data with the string(s) you want.
Where Can I Get Octoparse?
Octoparse is available in three versions: Free, Standard and Professional. The Standard plan costs $75/month, while the Professional one unlocks it for $209. An Enterprise option with customized features is also offered.
The Free tier (surprisingly) includes many functionalities, but if you want to use the more advanced options, you’ll want to switch to a paid subscription. Only with a Standard or Professional account will you be able to do things like:
- Extract video
- Get access to the Cloud Service (API creation, cloud extraction, IP rotation, schedule extractions, perform concurrent tasks on a local machine, split the task in Cloud extraction, etc.)
- Perform incremental extractions
- Split the task in Cloud extractions
- Display error messages during the extraction process
Companies looking for a professional web scraping tool will of course opt for a Standard or Professional plan. Comparatively, the Free plan is limited to a low number of tasks and concurrent runs. Additionally, it can only export up to 10,000 records. Regardless, for personal and small-scale projects, the Free tier should be more than enough.
If you want to give Octoparse a try, then go ahead and visit the official website and download the software. You can always use the Free version first to see if you like it and later upgrade to a paid plan.