Virginia Web Scraping

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Extract Data from Multiple Web Pages into Excel using

In this tutorial, i will show you how to extract data from multiple web pages of a website or blog and save the extracted data into Excel spreadsheet for further processing.There are various methods and tools to do that but I found them complicated and I prefer to use to accomplish the doesn’t require you to have programming skills.The platform is quite powerful,user-friendly with a lot of support online and above all FREE to use.

You can use the online version of their data extraction software or a desktop application.The online version will be covered in this tutorial.

Let us get started.

Step 1:Find a web page you want to extract data from.
You can extract data such as prices, images, authors’ names, addresses,dates etc

Step 2:Enter the URL for that web page into the text box here and click “Extract data”.

Then click  “Extract data” will transform the web page into data in seconds.Data such as authors,images,posts published dates and posts title will be pulled from the web page as shown in the image below. extracted only 40 posts or articles from the first page of the blog!.
If you visit you will notice that the web page is having a total of 600+ pages at the time of writing this article and each page has 40 posts or articles on it as can be shown by the image below.
Next step will show you how to extract data from multiple pages of the web page into excel.

Step 3:Extract Data from Multiple Web Pages into Excel

Using the online tool you can extract data from 20 web pages maximum.Go to the bottom right corner of the online tool page and click “Download CSV” to save the extracted data from those 20 pages into Excel.
Note:Using the desktop application you can extract an unlimited number of pages and pin point only the data you want to extract.Check out this tutorial on how to use the desktop application.
Once you click “Download CSV” the following pop up window will appear.You can specify the number of pages you want to get data from up to a maximum of 20 pages then click “Go!”
You will need to Sign up for a free account to download that data as a CSV, or save it as an API.If you save it as an API you can go back to the API later to extract new data if the web page is updated without the need to repeat the steps we have done so far.Also, you can use the API for integration into other platforms.
Below image shows 20 rows out of 800 rows of data extracted from the 20 pages of the web page.


The online tool doesn’t offer much flexibility than the desktop application.For example, you can not extract more than 20 pages and you can not pin point the type of data you want to extract.For a more advanced tutorial on how to use the desktop application, you can check out this tutorial I created earlier.

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Monday, 11 July 2016

4 Web Scraping Tools To Save You Time On Data Extraction

Either you are working on a product website, struggling to add live data feed to your app or merely need to pull out a huge amount of online data for analysis, an accurate web scraping tool can save you loads of time and keep you sane. Here are four powerful web scraping tools to save you from copy-pasting or spending time on writing your own scripts.

Uipath  specializes in developing various process automation software including web scraping and screen scraping software for desktop and web. Uipath web scraper is perfect for non-coders and easily surpasses most common data extraction challenges including page navigation, digging through flash and even scraping PDF files. All you need to do is open the web scraping wizard and simply highlight the data you need to extract. The tool will scrape all the data following this pattern at all pages you’ve chosen and sort it accordingly. You can add as many items for scraping as you like and have them sorted in respective columns. As a result, you receive a neat Excel or CSV document with all the data eliminated from duplicates.

Moreover, Uipath isn’t just about scraping. This software can be used not only for extracting data, but to manipulate the interface of another app, thus establishing data transfers among the two of them. Basically, this tool could be used to conduct any repetitive task a human could do, yet much faster and with higher accuracy.

Pros: You can automate form filling, clicking buttons, navigation etc. Uipath scraper is impressively accurate, fast and simple to use. It “reads” all types of data on screen (JS, HTML, Silverlight and more), plus you can train the software to emulate human actions of various complexity.

Cons: Premium software runs at a premium price. Uipath is an affordable professional solution, but may be a bit too pricey for personal use.  offers you a free desktop app to help you scrap all the data you need from an unlimited amount of web pages. The service treats each page as a potential data source to generate API from. If the page you’ve submitted has been previously processed, you can access its API and get some of the data. In other case, will guide you through the process of creating the scraping matrix by building connectors (for navigation) or extractors (to pull out the needed data). Afterwards, you submit a request for extraction and it’s typically processed within 24 hours. All the data is private and you can schedule auto refreshments at any chosen period of time.

Pros: The service is easy-to-use with no tech skills needed. It can  pages with data (those that needed login/pass), plus it’s free. Minimalistic effective design and simple navigation comes along.

Cons: has hard times navigating through combinations of javascript/POST and cannot navigate from one page to another (e.g. click next, second page etc).  Sometimes, it takes over 24 hours to receive the report.  Besides, it’s a browser-only app, non-compatible with other applications.

Kimono is a popular web scraper among app developers who prefer to power up their products with live data and no additional code. It saves you tons of time when you need to fill up your app with mashing data. Install Kimono Browser bookmarklet; highlight page elements you need to and provide some positive/negative examples to train the tool. After labeling all the data you can download it in CSV/JSON/a web endpoint format. The APIs created for your pages are stored in the cloud and you can run them on schedule. So far, Kimono is free to use with pro and enterprise solutions to be launched soon.

Pros: The tool works pretty fast and works great with scraping newsfeeds and prices. The data is rather accurate.

Cons: No page navigation available and you need to spend quite a lot of time to train Kimono before it starts to pull out the multi items data accurate enough. In general, I’d say Kimono is more of an app mash-ups creator than a full-scale web scraper.

 Screen Scraper  is pretty neat and tackles a lot of difficult tasks including navigation and precise data extractions, however it requires a bit of programming/tokenization skills if you’d like to run it super smooth. Launch the software, add a proxy, start recording the list of your actions and creating extracting patterns (some coding required). Works great with HTML and Javascript, however you should test it with Citrix and other platforms. Basically, screen scraper helps you writing simple web scraping scripts and lets you download the extracted data in txt/csv/excel format.

Pros: When set correctly, there’s no data extraction tasks Screen scraper fails to handle.
Cons: The tool is pricey and you’ll have to go through documentation and have basic coding skills to use it.

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

ECJ clarifies Database Directive scope in screen scraping case

EC on the legal protection of databases (Database Directive) in a case concerning the extraction of data from a third party’s website by means of automated systems or software for commercial purposes (so called 'screen scraping').

Flight data extracted

The case, Ryanair Ltd vs. PR Aviation BV, C-30/14, is of interest to a range of companies such as price comparison websites. It stemmed from  Dutch company PR Aviation operation of a website where consumers can search through flight data of low-cost airlines  (including Ryanair), compare prices and, on payment of a commission, book a flight. The relevant flight data is extracted from third-parties’ websites by means of ‘screen scraping’ practices.

Ryanair claimed that PR Aviation’s activity:

• amounted to infringement of copyright (relating to the structure and architecture of the database) and of the so-called sui generis database right (i.e. the right granted to the ‘maker’ of the database where certain investments have been made to obtain, verify, or present the contents of a database) under the Netherlands law implementing the Database Directive;

• constituted breach of contract. In this respect, Ryanair claimed that a contract existed with PR Aviation for the use of its website. Access to the latter requires acceptance, by clicking a box, of the airline’s general terms and conditions which, amongst others, prohibit unauthorized ‘screen scraping’ practices for commercial purposes.

Ryanair asked Dutch courts to prohibit the infringement and order damages. In recent years the company has been engaged in several legal cases against web scrapers across Europe.

The Local Court, Utrecht, and the Court of Appeals of Amsterdam dismissed Ryanair’s claims on different grounds. The Court of Appeals, in particular, cited PR Aviation’s screen scraping of Ryanair’s website as amounting to a “normal use” of said website within the meaning of the lawful user exceptions under Sections 6 and 8 of the Database Directive, which cannot be derogated by contract (Section 15).

Ryanair appealed

Ryanair appealed the decision before the Netherlands Supreme Court (Hoge Raad der Nederlanden), which decided to refer the following question to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling: “Does the application of [Directive 96/9] also extend to online databases which are not protected by copyright on the basis of Chapter II of said directive or by a sui generis right on the basis of Chapter III, in the sense that the freedom to use such databases through the (whether or not analogous) application of Article[s] 6(1) and 8, in conjunction with Article 15 [of Directive 96/9] may not be limited contractually?.”

The ECJ’s ruling

The ECJ (without the need of the opinion of the advocate general) ruled that the Database Directive is not applicable to databases which are not protected either by copyright or by the sui generis database right. Therefore, exceptions to restricted acts set forth by Sections 6 and 8 of the Directive do not prevent the database owner from establishing contractual limitations on its use by third parties. In other words, restrictions to the freedom to contract set forth by the Database Directive do not apply in cases of unprotected databases. Whether Ryanair’s website may be entitled to copyright or sui generis database right protection needs to be determined by the competent national court.

The ECJ’s decision is not particularly striking from a legal standpoint. Yet, it could have a significant impact on the business model of price comparison websites, aggregators, and similar businesses. Owners of databases that could not rely on intellectual property protection may contractually prevent extraction and use (“scraping”) of content from their online databases. Thus, unprotected databases could receive greater protection than the one granted by IP law.

Antitrust implications

However, the lawfulness of contractual restrictions prohibiting access and reuse of data through screen scraping practices should be assessed under an antitrust perspective. In this respect, in 2013 the Court of Milan ruled that Ryanair’s refusal to grant access to its database to the online travel agency Viaggiare S.r.l. amounted to an abuse of dominant position in the downstream market of information and intermediation on flights (decision of June 4, 2013 Viaggiare S.r.l. vs Ryanair Ltd). Indeed, a balance should be struck between the need to compensate the efforts and investments made by the creator of the database with the interest of third parties to be granted with access to information (especially in those cases where the latter are not entitled to copyright protection).

Additionally, web scraping triggers other issues which have not been considered by the ECJ’s ruling. These include, but are not limited to trademark law (i.e., whether the use of a company’s names/logos by the web scraper without consent may amount to trademark infringement), data protection (e.g., in case the scraping involves personal data), or unfair competition.

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