There is a large amount of data available only through websites. However, as many people have found out, trying to copy data into a usable database or spreadsheet directly out of a website can be a tiring process.
Data entry from internet sources can quickly become cost-prohibitive as the required hours add up. Clearly, an automated method for collating information from HTML-based sites can offer huge management cost savings.
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Web scrapers are programs that are able to aggregate information from the internet. They are capable of navigating the web, assessing the contents of a site, and then pulling data points and placing them into a structured, working database or spreadsheet. Many companies and services will use programs to web scrapes, such as comparing prices, performing online research, or tracking changes to online content.
Let's take a look at how web scrapers can aid data collection and management for a variety of purposes.
Improving On Manual Entry Methods
Using a computer's copy and paste function or simply typing text from a site is extremely inefficient and costly. Web scrapers are able to navigate through a series of websites, make decisions on what is important data, and then copy the info into a structured database, spreadsheet, or another program.
Software packages include the ability to record macros by having a user perform a routine once and then have the computer remember and automate those actions. Every user can effectively act as their own programmer to expand the capabilities to process websites. These applications can also interface with databases in order to automatically manage information as it is pulled from a website.