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Let’s say that you need to scrape job data from the web. Although you could do it using specific software or any other tool that doesn’t require programming, this manual approach isn’t practical for scraping multiple websites.
In such situations, you need automated scraping solutions that can quickly, easily, and safely scrape multiple data sources without getting detected, banned, or blocked. Scraping tools that don’t need coding come with various limitations and a constrained level of customization.
Thankfully, you have a range of top-rated and underrated programming languages to build your own scraping solution that can easily scrape and extract data from multiple data sources. Let’s talk about what web scraping is, how programming languages can help your scraping efforts, and the top three underrated programming languages you should know.
Web scraping explained
The term web scraping refers to the use of specialist software tools to browse the web, identify top-rated target web pages, and extract, download, and store valuable data from multiple data sources.
The use of software tools allows users to automate the entire process and build intuitive scraping bots that can extract raw and unstructured data from the web and present it to them in the preferred format. Thanks to these bots, users can scrape multiple websites simultaneously and save an incredible amount of time.
More importantly, scraping bots are equipped with a range of bypassing mechanisms that allows them to avoid security measures and being banned from the target websites. Because of their capabilities to mimic human behavior online and bypass restrictions, many businesses use web scraping.
Some of the most common use cases include:
- Product and pricing comparison;
- Competition and market research;
- Lead identification and generation;
- Business intelligence;
- Web content research.
How programming languages affect the process
Programming languages make the process of web scraping easier, safer, and more straightforward. There are a few benefits that we should mention here:
- Access to third-party libraries – programming languages give you access to third-party libraries, making the entire process of scraping the web, parsing websites, and extracting information simpler and easier. In addition, most of these libraries have vast communities of developers, where you can ask about the most effective ways to solve particular scraping problems.
- Bypassing safety mechanisms – since modern websites don’t take kindly to scrapers, you need a way around their safety and detection mechanisms. Programming languages can make your scraping bot more intuitive and capable of mimicking human behavior.
You can use it to trick target websites into believing you’re using a browser to access their pages and vary the time gaps between scraping sessions on the same site to avoid getting detected, blacklisted, or blocked.
- Cloud compatibility – in case your scraping needs require you to change your approach, programming languages give you the ability to migrate your scraping tool to the cloud quickly and with minimal effort.
Now that you have a clear understanding of what web scraping is and how programming languages make it better, let’s list the top three underrated programming languages for web scraping you should check out.
3 best alternative programming languages for scraping
Even though Golang may not be as popular as Python, PHP, Node, Ruby, or C++ since it’s relatively new, this programming language has a sharp learning curve which may be why it still hasn’t become one of the most well-known alternatives to more popular options.
However, using a Golang web scraper offers unprecedented speeds during concurrent scraping. It provides access to an array of third-party libraries, such as Colly. Golang allows you to scrape thousands of web pages in mere minutes.
One of the most significant advantages of using a Goland web scraper is that its code runs much faster than other options like Node or Python. That’s because Golang is a statistically typed and compiled programming language that has the ability to run multiple scraping threads for extracting data from websites in parallel.
To learn how to build a Golang web scraper, read the full blog post here.
Another alternative to popular programming languages for scraping that gets fairly overlooked is using a scraping tool built and managed by third-party companies. Ready-made web scrapers are open-source, mostly free scraping solutions that you can use either without the need to write code or with only a few lines of code.
Even though you can only use these tools for operations that the main software supports, they can access publicly available data sources and extract data without requiring you to do much. In addition, you can use simple lines of code to make multiple customizations and modifications according to your scraping needs.
Since there are many programming languages for web scraping, it all comes down to your level of experience, skill, and comfort with using a particular language.
While you won’t make a mistake if you use any of the popular options, such as Python or Ruby, the more alternatives you have, the more you can successfully scrape countless web pages without getting detected, banned, or blocked.
Modern-day websites tend to change their web structure almost regularly. These changes make it harder for various programming languages to access valuable content. That’s why you should arm yourself with as many alternatives as possible.