Best Browser Automation Tools For Web Scraping 2022: Selenium, Playwright, Puppeteer

By Admin @February, 23 2022

best browser automation tools for web scraping 2022: selenium, playwright, puppeteer

Best Browser Automation Tools For Web Scraping 2022: How to decide ?

 

What are Browser Automation tools?

Browser automation tools are technologies created to allow users automate the web browser like a real user. For example doing repetitive tasks online, testing websites, doing error-prone tasks or web scraping. Browser Automation tools for scraping are one of the best solutions for extracting data at a faster and more efficient rate. Check out our collection of the best automation tools for scraping. 

 

Why use Browser Automation tools for web scraping?

Web scraping can be done via several ways like using a website API but most websites do not have one, even the ones which have one set limits on how you use this API. Scraping manually by copying, and clicking though hundreds of pages is definitely a way to ensure you capture all the data, but this is error prone and could take you hours upon hours. Imagine you could have a program that could mimic the same human steps you would perform on a browser? This are what browser automation tools essentially do for web scraping.

We are going to talk about these tools, and how you can use them to maximize data collection for commercial use. Let us begin...

 

Browser Automation Tools and Headless Browsers

Automation tools for data scraping are the most effieicent way of obtaining data from multiple web sources. The major benefit of these tools is that they offer extensive services with very little interference in the process.

However, you may still need to spend some time on the initial setup and researching the right tool for your project. Therefore, we have compiled some of the best options we could find out in the industry and have listed them for your understanding and reference. Make sure you read through the complete article..

 

Factors to Consider when Choosing a browser Automation Tools

  • Scalability: As your web scraping scales you to ensure the tool can scale with you
  • Compatibility across programming languages/Platforms: Any automation tool should support the major languages
  • Compatibility across Operating systems: Consider if the tool will support other OS as you grow
  • Cross-browser and device support :You must consider if the tool will work with your preferred browser
  • Ease of creating test scripts: How technical do you need to be to get going? do they support IDEs, have frameworks, libraries etc
  • Maintenance: How easily can you identify issues? do you need to become and expert
  • Price: You need to understand when to go for open source or choose a licensed one

 

List of Best Browser Automation Tools for Web Scraping

Following are the most effective tools for scraping data online.

  • Selenium
  • Puppeteer
  • Playwright
  • Cypress
  • Headless browsers; Phantom JS

 

In this article we will review these individually and help guide you on which is best for your specific use-case/project

 

Selenium

Selenium is an open-source test automation tool that can be used for data scraping. It is by far the most popular test automation framework and also very popular for web scraping. Selenium requires advanced programming language skills and can support various programming languages including Python, Java and C#. All of its products are released under the Apache 2.0 license. It is completely free for download and use, as you can modify the existing code according to your project requirements. However, it is not legal to sell the modified code.

The tools provide support for various languages; these include Java, C#, Perl, Python, Ruby, and PHP. Furthermore, it provides services for various operating systems as well. These include MS Windows, Macintosh, and Linux etc. Selenium scripts can also run and are supported on several browsers including: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox & Safari

 It also supports parallel test execution, making it one of the best options for online scraping tools. Lastly, the software requires lesser hardware tools, making it financial for most online sites.

However, there are a few drawbacks of this scraping tool as well. These may include no real technical support, support for web-based applications only, requires a longer time for testing, and provide limited resources for image testing.

The biggest selling point for Selenium is the large community that has been around for a long time, this means plenty of help articles, documentation, free resources and peer to peer support.

 

Puppeteer

Pupeeteer is a Node.js library developed by Google in 2018, which provides a high-level API that grants control over the Development protocol for tools. Puppeteer only runs on Node.js and does not require any specific IDE

Puppeteer is a headless browser by default but you can also configure it to run headless which means that all the background activities can be done with Chrome running in the background. Puppeteer also lets you use your keyboard, mouse, and touch devices to interact with your applications while they're running in the browser.

Puppeteer doesnt provide very savvy options for users who want portability. However, it provides maximum options for others that prioritize speed and performance for scraping processes. Moreover, the software provides additional control over Chrome, as compared to other scraping tool options that you may find.

It can also take screenshots and PDFs for UI testing. It can also help calculate the rendering and load times using its extensive Chrome Performance Analysis Tool. All of these features have allowed Selenium to provide tough competition to other scraping tools in the market.

 You should check out the table below to understand the complete features of this tool:

Selenium Data Scraper

Features

Browser Support

Chrome, Mozilla, Safari, IE, Opera

Coding Skills

Required for Selenium Web driver but not Selenium IDE

Community Support

Wide community support over multiple forums

Cross-Platform Support

Yes

Execution Speed

Relatively Slower than other options

Installation and Setup

Relatively complex for a new user

Programming Language Support

Java, Python, Node.js & C#

Recording

Yes with Selenium IDE

Screenshots

Image support only

Testing Platform Support

Web and Mobile with Appium

 

 

 

Playwright

Playwright is a testing and automation framework that automates web browsers to scrap data online. You need to provide the software with a basic code to open the browser and it does the rest for you. It provides ideal execution time, making it fast for larger scraping tasks. It provides complete support for most browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, etc. It currently supported by Microsoft

 You can also various kinds of coding languages for instructing the tool. These include Node.js, Python, Java, and. NET.

The extensive documentation option with Playwright is the most interesting feature of the tool. Furthermore, it allows using proxies using other programs like Chromium. It is quite efficient for most developers, as it is user-friendly and offers wider operations to complete scraping tasks faster.

Additionally, the tool also offers a small yet active community, discussion threads, and FAQ sections. All of this makes Playwright a good option for scraping information. Refer to the table for its basic features and rating.

Category

Playwright Rating

Execution time

Fast and Reliable

Documentation

Excellent

Developer Experience

Very Good

Community

Small but active community.

 

 

Cypress

Cypress is a reliable testing framework that can test anything that runs on a web browser. It is most popularly used to handle modern font-end technologies like JavaScript, React, Angular and Elm

Cypress is a free, open-sourcelocally installed Test Runner and a Dashboard Service for recording your tests. It aims to restrict the hurdles that the engineers and developers face while testing web applications based on React and Angular JS. But most web scraping developers use this for web scraping

Cypress is often compared to Selenium but to be clear it does not use selenium at all; Cypress differs architecturally from selenium, Whereas Selenium executes remote commands through the network, Cypress runs in the same run-loop as your application.

Cypress also differs to Selenium in regards to installation. Cypress does not need any configuration compared to Selenium. All you have to do is install the .exe, all the dependencies and drivers will be installed and configured automatically. This will allow you to get started in just a few minutes.

Although Cypress is open source it does have PAID features

 

Headless Browsers

Headless browsers are like any other browser that allows scraping tools to search ad refine the information, but they do not use a GUI (Graphical User Interface). However, the JavaScript, rendering, networking component, and other essentials of a browser are still available in it.

These headless browsers are highly effective for testing web pages as they allow users to understand HTML similar to how a normal browser would. This also includes the styling elements of these browsers, including the color options, font, layout, etc.

Similarly, the execution of JavaScript and AJAX is also available, which are difficult to find with traditional browsers.

Thus, you can use headless browsers to test automation in web apps and take screenshots of web pages. You can run automated tests for the JavaScript libraries and scrape websites for data. It can also provide DDOS attacks on web pages and increase the advertisement impressions on the web pages.  These headless browsers have been around since 2009 and continue to play a vital role in the world of scraping.

 

Phantom JS

Phantom JS is a headless browser and requires no browser to operate. You cannot see it on the browser screen but rather on the command prompt. It offers to work with various functionalities including:

·        CSS Handling

·        DOM Manipulation

·        JSON

·        Ajax

·        Canvas

·        SVG

It allows users to write on a file, upload a file, take a screenshot, and convert a web page into a PDF, and several other options. Know that the tool does not have a GUI, which means you will execute all instructions through the command line.

 The program uses a WebKit, which provides an environment like other famous browsers. These include Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, etc. However, the program does not support Flash or Video. 

You can use it to complete automation, headless testing, network monitoring, and screen capture, making it a good option for an online scraping tool.

 

Bottom Line

Using Automation tools for scraping is a good way to maximize data collection efficiency. However, you will need advanced programming knowledge to be able to install and build custom solutions side by side with your web scraper.  

At WebAutomation.io, we remove the hassle of dealing with all this and take care of building scrapers and handling all the infrastructure and maintenance so all you need is a starter link on your target website to get the data you need as an exportable CSV, XLSX, XML, or JSON file.

This lets you focus on using the data rather than getting the data.

WEBAUTOMATION.IO PRE-DEFINED EXTRACTORS

We aim to make the process of extracting web data quick and efficient so you can focus your resources on what's truly important, using the data to achieve your business goals All our extractors integrate captcha solvers so you dont have to worry about this. In our marketplace, you can choose from hundreds of pre-defined extractors (PDEs) for the world's biggest websites. These pre-built data extractors turn almost any website into a spreadsheet or API with just a few clicks. The best part? We build and maintain them for you so the data is always in a structured form.  .

 

 

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