What Is Web Scraping?

Web scraping, or web data extraction, is the process of extracting publicly available web data using automated tools – web scrapers. This information is usually returned in a structured format and used for repurposing or analysis. Businesses use this data to build new solutions like apps and websites or make better decisions based on patterns and insights from the collected data.

What is a Web Scraping Tool?

Web scraping tools or web scrapers are software solutions designed specifically to access, scrape and organize hundreds, thousands, or even millions of data points from websites and APIs, and export the data into a useful format – typically a CSV or JSON file.

These tools can either be out-of-the-box solutions (pre-built scrapers) or scripts built using a programming language and their corresponding scraping libraries (like Python’s Beautiful Soup or JavaScript’s Cheerios.

A Simple Example

Let’s say that you want to create a Twitter bot that publishes quotes from humanity’s greatest minds. You could definitely read a lot of books and manually create a database with all the quotes your bot will use, or better yet, you can scrape all the phrases from different websites and automate the whole process.

scraping quotes with a simple web scraper

For this scenario, we’ll build a simple scraper that extracts the quotes from the first page of https://quotes.toscrape.com/ using Python and Beautiful Soup:

import requests
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
url = 'https://quotes.toscrape.com/'

response = requests.get(url)
soup = BeautifulSoup(response.content, 'html.parser')

all_quotes = soup.find_all('div', class_= 'quote')
for quote in all_quotes:
   quote_text = 
quote.find('span', class_= 'text').text

Here’s the result after running this script:

simple sraper script example

If you’d like to learn how to build a scraper from scratch, check out our Python web scraping tutorial for beginners or take one of the best web scraping courses for Python and JavaScript.

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