A free beginners guide on what is data scraping

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How data extraction tools can empower your company and applications.


What Is Data Extraction/ Data Scraping?

Data extraction is a form of business automation technology that gives your company the ability to extract information from the internet—such as invoices, payroll information, product reviews, contact information, etc.—and export it to your company’s platforms, websites, apps, and internal documents. The modern app and business market is entirely data-driven, with apps such as Uber having to interface with GPS data, driving data, food data, user data, etc. to offer their marketable functionality. This relevant data can be gathered automatically through data extraction software. So, naturally, if your company is creating a platform that seeks to be integrated with other systems and databases, as many do, considering data extraction as an option is invaluable. This automation technology is also known to massively boost productivity in the execution of repetitive, tedious tasks that are prone to human error, additionally aiding business leaders in their decision making as all of the company’s pertinent information can be delivered to them automatically via, for example, QuickBooks or Google Drive. This technology has powerful ramifications for enabling company research and smoothing out any company’s daily workflow, and it is more accessible than ever with The SilverLogic’s solution architecture and tech expertise.

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How Does Data Extraction Work?

Data extraction, or web scraping, requires that tech experts examine the HTML source code of a given website to be able to extract useful information from it. This source code can be revealed through most computer web browsers by pressing Ctrl+U or the F12 key—feel free to try it while visiting any website. The SilverLogic’s team of software developers can effectively comb through this frontend code with proficiency, using programming libraries such as Regex and Beautiful Soup to decode and extract whatever data a company needs. There are two kinds of websites that can be scraped: basic and dynamic. Basic websites are static and straightforward, and scraping them is akin to simply reading a web article. Dynamic websites are more complex and have more moving parts, such as slideshows, live feeds, and social media integration. Both types can be efficiently scraped for any information you may use with a well-developed web scraper that is tailored to your company’s needs.

A web scraper automates this process, as this custom software runs as frequently as needed and automatically downloads information relevant to your company from predetermined internet sources. This data can then be exported to and seamlessly integrated with any platforms or systems that your company uses, such as QuickBooks or Google Sheets, to present relevant information in the most convenient way possible. It can naturally also be integrated with a company’s websites, applications, internal documentation, or general software.

For example, The SilverLogic has collaborated with companies to integrate their applications with internet data such as IMDb film and series information. One of The SilverLogic’s notable past projects was a website application for collecting recipes. This web app’s users have the ability to import recipes from notable food sites, such as The Cooking Channel website, simply by inputting the URL of a recipe they found. This is possible through a tailor-made web scraper. The web scraper visits the website URL and extracts useful data from it, exporting it to the platform. This information includes recipe images, sources, directions, required materials, prep time, etc. Another of The SilverLogic’s past company projects interfaces with Comcast’s API to extract data concerning scheduled movies, such as when they are airing, in order for our software to record them automatically once they do. The possibilities for platform development and productivity boosting are endless.

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What Information Is Available?

Interested in monetizing their information, most websites want consumers to have to stop by their platform in order to see the advertisements that fund their platform. As such, any website that relies heavily on user traffic may be more difficult to scrape for data, as they may design their website’s code to randomly change every so often, such as with machine-generated class names, for example. Certain other platforms, such as Twitter, have banned it in their terms of use, with the additional intent of banning Twitter bots, a controversial form of mass media manipulation that is separate from web scrapers. This becomes even more difficult for websites to enforce as conventional captcha prompts, to prove a user’s humanity, are often beaten by modern A.I. Even if the captcha is particularly advanced, such as Google’s, captcha solvers (remote human workers who manually fill in captcha prompts for an A.I.) often help bypass website restrictions. However, for the purposes of company research and data collection, data extraction is perfectly legal and possible with modern technology.

However, with frequently changing websites, web scrapers also have to be updated occasionally to continue working at maximum efficiency. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you pursue this technology with a long-term ally in tech support, such as The SilverLogic. Our team of experts is prepared to work closely with you throughout the development process and will remain available afterwards for your technical needs, with updates and long-term support.

The Secret Power of Data Extraction

Within this technology is the most powerful aspect of data extraction: the ability to automatically simulate user behavior on a website. As one of The SilverLogic’s DevOps experts puts it, “If you can do it on a website, it [web scrapers] can do it. A hundred times faster than you can.” The best example of this powerful versatility is with one of The SilverLogic’s previous clients: a brokering company. This company was manually downloading around 20,000 invoices monthly from 1,700 distinct websites, which accounted for a devastating amount of effort, time, and resources spent on a tedious task that could be easily messed up through human error. Naturally, they wanted a tech solution that would boost their productivity. Working closely with this company, The SilverLogic’s team of solution architects and software developers designed a web scraper that could routinely check these websites once a month for invoices, would verify which ones were new or updated, and would download them for the company, in the same way that a user would press the download button on each website. By simulating user behavior, repetitive internet tasks can be automated. In the case of this brokering company, 20,000 invoices monthly, or 240,000 yearly, would now be delivered to their platform automatically within only a minuscule fraction of the time it would require a human worker.

Is Data Extraction For You?

If you are a business leader looking to boost company productivity, automate repetitive tasks, facilitate research, or develop an application, data extraction may very well be the key to your success. The technology is powerful and robust, and the applications are endless. For more information, please click here to schedule a meeting with The SilverLogic’s experts to see how new technologies can provide the tools you need for your business to succeed.

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