Scraping 101: The Best Programming Languages for Web Scraping
Single board computers running Linux can be ideal tools for running custom or off-the-shelf web-scraping software as they are low-power and can happily hum away on a web-scraping project without being disturbed.
Programming languages today are so versatile that they have many different use cases. That includes web scraping, too, since programmers need to build web scraper tools used to collect valuable data from the world wide web.
If you’re interested in building your web scraper, you’re undoubtedly curious about the best programming language for that purpose. The most straightforward answer is that any programming language you’re familiar with will be the best for you to build a web scraper.
However, you may not know any programming languages or are familiar with only several. You might need a more in-depth analysis of how to use different programming languages for web scraping. You’re in the right place if you’re seeking the best programming language for scraping the web.
A little bit about web scraping
Web scraping is taking the world by storm as companies and organizations become familiar with the numerous advantages this process can bring. Before we move on, it’s essential to explain what web scraping exactly is.
Web scraping is extracting and collecting data from a website or any other online source. You export the collected information into a desirable format that you can use and store data for future reference or analysis.
For instance, you’re web scraping every time you copy and paste something from the internet, just on a microscopic level. That means you can do web scraping manually. However, automated web scraping tools are better for more extensive tasks that would otherwise cost a lot of money, require a substantial amount of resources, and take plenty of time.
Web scraping isn’t a simple task because web scrapers face numerous obstacles, such as CAPTCHAs or IP blocking, that prevent them from obtaining the available data seamlessly. Complex data formats and changing web page structures also make the process of data scraping more challenging, which is why it’s crucial to build a flexible code that you can easily adjust.
Top 5 programming languages for web scraping
The five programming languages below are the best for building a high-quality web scraper quickly and efficiently.
Python web scraping is the go-to choice for many programmers building a web scraping tool. Python is the most popular programming language today, primarily due to its simplicity and ability to handle virtually any process related to data extraction.
With the most straightforward syntax and the most extensive community of users available anytime for support, even beginners can use Python to build a web scraper.
If you need a detailed, step-by-step tutorial on building a scraper in Python, check out this article.
Another easy-to-follow programming language with a simple-to-understand syntax is Ruby. Ruby is best known for its production deployments.
In fact, many experts claim Ruby is a better choice than Python because it handles a more straightforward solution to deal with broken HTML fragments. Additionally, Ruby excels at cloud development and deployment, thus simplifying the entire process of building a scraper.
Even though C++ is usually associated with general-purpose programming, you can also use this programming language to build a web scraper.
Since C++ heavily relies on classes and inheritance, it’s easy to reuse and repurpose existing code. That’s particularly helpful when programmers need to make slight changes to their web scrapers due to the changing web page structures.
With various libraries, tools, and external APIs, Java remains to be one of the most widely used programming languages today for multiple purposes, including web scraping. While Java can support building robust web scrapers, it’s not recommended for more complex projects.
Choosing the best programming language
You can build a quality and reliable data scraper with almost any programming language. However, building a web scraping tool isn’t simple and requires a lot of time, knowledge, and skill. Therefore, becoming familiar with a specific programming language will make everything much more manageable.
If you don’t have a preferred programming language, Python web scraping is undoubtedly the way to go. In addition to being the most popular programming language today, Python will equip you with the flexibility and simplicity necessary to build a versatile and helpful web scraper.
More and more companies and entrepreneurs are becoming aware of the web scraping advantages, which explains the growing popularity of this digital data-collection process.
If you’re interested in building a web scraper but don’t know where to begin, the first step is selecting the best programming language for this particular purpose. With the top five programming languages mentioned here, it’ll be much easier to pick the best one for you.