Scraper APIs, What Exactly Are They?

As developers include new features in websites to make them more user-friendly, responsive, and interactive, several challenges that impact data extraction are cropping up. For instance, websites are increasingly using JavaScript as part of a concerted effort to include dynamic content therein.

However, JavaScript is a huge hurdle for conventional web scrapers, which are designed to parse HTML files. To deal with this and other problems, service providers have developed advanced solutions, one of which is the scraper API.

What Is A Scraper API?

A scraper API is a web-based application programming interface that enables developers to embed web scraping solutions into their software or websites. The integration enables third-party developers to access all the capabilities of advanced web scrapers without having to write the entire code from scratch.

This arrangement not only eliminates the need for in-house maintenance but also guarantees success whenever they decide to extract data from websites. 

This is because the scraper API provider usually includes tools that deal with anti-scraping techniques and any challenge that would otherwise hinder the operations of conventional web scrapers. These tools include:

  • Proxy rotators backed by a wide proxy and IP address network
  • CAPTCHA puzzle solvers
  • JavaScript rendering
  • Parsing capabilities that automatically adapt to the website
  • Data delivery using the JSON format
  • Integrated headless browsers, which contain headers and user agents
  • Custom cookies

Capabilities Of Scraper APIs

The built-in tools detailed above impart the scraper API with numerous capabilities. These include:

1. Bypassing Geo-Restrictions And Accessing Localized Content

Usually, websites such as video streaming platforms, search engines, and e-commerce sites present country-level or even city-level content. This means that the results vary from one country or city to another.

For this reason, companies that develop scraper APIs usually offer a vast network of proxies and IP addresses that enable their customers to access such geo-restricted content.

2. Resolving Anti-Scraping Measures

The network of IP addresses, backed by the proxy rotators, also serves another function. It limits the number of requests sent using a single IP address. This ensures that the web servers do not detect unusual traffic originating from a given network, which usually leads to blocking.

At the same time, scraper APIs use headless browsers, which send headers, user agents, and custom cookies as part of the outgoing requests. The headers identify the browser used, and the type and version of the operating system, among other data points.

In this regard, the presence of headers “tricks” the web servers into assuming that a real user is behind the web requests. This reduces the probability of being blocked.

3. Extracting Data from Complex Websites

While JavaScript promotes the interactivity of websites, it complicates the process of web scraping. Conventional web scrapers are designed to extract data from HTML or XML files. This means that they are not well suited for JavaScript-heavy websites. 

However, scraper APIs are different. They utilize headless browsers, which accord them JavaScript rendering capabilities. As such, scraper APIs can be used to extract data from dynamically changing sites that are developed using a lot of JavaScript code.

4. Ability to Handle Any Website

Scraper APIs have advanced parsing capabilities. In fact, their parsers adapt to the layout of each site, regardless of the complexity or amount of information therein. As such, they can easily and seamlessly clean up data as well as convert it into a structured website.

This capability comes in handy when scraping data from e-commerce sites, which comprise thousands of products, each with numerous data points. For instance, every product has a title, description, price, and review.

5. High Uptime

The role of creating and maintaining the web extraction solutions is the reserve of scraper API providers and not the business using the tools. Experienced in the development of such tools, the providers often regularly update and maintain their systems.

This guarantees high uptime and reliability. It also makes sure that the scraping solutions evolve according to emerging trends. 

In contrast, custom web scrapers do not offer such capabilities. Instead, the developers, who are mandated with creating and maintaining the tools, also have to see to it that the bots are also working as they should.

In addition, they have to monitor the extraction, which may prove overwhelming when combined with these tasks, meaning it may be impossible to resolve issues as soon as they arise quickly.

6. Data Delivery

In addition to extracting and parsing the data, the scraper APIs convert it into a usable format, such as JSON or .csv. It then delivers the file directly to the client’s software or web-based application, relying on the integration between the two platforms and the communication facilitated by the API.

Thanks to these numerous capabilities, companies that purchase scraper APIs enjoy numerous benefits that they would miss out on if they had selected other web scraping solutions.

Conclusion

A scraper API is an advanced solution that is integrated into third-party systems, giving them extra web scraping capabilities beyond the purpose for which they are primarily designed.

This solution boasts numerous capabilities and is preferred for its high uptime, reliability, ability to bypass geo-restrictions and anti-scraping techniques, and more.

Frances
Frances
Skip to content