The tremendous growth of the internet and its impact on technologies has increased rapidly in recent years. The main attraction is the creation of user-friendly applications. In the course of the development of the application, system-to-system integration is one of its parts. Developers experience difficulty in employing the system-to-system integration and end up spending more time on it. To avoid the investment of inevitable time, developers use web scraping tools for integration with a specific application. The ideal choice for web scraping is Playwright. However, the question may rise here “why Playwright is an ideal choice for web scraping?”
The present blog deals with answering the above question. So, let’s get started by getting a quick overview of web scraping and Playwright.
Quick view on Web scraping
Retrieving data from a website seems to be simple and easy. Only you have to perform a quick google search and copy the information. For example, if you want information on the president of the United States, you can google the information, and copy it from Wikipedia to your specific file. However, consider extracting a large set of information from a website and that too in a quick manner. In such circumstances, copy and paste won’t be an ideal choice. In this case, all you need to do is web scraping.
Currently, for extraction of large amounts of data from websites using web scraping approach. It uses the intelligence automation method to retrieve millions of data sets in just a few minutes. Sound interesting, let’s get more deeper into web scraping details from the below points
- Web scraping is understood as an automatic approach for extracting a large set of data from websites.
- Data from the website is unstructured in an HTML format web scraping converts it into a structured format in a database or spreadsheet so that it can run in different applications.
- Different ways of performing web scraping for obtaining data from websites include:
- Using online services.
- Creating code for web scraping from scratch.
- Web scraping needs two different parts:
- Crawler: It is an artificial intelligence algorithm offering to search for specific data needed by following the links through web browsing.
- Scraper: It is a tool developed to retrieve data from a particular website.
Having an overview of web Scraping, all you need to learn is “how do web Scraping actually work?” This will give insight into its functioning and technicality.
Working on web Scraping
Knowing about web Scraping is incomplete without knowing its ways of working. As per the need of the user, web Scraping extracts the required data. It is best when data is specified by the users. It follows the below steps to scrape a site:
- URLs are provided
- HTML codes loads on those sites
- Parsing the website’s code
- Data is obtained from this HTML code and provided in the specified format by users.
Currently, to accomplish the above process, various tools are used and among those Playwright is popular in the market. For developers and software engineers, Playwright is the ideal choice for web Scraping. Before moving into Playwright, let’s explore headless browsers used for web scraping.
Headless browsers and web scraping
Browser without any User Interface is a headless browser. The main advantage of lacking a User Interface is less need for resources and is capable to run on its server easily. It is especially useful while scraping data from different web pages instantly.
Quick view on Playwright
The playwright is a web automation testing tool that helps for automating end to end testing of web browsers. It is Node.js library with a single API and automates Firefox, Chromium, and WebKit. Following are the features of the Playwright:
- Multi-browsers support.
- Multi-Language Support.
- No trade-offs and limits.
- Auto-waits actions.
- Can test mobile web.
Playwright-Ideal choice for web scraping
The purpose of web scraping is crucial in a software organization as it gives required data in little time. The most common type of data may include videos, text, customer sentiments, reviews, and images. For this web, scraping requires a headless browser. This involves the role of the playwright. Some of the crucial reason on why Playwright is an ideal choice for web scraping is highlighted in the below given points:
- It is a cross-browser headless browser automation solution that makes it appropriate for web scraping.
- Runs as a complete browser and mocks human browsing behavior like writing text.
- Does not send individual HTTP requests which can complicate the process of web scraping.
- Playwright mimics human browsing behavior by bypassing anti-bot technologies and eliminating bans and IP blocks.
- Offer easy scrape dynamic websites waiving reverse-engineer process.
Developers often experience many advantages of using Playwright, unlike other frameworks for web scraping. Such not only help in being updated with web scraping but also offers a seamless experience with its utmost performance. Next section, we will discuss such advantages.
Advantages of using Playwright for web scraping
The ideal choice of web scraping should consider the seamless process of execution and extraction of data from the website, no matter whether it is simple or complex data. It ponders on the crucial benefit that Playwright offers. Here, some of the advantages are highlighted that make Playwright an ideal choice for web scraping:
- Playwright offers an easy setup
To execute and build the program you only need to include a few lines of code with Playwright.
- Allows seamless automation
Multiple pages, frames, and domains are used together with Playwright and support different uploads and downloads.
- Offer outstanding speed
Considering easy setup and quick deployment with Playwright, it collects a large set of data in less time from the point it is downloaded.
- Provide support for diverse data types
Playwright is utilized for diverse types of web scraping showing the ability to extract page elements and images along with that it takes screenshots. It involves the page.screenshot method. With such a method, it is easy to take different screenshots of the webpage. Screenshots can also be limited to a specific portion of the screen.
- XPath expression selectors
One of the best features of Playwright that make it an ideal choice for web scraping is the capability to target and query DOM elements with XPath expression. You should know what exactly is XPath Expression. Simply, it is a defined pattern utilized for selecting a set of nodes in the DOM.
- Allows submitting forms easily
In some situations, we need to scrape a webpage that is authenticated and protected. Such a situation is eased by the use of a Playwright. It makes the form submission effortless. Below is an example of the scenario. It demonstrates by simulating on click we can form fill events.
When you will run the above scripts, you can show some below outputs:
- Offer cross-browser automation testing
The work of Playwright is witnessed in popular engines like WebKit, Firefox, and Chromium. Further, it allows the use of CI as headed as well as headless and others like Linux.
In nutshell, Playwright tends to offer frequent tweaks, updates, and enhancements, making it an ideal choice for web scraping. However, there are many other frameworks available in the market like Puppeteer which is also commonly used for web scraping.
LambdaTest is a continuous quality cloud testing platform that offers web scraping using Playwright across 40+ real browsers and OS. Furthermore, you can accelerate release cycles by 10x with parallel testing.
What difference does Playwright offer from such a framework? Let’s head forward to answer this.
In what way Playwright compares with other known competitors like Selenium and Puppeteer? A simple answer to this is “affluence of usage”.
Image source: Npmtrends
According to npm trends, Puppeteer appears to be the most preferred choice for web scraping. By looking at the below stats, both Puppeteer and Playwright have a good community of open-source software developers behind them.
Image source: Npmtrends
The other popular web scraping frameworks like Selenium and Puppeteer are developer friendly. No matter which framework developers use for web scraping, there is always a thin line difference that makes Playwright an ideal choice for web scraping. However, having a detailed comparison of these frameworks is beyond the scope of this blog. So, we have highlighted some of the points as below:
- Even though Puppeteer and Playwright hold many resemblances, Playwright is considered as the ideal choice due to its cross-browser support.
- Playwright compared to Selenium and Puppeteer offers better API, and ease of execution of page.click without any waits for the loading of elements.
- Unlike other frameworks, Playwright supports different programming languages like Java, Perl, PHP, and Ruby.
- Playwright’s execution speed for the script is better than other frameworks like Selenium.