Web scraping on Linux is far from challenging. However, there are both complex and easy ways to do it.
This article will cover the basics of web scraping with Linux and two of the best ways to go about the process. That way, you can web scrape regardless of whether you want to use C#, Python, or other programming languages that work with Linux.
The Basics of Web Scraping
First, let’s touch on the basics of web scraping.
What is Web Scraping and How Does it Work?
If you’re not already familiar, web scraping is a method to gather data from one or more sources in large chunks that normally take too long to gather manually.
While you could go across a site copying and pasting specific pieces of information that you want to save, imagine doing that for an entire site or multiple sites. Depending on how much data you are trying to acquire, it could take you all day or even longer.
Web scraping takes that process and automates it to be much faster and easier. There are also some forms of data that you cannot copy and paste from sites. Web scraping is extremely useful for ensuring you can access as much data as possible.
Coding Your Own Web Scraper
Because the web scraping process differs depending on what coding language and operating system you’re using, we will focus specifically on Linux and C# web scraping.
First, for the most hands-on approach, you can use C# to code your own web scraper. The most significant perk of this approach is the level of control because you’re developing the tool yourself. This way, you will know exactly how it functions and the limits of what it can and cannot do.
However, this option is only recommended to those already familiar with C# and HTTP request libraries. It can take several weeks or even months to write the code and test it thoroughly, though the amount of time the process takes will also depend largely on how advanced you try to make the web scraper.
Still, even if you are familiar with C# or another programming language, ensure you have plenty of time to devote to coding your web scraper before taking on the task.
Using an API
Are you out of luck if you don’t have the knowledge and technical know-how to write the code for your own scraper?
No, you are far from it. Your best alternative is to use an API, which will essentially do the web scraping process without you needing to code or set anything up. However, the downside is that such a user-friendly and time-saving alternative is not free.
The prices for APIs differ depending on what they do and what features they have. You won’t find a set price for all APIs, but they generally cost somewhere between $10 and $140 per month.
In many cases, they offer short free trials you can use to test out the API and see if it can perform the web scraping you desire.
Deciding How You Want to Webscrape on Linux
While there are a few other ways to scrape websites for data on Linux, most are a bit excessive compared to the two popular options.
Choosing between building your web scraper and paying for an API is mainly dependent on your resources, as both options are viable despite their respective pros and cons.
If you have the time and interest to learn C#, it is an excellent investment as you will be able to build your web scraper, and you will also have the capability to construct other tools. In contrast, if you don’t have the time and are not necessarily looking to do web scraping often, paying for an API is the way to go.
Web scraping on Linux can play out differently depending on the path you choose to take. If your goal is to scrape data from websites, both approaches will lead you to the same destination. Take the time to look at the pros and cons of each and decide which is best for you.