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What is a web scraping?

Web scraping, web harvesting, or web data extraction is data scraping used for extracting data from websites. Web scraping software may access the World Wide Web directly using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or through a web browser. While web scraping can be done manually by a software user, the term typically refers to automated processes implemented using a bot or web crawler. It is a form of copying, in which specific data is gathered and copied from the web, typically into a central local database or spreadsheet, for later retrieval or analysis.

Web scraping a web page involves fetching it and extracting from it. Fetching is the downloading of a page (which a browser does when you view the page). Therefore, web crawling is a main component of web scraping, to fetch pages for later processing. Once fetched, then extraction can take place. The content of a page may be parsed, searched, reformatted, its data copied into a spreadsheet, and so on. Web scrapers typically take something out of a page, to make use of it for another purpose somewhere else. An example would be to find and copy names and phone numbers, or companies and their URLs, to a list (contact scraping).

 

What you can do with data scraping?

Web scraping is used for content scraping, and as a component of applications used for web indexing, web mining and data mining, online price change monitoring and price comparison, product review scraping (to watch the competition), gathering real estate listings, weather data monitoring, website change detection, research, tracking online presence and reputation, web mashup and, web data integration.

Using data scraping you can build sitemaps that will navigate the site and extract the data. Using different type selectors you will navigate the site and extract multiple types of data - text, tables, images, links and more.

 

What role scraper should play for you?

Web scraping is the process of automatically mining data or collecting information from the World Wide Web. It is a field with active developments sharing a common goal with the semantic web vision, an ambitious initiative that still requires breakthroughs in text processing, semantic understanding, artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions. Current web scraping solutions range from the ad-hoc, requiring human effort, to fully automated systems that are able to convert entire web sites into structured information, with limitations.

 

Below are the ways for scraping data:

  • Human Copy Paste : Sometimes even the best web-scraping technology cannot replace a human’s manual examination and copy-and-paste, and sometimes this may be the only workable solution when the websites for scraping explicitly set up barriers to prevent machine automation.
  • Text Pattern Matching : A simple yet powerful approach to extract information from web pages can be based on the UNIX grep command or regular expression-matching facilities of programming languages
  • HTTP programming : Static and dynamic web pages can be retrieved by posting HTTP requests to the remote web server using socket programming.
  • HTML parsing : Many websites have large collections of pages generated dynamically from an underlying structured source like a database. Data of the same category are typically encoded into similar pages by a common script or template. In data mining, a program that detects such templates in a particular information source, extracts its content and translates it into a relational form, is called a wrapper. Wrapper generation algorithms assume that input pages of a wrapper induction system conform to a common template and that they can be easily identified in terms of a URL common scheme.Moreover, some semi-structured data query languages, such as Xquery and the HTQL, can be used to parse HTML pages and to retrieve and transform page content.
  • DOM parsing: By embedding a full-fledged web browser, such as the Internet Explorer or the Mozilla browser control, programs can retrieve the dynamic content generated by client-side scripts. These browser controls also parse web pages into a DOM tree, based on which programs can retrieve parts of the pages.
  • Vertical aggregation : There are several companies that have developed vertical specific harvesting platforms. These platforms create and monitor a multitude of “bots” for specific verticals with no "man in the loop" (no direct human involvement), and no work related to a specific target site. The preparation involves establishing the knowledge base for the entire vertical and then the platform creates the bots automatically. The platform's robustness is measured by the quality of the information it retrieves (usually number of fields) and its scalability (how quick it can scale up to hundreds or thousands of sites). This scalability is mostly used to target the Long Tail of sites that common aggregators find complicated or too labor-intensive to harvest content from.
  • Semantic annotation recognizing : The pages being scraped may embrace metadata or semantic markups and annotations, which can be used to locate specific data snippets. If the annotations are embedded in the pages, as Microformat does, this technique can be viewed as a special case of DOM parsing. In another case, the annotations, organized into a semantic layer,are stored and managed separately from the web pages, so the scrapers can retrieve data schema and instructions from this layer before scraping the pages.
  • Computer vision web-page analysis : There are efforts using machine learning and computer vision that attempt to identify and extract information from web pages by interpreting pages visually as a human being would.

 

Key Features of Web Scraping

In order to remain competitive, businesses must be able to act quickly and assuredly in the markets. Web Scraping plays a big role in the development of various business organizations that use the services. 

The benefits of these services are: 

  1. Low Cost: Web Scraping service saves hundreds of thousands of man-hours and money as the use of scraping service completely avoids manual work.
  2. Less Time: Scraping solution not only helps to lower the cost, it also reduces the time involved in data extraction task. This tool ensures and gathers fast results required by people.
  3. Accurate Results: Web Scraping solutions help to get the most accurate and fast results that cannot be collected by human beings. It generates correct product pricing data, sales leads, duplication of online database, captures real estate data, financial data, job postings, auction information and many more.
  4. Time to Market Advantage: Fast and accurate results help businesses to save time, money and labor and get an obvious time-tomarket advantage over the competitors.
  5. High Quality: A Web Scraping solution provides access to clean, structured and high quality data through scraping APIs so that the fresh data can be integrated into the systems.

Finding and hiring expert scraper/crawler

It’s important to note that not all scraper will be ideal fits for every project. For example, those with highly analytical backgrounds in software engineering would be ideal for developing algorithms but may not be the right fit for a data scraping project. That’s why it’s so important to understand what type of scraping expert will bring the most benefit to your company and business goals.

Here are some questions to consider:

What is the overall learning you hope to find? 

By including your goal in the project description, it allows professionals to better understand what type of work is required.

 

What core skills will scraping experts need to complete the project? 

The answer will revolve around your current data infrastructure and the processes used to extract information.

 

Would you benefit from someone with highly specialized skills in a few areas of data scraping, or would a well-rounded expert serve you better?

 

Are there any time constraints to consider with this project?

Let professionals know the amount of hours of work that might be involved.

 

What kind of budget will this project have? 

The more experience and expertise a data scraper has, the higher they expect to be compensated. Higher budgets will more likely give top-tier experts a reason to submit a proposal.

 

Web scraping project template

Below is a sample of how a project description may look. Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed for employees. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post, or any other document that describes the work to be done.

<Job/Project Title>

ABC Company is looking for a web scraping expert to help us study our website traffic patterns and find areas of improvement. This project is estimated to require approximately 20-25 hours per week for the next few months to achieve the following goals

  • Reporting findings in a weekly summary
  • Split testing underperforming pages and recording results
  • Discovering which pages currently perform best
  • Organizing site data into spreadsheets

The following skills are required:

The ideal freelancer will be a creative problem solver with an excellent work history on Toogit. To submit a proposal, please send a short summary of similar projects you’ve completed and why we should consider you for this project.

  • Excellent technical abilities
  • Knowledge of quantitative split testing
  • Experience with WordPress and Google Analytics
  • A thorough understanding of MySQL databases
  • Expertise or extensive experience with Python

 

Hiring the right Web Scraping talent

Remember that technical ability is only a small portion of what makes an excellent web scraper. Great web scrapers are inquisitive—they want to ensure that they’re seeking the right types of answers, plus they’ll take an interest in your business to better understand it. The ideal professional will also be able to advise you on additional metrics to analyze and compare in order to help you meet your goals.

Also, keep in mind that communication is always a key consideration in the data science field. A brief interview can allow you to gauge how strong each professional is in expressing ideas and explaining their process. The more you speak to each professional by phone, email, or chat, the better you’ll be able to gauge their professionalism and communication skills and determine whether they’re right for your project.

Nowadays, Android is not just on tens of thousands of different phones and tablets. It’s on your wrist, in your living room, in your car, and as soon we start assigning IP addresses to inanimate objects, it is going to be pretty much everywhere around us. A lot of ground for even an experienced Android developer to cover!

 

Also there are over one million apps on Google Play, not counting Amazon AppStore or markets we are not generally interested in.

 

So, how can an independent developer create a successful app in this huge market with big players? I have no idea, I haven’t made a successful app! But, I have made a cute one, and I’d like to share my story with you.

Few Android Studio Tips, Tricks & Resources you should be familiar with, as an Android Developer

The reason of this article, is to list helpful tips, tricks, shortcuts and resources for Android Studio that will improve your overall efficiency and performance.

 

1.Material Colors theme for Android Logcat

To change Android Studio Logcat you need to go to:Preferences (Settings on Windows / Linux machines) → Editor → Colors & Fonts → Android Logcat and change the foreground color for every type of log.

 

2. Prevent Android Studio Logcat from clearing the log for the current application when it crashes. 

To do that you need to go to theAndroid Monitorpanel and chooseEdit filter configurationon the right side dropdown.

 

3. Apply a proper code style to your IDE (IntelliJ / Android Studio). 

Go toPreferences → Code Style → Javaand in aSchemedropdown you can choose your code style (or set up a new one).

2 styles which are especially worth to mention:

Square Java Code Styles with Android

Google Java Code Style.

 

4. Use split screen for increasing efficiency.

To turn this feature on, you need to right mouse click on the tab of your main screen and choose Split Vertically / Horizontally feature.

But to be as efficient as possible we need to set up a custom keyboard’s shortcut. To do that go to Preferences → Keymap and search for Split Vertically. Then open a context menu and click Add Keyboard Shortcut

It is shown on a gif below. You can define the shortcut for a horizontal split view as well.

 

5. Distraction Free Mode. 

You can enable it by going to: View → Enter Distraction Free Mode

 

6. Use Live Templates

you can use many already defined templates, like for Toasts or if conditions.

you can use your own custom templates. Here is a great reference article by Reto Meier. You can also refer to the IntelliJ IDEA documentation.

 

Learn XML And Java

Extensible markup language (XML) is a markup language that’s the foundation for the Android user interface (UI) and elements. Java is the back-end coding language of the Android platform, and it’s used with binding functionality with your XML layouts. Let’s take a look at a small example.

 

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <layout xmlns:android=http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"> <data> <variable name="user" type="com.example.User"/> </data> <LinearLayout android:orientation="vertical" android:layout_width="match_parent" android:layout_height="match_parent"> <TextView android:layout_width="wrap_content" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:text="@{user.firstName}"/> <TextView android:layout_width="wrap_content" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:text="@{user.lastName}"/> </LinearLayout> </layout>

 

This small layout has one data object defined as “User.” For developers used to binding elements in even web design, this should be intuitive for you. The data element is defined in Java, and then the object data is bound to the front-end layout element. In this example, we have a first and last name. The following Java code is an example of a User class used for the binding.

 

public class User { public final String firstName; public final String lastName; public User (String firstName, String lastName){ this.firstName = firstName; this.lastName = lastName; } }

Notice that the constructor takes a first and last name variable and binds the data to the public class properties. When the screen opens on the device, this data is then bound to the front-end elements.

 

Before you get started in Android Application development, you should be expert in both of these technologies. Understanding the fundamentals of XML formats is relatively easy, but Java is an object-oriented language and object-oriented programming (OOP) can be challenging if you’re not familiar with the concept. A newer language and framework, Kotlin, has been introduced to help advance Android app development. It can also be used with legacy Java apps as Kotlin co-operates with Java code.

 

The best way to learn Java is to dive into someone else’s code. GitHub is filled with open-source projects that help you understand Java and OOP concepts. The better your OOP skills are, the easier it will be to create a better coded, less buggy Android app.

 

Understand Memory Limitations

Mobile devices don’t have the high memory limitations that desktops have. In mobile programming, you must learn to code with smaller memory limitations in mind. If you carelessly use memory on an Android device, you run the risk of your app crashing due to “out of memory” errors.

To work around this, use services on the device sparingly and release memory resources when your app is hidden. You can release memory resources by overriding the onTrimMemory event although you should know that this isn’t a magic solution that allows you to ignore other performance optimization throughout your code. The following is a small sample of pseudocode that shows you how to override the event.

@Override public void onTrimMemory(int level) { if (level >= TRIM_MEMORY_MODERATE) {

//release resources here } }

Google also recommends that you avoid or at least reduce the use of bitmaps to lower the memory use when your app is running on the device. 

 

Don’t Use The Emulator For Real-World Testing

The Emulator in Android Studio is good for development and even debugging, but it doesn’t fully simulate a working Android device. You can consider basic environment features with the Emulator, but when it comes to testing, you should always use actual devices.

Of course, this is a huge investment for an Android developer, but it will make the entire development and testing life cycle much more efficient. It also ensures that you’re able to test your applications in various conditions as the user changes settings on the actual device. You can, however, use automated cloud solutions such as Amazon’s Testing platform.

 

Testing should never be taken lightly. It should be a major part when you design and deploy apps for your clients. Fewer bugs means happier users, and it can also mean a more successful app in Google Play. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy every device on the market to test your app on, but you should account for some of the more popular ones and the most common screen sizes.

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