Scrapy, Selenium, and Beautifulsoup are the 3 popular web scraping tools for Python web scrapers. Come in now to discover the differences between the 3 of them and the scenario to use each of them.
Do you want to know the difference between Scrapy, Beautifulsoup, and Selenium?
Then you are on the right page. This article will be used to discuss the 3 popular tools and provide a complete explanation about them. From what you will read, you will know which of the tool to use depending on your skill and individual project requirements. If you are not really conversant with Web Scraping, I will advise you to read our article on guide to web scraping – also check out our tutorial on how to build a simple web scraper using Python.
The truth is, while I see newbies compare Scrapy, Beautifulsoup, and Selenium, I see no reason for such a comparison. This is because they are actually no competitors as each has its own function and audience. However, each of them has a place in web scraping, and their functionalities overlap. Let take a look at each of them separately after which, we can then make recommendations on the one to use based on your skillset and project requirement.
Scrapy is a web crawling framework that comes with a good number of tools to make web crawling and scraping easy. It is multithreaded by design and built on top Twisted. Twisted is an asynchronous networking framework that follows non-blocking I/O calls to servers. Because it is multithreaded and non-blocking, it is actually the best in terms of performance and actually the fastest among the 3 tools. One advantage of Scrapy over the 3 tools is that it comes with modules to send requests as well as to parse responses.
Scrapy is the tool for developing complex web crawlers and scrapers as you can create a good number of workers, and each of them will work effortlessly. It has been built to consume less memory and use CPU resources minimally. In fact, some benchmarks have stated that Scrapy is 20 times faster than the other tools in scraping. It is portable, and its functionality can be extended.
BeautifulSoup, just like Scrapy, is an open-source tool and used for web scraping. However, unlike Scrapy, which is a web crawling and scraping framework, BeautifulSoup is not. BeautifulSoup is a module that can be used for pulling data out of HTML and XML documents. BeautifulSoup is a beginner-friendly tool that a newbie can hit the ground running with it. This is because it has very good documentation and a friendly user community. Most web scrapers must have used BeautifulSoup before heading over to Scrapy. The tool is not complex and makes it easier for you to transverse an HTML document and pick the required data.
While you can use it for multitasking, you have to be really good with Python multithread programming to be able to multitask effectively using BeautifulSoup. One of the major disadvantages of BeautifulSoup is that it depends heavily on other libraries to work. BeautifulSoup does not have the capability of sending web requests; you will have to make use of the requests module or the Python standard module for sending web requests – urllib. Aside from sending web requests, BeautifulSoup also does not have a document parser; you will have to choose from options such as html.parser, HTML5lib, XML Parser, and a few others.
It is important I stress here that the lack of a web request sending capability and a parser does not in any way make using BeautifulSoup difficult. It only means that you need to install the dependencies for you to use the tool. It might interest you to know that these dependencies plus BeautifulSoup are still the easiest options out there compared to other tools. It is, however, slow when compared to Scrapy.
- Selenium Proxy Setting – How to Setup Proxies on Selenium
- Building a Web Crawler Using Selenium and Proxies
Selenium is faster than BeautifulSoup but a bit slower than Scrapy.
Which Should You Use – Scrapy, BeautifulSoup, or Selenium?
All of the three web scraping libraries are all open-source and completely free to use. With this, money is not a deciding factor. Each of them has a community of developers supporting its development. So which of them should you make use of?
This depends on the project requirements. If a project is complex, Scrapy is the tool for the job. This is because it is a framework designed for handling complex web scraping tasks. It even allows you to extend its functionality.
As a Python developer, you should learn how to use the three of them. Knowing how to use all will save you the stress of dealing with one because that’s all you know. If you know how to use the three of them, it is a matter of which is the best for the project at hand.
- How to parse data HTML documents
- How to Use Rotating Proxy API & Proxy lists with CURL for data mining
Web scraping can become handy and easy with tools such as Scrapy, BeautifulSoup, and Selenium. Each of these tools has it's own application. While Scrapy is the tool for complex projects, BeautifulSoup is used for smaller tasks.