Comparison between web scraping and APIs in the context of data extraction

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Data serves businesses as gold and oil. The team and customers of Dexodata, a trusted proxy website providing geo targeted proxies, know this well. But how to grab enough relevant datasets to generate workable concepts, outcompete rivals, and avoid mistakes? Manual operations are not an option. It is not a workable practice. This process is inevitably laborious, prone to error, and prolonged. Successful players need automated approaches. The two main ways to grab info encompass APIs as well as web scraping. Today’s piece is dedicated to them and their relative advantages, in the context of proxies (including social media proxy and rotating proxy free trial available with us).

Web scraping simply put by a trusted proxy website

Web scraping is associated with a method applied to automatically grab needed info on the Net. Thus, it makes it possible to obtain raw info — as HTML code, for sure — from pages. After that, this data is transformed into a workable and arranged format.


Web data collection pros


Automated algorithms for gathering online information:

  • Take the right position to automatically grab info stored on several target pages concurrently.
  • Enable people to download and work with info on local machines, as, say, spreadsheets or, alternatively, databases.
  • Can be tasked with gathering needed info in real-time and in accordance with a given schedule. Also, they can automatically present what they get in your format of choice.
  • Operate freely from the burden of human error. Hence, they are universally precise and valid if properly tuned.
  • Assist people in exercising greater control over the volume of info to be grabbed and harvesting frequencies in comparison with a typical API.


Data harvesting cons


Since it is normal for pages to constantly alter their respective HTML structures, such web solutions can regularly get broken. So an individual should be familiar with coding to keep the scraper updated, clean, and adequately functioning. The other web scraping issues involve the following:

  1. The info gathered is to be correctly read and grasped to be effectively processed, which might be tedious.

  2. Scraping big web presences implies sending a significant amount of requests. Modern pages routinely block the IP addresses from where multiple requests arrive, so do not forget about geo targeted proxies.

  3. Another reason to apply proxies is that it is not uncommon to block certain geos entirely. This factor also mandates proxy protection, ensured by a trusted proxy website via geo targeted proxies, for web scrapers (Dexodata is fully prepared to help with this task and offers social media proxy and rotating proxy free trial for new users).

  4. It is a typical practice for modern pages to render their content at the very moment when the browser starts to load them. In this respect, if people attempt to take a look at the code lines or grab them via an elementary GET request, an obstacle will emerge, presented by this text: "You need to enable JavaScript to run this application". Hence, one will have no other way except for resorting to headless browsing solutions to harvest info from dynamic pages. Whenever multiple pages are to be scrapped, the rendering operations will take some minutes and a toll on hardware assets.


API in a nutshell


API functions as a bridge between different sites, web-based apps, and mobile solutions and enables them to interact and exchange info. To link to as well as to activate an API simply, users are supposed to direct a call to it. Within this framework, the client is supposed to provide a URL together with an HTTP technique to handle the request properly. That is, people have the option to use headers, body, and, obviously, call properties, all subject to the technique:

  1. Headers are responsible for supplying metadata concerning the request sent.
  2. The body features info itself, for instance, fields covering a fresh data row.

Now, it is time for the API to act. In our case, it is supposed to work with the call and submit the answer sent by the web server. Here, one should stress the role played by endpoints functioning in concert with API techniques. Plainly speaking, endpoints are URLs used by the app to interact with external services.

Web scraping and APIs explained by a trusted proxy website

The core of API mechanics


Web scraping API explained by a trusted proxy website


As for the so-called “API scraping,” the latter is about data harvesting enabled by requests directed to endpoints. These are identified while assessing the data exchange between the platform or app and the corresponding server. Dexodata, working as a trusted proxy website and providing geo targeted proxies at affordable prices from 100+ countries, views the related pros and cons as described below. Note that new users are entitled to request a rotating proxy free trial for, say, social network proxy scenarios.


API advantages


The positive characteristics of such a merhod can be presented as a list:

  1. The load imposed on expensive hardware assets is limited.

  2. It is possible to apply API scraping to an app by just a limited combo of authorization details.

  3. Deliverables can be obtained as XML or JSON pieces. In this case, the info is already arranged and can be handled with ease.

  4. Usage of APIs assists to tackle such issues as JavaScript stuff and circumventing annoying and never-ending CAPTCHAs.

  5. API addresses the issue quicker than automated web scraping algorithms in case the project has to gather hundreds and even thousands of informational pieces.


API disadvantages


  • The limited range of info can be accessible by trying a solo endpoint. It may happen because the datasets available while working with a certain endpoint can be predetermined and restricted by its engineer. So it might be necessary to interact with a range of endpoints to build a coherent dataset.

  • Not all pages are sufficiently compatible with APIs.

  • Multiple APIs resort to rate limits. The latter define how frequently info is allowed to be grabbed from their respective services. This fact might impede the efficiency of harvesting activities based on APIs of this kind.

  • APIs, normally, are restricted to collecting info from a given page (as long as they are aggregators). On top of that, a typical API enables access to a certain range of sources outlined by the engineer.


Diving deeper into web scraping APIs


Web scraping API is to be viewed in the capacity of a tool enabling software solutions to pull out info from applicable pages automatically and incorporate that info into a different digital solution by means of an API call. An API of this sort implies modern methods to grab info from pages, e.g:

  1. Rotation of proxies
  2. CAPTCHA circumvention
  3. JS rendering
  4. Dealing with dynamic content. etc.

Methods of this kind provide for valid and effective data harvesting while coping with anti-scraping safeguards. It is not a must to build a scraping solution from zero and deal with proxies, infrastructure issues, etc. It would suffice to execute a request via a given API and obtain the info sought after. When needed, one is also able to submit, in a request, the location and class of a proxy, custom headers, such things as cookie files, and waiting periods. It is even possible to execute JS concurrently.

Note: If one opts for Dexodata, as a trusted proxy website and provider of geo targeted proxies (which encompasses an opportunity of a static or rotating proxy free trial for, among other things, social media proxy usage), we will give the widest settings and customization options for any needs.

Wrapping up, web scraping APIs’ mission is straightforward. These solutions are responsible for linking the data harvesting software to the relevant web presences of interest.


Pluses and categories


The significant advantage of API is that it eliminates likely issues with CAPTCHAs, JS rendering, blacklists, proxies, etc. Insights are pulled out in a structured and arranged shape. Isn’t it great when one gets it totally available in JSON shape? This factor alone is weighty enough. Besides, API enables one to use their own custom headers in requests being sent, and execute actions on a page. Users do not have to be super tech-savvy to automate data collection, due to a high scalability and an ability to scrape URLs quickly. APIs are also legit and legal.

As for available API categories, there is a couple in existence:

  1. For general usage with any info on the Internet.
  2. Niche-focused ones intended for particular classes of info or, alternatively, its sources. To name a couple, one can mention such Google-related offerings as Google SERP API as well as Google Maps API.


Data harvesting flow in web scraping API cases


The basic API endpoint is used to receive info, while the URL of interest is provided in the capacity of the body parameter. In this case your API key serves in the capacity of the header. 

In addition, there also exist a variety of available extra parameters one can select. These encompass custom titles, the role played by your rotating proxies as well as their category and geo. What is great, too, is that one can resolve dynamic JS-related challenges in this fashion (e.g., making clicks and filling out various fields).

Consequently, the pulled out info is submitted to your favorite solutions for subsequent processing in the HTML terms. For instance, one can parse it with regular expressions. So info is subject to being directed right to the database.


Finding and selecting the most optimal web scraping API


It may not be the simplest thing to recognize the matching web scraping API for a particular scenario. Here is a list of relevant criteria:

  1. The pricing issue is self-evident. In case a whole lot of data is at stake, then the cost of each request plays a major part.
  2. Data harvesting speed also matters in case you need tons of data.
  3. Capabilities in terms of tackling anti-scraping measures in terms of CAPTCHAs, among others.
  4. Availability of documentation if you employ tech-savvy specialists who can comprehend it.
  5. Proxy compatibility and usage details. Make sure there will be no problems with using geo targeted proxies provided by Dexodata as a trusted proxy website with multiple advantages (if you are new visitors, do not forget about our rotating proxy free trial, including social media proxy offerings).




  • How do I harvest data by means of a web scraping API?

All one has to do is to enter the URL of the page of interest. Once it is done, the API is to scrape the latter and submit the info you require in a structured format.

  • And if I need info from multiple web pages?

Simply enter a list of URLs for the pages.

  • How do I get a web scraping API?

Buy it. Or you can engineer your own API. There are two options here. If you rely on a web scraping library, it is the simplest way. Enter the URL, and the library will execute the rest. At the level of a web scraping network, it is a little bit more complicated. While it gives you customization opportunities, you will have to write more code by yourself.

  • Limitations?

Everything has shortcomings. Some sites forbid API access to all their content or parts of it. If a site alters its layout, your API code might stop working and require updates.

Visit our FAQ section, an extensive overview of our trusted proxy website and geo targeted proxies (covering our obvious and less obvious advantages) is available.


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