Building a Robust Web Scraper with Python

Javier Calderon Jr
6 min readSep 7, 2023

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Introduction

Web scraping is a powerful technique for gathering data from websites, and Python is one of the most popular languages for this task. However, building a robust web scraper involves more than just fetching a webpage and parsing its HTML. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of creating a web scraper that not only fetches and saves web content but also adheres to best practices. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, this guide will provide you with the tools you need to build a web scraper that is both effective and respectful of the websites you’re scraping.

Setting Up Your Environment

Before diving into the code, make sure you have Python installed on your machine. You’ll also need to install the requests and BeautifulSoup libraries. You can install them using pip:

pip install requests beautifulsoup4

The Basic Web Scraper

Let’s start by examining a simple web scraper script. This script fetches a webpage, extracts its title and text content, and saves them into a text file.

import os
import requests
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
from urllib.parse import urljoin

# ... (rest of the code)

Why Use requests and BeautifulSoup?

  • Requests: This library allows you to send HTTP requests and handle responses, making it essential for fetching web pages.
  • BeautifulSoup: This library is used for parsing HTML and extracting the data you need.

Creating the Output Directory

Before scraping, it’s crucial to have a directory where you can save the scraped data.

if not os.path.exists(output_folder):
os.makedirs(output_folder)

Why is this Necessary?

Creating a dedicated output directory helps in organizing the scraped data, making it easier to analyze later.

Web Page Traversal

The script uses a breadth-first search approach to traverse the web pages. It maintains a visited set and a to_visit list to keep track of…

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Javier Calderon Jr

CTO, Tech Entrepreneur, Mad Scientist, that has a passion to Innovate Solutions that specializes in Web3, Artificial Intelligence, and Cyber Security