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Community Blog How to Write a Headless Web Scraping Bot in Python

How to Write a Headless Web Scraping Bot in Python

In this article, you will get some information on writing our own basic headless web scraping "bot" in Python with Beautiful Soup 4 on an Alibaba Clou.

Installing Python 3, PIP3 and Nano from the Terminal Command Line

It's always a good idea to update everything on a particular instance. First, let's update all the packages to the latest versions so we won't run into any issues down the road.

sudo yum update

We will be using Python for our basic web scraping "bot". I admire the language for its relative simplicity and of course the wide variety of modules available to play around with. In particular, we will be using the Requests and Beautiful Soup 4 modules.

Usually Python3 is installed by default, but if it's not, install Python 3 and Pip. First we are going to install IUS, which stands for Inline with Upstream Stable. A community project, IUS provides Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) packages for some newer versions of select software. Then move forward with installing python36u and pip.

sudo yum install https://centos7.iuscommunity.org/ius-release.rpm
sudo yum install python36u
sudo yum install python36u-pip

Pip is a package management system used to install and manage software packages, such as those found in the Python Package Index. What is Pip? Pip is a replacement for easy_install.

I've ran into some headaches in the past with installing Pip rather than python36u-pip so be aware that installing pip is for Python 2.7 and python36u-pip is for Python 3.

Nano is a basic text editor that is useful in applications such as this. Let's install Nano.

sudo yum install nano

Install our Python Packages through Pip

Now we need to install our Python packages we will be using today, Requests and Beautiful Soup 4.

We will install these through PIP.

pip36u install requests
pip36u install beautifulsoup4

Requests is a Python module that allows us to navigate to a web page with the Requests .get method.

Requests allows you to send HTTP/1.1 requests, all programatically through the Python script. There's no need to manually add query strings to your URLs, or to form-encode your POST data. Keep-alive and HTTP connection pooling are 100% automatic. We will be focusing on the Requests .get method today to grab a web page source.

Beautiful Soup is a Python library for pulling data out of HTML and XML files. It works with your favorite parser to provide idiomatic ways of navigating, searching, and modifying the parse tree.

We will be using Beautiful Soup 4 with the standard html.parser in Python to parse and organize the data from the web page source we will be getting with Requests. In this tutorial we will use the Beautiful Soup "prettify" method to organize our data in a more human readable way.

Lets make a folder called "Python_apps". Then, we will change our present working directory to Python_apps.

mkdir Python_apps
cd Python_apps

Writing Our Headless Scraping Bot in Python

Now comes the fun part! We can write our Python Headless Scraper Bot. We will be using Requests to go to a URL and grab the page source. Then we will use Beautiful Soup 4 to parse the HTML source into a semi readable format. After doing this we will save the parsed data to a local file on the instance. Let's get to work.

We will be using Requests to grab the page source and BeautifulSoup4 to format the data to a readable state. We will then use the Python methods of open() and write() to save the page data to our local hard drive. Let's go to Headless Web Scraping in Python with Beautiful Soup 4 for details.

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