Scrapy is a very popular web scraping/crawling framework, I have been using it for quite some time now.

In this post, I will demonstrate creating a very basic web crawler.

Install Scrapy

Installation is via pip pip install scrapy

Minimalistic Code

A very simple scraper is created like this

To Run , simply type scrapy runspider

Running, above code will output something like below

2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.utils.log] INFO: Scrapy 1.5.1 started (bot: scrapybot) 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.utils.log] INFO: Versions: lxml, libxml2 2.9.8, cssselect 1.0.3, parsel 1.5.1, w3lib 1.19.0, Twisted 18.9.0, Python 2.7.15 (default, Oct 2 2018, 11:42:04) - [GCC 4.2.1 Compatible Apple LLVM 10.0.0 (clang-1000.11.45.2)], pyOpenSSL 18.0.0 (OpenSSL 1.1.0j 20 Nov 2018), cryptography 2.4.2, Platform Darwin-18.2.0-x86\_64-i386-64bit 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.crawler] INFO: Overridden settings: {'SPIDER\_LOADER\_WARN\_ONLY': True} 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.middleware] INFO: Enabled extensions: ['scrapy.extensions.memusage.MemoryUsage', 'scrapy.extensions.logstats.LogStats', 'scrapy.extensions.telnet.TelnetConsole', 'scrapy.extensions.corestats.CoreStats'] 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.middleware] INFO: Enabled downloader middlewares: ['scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.httpauth.HttpAuthMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.downloadtimeout.DownloadTimeoutMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.defaultheaders.DefaultHeadersMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.useragent.UserAgentMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.retry.RetryMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.redirect.MetaRefreshMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.httpcompression.HttpCompressionMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.redirect.RedirectMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.cookies.CookiesMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.httpproxy.HttpProxyMiddleware', 'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.stats.DownloaderStats'] 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.middleware] INFO: Enabled spider middlewares: ['scrapy.spidermiddlewares.httperror.HttpErrorMiddleware', 'scrapy.spidermiddlewares.offsite.OffsiteMiddleware', 'scrapy.spidermiddlewares.referer.RefererMiddleware', 'scrapy.spidermiddlewares.urllength.UrlLengthMiddleware', 'scrapy.spidermiddlewares.depth.DepthMiddleware'] 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.middleware] INFO: Enabled item pipelines: [] 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.core.engine] INFO: Spider opened 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.extensions.logstats] INFO: Crawled 0 pages (at 0 pages/min), scraped 0 items (at 0 items/min) 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.extensions.telnet] DEBUG: Telnet console listening on 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.core.engine] DEBUG: Crawled (200) <get https:=""""> (referer: None) 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.core.engine] INFO: Closing spider (finished) 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.statscollectors] INFO: Dumping Scrapy stats: {'downloader/request\_bytes': 212, 'downloader/request\_count': 1, 'downloader/request\_method\_count/GET': 1, 'downloader/response\_bytes': 12403, 'downloader/response\_count': 1, 'downloader/response\_status\_count/200': 1, 'finish\_reason': 'finished', 'finish\_time': datetime.datetime(2018, 12, 2, 14, 1, 18, 850998), 'log\_count/DEBUG': 2, 'log\_count/INFO': 7, 'memusage/max': 50581504, 'memusage/startup': 50577408, 'response\_received\_count': 1, 'scheduler/dequeued': 1, 'scheduler/dequeued/memory': 1, 'scheduler/enqueued': 1, 'scheduler/enqueued/memory': 1, 'start\_time': datetime.datetime(2018, 12, 2, 14, 1, 18, 570736)} 2018-12-02 14:01:18 [scrapy.core.engine] INFO: Spider closed (finished) Varun Pant Blog | Index

In the last line, one can see that the page title Varun Pant Blog | Index was printed.

The principle of a web scraper is generally quite simple,

  1. Start from a seed url and extract all hyperlinks.
  2. Then crawl each of them, further extracting links until all of them have been visited.

In Scrapy start_urls is the list of seed urls to begin scraping.

One can also provide another varibale to add domain constraint. allowed_domains = [“”] so that links which lead out of the principal domain are rejected.

Scrappy takes care of ensuring that links which have already been visited are not visited again.

In the simple example above, the code does not extract hyperlinks from the response body, lets modify it to do so.

import scrapy class MySpider(scrapy.Spider): name = "MySpider" start\_urls = [''] def parse(self, response): all\_links = response.xpath('*//a/@href').extract() for link in all\_links: print(link)

Line all_links = response.xpath('*//a/@href’).extract() , uses xpath and extracts all hyperlinks in the page.

The final step is to make the parse generator method yield response like so

This should crawl all hyperlinks found with each page.

Here is a minimalistic code snippet, which saves all crawlled pages to the disk.