There are various types of application programming interfaces (APIs). At their core, APIs are made up of code-based tools, functions, and procedures that create a communication bridge between two software programs or applications. In this regard, they promote data transfer between these two systems. The communication is carried out via various protocols, including HTTP. APIs that use the HTTP protocol to transmit data between two web-based applications are known as web APIs.
While web APIs facilitate communication, they cannot handle large volumes of data. This is where scraper APIs come in. In this article, we will explain what web APIs and scraper APIs are. We will also compare each of their functionalities, ultimately exploring whether scraper APIs are easy to use.
What is a Scraper API?
A scraper API is an application programming interface that facilitates communication between a web scraping application and software such as a database or data analysis software. In this regard, the scraper API equips third-party applications with the capability to extract data. And thanks to the fact that it connects these applications to dedicated web scrapers that are powered by robust tools such as CAPTCHA solvers, proxies, headless browsers, and more, the scraper API promotes successful web scraping. For more information on Scraper APIs, here is a dedicated blog post, definitely check it out.
Scraper API vs. Web API
The scraper API has emerged as a unique and useful replacement for the web API. Most web servers are equipped with APIs that enable third parties to access some of the information stored therein. However, the architecture and design of each web API vary significantly from the next. In order to use multiple web APIs, therefore, a developer must learn each of them individually, a process that likely takes a lot of time. This, coupled with the fact that web APIs are only designed to facilitate the transfer of a limited volume of data, makes them unfeasible for large web scraping applications.
In contrast, a scraper API simply transfers data that has been collected by web scraping software. In this case, the web scraping solution is designed to scrape data from thousands of websites at a time.
This software sends requests, receives and cleans up the files sent as responses, and organizes the data in a structured format such as JSON and .csv. The scraper API then sends the JSON file to the third-party software. These steps show the simplicity and scale of the scraper API. The latter attribute is based on the fact that it can handle multiple websites simultaneously, while a developer using the web API can only deal with one website at a time. This benefit demonstrates why you should use the scraper API for your web scraping needs.
Using a Scraper API
To use the scraper API, follow the following steps:
- Identify a reliable service provider
- Pay for the solution
- Read through the documentation provided by the service provider (some providers withhold some information from the documentation until you pay for the product)
- Implement the instructions to begin scraping
Scraper API Use Cases
The scraper API is perfect for scraping different datasets from different websites, including:
- E-commerce sites
- Search engines
- All other websites
The world’s largest e-commerce platform comprises just under 2 million active sellers who offer over 12 million products. Given that the website is designed to display each product on its own webpage, that means it is made up of over 12 million webpages. Extracting data from this number of webpages is no easy feat.
But the scraper API is designed to handle such a responsibility. Ordinarily, though, users often choose to scrape a small chunk of the total. As it can handle thousands of web requests at a time, it can complete the extraction of data associated with a given product category in a short time.
The scraper API is designed to deal with the layout changes of search engine results pages (SERPs). Usually, search engines display different results for different search terms. For some queries, the platform may show a combination of images, maps, and text, while for others, it may simply display text-based results. Besides being able to extract both image-based and text-based data, the scraper API is designed to handle such layout changes.
A scraper API offers numerous advantages over a web API. First, it offers simplicity by eliminating the need to individually understand the architecture of each web API – web APIs differ from one website to another. Second, it promotes successful web scraping.