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Scraping VS Using API - Why The Data Harvesting Tussle

· 6 min read
ScrapingAnt Team

Scraping VS Using API

Web scraping and API scraping are predominantly the most practical data harvesting methods. But what do these two terms mean? What is the difference and, what is their role in the data harvesting war? The following article defines each and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Web Scraping

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites or specific web pages. It can either be manual or through web scrapers software tools. The second option is always faster, more powerful, and more convenient.

Once the wen scraper gets the desired date, you can always convert the data into more convenient formats such as spreadsheet files. After that, you will save and store it for further analysis at your convenience.

Basically, web scraping copies all content from websites or pages then delivers the raw data you want in a specific structured format. The practice allows you to select any web you want to extract data from, build your web scraping project and extract your target data.


On the other hand, Application Programming Interface is an intermediary that allows the software to communicate with each other. It is a group of procedures and communication protocols that allows access to data from an application, operating systems, and other services.

In other words, API allows you (the user) to open up specific data and functionality to other businesses and developers. It is the most data and services exchange method between organizations, both internally and externally. This method relies on the owner of the subject dataset. Whether they are offering it for free or at a charge or they do not offer it at all.

The current data crawling methods widely use the two, data scraping and API scraping. While collecting data is essential, you have to determine which method would work best, mostly one with minor limitations or complications.

This is most important for those who do web crawling more often; they must ensure that they use the best possible option. So what makes one option better than the other?

What is the difference between the two?

Extracting the difference between the two procedures is very easy to give the explanations above. Web scraping gives you the freedom to scrape data from any website through both software and manual means. API, on the other hand, provides direct access to the data you want.

Sometimes you might get yourself in a position where you do not have API to access the data you desire. Sometimes the API might be too expensive or slow. Here, you could use web scraping to access the data as long as you can find it on the website.

The best example is when you want to extract data from large sites like Amazon. They do not provide API for users to access data, so you can always use a web scraper to get what you want.

Advantages of API

Many people prefer web scraping over API. But, many people continue to use this method. Here is why:

  • It is the best option to apply on websites with limited changes.
  • API scraping allows users to use the same API to get the same data and from the same source to fulfill their specific objectives. Users may have contracts with their target websites to extract data within specific limits.
  • Using web scraping API is perfect for websites that limit changes. If you require the API to return new information or changes on some field names, you will only need to add the subject names or alter the field names to match those in request JSON.

Best for Customized Scraping

API can help automate the data extraction process, including all documents from invoices and images to pdf files. The only issue arises when there are updates on the fields, formats, or source website. API allows you to personalize your extraction, from geotargeting and API calls to custom scrapers and dedicated accounts. You can always use the full potential of these results to achieve your data extraction goals.

Advantages of Web scraping

Here are some of the reasons why most people go of Web scraping over API.

Zero Rate Limitations

API is synonymous with rate limitations; they have limited user policies unless you go for the premium versions. With the free options, you will get between ten and a hundred requests daily. Web scraping, on the other, has none (at least technically).

Web scraping allows you to crawl any website except those whose robot.txt restricts you from doing so. The chance is that any website that appears in Google web search has been scraped and indexed by Google. However, you must read the robot.txt to avoid rubbing shoulders with the owners.

Web Scraping Allows You to Get All Data Types

Web scraping allows you to follow the data trail to get what you want.

This is not the case with API since not every data is available through API, especially in new websites.

You can pick up links from web content like articles from sites you already scraped and use them to locate related content and data. The process allows data to run free and lead you to conclusions within the laid down rules and protocols.

Why You Need a Professional to Extract Data for You

Whether you are using a web scraper or API, getting the correct data might not be that easy. Data is everywhere and in massive abundance. Looking into this could take time and resources that you would otherwise use elsewhere.

By outsourcing the work, you are handing the responsibility to the experts with tremendous experience. They get you whatever data you want with the utmost accuracy and in the shortest possible time. Plus, you do not have to worry about robot.txt or premium payments for API. They have every tool to maneuver their way into every corner.

With the time and cost-efficiency that comes with outsourcing, you will get enough time to analyze the already scraped data.

Web Scraping API

Web Scraping API allows you to combine the extensive usage of web scraper and the simplicity of API. Such an approach enables you to turn any website into API and extract any data as you're using it from a browser.

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