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Data On Demand: A Guide on How to Scrape Data Using API

17-06-2022

API stands for an Application Programming Interface. An API is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing web-based software applications. A scraping API allows a programmer to access specific content from a website and pull it into their own application or script.

There are many ways to scrape data using an API. The most common way is to use an HTTP GET request to access specific content from a web server. The content that is returned can be in the form of HTML, XML, JSON, or any other format that the web server supports.

how to scrape data using api

Another way to scrape data using an API is to use a web scraping tool such as Scrapy or BeautifulSoup. These tools allow a programmer to write a script that will automatically extract data from a website.

Some web scraping tools can be used to access APIs. For example, the Scrapy tool can be used to access the Amazon Product Advertising API.

Some websites do not have an API and can only be accessed through a web scraping tool. In these cases, the programmer will need to manually extract the data they are looking for.

No matter what method is used to scrape data, it is important to be aware of the terms of service of the website accessed. Scraping data from a website without the permission of the website owner is considered to be a violation of the terms of service and is not allowed.

Before scraping data from a website, be sure to check the terms of service to ensure that you are not violating any terms.


How does API Work?

APIs share data between systems, applications, and devices, allowing them to communicate.

An application programming is a particular rule set that tells you how applications, computers, or even machines can communicate with each other (technically speaking). 

Most APIs sit in between the web server and application. The API initiates an API call that instructs the application to do something, then the application will use this API to ask the webserver to do a particular task. 

In simple words, you can say the API is working as a middleman between the web server and the application. Therefore, every time you use any software to communicate with online servers or software, you are using APIs to make a request for your required information. 

It’s essential to know that while web APIs are pretty essential, they aren’t limited to the web. In contrast, there are APIs for every system that expect to interact with other systems. 

Now let’s understand this working procedure with a more practical example. Let’s consider APIs as a waiter of a restaurant and the user is the customer here. 

So, a customer places or requests an order to the waiter (API). The waiter then communicates the order to the kitchen. After getting the order from the waiter, the kitchen prepares the food and gives it to the waiter. The waiter then brings it back to the customer. 

The waiter is like an API, accepting the customer’s request and then turning it into easy-to-follow instructions that the kitchen uses to fulfill the order (the orders are more often like a set of codes that helps the kitchen to understand.
 

Finding the Right API for Your Needs

First, you must grasp the right kind of APIs. Web API is the most prevalent type. Web APIs provide an interface for online-communicating web applications. Here in this section, we’ll know about:  

  • REST 
  • XML-RPC/JSON-RPC
  • SOAP 

REST


REST (or RESTful) APIs are pretty popular. They leverage existing protocols, usually HTTP. Moreover, as REST works with most protocols, developers don’t need to install any software to use a REST API.

It can accommodate numerous calls, alter architecturally using hypermedia, and return varied data formats as data. However, REST’s inability to preserve the state can be pretty challenging typically for inexperienced developers.

Therefore, before designing an API, you must learn what makes a REST API RESTful and why these limits exist. This can surely aid you with different development challenges.

XML-RPC/JSON-RPC

RPC APIs are comparatively easier to implement than SOAP. Many developers continue to use it generically to make simple HTTP calls with XML data.

RPC calls are pretty connected and need the user to know the procedure name and parameter sequence. Moreover, developers must spend a lot of time reading XML-RPC API documentation for a better implementation of this API. This is because developer integration attempts will drastically fail if API documentation is out of sync with the API.

State Software brought in JavaScript Object Notation in 2012. It was meant to use JavaScript as a client-to-browser messaging method. So, JSON was created to encapsulate data and state types for rapid deserialization. 

Both Yahoo and Google utilize JSON since 2005, which has helped them drastically to gain wide language support. That’s not all; even developers prefer it. Moreover, JSON was touted as a better XML, but RPC API drawbacks remain.

SOAP

SOAP is a protocol and message system for many web application communication. It can also be utilized across protocols. However, a SOAP client must generate and receive XML and WSDL requests and answers.

SOAP wasn’t supported in all languages and integrating WSDL proved to be a bit challenging for many developers. And it’s not as much convenient as REST, this is another reason why many developers don’t go this API

Using an API to Scrape Data

Websites With APIs (list)

  • RapidAPI.com
  • Public APIs
  • APIs. guru OpenAPI Collection
  • Google APIs Discovery Service
  • API List
  • ProgrammableWeb
  • API For That

Web Scraper Software

  • Beautiful Soup
  • Diffbot
  • Scrapy

Database Scraping Tools

  • Scrapy
  • Mozenda
  • Common Crawl

Python Library for Web Scraping

  • Requests
  • Selenium
  • Urllib

Website Data Extractor

  • ScrapingBee
  • SCRAPEOWL
  • Bright Data

API Extraction

  • Parse Hub
  • Scraper API
  • Octoparse

Tips and tricks for scraping data using an API

How to Scrape Data from Websites

  1. Identify the target website
  2. Collect all the URLs of your targeted pages, where you want the extraction to be
  3. Make requests to these URLs to receive the HTML of the page
  4. You can use locators to find all the data in the HTML
  5. Finally, save all the data in a CSV or JSON file 

How to Use an API to Get Data

  1. Most APIs need a specific API key. 
  2. The most convenient way to use an API is simply by searching for an HTTP client online.
  3. To pull data from a specific API build URL from any existing API documentation.

Data Extraction from Website to Excel

  1. Go to “Data” then click “Get External Data.”
  2. Then a browser window will appear named “New Web Query”.
  3. In your address bar, write the specific web address.
  4. Then you’ll see the page will load and give yellow icons.
  5. Finally, press the “Import” button

Bottom Line

So, after going through this article, you’ll know how to scrape data using API. The process is straightforward if you know all the details. However, if you still face issues, you can always go through the entire blog to get more clarification on your required information. 

Manthan Koolwal

My name is Manthan Koolwal and I am the CEO of scrapingdog.com. I love creating scraper and seamless data pipelines.
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