Is Scrapy faster than BeautifulSoup?

Feb 5, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Two popular Python libraries used for web scraping are Scrapy and BeautifulSoup. But which one is faster for scraping data? Here's an in-depth comparison.

What is Scrapy?

Scrapy is a dedicated web crawling and scraping framework for Python. Key features:

  • Crawling - Scrapy follows links to scrape data from multiple pages
  • Selectors - Easily extract data using CSS selectors and XPath
  • Asynchronous - Crawling runs asynchronously for faster scraping
  • Pipelines - Process scraped data using pipelines
  • For example:

    import scrapy
    
    class BookSpider(scrapy.Spider):
      name = 'books'
      
      def start_requests(self):
        urls = [
          'http://books.toscrape.com/catalogue/page-1.html',
          'http://books.toscrape.com/catalogue/page-2.html',
        ]
        for url in urls:
          yield scrapy.Request(url=url, callback=self.parse)
          
      def parse(self, response):
        for book in response.css('article.product_pod'):
          yield {
            'title': book.xpath('./h3/a/@title').get(),
            'price': book.css('p.price_color::text').get(),
          } 

    This spider crawls multiple pages and scrapes book titles and prices.

    What is BeautifulSoup?

    BeautifulSoup is a popular Python library used to parse HTML and XML documents. Key features:

  • Parsing - Beautifully parses markup code like HTML
  • Searching - Find elements using tags, attributes, text content
  • Editing - Modify the document tree
  • For example:

    from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
    import requests
    
    url = 'http://books.toscrape.com/catalogue/page-1.html'  
    response = requests.get(url)
    
    soup = BeautifulSoup(response.text, 'html.parser')
    titles = soup.find_all(class_='product_pod') 
    
    for title in titles:
      print(title.h3.a['title'])
      print(title.find(class_='price_color').get_text())

    This scrapes book titles and prices from a single page.

    Verdict: Scrapy is Faster

    While both libraries can scrape data, Scrapy is faster for large scale web scraping because:

  • Asynchronous crawling
  • Handling multiple pages
  • Customizable pipelines
  • BeautifulSoup parses single pages well but lacks Scrapy's performance optimizations for large crawls.

    In summary, Scrapy is a faster dedicated web scraping framework while BeautifulSoup excels at parsing HTML/XML.

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