Scraping all the Images from a Website using CSharp

Dec 13, 2023 · 6 min read

Are you curious about how to scrape data and images from a website using C#? Web scraping can be a powerful tool for collecting information from the web, and in this article, we'll walk you through the process step by step. We'll be using C# along with the HtmlAgilityPack library to extract data from a webpage. Our example scenario involves collecting data about different dog breeds from Wikipedia.

This is page we are talking about…

Step 1: Installation Instructions

Before we dive into the code, let's make sure you have the necessary tools and libraries installed. We'll be using C# for this project, so you should have a basic understanding of the language.

To get started, you'll need to install the HtmlAgilityPack library. You can do this using NuGet Package Manager in Visual Studio or by running the following command in your project's directory:

Install-Package HtmlAgilityPack

With the library installed, we're ready to move on to the code.

Step 2: Code Overview

Our goal is to extract data from a specific webpage and save images related to each entry. Here's a high-level overview of what our code does:

  1. Send an HTTP GET request to the webpage using a user-agent header to simulate a browser request.
  2. Check the HTTP status code to ensure the request was successful.
  3. Extract data from an HTML table on the webpage, including breed names, groups, local names, and image URLs.
  4. Download and save images to a local folder.
  5. Store the extracted data in lists for further processing.
  6. Output the data to the console or use it for other purposes.

Let's break down each step in detail.

Step 3: User-Agent Header

In web scraping, it's essential to send a user-agent header with your request to mimic a real browser. This helps avoid being blocked by the website. In our code, we define a user-agent header as follows:

string userAgent =
    "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/58.0.3029.110 Safari/537.36";

Step 4: Sending an HTTP GET Request

We use the HtmlWeb class from the HtmlAgilityPack library to send an HTTP GET request to the specified URL and load the webpage content into an HTML document object.

HtmlWeb web = new HtmlWeb();
web.UserAgent = userAgent;
HtmlDocument doc = web.Load(url);

Step 5: Checking HTTP Status Code

It's crucial to check the HTTP status code to ensure the request was successful. We do this using the following code snippet:

if (web.StatusCode == HttpStatusCode.OK)
{
    // Web scraping code goes here...
}
else
{
    Console.WriteLine("Failed to retrieve the web page. Status code: " + (int)web.StatusCode);
}

Step 6: Data Extraction

The heart of our code lies in the data extraction process.

Inspecting the page

You can see when you use the chrome inspect tool that the data is in a table element with the class wikitable and sortable

We extract data from an HTML table with the class 'wikitable sortable'. The selectors used here are critical for beginners to understand:

HtmlNode table = doc.DocumentNode.SelectSingleNode("//table[@class='wikitable sortable']");

Once we have selected the table, we proceed to extract data from its rows and columns. Each row represents information about a different dog breed, and we skip the header row using .Skip(1).

Here's how we extract data from the columns:

foreach (HtmlNode row in table.SelectNodes("tr").Skip(1))
{
    HtmlNodeCollection columns = row.SelectNodes("td|th");
    if (columns.Count == 4)
    {
        // Extract data from each column
        string name = columns[0].SelectSingleNode("a").InnerText.Trim();
        string group = columns[1].InnerText.Trim();

        // Check if the second column contains a span element
        HtmlNode spanTag = columns[2].SelectSingleNode("span");
        string localName = spanTag?.InnerText.Trim() ?? "";

        // Check for the existence of an image tag within the fourth column
        HtmlNode imgTag = columns[3].SelectSingleNode("img");
        string photograph = imgTag?.GetAttributeValue("src", "") ?? "";

        // Download the image and save it to the folder
        if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(photograph))
        {
            using (WebClient client = new WebClient())
            {
                byte[] imageData = client.DownloadData(photograph);
                string imageFileName = Path.Combine("dog_images", $"{name}.jpg");
                File.WriteAllBytes(imageFileName, imageData);
            }
        }

        // Append data to respective lists
        names.Add(name);
        groups.Add(group);
        localNames.Add(localName);
        photographs.Add(photograph);
    }
}

Step 7: Storing Data

We initialize lists (names, groups, localNames, and photographs) to store the extracted data. These lists are populated as we iterate through the rows of the table.

Step 8: Image Download

Images related to each dog breed are downloaded using the WebClient class. We check for the existence of an image tag within the fourth column of each row and download the image if it exists. The images are saved to a local folder named "dog_images."

Step 9: Outputting Data

After extracting and processing the data, we can print it to the console or use it for various purposes. In the code provided, the data is printed to the console, but you can modify it to suit your needs.

Step 10: Next Steps

With the extracted data in hand, you can explore various possibilities. You might want to perform data analysis, create visualizations, or store the data in a database for future reference.

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