Scraping Craigslist Listings with Perl

Oct 1, 2023 · 4 min read

This article explains how to scrape Craigslist apartment listings using Perl and the modules LWP::UserAgent and HTML::TreeBuilder. We'll go through each part of the code.

First install the modules if needed:

cpan LWP::UserAgent
cpan HTML::TreeBuilder

Use the modules:

use LWP::UserAgent;
use HTML::TreeBuilder;

LWP::UserAgent handles HTTP requests. HTML::TreeBuilder parses HTML.

Set the URL to scrape:

my $url = '<https://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/apa>';

Make the HTTP request and get the response:

my $ua = LWP::UserAgent->new;
my $response = $ua->get($url);

Parse the HTML into a tree:

my $tree = HTML::TreeBuilder->new;
$tree->parse($response->content);

If you check the source code of Craigslist listings you can see that the listings area code looks something like this…

You can see the code block that generates the listing…

<li class="cl-static-search-result" title="Situated in Sunnyvale!, Recycling Center, 1/BD">
            <a href="https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/apa/d/santa-clara-situated-in-sunnyvale/7666802370.html">
                <div class="title">Situated in Sunnyvale!, Recycling Center, 1/BD</div>

                <div class="details">
                    <div class="price">$2,150</div>
                    <div class="location">
                        sunnyvale
                    </div>
                </div>
            </a>
        </li>

its encapsulated in the cl-static-search-result class. We also need to get the title class div and the price and location class divs to get all the data

Get all listing nodes:

my @listings = $tree->look_down('_tag', 'li', sub {
  # must have cl-static-search-result class
  my $class = $_->attr('class');
  return ($class && $class =~ /cl-static-search-result/);
});

Loop through listings and extract info:

for my $listing (@listings) {

  my $title = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'div', sub {
    return $_->attr('class') eq 'title'; 
  })->as_text;

  my $price = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'div', sub { 
    return $_->attr('class') eq 'price'; 
  })->as_text;

  my $location = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'div', sub {
    return $_->attr('class') eq 'location';  
  })->as_text;

  my $link = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'a')->attr('href');

  print "$title $price $location $link\n";

}

The full Perl code:

use LWP::UserAgent;
use HTML::TreeBuilder;

my $url = '<https://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/apa>';

my $ua = LWP::UserAgent->new;
my $response = $ua->get($url);

my $tree = HTML::TreeBuilder->new;
$tree->parse($response->content);

my @listings = $tree->look_down('_tag', 'li', sub {
  my $class = $_->attr('class');
  return ($class && $class =~ /cl-static-search-result/);
});

for my $listing (@listings) {

  my $title = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'div', sub {
    return $_->attr('class') eq 'title'; 
  })->as_text;

  my $price = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'div', sub { 
    return $_->attr('class') eq 'price'; 
  })->as_text;

  my $location = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'div', sub {
    return $_->attr('class') eq 'location';  
  })->as_text;

  my $link = $listing->look_down('_tag', 'a')->attr('href');

  print "$title $price $location $link\n";

}

This walks through scraping Craigslist listings in Perl.

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