Scraping Websites Without Requests: 4 Python Alternatives

Feb 3, 2024 ยท 2 min read

The Python Requests module is a popular, easy way to download web pages and scrape data. But what if you need an alternative? Maybe Requests is blocked, too heavy, or doesn't fit your use case. Here are 5 good options to scrape websites without Requests.

First, let's recap why Requests gained popularity. It provides a simple interface to make HTTP requests and handle responses. Code like:

import requests

response = requests.get('http://example.com')
print(response.text)

This simplicity and elegance made Requests a go-to choice. But it's not always the right tool.

1. urllib

The urllib module is Python's built-in HTTP client. It's lower level than Requests but more flexible. For example:

from urllib.request import urlopen

with urlopen('http://example.com') as response:
   html = response.read()
   print(html)

The advantage over Requests is you avoid importing another dependency. The downside is working at a lower level, but for simple GET requests urllib works great.

2. httpx

httpx brands itself as a next-gen HTTP client, aimed at both HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/2. At a high level the API is similar to Requests:

import httpx

with httpx.Client() as client:
  response = client.get('http://example.com')
  print(response.text)

So why choose httpx over Requests? A few reasons:

  • Modern HTTP features like HTTP/2 and async
  • More control over configuration
  • Active development
  • So if you want latest and greatest, check out httpx.

    3. scrapy

    Scrapy is a popular web scraping framework. It's overkill if you just want to fetch a page. But Scrapy shines for crawling many pages by handling:

  • Asynchronous requests
  • Scheduling and throttling
  • Scraped data handling
  • So for large scraping projects, Scrapy is a good alternative to doing it manually with Requests.

    4. selenium

    Sometimes you need to render JavaScript to get updated content. That's where Selenium shines. By controlling a browser, it can render JS and give you the updated page source.

    The syntax is a bit messy, but Selenium has become a standard for dynamic scraping.

    In Summary

    The Requests module makes most scraping easy, but has some downsides. Depending on your use case, excellent alternatives exist like urllib, httpx, Scrapy, Selenium and cloud scrapers. Each brings different strengths to tackle scraping needs where Requests falls short.

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