Web Scraping with Rust & ChatGPT

Sep 25, 2023 ยท 4 min read

Rust is a great language for web scraping thanks to its speed, memory safety and concurrency features. ChatGPT is an AI assistant that can provide explanations and generate code for scraping tasks. This article covers web scraping in Rust with ChatGPT's help.

Setting Up a Rust Environment

You'll need Rust installed along with these crates:

// reqwest for HTTP requests
cargo add reqwest

// selectors for DOM parsing
cargo add selectors

// csv for CSV output
cargo add csv

Introduction to Web Scraping in Rust

Web scraping involves sending HTTP requests to websites and extracting data from the HTML, JSON or XML responses. Useful Rust crates:

  • reqwest - HTTP client for sending requests
  • selectors - Extract data from HTML/XML documents
  • scraper - High level scraping framework
  • Typical web scraping workflow:

  • Send request to download a page
  • Parse response and extract relevant data
  • Store scraped data
  • Repeat for other pages
  • Using ChatGPT for Web Scraping Help

    ChatGPT is an AI assistant created by OpenAI to be helpful, harmless, and honest. It can provide explanations and generate code snippets for web scraping:

    Getting Explanations

    Ask ChatGPT to explain web scraping concepts or specifics:

  • How to use selectors to extract text from paragraph elements
  • Strategies for scraping content spread across pagination
  • Generating Code Snippets

    Give a description of what you want to scrape and have ChatGPT provide starter Rust code:

  • Scrape product listings into a CSV file
  • Parse date strings into chrono::DateTime when extracting dates
  • Validate any code before using.

    Improving Prompts

    Ask ChatGPT to suggest ways to improve your prompt if it doesn't provide helpful responses.

    Asking Follow-up Questions

    Chat with ChatGPT to get explanations for any other questions you have.

    Explaining Errors

    Share any errors and ask ChatGPT to debug and explain the problem.

    Web Scraping Example Using ChatGPT

    Let's walk through scraping a Wikipedia page with ChatGPT's assistance.

    Goal

    Extract the chronology table from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe

    Step 1: Download page

    ChatGPT: Rust code to download this page:
    <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe>
    
    // ChatGPT provides this code
    use reqwest;
    
    let resp = reqwest::get("<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe>")?;
    let html = resp.text()?;
    

    Step 2: Inspect HTML, table has class wikitable

    Step 3: Extract table data to CSV

    ChatGPT: Rust code to extract wikitable table to CSV
    
    // ChatGPT provides this code
    use selectors;
    use csv;
    
    let doc = selectors::Document::from(html.as_str());
    
    let table = doc.select("table.wikitable").first().unwrap();
    
    let mut headers = Vec::new();
    table.select("thead th").for_each(|h| headers.push(h.text()));
    
    let mut rows = Vec::new();
    table.select("tbody tr").for_each(|r| {
      let mut row = Vec::new();
      r.select("td").for_each(|c| {
        row.push(c.text());
      });
      rows.push(row);
    });
    
    // write rows to CSV
    // ...
    

    This demonstrates using ChatGPT to get Rust scraping code quickly.

    Conclusion

    Key points:

  • Rust provides speed, safety and concurrency for web scraping
  • ChatGPT can explain concepts and provide Rust code
  • Inspect HTML to understand how to extract the desired data
  • Follow best practices like throttling requests, randomizing user agents
  • Web scraping allows gathering data from websites at scale with Rust
  • ChatGPT + Rust is a powerful combo for building web scrapers.

    However, some limitations:

  • Handling anti-scraping measures like CAPTCHAs
  • Avoiding IP blocks when running locally
  • Rendering complex JavaScript pages
  • A more robust solution is using a web scraping API like Proxies API

    Proxies API provides:

  • Millions of proxy IPs to prevent blocks
  • Automated solving of CAPTCHAs
  • JavaScript rendering with headless browsing
  • Simple API instead of running your own scrapers
  • Easily scrape any site:

    let client = reqwest::Client::new();
    let resp = client.get("<https://api.proxiesapi.com/?url=example.com&key=XXX>");
    

    Get started now with 1000 free API calls to supercharge your web scraping!

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