The Call of the Web Scraper

Astrid, our Data Big Bang and Nektra content editor, is heading to Nepal on a birding and trekking quest. She needs birds sounds from xeno-canto and The Internet Bird Collection to identify the hundreds of species found in Nepal, but the site does not offer batch downloads. We could not pass up the opportunity to offer a useful scraper for birders. We found a blog post with code to download batches of recordings for specific species (not specific countries): Web Scraping with BeautifulSoup and Python. Like most script developers. we want to do things our own way. Our code allows simultaneous download of calls to speed up the process for specially diverse countries.

Web scraping is often associated with indecorous Internet behavior, but in fact, it is also a way to automate tedious manual work. Imagine that you want to have the complete schedule from EasyJet to choose a flight. It can take less than one hour to scrape all the desired routes. Right now there are no entry-level tools for scraping sites like there are for photo editing. Fortunately, script developers share their scraping code on sites like ScraperWiki.

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