Web-scraping JavaScript page with Python

Web-scraping JavaScript page with Python

EDIT Sept 2021: phantomjs isnt maintained any more, either

EDIT 30/Dec/2017: This answer appears in top results of Google searches, so I decided to update it. The old answer is still at the end.

dryscape isnt maintained anymore and the library dryscape developers recommend is Python 2 only. I have found using Seleniums python library with Phantom JS as a web driver fast enough and easy to get the work done.

Once you have installed Phantom JS, make sure the phantomjs binary is available in the current path:

phantomjs --version
# result:

To give an example, I created a sample page with following HTML code. (link):

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <meta charset=utf-8>
  <title>Javascript scraping test</title>
  <p id=intro-text>No javascript support</p>
     document.getElementById(intro-text).innerHTML = Yay! Supports javascript;

without javascript it says: No javascript support and with javascript: Yay! Supports javascript

#Scraping without JS support:

import requests
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
response = requests.get(my_url)
soup = BeautifulSoup(response.text)
# Result:
<p id=intro-text>No javascript support</p>

#Scraping with JS support:

from selenium import webdriver
driver = webdriver.PhantomJS()
p_element = driver.find_element_by_id(id_=intro-text)
# result:
Yay! Supports javascript

You can also use Python library dryscrape to scrape javascript driven websites.

#Scraping with JS support:

import dryscrape
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
session = dryscrape.Session()
response = session.body()
soup = BeautifulSoup(response)
# Result:
<p id=intro-text>Yay! Supports javascript</p>

We are not getting the correct results because any javascript generated content needs to be rendered on the DOM. When we fetch an HTML page, we fetch the initial, unmodified by javascript, DOM.

Therefore we need to render the javascript content before we crawl the page.

As selenium is already mentioned many times in this thread (and how slow it gets sometimes was mentioned also), I will list two other possible solutions.

Solution 1: This is a very nice tutorial on how to use Scrapy to crawl javascript generated content and we are going to follow just that.

What we will need:

  1. Docker installed in our machine. This is a plus over other solutions until this point, as it utilizes an OS-independent platform.

  2. Install Splash following the instruction listed for our corresponding OS.
    Quoting from splash documentation:

    Splash is a javascript rendering service. It’s a lightweight web browser with an HTTP API, implemented in Python 3 using Twisted and QT5.

    Essentially we are going to use Splash to render Javascript generated content.

  3. Run the splash server: sudo docker run -p 8050:8050 scrapinghub/splash.

  4. Install the scrapy-splash plugin: pip install scrapy-splash

  5. Assuming that we already have a Scrapy project created (if not, lets make one), we will follow the guide and update the settings.py:

    Then go to your scrapy project’s settings.py and set these middlewares:

          scrapy_splash.SplashCookiesMiddleware: 723,
          scrapy_splash.SplashMiddleware: 725,
          scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.httpcompression.HttpCompressionMiddleware: 810,

    The URL of the Splash server(if you’re using Win or OSX this should be the URL of the docker machine: How to get a Docker containers IP address from the host?):

    SPLASH_URL = http://localhost:8050

    And finally you need to set these values too:

    DUPEFILTER_CLASS = scrapy_splash.SplashAwareDupeFilter
    HTTPCACHE_STORAGE = scrapy_splash.SplashAwareFSCacheStorage
  6. Finally, we can use a SplashRequest:

    In a normal spider you have Request objects which you can use to open URLs. If the page you want to open contains JS generated data you have to use SplashRequest(or SplashFormRequest) to render the page. Here’s a simple example:

    class MySpider(scrapy.Spider):
        name = jsscraper
        start_urls = [http://quotes.toscrape.com/js/]
        def start_requests(self):
            for url in self.start_urls:
            yield SplashRequest(
                url=url, callback=self.parse, endpoint=render.html
        def parse(self, response):
            for q in response.css(div.quote):
            quote = QuoteItem()
            quote[author] = q.css(.author::text).extract_first()
            quote[quote] = q.css(.text::text).extract_first()
            yield quote

    SplashRequest renders the URL as html and returns the response which you can use in the callback(parse) method.

Solution 2: Lets call this experimental at the moment (May 2018)…
This solution is for Pythons version 3.6 only (at the moment).

Do you know the requests module (well who doesnt)?
Now it has a web crawling little sibling: requests-HTML:

This library intends to make parsing HTML (e.g. scraping the web) as simple and intuitive as possible.

  1. Install requests-html: pipenv install requests-html

  2. Make a request to the pages url:

    from requests_html import HTMLSession
    session = HTMLSession()
    r = session.get(a_page_url)
  3. Render the response to get the Javascript generated bits:


Finally, the module seems to offer scraping capabilities.
Alternatively, we can try the well-documented way of using BeautifulSoup with the r.html object we just rendered.

Web-scraping JavaScript page with Python

Maybe selenium can do it.

from selenium import webdriver
import time

driver = webdriver.Firefox()
htmlSource = driver.page_source

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