Puppeteer.js: Web Scraping with a Headless Browser

Puppeteer.js: Web Scraping with a Headless Browser

What exactly is Puppeteer? It's a Node.js library which provides a high-level API to control headless Chrome or Chromium or to interact with the DevTools protocol. Web development heavily relies on testing mechanisms for the quality checks before we push them into the production environment. A complex…

Web development heavily relies on testing mechanisms for the quality checks before we push them into the production environment. A complex website will require a complex structure of test suites before we deploy it anywhere. Headless browsers considerably reduce the testing time involved in web development as there is no overhead of any UI. These browsers allow us to crunch more web pages in lesser time.

In this blog, we will learn to scrape websites on these headless browsers using Puppeteer Js and asynchronous programming. Before we start with scraping websites, let us learn more about the Puppeteer Js.

What is Puppeteer

Puppeteer is an API library with the DevTools protocol to control Chrome or Chromium. It is usually headless but can be set to operate Chrome or Chromium in its whole (non-headless). Furthermore, Puppeteer is a library of nodes that we can use to monitor a Chrome instance without heads (UI).

We use Chrome under the hood, but it will be JavaScript programmatically. Puppeteer is the Google Chrome team’s official Chrome headless browser. It may not be most effective as it breaks up a fresh Chrome example when it is initialized. This is the most accurate way to automate Chrome testing, though because it uses the actual navigator.

Web scraping using Puppeteer

In this article, we will be using puppeteer to scrape the product listing from a website. Puppeteer will use the headless chrome browser to open the web page and query back all the results. Before we start actually implementing puppeteer for web scraping, we will look into its setup and installation.

After that, we will implement a simple use case where we will go to an e-commerce website and search for a product and scrape all the results. All the above tasks will be programmatically handled by using the puppeteer library. Furthermore, we will use the node js language to accomplish the above-defined task.

Installing puppeteer

Let us begin with the installation. Puppeteer is a node javascript library and hence, we will need node js installed on our machine. Node js come with npm (node package manager) which will help us to install the puppeteer package.

Download the Node js from the official site and install it.

You can use the below command to install the puppeteer package

npm install — save puppeteer

Since we have all the dependencies installed now, we can start implementing our scraping use case using puppeteer. We will be controlling actions on the website using our node JS program powered by the puppeteer package.

Scraping products list using puppeteer

Step1: Visiting the page and searching for a product

In this section, we will initialize a puppeteer object first. This object has access to all the utility functions available in the puppeteer package. In this section, our program visits the website, then it searches for the product search bar on the website. Upon finding the search elements, it types the product name in the search bar and loads the result. We gave the product name to the program using the command line arguments

puppeteer javascript web-scraping programming nodejs

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