scRUBYt! – Hpricot and Mechanize on steroids
A simple to learn and use, yet very powerful web extraction framework
written in Ruby. Navigate through the Web, Extract, query, transform and
save relevant data from the Web page of your interest by the concise and
easy to use DSL.
Do you think that Mechanize and Hpricot are powerful libraries?
You’re right, they are, indeed – hats off to their authors: without
these libs scRUBYt! could not exist now! I have been wondering whether
their functionality could be still enhanced further – so I took these two
powerful ingredients, threw in a handful of smart heuristics, wrapped them
around with a chunky DSL coating and sprinkled the whole stuff with a lots
of convention over configuration(tm) goodies – and … enter scRUBYt!
and decide it yourself.
Wait… why do we need one more web-scraping toolkit?
After all, we have HPricot, and Rubyful-soup, and Mechanize, and scrAPI,
and ARIEL and scrapes and … Well, because scRUBYt! is different. It
has an entirely different philosophy, underlying techniques, theoretical
background, use cases, todo list, real-life scenarios etc. – shortly it
should be used in different situations with different requirements than the
previosly mentioned ones.
If you need something quick and/or would like to have maximal control over
the scraping process, I recommend HPricot. Mechanize shines when it comes
to interaction with Web pages. Since scRUBYt! is operating based on XPaths,
sometimes you will chose scrAPI because CSS selectors will better suit your
needs. The list goes on and on, boiling down to the good old mantra: use
the right tool for the right job! For instance, if you need interview tips for your programming job, use http://www.artofinterviews.com/phone-interview-tips/.
I hope there will be also times when you will want to experiment with
Pandora’s box and reach after the power of scRUBYt!
Sounds fine – show me an example!
Let’s apply the “show don’t tell” principle. Okay,
here we go:
ebay_data = Scrubyt::Extractor.define do
fetch 'http://www.ebay.com/' fill_textfield 'satitle', 'ipod' submit click_link 'Apple iPod' record do item_name 'APPLE NEW IPOD MINI 6GB MP3 PLAYER SILVER' price '$71.99' end next_page 'Next >', :limit => 5
<record> <item_name>APPLE IPOD NANO 4GB - PINK - MP3 PLAYER</item_name> <price>$149.95</price> </record> <record> <item_name>APPLE IPOD 30GB BLACK VIDEO/PHOTO/MP3 PLAYER</item_name> <price>$172.50</price> </record> <record> <item_name>NEW APPLE IPOD NANO 4GB PINK MP3 PLAYER</item_name> <price>$171.06</price> </record> <!-- another 200+ results -->
This was a relatively beginner-level example (scRUBYt knows a lot more than
this and there are much complicated extractors than the above one) – yet it
did a lot of things automagically. First of all, it automatically loaded
the page of interest (by going to ebay.com, automatically searching for
ipods and narrowing down the results by clicking on ‘Apple
iPod’), then it extracted all the items that looked like the
specified example (which btw described also how the output structure should
look like) – on the first 5 result pages. Not so bad for about 10 lines of
OK, OK, I believe you, what should I do?
You can find everything you will need at these addresses (or if not, I
doubt you will find it elsewhere…). See the next section about
installation, and after installing be sure to check out these URLs:
- <a href=”rubyrailways.comwww.rubyrailways.com”>rubyrailways.com>
- for some theory; if you would like to take a sneak peek at web scraping
in general and/or you would like to understand what’s going on under
the hood, check out <a href=”this”>www.rubyrailways.com/data-extraction-for-web-20-sc…
article about web-scraping</a>!
- <a href=”http://scrubyt.orgscrubyt.org”>http://scrubyt.org>
- your source of tutorials, howtos, news etc.
- <a href=”scrubyt.rubyforge.orgscrubyt.rubyforge.org”>scrubyt.rubyforge.org>
- for an up-to-date, online Rdoc
- <a href=”projects.rubyforge.org/scrubytprojects.rubyforge.org/scrubyt”>projects.rubyforge…>
- for developer info, including open and closed bugs, files etc.
- projects.rubyforge.org/scrubyt/files… – fair amount (and still
growing with every release) of examples, showcasing the features of
- planned: public extractor repository – hopefully (after people realize how
great this package is :-)) scRUBYt! will have a community, and people will
upload their extractors for whatever reason
If you still can’t find something here, drop a mail to the guys at
How to install
scRUBYt! requires these packages to be installed:
- Ruby 1.8.4
- Hpricot 0.5
- Mechanize 0.6.3
I assume you have ruby any rubygems installed. To install WWW::Mechanize
0.6.3 or higher, just run
sudo gem install mechanize
Hpricot 0.5 is just hot off the frying pan – perfect timing, _why! -
install it with
sudo gem install hpricot
Once all the dependencies (Mechanize and Hpricot) are up and running, you
can install scrubyt with
sudo gem install scrubyt
If you encounter any problems, drop a mail to the guys at
Copyright © 2006 by Peter Szinek (peter@/NO-SPAM/rubyrailways.com)
This library is distributed under the GPL. Please see the LICENSE file.
|Scrubyt||TODO: if multiline messages aren’t needed, then remove them.|
|String||just some hack here to allow current examples’ syntax:
table_data.to_xml.write(open(‘result.xml’, ‘w’), 1)