What is the Google Chrome Scraper extension?
The Google Chrome Scraper extension is a browser extension for Google Chrome that allows users to quickly and easily scrape data from websites inside the browser.
How do you get started using it?
To get started, you can download the extension from the Chrome Web Store or the scraper’s official website. The site also includes tutorials, documentations, screenshots, test sites to help first-time users practice using the tool, and links to a help forum and bug tracker. If you have no experience scraping, I recommend reading through these resources to get a sense of how to use these programs, and watching the introductory video:
If you know the basics of scraping, the documentation is still useful for getting a sense of the capabilities and specificities of the tool. For example, the scraper supports many types of selectors and methods for selecting. The extension also supports pagination, or scraping through multiple pages of a website.
How easy or hard is it? What skills do you need to become proficient in it?
This scraper is similar to many other scrapers available today. If one has experience scraping, the tool is very intuitive. If one has little or no experience scraping, the documentation is fairly comprehensive without being overwhelming, and there are plenty of opportunities for support.
However, to become proficient in the tool, one must understand the process of scraping, as well as concepts such as selector trees, different types of selectors, and pagination. Learning these concepts, as well as how to use the tool, does take some time and effort. It took me, with some prior scraping experience, about an hour to read through all of the documentation and to learn how to use the tool.
Because it is a Chrome extension, no other downloads, software, or account is required, unlike some other tools, such as import.io. The tool, much to the delight of my Linux-loving heart, has no operating system requirements. However, the extension only works for Chrome, so you must have a current version of the browser installed.
One drawback to the tool is that data can only be downloaded in csv format, so if you are looking to use it in a database– MySQL, for example– you must import it manually or find some other workaround.
I also suspect, judging it based on its simplicity, that this tool is not as powerful as some other scraper tools. However, for what it is– a free browser extension– the tool is quite powerful.
Would you recommend this to a friend?
I would recommend this to anyone looking for an easy way to scrape data from websites into a csv form easily and without obligation to create an account or download specialty software. Because the tool is a Chrome extension, acquiring the tool is simple. The documentation makes it rather easy for novices to use the tool, especially if they have a baseline knowledge of scraping.
Will you consider using it for your final data story?
I will definitely consider using this tool for my final data story. This scraper tool is free, intuitive, powerful, and requires no account. The documentation and web support are well-rounded, giving me confidence that I will be able to work out any snags I encounter.