Over the years, the giant tech names such as Facebook and Linkedin have filed suits against scraping companies to prevent them from gathering data from these popular websites. When hiQ won the legal battle against Microsoft’s Linkedin, the world of web scraping got that final boost to emerge as a mainstream field in the digital era.
Web scraping dates back to the time when the internet was born. In its many versions, everybody was using web scraping or in simple terms, extracting information from the worldwide web one way or the other. Today, however, web crawling as technology has become a superior power, with data essentially translating to money.
From merely collecting data to monitoring and analyzing them, the history of web crawling is quite an interesting one.
The Beginning of Web Scraping
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of web scrapers. The first WebCrawler was launched in 1994, serving as a search engine to provide a full-text search. In the same year, NASA developed a Repository Based Software Engineering program to index and gather statistics.
In the second generation of scrapers, web solutions were categorized into two; focused and large-scale solutions. Focused crawlers provided site-specific data that could be personally customized. Large scale crawlers that could expand to global scale scraping and indexing were developed by providers such as Excite and Google.
In-House and Commercial Development
By the beginning of 2010s, companies started recognizing the potential of web crawling. A growing number of individual developers and organizations began to create their web scraping solutions. Enterprises that could afford a dedicated team would benefit from a proxy provider comparison tool and set up an in-house team to build scalable web scrapers.
The next set of tools gave quick access to web data, allowing anyone to use it to their benefit. With this guide to web scraping proxies, small companies could resort to DIY solutions as a reliable tool for small companies. However, these commercial tools came with limitations to sizes and couldn’t adapt swiftly enough to the changing complexity of the internet.
Web Scraping Outsourcing
The latest set of web scraping solutions comes with a variety of methods to offer you customized solutions. Commercial web scraping companies began to provide outsourcing models allowing companies to focus on their business while delegating the task of web crawling to an external team.
While the approach has evolved, it is, in fact, the functionality that has become more advanced. Web scraping today has a series of advantages in identifying customer behavioral models to devising an entire business strategy.
Today, eCommerce websites, social media, travel, and job portals have become the most coveted domains of web crawling. As long as the internet exists, the need for data and means to acquire it will also be in demand. Much like any other technology, it has indisputable advantages, and with a smart and ethical approach could benefit your business for the foreseeable future.