It does seem disgustingly easy, but once you move from "getting" the data to "understanding" the data it becomes a beastly nightmare. So thank you to the OP for helping raise "give scrapers some credit" awareness.
Except scrapers that don't respect robots.txt or meta noindex - a pox on their houses....
Of course, by the time they come around, they will have driven down market prices as well as hackers' image on the whole, with their "Easy! 2 days max, here's the expected cost", invariably followed by "Give me an extra week or two, I'm almost there".
Eventually they'll learn, then come and vent on HN. The circle of life.
One of my company's biggest sellers is a tool that does web scraping. And since we charge a monthly fee for it (I don't think most people realize that our server fees alone run nearly $2,000 a month for this, and that's with amazing deals on web hosting), we get a lot of "Pfft--how hard could that really be to build?"
The answer is: It's easy--if you're only scraping one site, in small quantities. The minute you try to implement in Unicode (we have) or bundle it all in a report, or keep an ongoing cache of what your scraper found, or heck, scale it to millions of scrapes per month, all cached and indexed--now you are looking at something difficult.
We have a talented team, we're 16 months into this, and we've since seen competitors pop up all over the place. They all get a few customers and then run into scaling issues. It's one of those markets that seems seductively easy, but really isn't. And since there are many competitors lowballing, we've had to focus even more development time on awesome features to stay ahead of the curve.
I wish articles like this woke people up. Unfortunately, once you're committed and have a few customers, it's easy to rationalize going deeper. But web scraping can be a tricky industry to turn a profit in, especially if you are relying on a small and fickle customer base.
That is always the way, in any industry (those producing real holdable products as well as those of us producing code and other less tangible output). If you make something good and charge fairly for it, someone else will make a lower quality version & sell it cheaper and people will start expecting you to match that price without dropping any quality. The problem with software is that you often can't see the corners that have been cut until much later than with physical products (where you might have a chance of spotting the shoddy workmanship before you hand over any money), so competing on quality can be difficult (the competition can make the same quality claims as you can, whether they be true or not) meaning you end up having to compete on features.
I've written my share of scrapers and they are almost always a major PITA unless you're just doing a drive-by for one or two DOM elements. Scraping often will end up to be extremely time consuming, although there is rarely significant challenge to it. Just a lot of monotonous, mind-numbing, tedious work.
My advice to most freelancers is: avoid scrapers until you get some teammates to share in the agony.
Hehe, I guess some of those also ask: "Why can't you just parse the HTML with a regex?" ;-)
That being said, I think it's great that he's still maintaining BS, and porting it to Python 3 in particular - it keeps existing code working and will allow more people to make the switch. And a responsible and committed maintainer is good advertising for a package in itself, of course.
Any suggestions to where I should be looking? Python? XSLT?
If you want to help people writing these things, using hAtom in your HTML is a really good idea.
Edit: It's basically a service that abstracts out scraping for those that want to create a readability type project.
I've got one last thing to add and then it will be ready for mass consumption.
Scraping is a technicality and, as such, trivial. As the article points out, processing the scraped content and getting useful results is the hard part.
I'm running some scrapers for customers but the information they want exist in structured form on the various websites. Thank goodness.
And there are additional resources at the end.
You're missing that there are 81 stanzas and Readability keeps exactly one.
Works fine for me.
I wrote my own scraper framework for various page types (I don't want to go into too many details) and my latest uses approx 500GB of bandwidth/month. I run it on one VPS for around $50/month.
They have a VPS plan with 2TB of bandwidth and you can upgrade the storage. I think my Mysql DB is currently around 20GB.