Content Grabber is an authoritative, market capturing and multi-functional web scraping (online data extraction) engine as well as web automation solution. It is created and brought to you by the same group of developers who gave life to Visual Web Ripper. On top of all the VWR functionality, they glued much more modules, for dynamic websites with more complex structure, which in turn brought Content Grabber to existence. This article uncovers the facts why Content Grabber is constantly raising its popularity bar both in the market and in the mind of data miners.
Such a well equipped web scraping engine is aimed to be a single package solution for hundreds of web automation problems and data collection related tasks which are time consuming but more productive when done through such an automation tool.
As technologies evolved, businesses critically started relying on huge amount of data and its deep analysis for their success. It was the point where web scrapping field emerged to the scene. Content grabber helped variety of business in such matter not by just making scraping of complex websites possible but to create, box and sell independent web scrapping solutions. Data integrity and reliability are ensured thorough in depth debugging, logging and error recovery features.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Content Grabber Overview
- 1.1 Application Details
- 1.2 Content Grabber’s Workflow
- 1.3 Developers Focused Tools
- 1.4 Features For Experienced Developers
- 1.5 Premium, Professional and Server Editions
- 1.6 A single Con which is not actually a con
- 1.7 Summarizing Content Grabber
Content Grabber Overview
Content Grabber designers and developer team has deeply considered a wide range of user having basic to advance capabilities. Un-experienced computer users can use visual drag-drop (point and click) features to achieve different scraping tasks done. Other experienced users with IT knowledge can control web scraping agents through their programming skills. Either way both visual and coding capabilities can be combined to extend the limits of what content grabber already provides you. Most considerable and distinctive features are uncovered below with detailed explanations.
1- Visual Data Scraper
Content Grabber precisely implemented its visual user interface combined with in-order sequence of steps, keeping in mind the flow of web scraping task. The only steps you have to perform is to browse the website to be scraped in its built in web browser and select the web elements containing data of your interest, in a specific order or path that you want the content gabber to follow and pick the data in its way.
All the steps are tracked and recorded by the application itself automatically, so users’s intervention is not needed to save the steps. In the end what you have a visually programmed scraping agent that is fully automated and un-attended (No user interaction required).
2- Stand Alone (Self-Contained) Agents
Once I used it, the most appealing feature that strikes me in content grabber is its in-built compiler which let you convert your programmed scraping agent into independent Windows executable file which is run-able without the need of exterior aid.
Is it a rocket science creating such an independent agent? No, after creating your agent project , go to File -> Export Agent, where from the dialog box you choose Create Self-contained agent. That’s it.
3- Integrating Agents with Web Applications
Premium edition of Content Grabber is like a mine providing raw material for refineries producing gold. Having that, not only you can run your scraping agents to collect data but you can automate your web applications by feeding extracted data directly via content grabber programming APIs.
Mostly websites like job boards, price comparison portals, financial reporting and various other businesses critically relying on data uses content grabber’s created agents to fetch thousands of data posts from web and directly transfer it to database connected to their web applications automatically, without needing human intervention. For more information please check Content grabber’s Programming Interface.
Even more, it’s possible to run multiple copies of the same web scraping agents for individual web users and manage all those instances from single point of control.
4- Supports Scraping Of dynamic websites
As complexity in web technology evolved, content grabber also equipped itself with the features to meet such challenges. Despite the complication, this marvelous scraping engine can carve up any kind of dynamic websites on the web. This Video can better help you understand how you can build an agent for dynamic website to grab data from it, in just one minute.
|Software Name||Content Grabber|
|Full support Via||Email, Phone; You can get demo agents to run and test.|
|Pricing||Starting at $995 (Professional Edition).|
|Free version||Trial period is 15 days, with all functionalities|
|Operating System (Supported)||Windows (Xp/Vista/7/8/8.1/10)|
|Output Data formats||All Excel File formats like .XLS and .CSV.
Database Formats Like: SQL Server, MySQL, SQLite, Oracle and OleDB
Programmed VB Script and C# files
|Fast Speed Multi-threading||Supported|
|API Support||Available – A fully fledged Application Programming interface for web integration.|
Content Grabber’s Workflow
Agents created in content grabber are not more than a list of commands to run in a defined order until finished. While browsing and selecting elements, all required commands are generated in background and recorded in sequence of steps you do. Agent Explorer inside Content Grabber is where all those recorded commands are listed.
Macro Automation embedded inside content grabber simplifies the way you create agent visually. If you are and IT expert and understand the programming logic, you can directly code the commands. That way it covers both basic to advanced users with provided flexibility.
Configure Agent Command panel provide you more granular control over deep configuration of each individual command being focused.
Developers Focused Tools
Content grabber not only provides you flexible agents but also ensures its reliability in every way so that the outcome of web scraping is 100% accurate. Not only output data but management of massive amount of agents is possible through a single centralized point of control where you can manage, run, shut down, schedule agents, check status ( like completed or incomplete agents) is displayed along last run date and time.
All such info is shown in a simple tabular window. Detailed enterprise level logging and debugging feature is incorporated to let you recover from errors quickly. Furthermore it’s not a big deal to handle connection between databases, script libraries and conditional notifications as per agent bases.
Features For Experienced Developers
- As it supports a range of users with basic to advance level of expertise, it provides both ‘Simple Layout, and ‘Expert Layout’. You can switch between both of these layouts through Application Settings menu. Expert level layout is intended for developers who want to have additional precise controls over the management of database connections, library files management, proxies, scripts management, debugger configurations including speed control.
- For user who are comfortable to work on command line, Content Grabber has provided a tool which you can both use to run CG as well as feed command-line arguments as input.
- For re-usability purpose, Content Grabber offers prebuilt template agents ready to extract data from popular sites like Amazon, Ebay, Facebook, Craiglist, Carpoint, Carrierbuilder and many more. This method not only saves you lot of time but you can utilize those prebuilt prototype agent to make new one for other websites, or at least you can get a clear idea out of it.
- Multi-threading is extensively used in Content Grabber web scraping agents which not only efficiently utilize the clock time of processor but also enables you run multiple browsers for different scraping projects at the same time. Agent in content grabber are a combination of built-in browser and rapid HTML parser with the capability to process both simple and dynamic pages.
Above mentioned were only some of the features that I know I detail, but you can further dig down content grabbers characteristics at overview page. Developers can explore advances feature from online resource manual. Both training and demo videos are crafted by content grabbers officials so that you can better understand its context.
Premium, Professional and Server Editions
At the core are three different versions called Premium and Professional and another variation called Server Edition (with $445 having minimal limitations. Professional edition contains all the features of premium edition except limitation in use of application programming interface. Server edition is low price having limited functionality of Content Grabber agent editor, limited editing of existing agents.
Self contained agents are not included. Script editing can be made more comfortable by integrating Visual Studio and having benefit of all the visual studio editor, compiler and debugger for testing purpose. A crystal clear difference is between all above mentioned editions are shown in a table on content grabber’s site.
A single Con which is not actually a con
At first, in the mind of a buyer high pricing (started at $995) may be a barrier in making buying decisions. But what I personally feel is that its nothing if you deeply understand the features it offer and what you can do with it in the long term. You should not consider the product alone but the best support they provide 24 hours a day. The price you pay is recovered soon through the results, once you professionally implement Content Grabber in your business. I think you should consider reading benefits of using web scrapping in business so that you can understand content grabbers worth.
Summarizing Content Grabber
According to my opinion Content Grabber is covering a big domain of online business automation process and features it provide are worth more than the price they stated on its official site. Even it is a completely equipped tool but still the development team is adding more timely updates, constantly adding new features.
Complex projects can be done manipulating XPaths, Regex and versatile scripts. Furthermore the rich API feature help you embed Content Grabbers features with desktop and web applications to avoid manual data entry of the extracted data, hence reducing the need of human performed tasks. Event Royalty free stand alone agents can be made and distributed on the web along your advertisements.
The most valuable thing I experienced is its customer support service provided which is outstanding with rapid and 99.9% response time. Even the team provides extensive help in creating web scraping agents specific to your business problems anytime 24×7 a week. According to me, support service is much more important than just buying a software that you are going to use for the first time and that’s what Content Grabber support team kept in mind from the very start.
At last Organizations that are serious about web scraping will find this tool a must have. It has set a new bench mark in web scraping and, at the time of writing this article, truly does stand on its own.