What Is Data Parsing And How Is It Used In Scraping Tools?


Data parsing refers to the conversion of data from one format to another one. Ideally, you parse data from a format that you cannot read or process to a format that you can easily use for a specific purpose.

For instance, it is difficult for you to read or process data in HTML format. You can, therefore, parse the data into a readable format like an Excel spreadsheet. You also have the liberty to organize the data in the final format for easier representation in charts, graphs, or diagrams.

What Does A Data Parser Do?

A data parser is a program or software that transforms data from one format to the format that the user desires. Data can exist in various formats or languages, and it can be transformed from one of these formats to another.

The parser you use must, therefore, be programmed to carry out the specific task you wish it to do.

You can, therefore, design your parser to carry out other functions as it converts the data. For example, the parser can process the raw data and organize the output data into categories such as date of incident, location, names, and age. 

A parser can be used to categorize such information from a data set that has already been labeled. This would take a short while. 

Sometimes, however, the data sets are not labeled. In such instances, you have to find or develop a data parser that has been programmed to identify the types of data you want in the original raw data, extract it, clean it for relevance, and categorize it as you desire. 

A more advanced data parser would be needed to perform such a task compared to the former. You should, therefore, have a clear description of what you need the parser to do before purchasing or having one developed.

About Web Scraping

With the rise of e-commerce and the general digitization of our lives, there is so much information available online. This information ranges from personal data, which can give insight into customer behaviors, business, and policy information that can help you understand the business environment better.

The online information, however, is often in HTML format, which you cannot access or process manually.

You can extract this information from the various websites through a process known as web scraping.

Web scraping involves the use of scraping tools to explore websites and extract the data you need. The scraping tools are very specific in their operation. They can be designed to extract a certain set of data from several websites or lots of data sets from one website.

You can then process the data and make inferences based on your observations. Making your business decisions as advised by such a wealth of information is beneficial both in the short and long term.

The Use Of Data Parsers In Web Scraping

Web scraping tools can navigate websites and identify the information that you have programmed them to find in a very short period. 

If this data were presented to you at this stage, it would not be of much use to you and your business. This is because it is in HTML format, which is not readable by most of the applications used for data analysis and presentation.

The extracted data needs to be converted into a usable format. As described earlier, this process of transforming or manipulating the raw data into another format is known as data parsing.

In web scraping, the data is often parsed from HTML to a format such as text, which can be read and represented in tables, charts, trends, etc. 

Since web scrapers need to convert data, the data parser is designed as a component of the scraping program.

The Scraping Process Is Only As Good As The Programming

To successfully scrape a website and parse the data, you or the program developer needs some good grasp of the target website. This doesn’t have to be a specific knowledge but at least the type of content in the site.

For instance, you need to know the type of data contained in the website. If the website contains data in text, photo, and video formats, you will need to program the web scraper so that it can identify and process these different formats.

The data parser will also need to be programmed with the right parsing instructions.

Wrapping Up

Big data is driving almost every aspect of our modern digitized lives. You need adequate data to analyze and plan for a business. 

The internet can provide you with much of this data through web scraping. However, to make the most out of it, you need to convert it into formats that can be read, processed, and shared easily. 

By incorporating a quality data parser in your web scraping tool, you can obtain the data in converted format by the end of the scraping process.

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