Most web scraping data comes from dynamic websites, such as Amazon, and YouTube. These websites provide an interactive and responsive user experience based on user input. For instance, when you access your YouTube account, the video content presented is tailored to your input. As a result, web scraping dynamic sites can be more challenging since the data is subject to constant modifications from user interactions.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to scrape data from a dynamic website using an open source Python library called Selenium.
Before you start scraping data from a dynamic site, you need to understand the Python package that you’ll be using: Selenium.
Selenium is an open source Python package and automated testing framework that allows you to execute various operations or tasks on dynamic websites. These tasks include things like opening/closing dialogs, searching for particular queries on YouTube, or filling out forms, all in your preferred web browser.
When you utilize Selenium with Python, you can control your web browser and automatically extract data from dynamic websites by writing just a few lines of Python code with the Selenium Python package.
Now that you know how Selenium works, let’s get started.
The first thing you need to do is create a new Python project. Create a directory named
data_scraping_project where all the collected data and source code files will be stored. This directory will have two subdirectories:
scriptswill contain all the Python scripts that extract and collect data from the dynamic website.
datais where all the data extracted from a dynamic website will be stored.
After you create the
data_scraping_project directory, you need to install the following Python packages to help you scrape, collect, and save data from a dynamic website:
- Webdriver Manager will manage binary drivers for different browsers. Webdriver gives you a set of APIs that lets you run different commands to interact with the sites, making it easier to parse, load, and change the content.
- pandas will save scraped data from a dynamic website into a simple CSV file.
You can install the Selenium Python package by running the following
pip command in your terminal:
pip install selenium
Selenium will use the binary driver to control the web browser of your choosing. This Python package provides binary drivers for the following supported web browsers: Chrome, Chromium, Brave, Firefox, IE, Edge, and Opera.
Then run the following
pip command in your terminal to install
pip install webdriver-manager
To install pandas, run the following
pip install pandas
In this article, you’re going to scrape YouTube channel called Programming with Mosh and Hacker News:
From the Programming with Mosh YouTube channel, you’ll scrape the following information:
- The title of the video.
- The link or URL of the video.
- The link or URL of the image.
- The number of views for the particular video.
- The time when the video was published.
- Comments from a particular YouTube video URL.
And from Hacker News, you’ll collect the following data:
- The title of the article.
- The link to the article.
Now that you know what you’ll scrape, let’s create a new Python script (ie data_scraping_project/scripts/youtube_videos_list.py).
First, you need to import the Python packages you’ll use to scrape, collect, and save data into a CSV file:
# import libraries from selenium import webdriver from selenium.webdriver.chrome.service import Service from selenium.webdriver.common.by import By from webdriver_manager.chrome import ChromeDriverManager from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import Keys from selenium.webdriver.common.action_chains import ActionChains from selenium.webdriver.support.ui import WebDriverWait from selenium.webdriver.support import expected_conditions as EC import time import pandas as pd
To instantiate Webdriver, you need to select the browser that Selenium will use (Chrome, in this instance) and then install the binary driver.
Chrome has developer tools to display the HTML code of the web page and identify HTML elements to scrape and collect the data. To display the HTML code, you need to right-click a web page in your Chrome web browser and select Inspect Element.
To install a binary driver for Chrome, run the following code:
driver = webdriver.Chrome(service=Service(ChromeDriverManager().install()))
The binary driver for Chrome will be installed on your machine and automatically instantiate Webdriver.
To scrape data with Selenium, you need to define the YouTube URL in a simple Python variable (ie
url). From this link, you collect all the data that was mentioned previously except for the comments from a particular YouTube URL:
# Define the URL url = "https://www.youtube.com/@programmingwithmosh/videos" # load the web page driver.get(url) # set maximum time to load the web page in seconds driver.implicitly_wait(10)
One of the benefits of Selenium is that it can extract data using different elements presented on the web page, including the ID and tag.
For instance, you can use either the ID element (ie
post-title) or tags (ie
p) to scrape the data:
<h1 id ="post-title">Introduction to data scrapping using Python</h1> <p>You can use selenium python package to collect data from any dynamic website</p>
Or if you want to scrape data from the YouTube link, you need to use the ID presented on the web page. Open the YouTube URL in your web browser; then right-click and select Inspect to identify the ID. Then use your mouse to view the page and identify the ID that holds the list of videos presented on the channel:
Use Webdriver to scrape data that is within the ID identified. To find an HTML element by ID attribute, call the
find_element() Selenium method and pass
By.ID as the first argument and
ID as the second argument.
To collect the video title and video link for each video, you need to use the
video-title-link ID attribute. Since you’re going to collect multiple HTML elements with this ID attribute, you’ll need to use the
# collect data that are withing the id of contents contents = driver.find_element(By.ID, "contents") #1 Get all the by video tite link using id video-title-link video_elements = contents.find_elements(By.ID, "video-title-link") #2 collect title and link for each youtube video titles =  links =  for video in video_elements: #3 Extract the video title video_title = video.get_attribute("title") #4 append the video title titles.append(video_title) #5 Extract the video link video_link = video.get_attribute("href") #6 append the video link links.append(video_link)
This code performs the following tasks:
- It collects data that is within the ID attribute of
- It collects all HTML elements that have an ID attribute of
video-title-linkfrom the WebElement
- It creates two lists to append titles and links.
- It extracts the video title using the
get_attribute()method and passes the
- It appends the video title in the titles list.
- It extracts the video link using the
get_atribute()method and passes
hrefas an argument.
- It appends the video link in the links list.
At this point, all the video titles and links will be in two Python lists:
Next, you need to scrape the link of the image that is available on the web page before you click the YouTube video link to watch the video. To scrape this image link, you need to find all the HTML elements by calling the
find_elements() Selenium method and passing
By.TAG_NAME as the first argument and the name of the tag as the second argument:
#1 Get all the by Tag img_elements = contents.find_elements(By.TAG_NAME, "img") #2 collect img link and link for each youtube video img_links =  for img in img_elements: #3 Extract the img link img_link = img.get_attribute("src") if img_link: #4 append the img link img_links.append(img_link)
This code collects all the HTML elements with the
img tag name from the WebElement object called
contents. It also creates a list to append the image links and extracts it using the
get_attribute() method and passes
src as an argument. Finally, it appends the image link to the
You can also use the
ID and the tag name to scrape more data for each YouTube video. On the web page of the YouTube URL, you should be able to see the number of views and the time published for each video listed on the page. To extract this data, you need to collect all the HTML elements that have an ID of
metadata-line and then collect data from the HTML elements with a
span tag name:
#1 find the element with the specific ID you want to scrape meta_data_elements = contents.find_elements(By.ID, 'metadata-line') #2 collect data from span tag meta_data =  for element in meta_data_elements: #3 collect span HTML element span_tags = element.find_elements(By.TAG_NAME, 'span') #4 collect span data span_data =  for span in span_tags: #5 extract data for each span HMTL element. span_data.append(span.text) #6 append span data to the list meta_data.append(span_data) # print out the scraped data. print(meta_data)
This code block collects all the HTML elements that have an ID attribute of
metadata-line from the WebElement
contents object and creates a list to append data from the
span tag that will have the number of views and the time published.
It also collects all the HTML elements whose tag name is
span from the WebElement object called
meta_data_elements and creates a list with this span data. Then it extracts the text data from the span HTML element and appends it to the
span_data list. Finally, it appends the data from the
span_data list to the
The data extracted from the span HTML element will look like this:
Next, you need to create two Python lists and save the number of views and time published separately:
#1 Iterate over the list of lists and collect the first and second item of each sublist views_list =  published_list =  for sublist in meta_data: #2 append number of views in the views_list views_list.append(sublist) #3 append time published in the published_list published_list.append(sublist)
Here, you create two Python lists that extract data from
meta_data, and you append the number of views for each sublist to
view_list and the time published for each sublist to the
At this point, you’ve scraped the title of the video, the URL of the video page, the URL of the image, the number of views, and the time the video was published. This data can be saved into a pandas DataFrame using the pandas Python package. Use the following code to save the data from the list of
published_list into the pandas DataFrame:
# save in pandas dataFrame data = pd.DataFrame( list(zip(titles, links, img_links, views_list, published_list)), columns=['Title', 'Link', 'Img_Link', 'Views', 'Published'] ) # show the top 10 rows data.head(10) # export data into a csv file. data.to_csv("../data/youtube_data.csv",index=False) driver.quit()
This is what the scraped data should look like in the pandas DataFrame:
This saved data is exported from pandas to a CSV file called
Now you can run
youtube_videos_list.py, and make sure everything works correctly.
Selenium can also extract data based on the specific patterns in the HTML elements using the CSS selector on the web page. The CSS selector is applied to target specific elements according to their ID, tag name, class, or other attributes.
For example, here, the HTML page has some
div elements, and one of them has a class name of
<html> <body> <p>Hello World!</p> <div>Learn Data Scraping</div> <div class="inline-code"> data scraping with Python code</div> <div>Saving</div> </body> </html>
You can use a CSS selector to find the HTML element on a web page whose tag name is
div and whose class name is “’inline-code”`. You can apply this same approach to extract comments from the comment section of YouTube videos.
Now, let’s use a CSS selector to collect comments posted on this YouTube video.
The YouTube comments section is available under the following tag and class name:
<ytd-comment-thread-renderer class="style-scope ytd-item-section-renderer">...</tyd-comment-thread-renderer>
Let’s create a new script (ie data_scraping_project/scripts/youtube_video_
comments.py). Import all the necessary packages like before, and add the following code to automatically start the Chrome web browser, browse the URL of the YouTube video, and then scrape the comments using the CSS selector:
#1 instantiate chrome driver driver = webdriver.Chrome(service=Service(ChromeDriverManager().install())) #2 Define the URL url = "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZB5bHDCmeY" #3 Load the webpage driver.get(url) #4 define the CSS selector comment_section = 'ytd-comment-thread-renderer.ytd-item-section-renderer’ #5 wait until element matching the given criteria to be found try: element = WebDriverWait(driver, 10).until( EC.presence_of_element_located((By.CSS_SELECTOR, comment_section)) ) except: driver.quit() #6. collect HTML elements within the CSS selector comment_blocks = driver.find_elements(By.CSS_SELECTOR,comment_section)
This code instantiates the Chrome driver and defines the YouTube video link to scrape the comments that have been posted. Then it loads the web page in the browser and waits ten seconds until the HTML elements matching the CSS selector are available.
Next, it collects all
comment HTML elements using the CSS selector called
ytd-comment-thread-renderer.ytd-item-section-renderer and saves all the comment elements in the
comment_blocks WebElement object.
Then you can extract each author’s name using the ID
author-text and the comment text using the ID
content-text from each comment in the
comment_blocks WebElement object:
#1 specify the id attribute for author and comment author_id = 'author-text' comment_id = 'content-text' #2 Extract the text value for each comment and author in the list comments =  authors =  for comment_element in comment_blocks: #3 collect author for each comment author = comment_element.find_element(By.ID, author_id) #4 append author name authors.append(author.text) #5 collect comments comment = comment_element.find_element(By.ID, comment_id) #6 append comment text comments.append(comment.text) #7 save in pandas dataFrame comments_df = pd.DataFrame(list(zip(authors, comments)), columns=['Author', 'Comment']) #8 export data into a CSV file. comments_df.to_csv("../data/youtube_comments_data.csv",index=False) driver.quit()
This code specifies the ID for the author and comment. Then it creates two Python lists to append the author name and the comment text. It collects each HTML element that has the specified ID attributes from the WebElement object and appends the data to the Python lists.
Finally, it saves the scraped data into a pandas DataFrame and exports the data into a CSV file called
This is what the authors and comments from the first ten rows will look like in a pandas DataFrame:
Scrape Data Using the Class Name
In addition to scraping data with the CSS selector, you can also extract data based on a specific class name. To find an HTML element by its class name attribute using Selenium, you need to call the
find_element() method and pass
By.CLASS_NAME as the first argument, and you need to find the class name as the second argument.
In this section, you’ll use the class name to collect the title and link of the articles posted on Hacker News. On this web page, the HTML element that has the title and link of each article has a
titleline class name, as seen in the web page’s code:
<span class="titleline"><a href="https://mullvad.net/en/browser">The Mullvad Browser</a><span class="sitebit comhead"> (<a href="from?site=mullvad.net"><span class="sitestr">mullvad.net</span></a>)</span></span></td></tr><tr><td colspan="2"></td><td class="subtext"><span class="subline"> <span class="score" id="score_35421034">302 points</span> by <a href="user?id=Foxboron" class="hnuser">Foxboron</a> <span class="age" title="2023-04-03T10:11:50"><a href="item?id=35421034">2 hours ago</a></span> <span id="unv_35421034"></span> | <a href="hide?id=35421034&auth=60e6bdf9e482441408eb9ca98f92b13ee2fac24d&goto=news" class="clicky">hide</a> | <a href="item?id=35421034">119 comments</a> </span>
Create a new Python script (ie data_scraping_project/scripts/hacker_news.py), import all the necessary packages, and add the following Python code to scrape the title and link for each article posted on the Hacker News page:
#1 define url hacker_news_url = 'https://news.ycombinator.com/' #2 instantiate chrome driver driver = webdriver.Chrome(service=Service(ChromeDriverManager().install())) #3 load the web page driver.get(hacker_news_url) #4 wait until element matching the given criteria to be found try: element = WebDriverWait(driver, 10).until( EC.presence_of_element_located((By.CLASS_NAME, 'titleline')) ) except: driver.quit() #5 Extract the text value for each title and link in the list titles=  links =  #6 Find all the articles on the web page story_elements = driver.find_elements(By.CLASS_NAME, 'titleline') #7 Extract title and link for each article for story_element in story_elements: #8 append title to the titles list titles.append(story_element.text) #9 extract the URL of the article link = story_element.find_element(By.TAG_NAME, "a") #10 appen link to the links list links.append(link.get_attribute("href")) driver.quit()
This code will define the URL of the web page, automatically start the Chrome web browser, and then browse the URL of Hacker News. It waits ten seconds until the HTML elements matching the
CLASS NAME are available.
Then it creates two Python lists to append the title and link for each article. It also collects each HTML element that has a
titleline class name from the WebElement driver object and extracts the title and link for each article represented in the
story_elements WebElement object.
Finally, the code appends the title of the article to the titles list and collects the HTML element that has a tag name of
a from the
story_element object. It extracts the link using the
get_attribute() method and appends the link to the links list.
Next, you need to use the
to_csv() method from pandas to export the scraped data. You’ll be exporting both the titles and links into a
hacker_news_data.csv CSV file and saving the data in the directory:
# save in pandas dataFrame hacker_news = pd.DataFrame(list(zip(titles, links)),columns=['Title', 'Link']) # export data into a csv file. hacker_news.to_csv("../data/hacker_news_data.csv",index=False)
This is how the titles and links from the first five rows appear in a pandas DataFrame:
How to Handle Infinite Scrolls
Some dynamic web pages load additional content as you scroll to the bottom of the page. If you don’t navigate to the bottom, Selenium may only scrape the data that’s visible on your screen.
To scrape more data, you need to instruct Selenium to scroll to the bottom of the page, wait until new content loads, and then automatically scrape the data you want. For instance, the following Python script will scroll through the first forty results of Python books and extract their links:
#1 import packages from selenium.webdriver.chrome.service import Service from webdriver_manager.chrome import ChromeDriverManager from selenium import webdriver from selenium.webdriver.common.by import By import time #2 Instantiate a Chrome webdriver driver = webdriver.Chrome(service=Service(ChromeDriverManager().install())) #3 Navigate to the webpage driver.get("https://example.com/results?search_query=python+books") #4 instantiate a list to keep links books_list =  #5 Get the height of the current webpage last_height = driver.execute_script("return document.body.scrollHeight") #6 set target count books_count = 40 #7 Keep scrolling down on the web page while books_count > len(books_list): driver.execute_script("window.scrollTo(0, document.body.scrollHeight);") #8 Wait for the page to load time.sleep(5) #9 Calculate the new height of the page new_height = driver.execute_script("return document.body.scrollHeight") #10 Check if you have reached the bottom of the page if new_height == last_height: break last_height = new_height #11 Extract the data links = driver.find_elements(By.TAG_NAME, "a") for link in links: #12 append extracted data books_list.append(link.get_attribute("href")) #13 Close the webdriver driver.quit()
This code imports the Python packages that will be used and instantiates and opens Chrome. Then it navigates to the web page and creates a Python list to append the link for each of the search results.
It gets the height of the current page by running the
return document.body.scrollHeight script and sets the number of links you want to collect. Then it continues to scroll down as long as the value of the
book_count variable is greater than the length of the
book_list and waits five seconds to load the page.
It calculates the new height of the web page by running the
return document.body.scrollHeight script and checks if it’s reached the bottom of the page. If it does, the loop is terminated; otherwise, it will update the
last_height and continue to scroll down. Finally, it collects the HTML element that has a tag name of
a from the WebElement object and extracts and appends the link to the links list. After collecting the links, it will close the Webdriver.
Please note: For your script to end at some point, you must set a total number of items to be scraped if the page has infinite scrolling. If you don’t, your code will continue to execute.
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