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Web Scraping using Web-Harvest

Web-Harvest is the tool that I used to extra information from structured web pages. I need to correlate information from several web sites and I need a flexible and configurable tool that I can easily integrate into my Java application.

As quoted from the website, Web-Harvest is an open source Web data extraction tool written in Java. It offers a way to collect desired Web pages and extract useful data from them. In order to do that, it leverages well established techniques and technologies for text/xml manipulation such as XSLT, XQuery and Regular Expressions. Web-Harvest mainly focuses on HTML/XML based web sites which still make vast majority of the Web content. On the other hand, it could be easily supplemented by custom Java libraries in order to augment its extraction capabilities.

The good thing is that Web-Harvest now comes with graphical user environment which eases development and testing of XML configurations.

One simple example configuration provided is as below:

<xpath expression="//a[@shape='rect']/@href">
        <http url=""/>

When Web-Harvest executes this part of configuration, the following steps occur:

  1. http processor downloads content from the specified URL.
  2. html-to-xml processor cleans up that HTML producing XHTML content.
  3. xpath processor searches specific links in XHTML from previous step giving URL sequence as a result.

There are other good examples provided to extract information from New York Times, Yahoo Mail, Flick, etc.

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