Advanced Web Scraping Techniques with Scrapy
6 mins read

By: vishwesh

Advanced Web Scraping Techniques with Scrapy

Web scraping is the process of automatically extracting data from websites. It has become an essential part of many industries, including research, finance, and e-commerce. While there are many web scraping tools available, Scrapy is one of the most popular and powerful frameworks for web scraping. In this article, we will discuss advanced web scraping techniques with Scrapy.

Overview of Scrapy

Scrapy is an open-source web crawling framework that allows you to write spiders to scrape data from websites. A spider is a program that crawls a website and extracts information from it. Scrapy provides many features that make web scraping easier, including:

  • Automatic throttling to avoid overwhelming servers
  • Built-in support for handling cookies and sessions
  • Distributed crawling with multiple spiders
  • Customizable request and response handling
  • Item pipelines for processing scraped data
  • Integration with popular data storage systems like databases and cloud storage

Advanced Techniques with Scrapy

1. Using Splash to Scrape JavaScript-Generated Content

Many modern websites use JavaScript to generate content dynamically. Scrapy alone cannot scrape such content because it does not execute JavaScript. However, you can use a headless browser like Splash to scrape JavaScript-generated content. Splash is a lightweight browser with an HTTP API that can be used to render web pages with JavaScript.

To use Splash with Scrapy, you need to install the scrapy-splash package. Then, you can create a SplashRequest in your spider, which will use Splash to render the web page and return the HTML content. Here's an example:

from scrapy_splash import SplashRequest

class MySpider(scrapy.Spider):
    name = 'myspider'
    start_urls = ['']

    def start_requests(self):
        for url in self.start_urls:
            yield SplashRequest(url, self.parse,
                args={'wait': 0.5})

    def parse(self, response):
        # parse the response

In this example, the SplashRequest is used to scrape the URL The endpoint parameter specifies that we want to render the HTML content, and the args parameter specifies that we want to wait for 0.5 seconds before returning the HTML content. The parse function can then be used to parse the response as usual.

2. Using Proxies and User Agents to Avoid Detection

Many websites try to prevent web scraping by detecting and blocking requests from automated scripts. They can do this by analyzing the user agent string, IP address, and other HTTP headers. To avoid detection, you can use proxies and user agents to make your requests appear more like requests from a web browser.

Scrapy provides built-in support for using proxies and user agents. You can define a custom middleware that sets the HTTP headers for each request. Here's an example:

import random

class RandomUserAgentMiddleware(object):
    def __init__(self, user_agents):
        self.user_agents = user_agents

    def from_crawler(cls, crawler):
        return cls(crawler.settings.getlist('USER_AGENTS'))

    def process_request(self, request, spider):
        request.headers['User-Agent'] = random.choice(self.user_agents)

class RandomProxyMiddleware(object):
    def __init__(self, proxies):
        self.proxies = proxies

    def from_crawler(cls, crawler):
        return cls(crawler.settings.getlist('PROXIES'))

    def process_request(self, request, spider):
        request.meta['proxy'] = random.choice(self.proxies)

In this example, we define two custom middleware classes: RandomUserAgentMiddleware and RandomProxyMiddleware. RandomUserAgentMiddleware sets the User-Agent header for each request to a random value from a list of user agents. RandomProxyMiddleware sets a random proxy for each request from a list of proxies.

To use these middleware classes, you need to add them to the SPIDER_MIDDLEWARES and DOWNLOADER_MIDDLEWARES settings in your Scrapy project settings. Here's an example:

    'scrapy_splash.SplashDeduplicateArgsMiddleware': 100,

    'scrapy_splash.SplashCookiesMiddleware': 723,
    'scrapy_splash.SplashMiddleware': 725,
    'scrapy.downloadermiddlewares.httpcompression.HttpCompressionMiddleware': 810,
    'myproject.middlewares.RandomUserAgentMiddleware': 400,
    'myproject.middlewares.RandomProxyMiddleware': 410,

In this example, we add the RandomUserAgentMiddleware and RandomProxyMiddleware to the DOWNLOADER_MIDDLEWARES settings.

3. Handling Login Forms and Sessions

Many websites require you to log in before you can access certain pages or data. Scrapy provides built-in support for handling login forms and sessions. You can define a custom spider middleware that handles the login form and stores the session cookies for subsequent requests.

Here's an example:

from scrapy import FormRequest

class LoginMiddleware(object):
    def __init__(self, login_url, username, password):
        self.login_url = login_url
        self.username = username
        self.password = password

    def from_crawler(cls, crawler):
        return cls(

    def process_start_requests(self, start_requests, spider):
        return [self.login_request()]

    def process_response(self, request, response, spider):
        # handle the response and store session cookies
        return response

    def login_request(self):
        return FormRequest(
                'username': self.username,
                'password': self.password,

    def after_login(self, response):
        # handle the response after login

In this example, we define a custom spider middleware called LoginMiddleware. It takes the login URL, username, and password as parameters. In the process_start_requests method, we create a login request and return it. In the process_response method, we handle the response and store the session cookies for subsequent requests.

To use this middleware, you need to add it to the SPIDER_MIDDLEWARES settings in your Scrapy project settings. Here's an example:

    'myproject.middlewares.LoginMiddleware': 100,

4. Writing Custom Item Pipelines

Item pipelines are used to process the scraped data before storing it. Scrapy provides several built-in item pipelines for handling common tasks like cleaning, validation, and database storage. However, you can also write custom item pipelines to handle specific tasks.

Here's an example of a custom item pipeline that removes duplicates:

from scrapy.exceptions import DropItem

class DuplicatesPipeline(object):
    def __init__(self):
        self.items_seen = set()

    def process_item(self, item, spider):
        if item['id'] in self.items_seen:
            raise DropItem('Duplicate item found: %s' % item)
            return item

In this example, we define a custom item pipeline called DuplicatesPipeline. It keeps track of the items it has seen using a set. In the process_item method, it checks if the item's ID is in the set of seen items. If it is, the item is dropped using the DropItem exception. If it's not, the item is added to the set of seen items and returned.

To use this pipeline, you need to add it to the ITEM_PIPELINES settings in your Scrapy project settings. Here's an example:

    'myproject.pipelines.DuplicatesPipeline': 100,

5. Exporting Data to Different Formats

Scrapy provides built-in support for exporting data to different formats like CSV, JSON, and XML. You can use the Feed Exporter extension to export data to these formats.

Here's an example:

FEED_URI = 'file:///tmp/items.csv'
FEED_EXPORT_FIELDS = ['id', 'name', 'description']

class MySpider(scrapy.Spider):
    name = 'myspider'
    start_urls = ['']

    def parse(self, response):
        # parse the response and yield items

In this example, we set the FEED_URI and FEED_FORMAT settings to export the scraped data to a CSV file. We also set the FEED_EXPORT_FIELDS setting to specify the fields to be included in the output.

To use this feature, you can run your spider with the scrapy crawl command and specify the output file and format using the -o and -t options. Here's an example:

$ scrapy crawl myspider -o items.csv -t csv

This will run the spider and export the scraped data to a CSV file named items.csv.


Scrapy is a powerful web scraping framework that provides many features and tools for extracting data from websites. In this article, we covered some advanced techniques for web scraping with Scrapy, including handling dynamic content, using middleware, handling login forms and sessions, writing custom item pipelines, and exporting data to different formats. By mastering these techniques, you can build more complex and robust web scrapers that can handle a wider range of websites and data sources.

Recent posts

Don't miss the latest trends

    Popular Posts

    Popular Categories