by Michael Schrenk
April 2007, 328 pp.
The Internet is bigger and better than what a mere browser allows. Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers is for programmers and businesspeople who want to take full advantage of the vast resources available on the Web. There's no reason to let browsers limit your online experience—especially when you can easily automate online tasks to suit your individual needs.
Learn how to write webbots and spiders that do all this and more:
Sample projects using standard code libraries reinforce these new skills. You'll learn how to create your own webbots and spiders that track online prices, aggregate different data sources into a single web page, and archive the online data you just can't live without. You'll learn inside information from an experienced webbot developer on how and when to write stealthy webbots that mimic human behavior, tips for developing fault-tolerant designs, and various methods for launching and scheduling webbots. You'll also get advice on how to write webbots and spiders that respect website owner property rights, plus techniques for shielding websites from unwanted robots.
As a bonus, visit the author's website to test your webbots on sample target pages, and to download the scripts and code libraries used in the book.
Some tasks are just too tedious—or too important!— to leave to humans. Once you've automated your online life, you'll never let a browser limit the way you use the Internet again.
About the Author
Michael Schrenk develops webbots and spiders for clients across North America. He has written for Computerworld and Web Techniques magazines and has taught college courses on web usability and Internet marketing. He's also an occasional speaker at DEFCON.
Table of Contents
PART I: FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS AND TECHNIQUES
PART II: PROJECTS
PART III: ADVANCED TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS
PART IV: LARGER CONSIDERATIONS
Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers is "unmatched to my knowledge in how it covers PHP/CURL. It explains to great details on how to write web clients using PHP/CURL, what pitfalls there are, how to make your code behave well and much more."
Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers "has the advantage that it is quite easy to read and work with. . . Perhaps the best part of the style is the way that Schrenk shares his experiences with us, letting us know that the author has made mistakes and that this is a learning process."
"I recommend [Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers] if you are at all interested in creating programs to consume web sites. Lots of good mashup potential."
"If you are someone who is or plans to specialize in developing webbots for corporate use, this book contains all the information, skills, and tools you'll need to get going. Schrenk presents the material both with the authority that his eleven years of programming experience gives him and in a friendly, easy-to-read style."
"There aren't a lot of recent books written on webbots, especially on designing them, so [Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers] fills the gap nicely—it's well written, has lots of practical examples and doesn't ignore the larger ethical and legal issues."