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September 02, 2021
6 minutes read

How to choose the best parser

Okay, let’s get it straight. Data is an awesome resource for analyzing and storing records, trends, and other information. But you can make rational decisions based on this information only if it’s shown clearly. That’s why we need parsing, a method to structure raw information. Parsing allows you to save time and increase productivity by converting massive amounts of data into neat and organized formats. Only then will we get the most important bits of that data. 

If you’ve found this blog post, chances are you probably have some idea of what data parsing is or at least have heard of it. So if you’re now looking for more information on what parsing can do and how to acquire parsing software, you’re in the right place. 

A person using parsing software.
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What is data parsing?

Simply put, parsing is a process of changing one type of data into a different kind. Parsing doesn’t have a definite converting format. Everything depends on how a parser has been built. 

Let’s take web scraping as an example and see how the basic flow looks like. You select the targets you want to scrape and then receive the results. Parsing is the next step after scraping. 

Scraping will give you the data you need, but it will often be in a raw HTML file that’s hard to read. Parsing will then convert the HTML file into a more readable format (for example, JSON) that you can better understand and use. 

If you’re after more information, you can read more about what parsing is in our other blog post. You’ll find some interesting facts about the origins of parsing and what it means in both computer and soft sciences.

What are the benefits of using parsing software?

Parsing can offer you many benefits, some of which include: 

  • Work optimization
  • Saving time
  • Reducing costs
  • More accurate databases
An abstract image showing how parsing can structure raw data.

What can you do with parsed data?

Email parsing

A lot of information that we share with our clients and business partners comes in emails. It’s valuable but highly unstructured and scattered information that often requires manual review. 

Email parsing software does all the manual work of reviewing each email for you. It extracts only the information you need. Just tell the parsing software what to look for by providing specific keywords, and it will go through your emails looking for that information. Then, the software will provide parsed data in a structured format.

Resume parsing

Just imagine all those colorful, eye-catching resumes full of text or unique designs that HR deals with daily. Parsing software can extract information from Doc, Docx, JPG, HTML, RTF, PDF, PNG files and store the relevant data in one database. Resume parsing will help recruiters discover better candidates.

A person struggling with raw data

Investments

Researching stocks, brands, big companies, and start-ups, predicting earnings, and planning business strategies requires you to go through huge amounts of data. With data parsing, you can significantly cut back on time spent gathering and structuring information and focus more on the most important part - investing and generating profit.

Marketing & e-commerce

Staying on top of the latest market trends, keeping track of your competitors’ pricing changes, monitoring SEO, and saving time: sounds too good to be true? Not with parsing. It allows you to structure and order the scraped data quickly and easily so you don’t have to worry about spending hours glued to your computer screen.

A person using parsing software.

Acquiring a parser: to build or to buy?

In this section, we’re going to look over the pros and cons of building a parser and buying one from a third-party provider. We’ll look at the most important factors that will help you decide which is better for your business.

Pros of building your own parser

  • Cost. It can be cheaper to build it rather than buying it. If you already have an IT department with skilled developers, you can start a project and build a parser just for your specific business needs. 
  • Inside knowledge. You’ll have complete control over the whole process of building a parser. Even if you’re not a developer, you’ll still be part of it. Ultimately you’re the one who knows best what you need the parser to do for you.
  • On-deck problem-solving. You’ll be able to immediately respond to any hiccups along the way. Any issues that may arise will be tended to as soon as possible as you’ll have dedicated developers monitoring the parser.

Cons of building your own parser

  • Cost. Depending on the scale of your company and the resources available, it might be more expensive to build your own parser.
  • Resources. Building a parser requires specific knowledge. You’ll need dedicated developers to build the parser and monitor the whole parsing process. 
  • Time. Even after building the parser, there’s no guarantee that it will function correctly. Thus, the process of testing will take place. You’ll have to set aside quite a bit of time for this to make sure that the parser does what you need it to do.

Continuing the question of whether to build or not to build your parser, let’s look at the possibility of buying a parser. What are the benefits of purchasing it from a third party?

Pros of buying a parser

  • Time-saving solution. You won’t have to worry about setting aside time and resources to build a parser. The only thing that you will spend time on is deciding which third-party parser suits your needs best. 
  • Efficiency. Buying a parser means that it will be 100% effective, tested numerous times, and ready to deliver the best results.
  • Customer support. You can be sure that a dedicated support team will be there for you. In some cases, even 24/7 (like Smartproxy customer support).

Cons of buying a parser

  • Cost. Depending on the amount of data, it can be more expensive to buy a parser.
  • Minimal interaction. Even if you can choose the best parser for you, you won’t have much control over the process. You’ll only get the results – fully-built parsing software. 

There’s certainly quite a bit to consider. However, if you’re thinking of a fully built solution, why not give us a try? Smartproxy has recently launched a new tool – No-Code Scraper

It combines both web scraping and parsing. We strive to make everything as smooth and fast as possible, so with No-Code Scraper, you’ll get just that. You’ll be able to go through your selected targets, easily gather the information you need, and quickly have it exported in JSON or CSV. 

Conclusion

Data parsing can undoubtedly increase your competitiveness and boost your business. Parsing enables you to navigate through vast quantities of data and narrow it down to the most relevant parts. From predicting stock growths or drops to analyzing the latest market trends, parsing can save time and increase your efficiency. 

Here at Smartproxy, we are crazy about innovations and making it easier for our clients to grow their businesses. If this blog post piqued your interest, contact our awesome customer support team, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

smartproxy

James Keenan

Senior content writer

The automation and anonymity evangelist at Smartproxy. He believes in data freedom and everyone’s right to become a self-starter. James is here to share knowledge and help you succeed with residential proxies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to use parsing software?

Every parsing software is built for a specific purpose. It all depends on why you need a parser and what you want to achieve with it. Don’t worry, parsing software comes with its own manual. While some parsing software requires more know-how, others are more beginner-friendly or even no-code. 

If you choose our proxies or No-Code Scraper, it's incredibly easy to set up. To get No-Code Scraper running all you have to do is go to a website, click on the data you want to download, and leave all the hard work to us. No coding knowledge needed! 

Why do you need to parse data after scraping a webpage?

Web scraping can help gather massive amounts of data from your selected targets in a relatively short amount of time. The problem is that the data will be in a raw HTML format. To turn this raw data into something readable, you’ll need to parse data.

Which file types do parsers support?

A parser can convert data into JSON, CSV, XML, table, or chart. Keep in mind that since each parsing software is built differently, converted formats will also vary.