Although printing out to the terminal is a lot of fun, it’s not incredibly useful when it comes to data aggregation and analysis. In order to make the majority of web scrapers remotely useful, you need to be able to save the information that they scrape.
In this chapter, we will look at three main methods of data management that are sufficient for almost any imaginable application. Do you need to power the backend of a website or create your own API? You’ll probably want your scrapers to write to a database. Need a fast and easy way to collect some documents off the Internet and put them on your hard drive? You’ll probably want to create a file stream for that. Need occasional alerts, or aggregated data once a day? Send yourself an email!
Above and beyond web scraping, the ability to store and interact with large amounts of data is incredibly important for just about any modern programming application. In fact, the information in this chapter is necessary for implementing many of the examples in later sections of the book. I highly recommend that you at least skim it if you’re unfamiliar with automated data storage.
There are two main ways to store media files: by reference, and by downloading the file itself. You can store a file by reference simply by storing the URL that the file is located at. This has several advantages: