Glossary

ProgrammableWeb's glossary of API and other technology terms and defination
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Screen scraping

Screen scraping is the process of capturing information from a web page. Screen scraping does not use a formalized integration format. Instead, screen scraping software automatically scans and collects the HTML code displayed on a public site. Programs that utilize screen scraping will then parse this code to find useful information. Screen scraping is an alternative way to programmatically access data from websites that don't offer open APIs. For example, a screen scraping program could crawl through publicly available social media profiles, and catalog data such as names, images, emails, and bios, then store them externally. Screen scraping is not dependable. Since it ultimately depends on the frontend web design of the target application, if a minor change occurs, the screen scraping program can fail. For the most part, screen scraping is frowned upon. The legality of screen scraping (and commercializing data from screen scraping) often comes into question and may go against a platform's guidelines. Thus, screen scraping is often thought of as a rouge alternative to the formalized contract of an API connection.