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"Spidering Hacks": Expert Tips for Sending Spiders Out on the Web

October 31, 2003

Sebastopol, CA--Many people will tell you that you can always tell a spider bite because it leaves two puncture wounds. Moreover, spiders are known to drink moisture from the lips of sleeping humans, and not all spiders are poisonous. In fact, all of these statements are false. Google the words "spider myths" and you'll find the Spider Myths Site, where spider expert Rod Crawford debunks these popular beliefs and many others. For example, you'll learn that while few spiders are poisonous (mushrooms are poisonous), most are venomous, but they seldom bite. If, however, your need to keep current on spider myths is so pressing that you want up-to-the-minute notifications of any additions to the site, you'll need to send out a spider of your own. To learn about this kind of spider, dive into Spidering Hacks (O'Reilly, US $24.95), written by spidering experts Kevin Hemenway and Tara Calishain.

"Spidering Hacks" takes you to the next level in Internet data retrieval--beyond search engines--by showing you how to create spiders and bots to retrieve information from your favorite sites and data sources. "If you've ever had any desire to get a certain piece of information on a web page in a different way, like a stock quote though email or product prices compared amongst your favorite sites, then this book is going to give you techniques on how to do so," explains coauthor Hemenway." You'll no longer feel constrained by the way host sites think you want to see their data presented--you'll learn how to scrape and repurpose raw data so you can view in a way that's meaningful to you."

Written for developers, researchers, technical assistants, librarians, and power users, "Spidering Hacks" provides expert tips on spidering and scraping methodologies. The book begins with a crash course in spidering concepts, tools (Perl, LWP, out-of-the-box utilities), and ethics (how to know when you've gone too far: what's acceptable and unacceptable). Next, readers will collect media files and data from databases. Then they'll learn how to interpret and understand the data, repurpose it for use in other applications, and even build authorized interfaces to integrate the data into their own content.

By the time they've finished the book readers will be able to:

  • Aggregate and associate data from disparate locations, then store and manipulate the data as desired
  • Gain a competitive edge in business by knowing when competitors' products are on sale, and comparing sales ranks and product placement on e-commerce sites
  • Integrate third-party data into their own applications or web sites
  • Make their own sites easier to scrape and more usable to others
  • Keep up-to-date with favorite comics strips, news stories, stock tips, and more without visiting the site every day
  • "If you've ever been interested in pulling information off the Web, but you have limited experience with Perl scripts, this book will give you dozens of examples to play with, from the very useful to the downright weird," says coauthor Calishain. "Even more experienced Perl programmers will get some ideas from the many different sources and techniques in this book."

    Like the other books in O'Reilly's popular Hacks series, "Spidering Hacks" delivers 100 industrial-strength tips and tools from experts to help readers master this technology. If you're interested in data retrieval of any type, this book provides a wealth of data for finding a wealth of data.

    Additional Resources:

    Spidering Hacks
    Kevin Hemenway and Tara Calishain
    ISBN 0-596-00577-6, 402 pages, $24.95 US, $38.95 CA
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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