Mozenda: Scraping the Web the Right Way
April 11, 2017
Mozenda: Scraping the Web the Right Way
Score 9 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Mozenda
In one department of our company, having access to large amounts of information from the web is essential. Rather than subscribe to a data service, we have been able to use Mozenda to curate our own content from a variety of sources. It is fast, easy to use, and is a robust platform that scrapes the web better than anyone else I've seen.
- Action Items. Mozenda is broken down into a series of actions that can be performed on a page. Some actions take you to other pages. The action list, while short, provides a comprehensive set of tools for scraping just about any website (I haven't met one where it didn't work yet).
- Error Handling. I've used some scraping tools that have virtually no error handling. Mozenda has great error handling; the software almost always pinpoints the exact action where the agent failed and why.
- Speed. Mozenda is very fast at obtaining results. Other "bot" software can be slow and cumbersome but Mozenda plows through pages rapidly and accurately aggregates information.
- XPath compatibility. One of the most powerful features of Mozenda is the integrated ability to use XPaths to get at the exact bits of information we're after on a particular website. Access to visible information is only limited by imagination.
- Page Credits. It's hard to determine exactly how many page credits will be used in a scraping action. You can end up using a lot more page credits than you bargain for unless you really know what you're doing. Page credits are the lifeblood of the SaaS.
- Software Intelligence. This is a pro and a con. The software has built-in intelligence that tries to understand what the agent writer intends. Sometimes this results in new columns being added to the results when the results should be fit into existing results columns.
- Testing Bugs. You can test an agent in the Agent Builder, but it is kind of buggy. There are times when it hangs and then the only way to get out of it is to open Task Manager and end the task.
- Windows Only. Enough said.
- Costly. My only complaint was the initial price tag associated with Mozenda. It was expensive. However, we quickly learned that it was worth the money. The development team behind Mozenda has really done a thorough job of creating a fast, easy-to-use platform.
- Speed to Market. Getting and curating the information we need is what pays the bills. Mozenda makes that happen as a tool that reduced agent development time from days to hours.
- Low Code. One very positive aspect of Mozenda is the low code functionality. There are a lot of sites that can be scraped with simple point-and-click actions. That means we can train users who aren't coders to write good agents with very little support from our developers.
- UBot Studio, Scrapy and Connotate
I'm only personally experienced with UBot Studio and Scrapy. UBot Studio isn't a bad application, though it has quite a large number of bugs when compared to Mozenda. UBot touts itself as low-code, but requires a significant understanding of programming logic to use the program effectively. Using UBot, we were able to get virtually all the results we wanted, but at a much higher labor cost than Mozenda. During initial implementation of UBot, it took me a full week to develop a particularly complicated agent. Using Mozenda, I was able to recreate the same agent in 4 hours. The ROI has been remarkable, and Mozenda really is a low-code platform.
To date, we've had a lot of success collecting the information we require with Mozenda. I haven't encountered a specific example where Mozenda isn't a good fit. In fact, it was using another builder that had some pretty significant limitations that sent me looking for something like Mozenda. While Mozenda is several times more expensive than the previous tool, the return on our investment was almost immediate (less than one month). Definitely worth it!