12 Best Headless and Headful Browsers for Web Scraping (2023)
Whether you are a developer or a data analyst, selecting the right browser for web scraping can prove to be a game-changer.
But why should you listen to us?
Our carefully curated list of the best web scrapers is based on a comprehensive evaluation of key parameters, including:
- Page rendering
- Ease of use
And let’s just say, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
Grab a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice), sit back, and let’s get started.
TL;DR Feature Summary
|Bright Data||Proxy network, Scraping browser, Web Scraper IDE, Web Unlocker, and SERP API|
|Selenium||Cross-platform automation with support for many languages.|
|Apify||Cloud-based platform for web scraping and automation.|
|Puppeteer||Chrome-based, supports headless and non-headless modes.|
|Playwright||Cross-browser automation with built-in parallelism.|
|ZenRows||Easy-to-use API for web scraping and data extraction.|
|ParseHub||Point-and-click interface for creating web scrapers.|
|ScrapingBee||API for web scraping with built-in proxy management.|
|Scrape.do||Easy-to-use web scraping tool with no coding required.|
|Zombie.js||Lightweight headless browser with a focus on speed.|
Bright Data provides you with a suite of tools ranging from powerful proxy networks to reliable web scrapers, in the form of different products.
Here’s a breakdown of all the invaluable products Bright Data offers:
- Datasets: Bright Data offers fresh, precise, and comprehensive datasets covering millions of data points from popular websites, such as e-commerce, social media, and job sites. These datasets can then be customized based on different parameters using their smart filtering capabilities.
- Web Scraper IDE: With the Web Scraper IDE, you can collect web data at scale using hundreds of ready-made templates targeting popular websites.
- Scraping Browser: The Scraping Browser is an API that lets you fetch any number of browser sessions. It is ideal for scraping projects that require website interactions to retrieve data, such as hovering over a page, clicking buttons, scrolling, adding text, and more.
- Bright Insights: Bright Insights provides actionable market intelligence for global brands, retailers, analysts, and investors. It can answer mission-critical questions at the brand, category, and unit levels, powered by automated data collection and machine learning tools.
- Web Unlocker: The Web Unlocker is an automated website unlocking tool that can reach the toughest websites with a 100% success rate.
- SERP API: With the SERP API, you can get real user search results for any keyword on every major search engine.
- Proxy Infrastructure: Bright Data offers a range of proxy services to suit any specific business need, with the industry’s most advanced proxy infrastructure. Their Residential Proxies, Super Proxy Servers, Datacenter Proxies, ISP Proxies, and Mobile Proxies all offer unparalleled geographic coverage and the best proxy performance in the world.
With all these awesome features packed inside a single beast and with its Scraping Browser product, specifically speaking, starting at $15/GB, Bright Data is arguably one of the most powerful and comprehensive web scraping tools out there.
Key Features of Bright Data
- Scraping browser
- Ready-to-use datasets
- Smart filtering capabilities
- Website unlocking tool
- SERP API for real user search results
- Unrivaled proxy infrastructure
Selenium is an open-source automation testing framework that allows you to automate web browsers across different operating systems and browsers.
Selenium supports various programming languages, making it an accessible tool for developers with different language preferences.
One of the main benefits of using Selenium as a headless browser for web scraping is its flexibility.
Selenium allows users to simulate user interactions with a website, such as clicking buttons, filling out forms, and navigating through pages.
This makes it an excellent tool for web scraping, as it can easily replicate human actions on a website to collect the desired data.
Another advantage is its compatibility with multiple web browsers.
Selenium can be used with popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.
This allows users to scrape data from websites regardless of the browser used to access them.
Selenium also provides users with the ability to take screenshots, interact with pop-up windows, and handle cookies.
Selenium is an open-source tool and is free to use. However, some third-party services and tools built on top of Selenium may require a subscription or payment for their use.
Key Features of Selenium
- Cross-browser compatibility
- Ability to simulate user interactions
- Built-in support for XPath and CSS selectors
- Support for taking screenshots
- Robust community support and regular updates
Apify provides developers with a full-stack solution for web scraping and browser automation tools. With Apify, you can build, deploy, and monitor web scraping tools easily and efficiently.
Once you’ve built your scraper, Apify makes it easy to deploy it to their platform as an actor (serverless micro app) that is easy to develop, run, share, and integrate.
Apify provides the necessary infrastructure, proxies, and storage, so you don’t have to worry about configuring any of these things yourself.
Running your actor is easy, whether you want to start it from the Apify console, CLI (Command Line Interface), via API, or schedule it to start at any time.
Apify makes it easy to store and share crawling results, including structured data or binary files.
You can export datasets in CSV, JSON, Excel, or other formats.
Apify is also highly integrative, allowing you to connect to hundreds of apps right away using ready-made integrations or set up your own with webhooks and their API.
Apify offers a range of pricing plans, including a free plan, a starter plan for $49 per month, a scale plan for $499 per month, and a business plan for $999 per month.
Key Features of Apify
- A full-stack platform for web scraping and browser automation
- Supports multiple languages and libraries
- The large pool of data center and residential proxies
- Smart IP address rotation with human-like browser fingerprints
- Automated alerts and monitoring
- Integrations with hundreds of apps
Puppeteer is an open-source Node.js library created by the Chrome team. It provides a high-level API for headless Chrome and Chromium browser automation.
Puppeteer allows you to control a headless Chrome or Chromium browser, interact with web pages, and scrape data from websites.
With Puppeteer, you can automate tasks like filling out forms, clicking buttons, navigating pages, taking screenshots, and much more.
Puppeteer is easy to set up and use, and its API is well-documented and easy to understand.
One of the most significant advantages of using Puppeteer is that it provides a full-featured headless browser environment.
It means that you can run and test your code in the same environment as a real web browser.
Key Features of Puppeteer
- Full-featured browser environment
- Page Automation
- Cross-browser testing
- Debugging support
- Screenshots and PDFs
- Customizable browser settings
Cypress is a tool that allows you to create and run tests for your modern web applications, and it provides several benefits for web scraping.
Firstly, Cypress allows you to test modern apps directly in the browser, which makes it easier to see your end-to-end and component tests run in real time as you develop your applications.
One of the most significant advantages of Cypress is that there are no servers, drivers, or other dependencies to install or configure, making it easier for you to get started with web scraping right away.
Debugging failures is also much simpler with Cypress.
Since it runs directly in the browser, you can debug failed tests using the in-browser developer tools you already know and love.
Another benefit of Cypress is that it helps eliminate flaky tests with ease.
Cypress also allows you to review and debug failures visually. You can play back videos of your tests as they failed, read friendly stack trace errors, and never guess why another test failed.
Finally, Cypress provides actionable insights into your test suite, allowing you to monitor your test suite’s health with in-depth analytics.
Cypress is available for free, but there are also team and business plans that offer additional features and support. The team plan costs $75/month, while the business plan costs $300/month.
Key Features of Cypress
- Test modern apps directly in the browser
- Eliminate flaky tests with ease
- Optimize your runs for a faster feedback loop
- Review and debug failures visually
- Gain actionable insights into your test suite
Playwright is a Node.js library developed by Microsoft that enables developers and testers to automate interactions with web browsers.
Playwright supports all modern rendering engines, including Chromium, WebKit, and Firefox.
This means that you can test your web application across different browsers and ensure that it works seamlessly on all of them.
With Playwright, you can also test native mobile emulation of Google Chrome for Android and Mobile Safari.
This feature allows you to test your web application on mobile devices and ensure that it works seamlessly on them.
Playwright eliminates the need for artificial timeouts – the primary cause of flaky tests.
And to top it all off, with Playwright, you can capture execution traces, videos, and screenshots to eliminate flakes and configure a test retry strategy.
Playwright is open source and free to use.
Key Features of Playwright
- Cross-browser, platform, and language support
- Native mobile emulation
- No flaky tests
- Web-first assertions
- Tracing and capturing execution trace
ZenRows provides an easy way to do web scraping with a single API call.
With ZenRows, you can save hundreds of developing hours because it handles all anti-bot bypass for you, from rotating proxies and headless browsers to CAPTCHAs.
ZenRows offers many useful features, including built-in anti-bot, headless browser, rotating proxies, and anti-CAPTCHA.
With ZenRows, you can easily scrape data from websites that require login or involve clicking on elements.
It provides human interactivity like you had an army at your command, so you can easily extract the data you need without any hassle.
ZenRows also offers an auto-parsing magic feature for most popular websites, which means you don’t need to dig into the HTML and update your code frequently.
Instead, you’ll get a JSON with the data you care about, saving you even more time and effort.
ZenRows offers three different pricing plans to choose from, depending on your needs and budget. The Developer plan costs $49 per month, the Startup plan costs $99 per month, and the Business plan costs $249 per month.
Key Features of ZenRows
- Built-in anti-bot
- Rotating proxies
Splash is built using Python 3 and uses Twisted and QT5 for its implementation.
It’s fully asynchronous, which means it can process multiple web pages in parallel, making your scraping process faster and more efficient.
Additionally, Splash allows you to turn off images or use Adblock Plus rules to speed up rendering, which is particularly helpful when dealing with large or complex web pages.
This means you can interact with the page as if you were using a real web browser, making it easier to scrape dynamic or interactive web pages.
Furthermore, you can write Lua browsing scripts, which are lightweight and easy to use.
Splash is free to use for all.
Key Features of Splash
- Lightweight web browser with an HTTP API
- Processes multiple web pages in parallel
- Can get HTML results and/or take screenshots
- Ability to turn off images or use Adblock Plus rules
- Can get detailed rendering info in HAR format
ParseHub is a web scraping app for Windows, Mac as well as Linux. With ParseHub, you can easily extract the data you need from any website.
Simply open the website you want to scrape, download the ParseHub desktop app, and select the data you want to extract.
ParseHub can even handle complex and interactive websites, including those with AJAX, forms, dropdowns, and more.
One of the best parts of ParseHub is that you don’t need any coding experience to use it.
Their machine-learning relationship engine does the hard work for you, automatically understanding the hierarchy of elements on the page and pulling the data in seconds.
Plus, ParseHub is incredibly powerful and flexible, allowing you to extract data from millions of web pages and enter thousands of links and keywords to search through.
You can download your results in a variety of formats, including JSON and Excel, and even schedule regular data collections.
ParseHub has a free plan (they call it Everyone). The Standard plan costs $189/month, while the Professional plan costs $599/month.
Key Features of ParseHub
- Get data from multiple pages
- Interact with AJAX, forms, dropdowns, etc.
- Access data via JSON, Excel, and API
- Scrapes any interactive website
- Download data in any format for analysis
ScrapingBee is a web scraping API that enables you to easily render web pages as if they were real browsers and allows you to extract data without dealing with inefficient headless browsers.
Additionally, with ScrapingBee’s large proxy pool, you can bypass rate limiting and reduce the chances of being blocked.
ScrapingBee is great for general web scraping tasks like real estate scraping, price monitoring, and extracting reviews.
In addition to scraping data, ScrapingBee also offers a screenshot feature that allows you to easily capture screenshots of websites. And if you need to scrape search engine result pages, ScrapingBee’s Google search API makes it easier than ever.
ScrapingBee offers various pricing plans, with the Freelance plan starting at $49/month for 150,000 API credits. And with 1,000 free API calls, you can try it out before committing to a paid plan.
Key Features of ScrapingBee
- No code web scraping
- Search engine result page scraping
- Automatic proxy rotation
- Data extraction
With over 95 million proxies from more than 150 countries, scrape.do ensures that you can scrape any website without getting blocked.
Using scrape.do’s managed headless browsers, you can render web pages and automate browser actions, all while waiting for the data you need.
Scrape.do’s service offers customizable web scraping APIs to meet your specific market research needs.
Scrape’s pricing plans range from free to three paid plan options:
- Hobby ($29/month)
- Pro ($99/month)
- Business ($249/month)
Key Features of scrape.do
- Automatic Proxy Rotation
- Bypass Anti-Bot Solutions
- Customizable Web Scraping API
- Render Single-page Apps
- Find Unblocked Location on Target Website
Zombie.js is a headless browser that is widely used for web scraping, automated testing, and server-side rendering of web applications.
One of the key advantages of Zombie.js is its lightweight and fast performance, which makes it ideal for scraping large volumes of data from websites without causing too much strain on your system’s resources.
In addition, Zombie.js offers a simple and intuitive API that enables developers to automate complex tasks with ease, such as navigating between web pages, filling out forms, clicking on links, and interacting with web elements.
Key Features of Zombie.js
- Lightweight and fast
- Simple and intuitive API
- Ideal for web scraping, testing, and server-side rendering
Choosing the best headless browser for web scraping requires careful consideration of various factors such as – ease of use, scalability, pricing, and support.
While there are many headless browsers available, the 12 tools listed above are some of the best options that can make your web scraping voyage more efficient and effective.