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The Complete Guide to Web Scraping with C

Welcome friend! Web scraping may seem complex at first but with this guide, I‘ll make you a pro in no time.

We‘ll start with the basics, become experts at scraping dynamic websites, handle obstacles like bot detection and even scale up our scrapers.

So buckle up for this action-packed adventure and let‘s get scraping!

Why Choose C# for Scraping?

While Python gets all the scraping love, C# is equally capable as a language. Here are some key advantages of using it for web scraping:

  • Blazing fast performance – C# code compiles to native machine instructions that execute very quickly. Python is interpreted and hence slower.
  • Scalable and enterprise-ready – C# runs on .NET which is a mature framework used by major corporations. Scaling up scrapers is easier.
  • Rich ecosystem of libraries – There are over 50+ specialized scraping packages for tasks like parsing, automation, crawling etc.
  • Familiarity for developers – Over 6 million developers know C# well. You can leverage existing skills rather than learning Python.

So while Python is simple, C# brings performance and scale while remaining easy to use for scraping needs.

Scraping Libraries for C

C# has a diverse range of libraries for scraping. Here are some popular choices:

Library Description
HtmlAgilityPack High-performance HTML parser with XPath and CSS queries. Most widely used C# scraper.
AngleSharp Parses markup into a traversable DOM. Has integrated JS execution via Jint.
CsQuery jQuery style selectors for extracting data from HTML using CSS selectors.
DotnetSoup HTML parsing using BeautifulSoup like interface. Good for beginners.
Fizzler Lightweight scraper combining HTML parsing with HTTP requests.

Based on NuGet download stats, HtmlAgilityPack leads with over 63 million downloads followed by AngleSharp at 17 million.

Let‘s use HtmlAgilityPack to build our first scraper for some hands-on experience.

Building a Web Scraper in C

We‘ll build a scraper to extract details of all books from the website including title, price and availability.

Creating the Project

Start by making a folder for the project. Next, open a terminal and run:

dotnet new console

This will create a simple .NET console app with barebones code. Now let‘s install HtmlAgilityPack from NuGet:

dotnet add package HtmlAgilityPack

Easy enough! Our scraping project is ready.

Fetching the Page HTML

The HtmlWeb class in HtmlAgilityPack can download and parse web pages for us. Let‘s utilize it:

var web = new HtmlWeb();
var htmlDoc = web.Load("");

The htmlDoc contains the entire HTML document in a parsed, traversable form. We can now query it using XPath syntax.

Extracting Book Details

Let‘s define a Book class to hold the details we scrape:

public class Book 
  public string Title {get; set;}
  public string Price {get; set;}
  public bool InStock {get; set;}

Next, we can use XPath queries like //h1 and //p[@class="price_color"] to extract title, price and availability.

Here‘s how the complete scraper would look:

var web = new HtmlWeb();
var htmlDoc = web.Load("");

var books = new List<Book>();

var titles = htmlDoc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//h3/a");

foreach(var title in titles)
  var book = new Book();

  book.Title = title.InnerText;
  book.Price = htmlDoc.DocumentNode.SelectSingleNode("//p[@class="price_color"]).InnerText; 

  // Check if in stock
  if(htmlDoc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//p[contains(text(), ‘In stock‘)]").Count > 0) {
    book.InStock = true;


And we have successfully scraped the catalog with a few lines of C#!

We can similarly scrape category and book pages to extract all data. I‘ve uploaded the full code on GitHub for your reference.

Scraping JavaScript Pages

Most modern websites rely on JavaScript to render content. C# libraries like HtmlAgilityPack only see the initial HTML returned by the server.

To scrape dynamic JS sites, we need a browser automation tool like Selenium that can execute JavaScript.

Let‘s see how to integrate Selenium in our scraper.

Setting up Selenium

First, install the Selenium .NET bindings:

dotnet add package Selenium.WebDriver

Additionally, install WebDriverManager which makes setup easier:

dotnet add package WebDriverManager

Now we can launch a browser like Chrome:

// Initialize driver
var driver = new ChromeDriver();

// Load page

That‘s it! Selenium will automatically handle ChromeDriver installation and configure the browser instance.

Finding Page Elements

Selenium provides different ways to find elements on the page:

  • By CSS selectors
  • By XPath
  • By tag name
  • …and more

For example, to find all quotes on the page:

// Get quotes container elements
var quotes = driver.FindElements(By.ClassName("quote"));

We can perform actions like extracting text, clicking buttons etc. on these elements.

Here‘s a full example to scrape quotes:

// Initialize driver  
var driver = new ChromeDriver();


var quotes = driver.FindElements(By.ClassName("quote"));

foreach(var quote in quotes)


This allows scraping even complex JavaScript rendered sites with C#!

Handling Scraping Obstacles

Websites don‘t like being scraped and may block automated scrapers via:

  • IP bans
  • Security tokens

Here are some tips to avoid blocks:

  • Use proxies – Rotate different residential IPs to mask scrapers.
  • Add delays – Crawl slowly to mimic human behavior.
  • Fix headers – Mask scrapers as browser clients.
  • Solve CAPTCHAs – Use services to bypass CAPTCHAs automatically.

With care and precaution, you can scrape most sites successfully.

Scaling Up the Scraper

To scrape at scale, we need to handle:

  • Crawling – Visiting thousands of URLs recursively
  • Asynchronous requests – Fetching multiple pages parallelly
  • Scraping APIs – JSON APIs need different techniques
  • Data storage – Storing structured data in databases

Thankfully, C# makes it easy to implement these:

  • Build flexible crawlers with libraries like CrawlSharp.
  • Leverage async/await for easy parallelism.
  • Use Json.NET for parsing APIs.
  • Integrate databases like MongoDB using drivers.

I have open-sourced a sample API scraper and crawler built with C# on GitHub that demonstrates these concepts.

So I hope you‘ve enjoyed this action-packed guide to becoming a pro in scraping with C#! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Happy Scraping!


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