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Web Scraping with Java: A Comprehensive 2024 Guide for Beginners and Experts

Web scraping is integral for collecting large structured datasets from the web for purposes like business intelligence, research, data journalism and more. While Python and JavaScript are popular languages for scraping, Java provides robust libraries, multithreading support and platform independence making it an excellent choice for production-grade scrapers.

In this detailed guide, we will look at how to leverage Java for building web scrapers along with code examples and best practices.

Why Use Java for Web Scraping?

Let‘s first understand some of the key advantages of using Java for web scraping:

  • Mature language – Java is statically typed, object-oriented and has been around for decades. Great for building large maintainable scrapers.
  • Excellent libraries – Provides libraries like JSoup and HtmlUnit designed specifically for HTML parsing and scraping.
  • Platform independence – Java code compiles to byte code that runs on any OS. Scrapers can run on Windows, Linux, Mac etc.
  • Multithreading support – Scrapers can leverage threads and asynchronous requests to achieve very high throughputs.
  • Enterprise integration – Easy to integrate scrapers written in Java with databases like SQL, NoSQL, big data platforms to store extracted data.
  • Tooling – Mature IDEs, testing frameworks, logging, build tools makes development productive.

So for teams already using Java, creating scrapers in Java helps re-use existing skills and code. According to StackOverflow surveys, Java has consistently been one of the most popular languages among developers which aids recruitement.

Language 2021 Developers Survey
JavaScript 41.7%
HTML/CSS 38.9%
SQL 37.4%
Python 37.2%
Java 31.4%

Now let‘s look at how web scraping is implemented in Java.

Key Components of a Java Web Scraper

While exact scraper architecture varies by use case, most Java web scrapers have the following key components:

  • HTTP Client – To send requests and fetch web pages. Popular options are HttpClient, OkHttp, WebClient from HtmlUnit.
  • HTML Parser – To parse the fetched HTML content. Parsers like JSoup and HtmlUnit are commonly used.
  • DOM Traversal APIs – To navigate through HTML nodes and extract data. Eg. JSoup methods like select(), getElementById() etc.
  • Data Extraction Code – Actual business logic to extract the required data from HTML. May involve regex, string manipulation etc.
  • Data Storage – Code to store scraped data in CSV, JSON, database, etc. for later use.
  • Request Queuing – To manage requests efficiently for large scrapes. A queue like RabbitMQ helps coordinate scraper workers.
  • Proxy Rotation – To dynamically rotate IPs and avoid getting blocked. Integration with tools like Proxyrotator helps.
  • Browser Automation – For sites relying heavily on JavaScript. Headless browsers like HtmlUnit or Selenium provide DOM access.

Let‘s now see how these components come together in a simple JSoup scraper.

Web Scraping with JSoup

JSoup is an extremely popular open source Java library for web scraping, parsing and cleaning HTML pages. It provides a very convenient DOM traversal API similar to BeautifulSoup in Python.

Let‘s build a basic scraper to extract product data from an ecommerce page using JSoup:

import org.jsoup.Jsoup;
import org.jsoup.nodes.Document;
import org.jsoup.nodes.Element;

public class JSoupScraper {

  public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {

    // Fetch the page
    Document doc = JSoup.connect("").get();

    // Extract product title
    String title ="h1.product-title").text();

    // Extract price 
    String price ="span.price").text();

    // Extract rating
    String rating ="div.ratings").attr("data-rating");

    // Extract image URL
    String image ="img.primary-image").attr("src");

    // Print scraped data
    System.out.println("Title: " + title);
    System.out.println("Price: " + price);
    System.out.println("Rating: " + rating);  
    System.out.println("Image URL: " + image);


Here are some key points:

  • We first fetch the target page with Jsoup.connect() which gives us a parsed Document object.
  • JSoup‘s select() method allows us to use CSS selectors to extract elements.
  • Helper methods like text(), attr() let us conveniently get data from the selected elements.
  • We simply print the extracted data here but normally you would store it in a database, JSON file etc.

While this demo extracts data from a single page, you can wrap this in a loop to scrape data from multiple product pages in a scalable manner.

Some other useful features of JSoup are:

  • Handling cookies and sessions
  • Filling and submitting forms programmatically
  • Making POST requests along with data
  • Scraping XML, RSS feeds and other non-HTML content
  • Leveraging connection pools for improved performance

Overall, JSoup makes HTML parsing and data extraction very easy in Java. Next, let‘s look at another popular scraping library.

Web Scraping with HtmlUnit

HtmlUnit is a headless browser for Java applications. Some of its advantages are:

  • Can render JavaScript to allow interacting with modern SPAs and web apps.
  • Provides tools like Firefox Developer console to identify elements.
  • Emulates browser actions like clicking buttons, filling forms etc.

Let‘s see a simple example:

import com.gargoylesoftware.htmlunit.WebClient;
import com.gargoylesoftware.htmlunit.html.HtmlPage;

public class HtmlUnitScraper {

  public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {

    WebClient webClient = new WebClient();

    // Fetch the page
    HtmlPage page = webClient.getPage("");

    // Extract page title
    String title = page.getTitleText();

    // Extract H1 element 
    String h1 = page.getByXPath("//h1").getTextContent();

    System.out.println("Title: " + title);
    System.out.println("H1: " + h1);



In addition to alternative DOM traversal methods like getByXPath(), HtmlUnit also provides actions like click(), type() etc. which are very useful for automation and scraping complex SPAs.

The examples above provide a basic overview of how web scraping works in Java. Let‘s now discuss some best practices for building robust, production-grade scrapers.

Best Practices for Robust Web Scrapers

Here are some best practices I follow for creating fast, resilient web scrapers in Java:

  • Handle rate limiting – Use proxies, rotating user agents and retries to avoid getting blocked by target sites.
  • Parallelize requests – Leverage multithreading and async requests via libraries like Akka to make scraping much faster.
  • Tuned HTTP clients – Tune timeouts, redirects, connection pools in clients like HttpClient for optimum performance.
  • Null check – Explicitly check for missing or null fields and invalid data to avoid NullPointerExceptions.
  • Logging – Log errors, metrics, HTTP calls using Log4j2 or Logback to debug issues quickly.
  • Batch data inserts – Batch database inserts and uploads using Spring JDBC for much higher throughput.
  • Modular code – Follow separation of concerns. Externalize URLs, selectors, rules to tweak scrapers easily.
  • Unit testing – Write JUnit test cases to catch regressions as websites change.
  • Cloud deployment – Horizontally scale scrapers cheaply by deploying on cloud platforms like AWS.

By leveraging these best practices and Java‘s capabilities, you can build enterprise-grade crawlers for large scale production use. Next, let‘s discuss some advanced topics.

Scraping JavaScript SPAs and Crawlers

Modern websites rely heavily on JavaScript frameworks like React and Vue to render content dynamically. While old-school tools may fail, here are two options to scrape JavaScript pages with Java:

Browser Automation using Selenium

The Selenium browser testing framework has Java bindings that allow controlling browsers like Chrome and Firefox programmatically. This helps scrape dynamic content generated via JavaScript.

Here is a simple example:

// Launch headless Chrome browser
ChromeOptions options = new ChromeOptions(); 
WebDriver driver = new ChromeDriver(options);

// Go to URL

// Wait for content to render 
WebDriverWait wait = new WebDriverWait(driver, 10);

// Extract text
String elementText = driver.findElement(By.cssSelector(".dynamic-element")).getText();

// Close browser

While Selenium provides a convenient way to scrape SPAs, performance is relatively slower compared to direct HTTP requests.

Headless Browsers like HtmlUnit

As seen earlier, HtmlUnit can emulate a headless browser and natively execute JavaScript without needing an actual browser. Performance is much better compared to Selenium.

Tools like TrifleJS and Marionette Browser are other options to evaluate.

For large scale web crawling rather than just scraping a few pages, I recommend a dedicated high-performance crawler like Apache Nutch. It is designed to scrape the entire web and can integrate with Solr or Elasticsearch for full-text indexing.

Storing Scraped Data

There are several good options to store scraped data in Java:

  • CSV – Simplest option to store in CSV format which can be imported to other tools.
  • JSON – Lightweight format, especially if scraping APIs or data exchange.
  • MySQL, Postgres – For structured relational data that requires complex querying.
  • MongoDB – Great for semi-structured data and JSON documents.
  • Elasticsearch – For full-text search and analytics on large datasets.

Here is an example of saving data to CSV using OpenCSV:

import com.opencsv.CSVWriter;

String csvFile = "/data.csv";  

CSVWriter writer = new CSVWriter(new FileWriter(csvFile));

String[] headers = {"title", "price", "rating"};

String[] row1 = {"iPhone X", "$999", "4.5"};

String[] row2 = {"Pixel 2", "$699", "4.3"};  


Similarly, libraries like Mongo Java Driver, JDBC, Jackson parser can be used to save data to databases and JSON.

An End-to-End Example

Let‘s now build an end-to-end scraper in Java to extract phone listings from a directory page and save to CSV.

Target page

Phone directory page

Our scraper will extract the phone numbers, name, address and save to a CSV file.

import org.jsoup.Jsoup;
import org.jsoup.nodes.Document;
import org.jsoup.nodes.Element;
import com.opencsv.CSVWriter;

public class PhoneDirectoryScraper {

  public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {

    String url = "";  
    String csvFile = "/data.csv";

    // Fetch HTML
    Document doc = Jsoup.connect(url).get();

    // Select all listings
    Elements listings =".listing");

    // Open CSV writer
    CSVWriter writer = new CSVWriter(new FileWriter(csvFile));

    // Write headers
    String[] headers = {"name", "address", "phone"};

    // Loop through listings
    for(Element listing : listings) {

      // Extract data
      String name =".name").text();
      String address =".address").text();
      String phone =".phone").text();

      // Write row
      String[] row = {name, address, phone};


    // Close writer



This implements a complete scraper to extract structured data from a web page and store in CSV format using simple JSoup selectors and OpenCSV library.

The same can be extended to scrape multiple pages by wrapping in a loop with different URLs. You can also enhance the scraper with multithreading, proxies, user agents and cloud deployment for large scale crawling.


Java provides a myriad of robust libraries and capabilities for building high-performance web scrapers. With strong multithreading support, platform independence and wide language adoption, Java is an excellent choice for production-grade scraping in 2024 and beyond.

We discussed the fundamentals of web scraping in Java and saw code examples using popular libraries like JSoup and HtmlUnit. We also covered best practices like handling proxies, retries, tunning HTTP clients and parallelization to make scrapers faster and resilient. Finally, we looked at an end-to-end scraper to extract phone listings into a CSV file.

The examples here should provide a good overview of how to start with web scraping in Java. For your specific use case, you may want to further research different libraries like Web Harvester, Apache Nutch etc. and build out a more customized solution.

Additionally, instead of building everything from scratch, platforms like ScraperAPI provide cloud proxies, browsers and infrastructure to simplify running large-scale scraping jobs.

I hope this guide gave you a comprehensive understanding of web scraping using Java in 2024! Let me know if you have any other questions.


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