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Using new asyncio support in Scrapy

This gist lists up the use case and details of using asyncio support in Scrapy

Requirements of the installation

  1. Use Python3.7.
  2. Install asyncio,using pip install asyncio.
  3. If you plan to use any asyncio framework, then install them also. For example, for using aiohttp,install pip install aiohttp.
  4. Due to a bug in Twisted, one has to use the developer version of Twisted. Use this github page to clone Twisted in another folder.

Installing the new Scrapy.

  1. First clone the new repository from this github repo.
  2. Then create a virtual environment, to install the new version of scrapy locally virtualenv --python=python3.7 venv.
  3. Run the command, . venv/bin/activate, to start the virtual environment.
  4. Migrate to the folder, where you have cloned Twisted. Run python3 setup.py install.
  5. Migrate to the Scrapy folder and run the command to install Scrapy python3 setup.py install.
  6. After installing Scrapy, you are good to go, using asyncio based Scrapy.

Brief History of Scrapy

Scrapy has used callback based programming, so this GSOC project has aimed to support async/await based programming. This helps users in getting the response in the same line, or await Requests, and get the response in the same line, rather than assigning a callback for dealing with the response. The project has ensured that users are still able to use callback based programming, so now Scrapy supports both the syntax.

Using async/await in Scrapy

In Scrapy, we create a Spider class, where we start our scraping by initialising the urls in spider method start_requests. We create a new definition, async def start_request(self), and in Python terms, it is an asynchronous generator. Right in previous versions of Python, we had generators which generated urls, this start_request is an asynchronous generator. We can have awaitable list of urls, from an external sources, but for simple case we have simple iteration of predefined urls, and yield them through scrapy.Request(url, callback=self.parse) . Here we can yield the scrapy.Request, and get the response there itself, but we also support callbacks, so we assigned one. We can create a callback method, in this case async def parse(self, response). This accepts the response, and we can deal with it accordingly.

Using callbacks and awaitable Requests

Scrapy provides three ways to make a request, and receive the response.

  1. The old callback based request is supported, so one can assign a callback and receive a response.
  2. Yielding scrapy.Request in a async def method. One can simply yield the result of request like, response = yield scrapy.Request(...). Note that this is supported only in methods using async/await syntax.
  3. Awaiting scrapy.Fetch.Fetch method. This method accepts a request, and awaits the response as and when it is available. One can write, response = Fetch(scrapy.Request(...)).

Using awaitable methods

You can create an awaitable method, and create an object and await them. You can refer to Python documentation for more details.

Using asyncio frameworks

Users can easily use asyncio based frameworks, in Scrapy spider. The following example demonstrates the above -

import scrapy

from scrapy.Fetch import Fetch
import asyncio
import aiohttp

class QuotesSpider(scrapy.Spider):
	name = "quotes1"

	async def start_requests(self):
		urls=['http://quotes.toscrape.com/page/1/',
		'http://quotes.toscrape.com/page/2/']

		for url in urls:
			yield scrapy.Request(url=url, callback=self.parse)


	async def parse(self, response):
		
    		links = [(response.xpath('//@href').extract()[-1]),(response.xpath('//@href').extract()[-2])]

		for link in links:
			request = scrapy.Request(url=link)
			res = await Fetch(request) # Can use `yield request`
			await asyncio.sleep(2)
			
		print("Started the aiohttp module!!")
		conn = aiohttp.TCPConnector(verify_ssl=False)
		async with aiohttp.ClientSession(connector=conn) as session:
			html = await self.fetch(session,'https://en.wikipedia.com')
	    		print(html)
		print("Completed the aiohttp module!!")

	async def fetch(self, session, url):
		async with session.get(url) as response:
			return await response.text()

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