Pulling data from a webpage, parsing it for specific pieces, and displaying it

I’ve been using this site for a long time to find answers to my questions, but I wasn’t able to find the answer on this one.

I am working with a small group on a class project. We’re to build a small “game trading” website that allows people to register, put in a game they have they want to trade, and accept trades from others or request a trade.

We have the site functioning long ahead of schedule so we’re trying to add more to the site. One thing I want to do myself is to link the games that are put in to Metacritic.

Here’s what I need to do. I need to (using asp and c# in visual studio 2012) get the correct game page on metacritic, pull its data, parse it for specific parts, and then display the data on our page.

Essentially when you choose a game you want to trade for we want a small div to display with the game’s information and rating. I’m wanting to do it this way to learn more and get something out of this project I didn’t have to start with.

I was wondering if anyone could tell me where to start. I don’t know how to pull data from a page. I’m still trying to figure out if I need to try and write something to automatically search for the game’s title and find the page that way or if I can find some way to go straight to the game’s page. And once I’ve gotten the data, I don’t know how to pull the specific information I need from it.

One of the things that doesn’t make this easy is that I’m learning c++ along with c# and asp so I keep getting my wires crossed. If someone could point me in the right direction it would be a big help. Thanks

Answers:

Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

This small example uses HtmlAgilityPack, and using XPath selectors to get to the desired elements.

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    string url = "http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/halo-spartan-assault";
    var web = new HtmlAgilityPack.HtmlWeb();
    HtmlDocument doc = web.Load(url);

    string metascore = doc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//*[@id="main"]/div[3]/div/div[2]/div[1]/div[1]/div/div/div[2]/a/span[1]")[0].InnerText;
    string userscore = doc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//*[@id="main"]/div[3]/div/div[2]/div[1]/div[2]/div[1]/div/div[2]/a/span[1]")[0].InnerText;
    string summary = doc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//*[@id="main"]/div[3]/div/div[2]/div[2]/div[1]/ul/li/span[2]/span/span[1]")[0].InnerText;
}

An easy way to obtain the XPath for a given element is by using your web browser (I use Chrome) Developer Tools:
  • Open the Developer Tools (F12 or Ctrl + Shift + C on Windows or Command + Shift + C for Mac).
  • Select the element in the page that you want the XPath for.
  • Right click the element in the “Elements” tab.
  • Click on “Copy as XPath”.

You can paste it exactly like that in c# (as shown in my code), but make sure to escape the quotes.

You have to make sure you use some error handling techniques because Web scraping can cause errors if they change the HTML formatting of the page.

Edit

Per @knocte’s suggestion, here is the link to the Nuget package for HTMLAgilityPack:

https://www.nuget.org/packages/HtmlAgilityPack/

Method 2

I looked and Metacritic.com doesn’t have an API.

You can use an HttpWebRequest to get the contents of a website as a string.

using System.Net;
using System.IO;
using System.Windows.Forms;

string result = null;
string url = "http://www.stackoverflow.com";
WebResponse response = null;
StreamReader reader = null;

try
{
    HttpWebRequest request = (HttpWebRequest)WebRequest.Create(url);
    request.Method = "GET";
    response = request.GetResponse();
    reader = new StreamReader(response.GetResponseStream(), Encoding.UTF8);
    result = reader.ReadToEnd();
}
catch (Exception ex)
{
    // handle error
    MessageBox.Show(ex.Message);
}
finally
{
    if (reader != null)
        reader.Close();
    if (response != null)
        response.Close();
}

Then you can parse the string for the data that you want by taking advantage of Metacritic’s use of meta tags. Here’s the information they have available in meta tags:
  • og:title
  • og:type
  • og:url
  • og:image
  • og:site_name
  • og:description

The format of each tag is: meta name="og:title" content="In a World..."

Method 3

I recommend Dcsoup. There’s a nuget package for it and it uses CSS selectors so it is familiar if you use jquery. I’ve tried others but it is the best and easiest to use that I’ve found. There’s not much documentation, but it’s open source and a port of the java jsoup library that has good documentation. (Documentation for the .NET API here.) I absolutely love it.

var timeoutInMilliseconds = 5000;
var uri = new Uri("http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/fallout-4");
var doc = Supremes.Dcsoup.Parse(uri, timeoutInMilliseconds);

// <span itemprop="ratingValue">86</span>
var ratingSpan = doc.Select("span[itemprop=ratingValue]");
int ratingValue = int.Parse(ratingSpan.Text);

// selectors match both critic and user scores
var scoreDiv = doc.Select("div.score_summary");
var scoreAnchor = scoreDiv.Select("a.metascore_anchor");
int criticRating = int.Parse(scoreAnchor[0].Text);
float userRating = float.Parse(scoreAnchor[1].Text);

Method 4

I’d recomend you WebsiteParser – it’s based on HtmlAgilityPack (mentioned by Hanlet Escaño) but it makes web scraping easier with attributes and css selectors:

class PersonModel
{
    [Selector("#BirdthDate")]
    [Converter(typeof(DateTimeConverter))]
    public DateTime BirdthDate { get; set; }
}

// ...

PersonModel person = WebContentParser.Parse<PersonModel>(html);

Nuget link


All methods was sourced from stackoverflow.com or stackexchange.com, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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