Since August, I’ve been an intern at ScraperWiki. Unfortunately, that time’s shortly coming to an end. Over the past few months, I’ve learnt a huge amount. I’ve been surprised at just how fast-moving things are in a startup and I’ve been involved with several exciting projects. Before the internship ends, I thought it would be a good time to blog about some of them.
When I’ve visited company websites to get, for example, their email address or telephone number, it can be a frustrating experience if it’s not immediately clear how I can get to that information. If you’re carrying out a research project, and have a list of companies or organisations that you have to repeat this process for, it becomes tedious very quickly.
Enter the Contact Details Tool!
As its straightforward name suggests, the Contact Details Tool is designed to get contact details from websites automatically. The user interface is definitely still a prototype, but perfectly functional! (It’s a placeholder barebones Bootstrap frontend.) All we need to do is to type in website URLs and then click “Get Details”. In this case, let’s suppose that we want to find out about ScraperWiki itself (yes, very meta).
A few seconds (and some behind the scenes scraping) later, we get back a table of results:
Everything you need to say hello to us in just about every way possible: by Twitter, email, telephone or maybe even, if you’re in Liverpool, in person!
With a couple of clicks, these results can be downloaded directly as a spreadsheet for offline use. You can do quick searches or even more complicated SQL database queries on the results directly using ScraperWiki’s platform to carry out any further filtering. For instance, we might only be interested in the Twitter accounts we’ve retrieved. (If you’re then interested in more about particular Twitter users, you can search for their tweets or find their Twitter followers using ScraperWiki’s other tools.)
Where the Contact Details Tool really starts saving you time is when you need information from several websites. Instead of sitting there having to scrape websites by hand or tediously conducting lots of internet searches, you can just enter the URLs of interest and let the tool do the work for you.
For a short project that myself and Sean, another intern (along with adult supervision from Zarino), put together in a few weeks, it’s been great to see how a prototype product goes from concept to reality and, moreover, that it’s useful.
As you’ve seen, it’s easy to contact us! So, if you’re interested in what the Contact Details Tool can do for you, please send us an email and we’ll get back in touch.