Callum

Callum Green's Blog

Scraping Website Data using Power Query

In Power BI and more specifically Power Query, there is a simple, out of the box Web connector that enables you to scrape data from a website.  This blog will show you how to achieve this in both Power BI desktop and through Excel.

Power BI Desktop

1.      Open a Power BI Desktop.  Select ‘Get Data’.


clip_image002

2.      In the pop up window, select ‘Other’ > ‘Web’ and click ‘Connect’.

clip_image004

3.      Type in the website you would like to scrape.  For this example, I have used the BBC Sport website – looking at the ‘Premier League’ football league table.  Click ‘OK’ to continue.


clip_image005

4.      Power Query will try and obtain the data from the website and may take a couple of minutes loading.  As long as you are connected to the Internet, the query will complete and looks like the below:

clip_image007

5.      I have ticked the second option, however, you could select all three datasets if preferred.  When happy with your selections, click ‘Load’.

6.      You have now imported the scraped data, but to view it in Power Query, click ‘Edit Queries’ from the top menu pane.

clip_image008

7.      The Query Editor will open in a separate window, with the scraped data showing in its raw state.  You can now modify/join/clean until your hearts content!


clip_image010

Excel

1.      Firstly, you must have Excel 2013 or later and the Power Query add in for Excel installed to be able to scrape a website using the below method.

2.      Open Excel and start a new workbook.  Then, click ‘Power Query’ from the top menu pane and select the ‘From Web’ button.


clip_image012

3.      Enter the URL (demonstrated in step 3 of Power BI Desktop example) and click ‘OK’.

4.      Choose your desired data set or alternatively, pick more than one by ticking the ‘Select Multiple Items’ option.  Click ‘Load’ to download the data.

clip_image014

5.      When loaded, you can preview the data by hovering over it – found under the ‘Workbook Queries’ menu pane.

clip_image016

6.      To open the data in Power Query, double click the workbook query.  A new window will open and the data available to edit – see below:


clip_image018

Limitations

Whilst playing with the web scraping feature, I have found that some websites work better with Power Query than others.  At time of press, I cannot find any official Microsoft documentation on what elements of a website do work and more importantly, what doesn’t.  However, web data that is wrapped in an html table or around div tags seem to work better with Power Query.

What’s Next?

As I have demonstrated, scraping websites using Power Query is very easy.  This feature does not require any M or coding expertise, as Power Query works its magic under the hood.  This is a great alternative to C#, JavaScript, etc. for scraping a web API.

This article shows you how to bring the data into Power Query but in reality, it will need to be cleaned and transformed to be useful.  Excel Power Query Web Scrape - AFL Fixtures by Matt Allington and Using Power Query M Language for Scraping Any Website Data by Chris Webb are two very useful blogs demonstrating how this can be achieved.  If you are already a very capable M developer or have used Power Query in the past, you will know how powerful, yet simple this is.

Future Blogs

Look out for more blogs on M and Power Query in the future.  The next installment will be on how we can write native M to scrape websites, focusing specifically on web data that cannot be accessed through the user interface.

Comments (4) -

  • b5qaoJFBiCU0w

    12/17/2016 7:02:40 PM | Reply

    954876 714966Fantastic post will probably be posting this on my blog today keep up the great work. 447921

  • OW47bHWqgpe

    3/8/2017 3:05:24 PM | Reply

    366961 944631I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I�ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website 992919

  • kV3woh2P1MT

    5/16/2017 3:30:56 AM | Reply

    365024 924728Hmm is anyone else experiencing difficulties with the images on this weblog loading? I�m trying to locate out if its a difficulty on my finish or if it is the weblog. Any responses would be greatly appreciated. 802922

    • Callum Green

      5/18/2017 5:49:17 AM | Reply

      Hi,

      What browser are you using?  Another user had an issue in IE, but the images and pages seem to render fine for me.

      Feel free to email me directly with any supporting screenshots.

      Thanks,
      Callum

Pingbacks and trackbacks (1)+

Loading