Scraping Dynamic Websites with Puppeteer

May 11, 2023

Modern websites in 2023 heavily rely on JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js to render interactive data, which can make web scraping a challenge. In this article, we'll explore how to use the Puppeteer library to scrape data from dynamic web pages. We'll cover the basics of how browser automation works, walk through an example scraping task, discuss common challenges and tips, and compare Puppeteer to other popular tools like Selenium and Playwright.

How Does Browser Automation Work?

Browsers like Chrome and Firefox have built-in automation protocols that allow other programs to control them:

  • The older WebDriver protocol which is implemented through an extra browser layer called webdriver that intercepts action requests and issues browser control commands.

  • The newer Chrome DevTools Protocol (CDP) where the control layer is implicitly available in most modern browsers.

Puppeteer is a Node.js library that provides a high-level API to control Chrome or Chromium over the CDP. It can be used to automate actions like launching a browser, navigating to pages, clicking buttons, filling out forms, and extracting data.

Example Scraping Task

Let's walk through an example of using Puppeteer to scrape data about experiences from Airbnb. The high-level steps are:

  1. Launch a browser (Chrome or Chromium)

  2. Navigate to a specific experience page URL

  3. Wait for the dynamic content to load

  4. Extract the rendered HTML

  5. Parse the data we want using tools like cheerio

Here's a code snippet demonstrating this:

const puppeteer = require('puppeteer');

(async () => {

const browser = await puppeteer.launch();

const page = await browser.newPage();

await page.goto('');

await page.waitForSelector('h1');

const html = await page.content();

// Parse HTML with cheerio, etc

await browser.close();


The key parts are waiting for dynamic elements to render (page.waitForSelector()) and extracting the HTML (page.content()). We can then parse the HTML in Node.js as needed.

Challenges and Tips

Some things to keep in mind when using Puppeteer for web scraping:

  • Avoiding detection and bans by websites (e.g. through fingerprinting)

  • Managing and scaling concurrent browser instances for performance

  • Disabling unnecessary resource loading to speed things up

There are community extensions and best practices to help deal with these issues. Using an asynchronous scraping approach with multiple browser tabs can significantly speed things up compared to synchronous scraping.

Comparison to Other Tools

Puppeteer has some advantages compared to other browser automation tools:

  • Selenium supports more languages and browsers but has a dated API and is slower since it doesn't support async.

  • Playwright is very similar to Puppeteer, but supports more languages. It's better for testing, while Puppeteer is more focused on general browser automation.

Ultimately the best tool depends on your specific needs. Puppeteer is a great choice for scraping dynamic sites with Node.js and offers an easy to use, modern and performant API.


Puppeteer is a powerful tool for scraping modern, JavaScript-heavy websites. Its intuitive API allows automating complex scraping flows including handling dynamic page content. While there are challenges to consider, Puppeteer's active community, async support, and focus on browser automation make it a top choice. With some best practices, it can be used to robustly extract data from even the most complex target sites.

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