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Webscraping with Python: data at your fingertips

Everyone makes use of it: websites where you can compare different products or services with each other. Do you want to book a hotel? Click on the arrival date and fill in the destination on a site like expedia.nl that compares different hotels and prices of providers. Looking for new sneakers? Type in sneakers on beslist.nl and enter for example what size you have and what color sneakers you are looking for. This way you will be able to find your perfect sneakers. Handy right? The technique that makes it possible to search this fast is webscraping.

What is webscraping?

Webscraping allows people to retrieve important data from a site or allows them to search for certain features on a website. Optionally, data can be retrieved or stored automatically and periodically. Website administrators can use various programming languages to enable webscraping, including Python. The 'Beautiful Soup' module is very useful for webscraping, and 'numphy' and 'pandas' make analysis a lot easier. Webscraping ensures that visitors to, for example, a comparison website can easily and quickly find the information they need. This makes it handy for websites such as expedia.nl, which actually just make smart use of the data from other websites. Websites like expedia.nl attract customers because they are able to bundle and display data from other websites in a smart way.

Webinar webscraping and Python data analysis course

Are you interested in webscraping and would you like to follow a short introduction to webinar about it? Then please here on for the free webinar Webscraping with Python, which takes place on Wednesday 23 September. Are you interested in other data analyses in Python besides webscraping? If so, please write here for our 3-day Python data analysis course. During this course you will learn how data can lead to useful insights and you will also learn how to display data in the best way. In addition, you will learn how to explain and predict the behaviour of your target group using Python. As a result, you will be better able to steer your business strategy in a targeted manner using insights gained from data analysis.

Advantages webscraping

The most important advantages of webscraping at a glance:

  • Automatically retrieve important data from a website
  • Simple way to get more insights through data analysis
  • Easily and quickly store usable data

In short: webscraping is useful for anyone who wants to learn how to get the most out of processing data from your own website!

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Practical examples of the Python programming language

In his previous blog trainer André showed that the Python programming language is used all around us. From the photos taken by telescopes to Netflix and Dropbox, Python often plays an important role. In this blog André will show by means of examples how you can use Python in practice.

Excel

Modify data in an excel file, add new columns, detect a trend in a series of data, extract errors from data and fill in missing data. You can do all this very easily and quickly with a Python program. In addition, you can save the settings so you can easily reuse it in the same way.

Python packages

Millions of people around the world use Python, a free language with many packages. For fast and efficient data editing, the packages numpy, pandas and pyplot are important. With numpy you can quickly edit data, pandas is very suitable for editing tables and with pyplot you can create graphs of the data.

Imagine that a long list of numbers has to be multiplied by a number. You do that in numpy as shown below.

You don't have to multiply every number by 20. It happens all at once.

As you can see below, you can also easily add up lists of numbers.

With pandas you can extract data from an excel file, edit it and write it back again. Let's take as an example a small excel file with profit and loss points in a competition.

We read this data with pandas.

Then we add up the points with pandas.

After this we can write data back to the excel file.

The file looks like this now.

In the last example you can see that it is also easy to make a graph of the table.

The conclusion we can draw from these examples is that you can use Python in many ways to make your work a lot easier. The examples are of course only a small part of the different possibilities Python offers.

Has this blog aroused your interest? Then take a look back at the free webinar of 16 January. André discussed in half an hour how easy it is to use Python in practice. Look him back here!

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Python is everywhere

In his previous blog trainer André showed that in Python you can quickly create a program that does useful things: read and analyse a file, edit data and then make a graph of it. In this blog the trainer shows where Python is used.

Black hole

The picture above shows a black hole. The image was created by eight telescopes – scattered throughout the world during seventh days in 2017. The telescopes received data from a black hole that was removed from us at 55 million light years.

In the processing of those dates, Python came to look around the corner. Freely accessible and available modules of the programming language, such as Numpy and pandas helped to display the black hole. Click here for more information.

Netflix

Also streaming service Netflix uses Python. The company uses the programming language to improve the streaming of videos. Python captures which network equipment is active. As a result, the language registers changes in the network, to analyse whether a device is functioning properly.

Furthermore, the streaming service uses Python to ensure that the geographical storage of content is organized in such a way that a video is available to a user as quickly as possible. In this techblog about Netflix you will find more applications for which Python is used.

Dropbox

The popular Dropbox tool uses Python for almost all its features: storage, sharing, Synchronisiatie, permission management and more. The company bought in 2012 Guido van Rossum, creator of Python, away at Google. As a result, Dropbox has since been the best conceivable support in the field of Python.

Frameworks

For Python, several webframeworks have been written. One of the most popular is Django. This framework, originally written for a well-known American newspaper, has become a universally applicable framework.

With Django you simply create a website. Python makes it easy to write code rules and Django will make sure you get structure without much effort. This allows you to maintain your website and expand it for example.

Screenshot of www.nationalgeographic.com, a website built with Django.

A very eye-catching application of Python is the contribution that the programming language has to artificial intelligence (AI). Google is very active in the field of AI and uses Python to control the AI network.

The Python package developed by the company is called Pytorch. Setting up an AI network is not easy. Many other ways of setting up such a network make it necessary to pre-record a large amount of data. Pytorch allows you to set up the network while creating the AI.

In short: More and more companies and organizations use Python, because the language is easy to learn and because there are many modules for Python available to do what they consider important. So if you're interested in your own future, you'll be immersed in Python.

Free webinar

André gave a webinar on Python on 16 July 2019. "I'm going to show how easy Python is to use," said the trainer. Look at him back here.

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Python: The language for everyone

Python is a programming language in which everyone can learn programming quickly. With this language you can easily create a small program, develop a website, or create an application. Python is also widely used for artificial intelligence, or for analyzing data. In short Python is everywhere.

It makes sense to know that Python was conceived in 1989 by a Dutchman, Guido van Rossum. Van Rossum worked at the Centre for Mathematics and Informatics in Amsterdam and wanted to write programs in a simple way for a project that was carried out at the Institute.

Growing interest

Although the language was initially only used by a handful of people, the interest increased rapidly. By the expert guidance of Van Rossum the use was only increased. The Dutch polder mentality has ensured that the Python user group is friendly and open, for anyone who wants to work with Python.

Currently, there are thousands of Python files, called modules, that allow the user to write the software he needs. So it's easy in Python to open a text file, to count what words appear in it and how often. Then, in a few Python phrases, the user can extract the most common words and create a chart of them.

Analyzing with Python

Also downloading data from a website can be done in a few Python rules. Python is widely used for data analysis. For example, a company wants to make an analysis of the usefulness of the ads it places on different local media.

To do this, a link must be made between the area where the media appears and the sales in the shops there on the spot. Also now Python can help. In a few lines there is an analysis, and if you want also graphs. If it is useful to put the data in an EXCEL spreadsheet, it costs only one Python rules.

Also for scientific arithmetic and artificial intelligence much use is made of Python. All artificial intelligence platforms are designed to be used by Python and because the language is so easy to learn, many scientists and engineers use it.

The company Tiobe keeps track of which language is widely used. In This ranking, Python is in third place. Most likely Python is going to rise even further.

The conclusion is that when you need programming in your job, Python is the language to learn. In A few days time you can write small but useful programs for example to analyze website data or to monitor the use of network equipment.

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You can learn programming!

Visit any vacancy site and you will see it immediately: there is an unprecedented demand for programmers. If you are looking for a paid job with excellent perspectives for the future, learning programming is a must. Even for jobs in which you don't directly program yourself, a programming language is an excellent addition to your CV. However, there are numerous programming languages, so where can you start best now? And which languages are interesting for the future? We made an overview of the 10 most important programming languages. Languages where you can also directly follow a training course: let those jobs come!

Java

Java was for years the most-requested programming language for employers. Although this has recently been outpaced by SQL, it is still very popular. Java is the standard for many enterprise software, is used by more than 9 million developers and is used to control more than 7 billion (!) devices worldwide. Its popularity owes the programming language mainly to the simplicity and readability of the code, which makes it a good starting point for novice programmers. Also, one of the basics of Java is the compatibility that ensures that older applications continue to work.

SQL

You'll find SQL everywhere. Database technologies like MySQL, PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Keep banks, universities, hospitals, small and large companies running. It is not exaggerated to say that every computer and person with access to technology somehow comes into contact with SQL. For example, iOS and Android devices have access to SQLite, a SQL database, and numerous mobile applications that use SQL directly.

C

C originates from the early years 70, when it was developed as a generic, general programming language. As one of the oldest programming languages available, C gives us the building blocks for other popular languages such as C++, Java, JavaScript and Python. C itself is mainly used for operating systems and industrial applications.

C++

C is an object-oriented programming language based on C. Since the language in the years 80 was developed it has been used to develop Adobe and Microsoft applications, MongoDB databases and large portions of Mac OS/X operating system. It is considered by many to be the best programming language to learn for applications where performance is of great importance, such as games or audio/videobewerking.

iOS/Objective C/Swift

Until 2014, objective C was the programming language used by the Apple operating system. It plays a role in Apple's OS X, iOS and its Apis. For a long time it was the language in which you had to write iPhone applications as a programmer, until Apple came up with its own programming language a few years ago: Swift. Swift seems to be very much like C++ and its predecessor objective C, but it is easier for most programmers to learn.

Javascript

JavaScript – not to be confused with Java – is widely used to add interactivity to websites and is supported by all larger internet browsers. Not only can it be used for simple functionality like popups or simple games, it also forms the basis for Node. JS – A server technology that is widely used in real-time communication.

PHP

PHP was in fact never meant as a programming language. The Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf developed PHP in 1994 as a series of tools that enabled him to manage his personal website (Personal homepage). Today we changed the meaning of the abbreviation to Hyper test Pre-Processor and used the language on servers to dynamically generate HTML websites. PHP is easy to learn, but in addition possesses much advanced functionality that is of great value for experienced programmers.

HTML/CSS

HTML forms the basis for Web pages. This does the programming language by actually setting a structure that can be extended or modified by other languages. For example, JavaScript can be used to add advanced interactivity, and CSS influences the presentation, formatting, and layout of Web pages. Although PHP can generate HTML from a server, knowledge of HTML and CSS for Web developers is an absolute must.

Python

Python is a server-side programming language for websites and mobile applications. It is a relatively easy language to learn, thanks to the readability and brevity of the code. In Python, it is often possible to express a concept in less rules than in many other languages. Python is used in applications such as Insta gram and Pinterest in the form of the Web-framework Django. Google, Yahoo! and NASA all make use of Python.

Ruby

Ruby is – like Python – a programming language that is very user-friendly for novice programmers. At the same time, the object-oriented language is very dynamic and thus popular for developing websites and mobile apps. It is the basis of the Ruby on Rails framework used by Groupon, Shopify, Scribd and GitHub.

Fill in the list!

Of course there are many more programming languages. We've just put a few of the most popular for you. Do you have additions? Are you missing a language that you really often use? Share your knowledge and experience with us!

Learning A (different) programming language yourself?

Would you like to learn a (different) programming language yourself? Then quickly discover our workshops and courses.Under the guidance of an experienced trainer you will learn the basics of programming in an efficient way. Have you moved on? Then it is possible to register for an advanced training. You will then go deeper into the subject matter. Such a training is not only fun, but it also fits in well with practice. This way you can be sure that you can immediately do something with your new knowledge and skills!