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03:41 pm, 20 May 06

screen scraping with ruby

For various reasons I seem to often need to screen-scrape websites. I've tried Rubyful Soup but it seems to take tens of seconds to parse relatively small files. I just now tried htmltools as well and it's also incredibly slow -- 9.7 seconds to parse a 400kb file on a P4 3.8ghz machine!

The file is really straightforward, too: it's just one huge table. How hard is this to parse quickly? Firefox seems to have no trouble with it...

So my question for you: what should I be using instead? (I'm happy to switch languages -- gaal/brad, which Perl HTML parsing library is the most pleasant? Preferably something that doesn't use SAX or DOM APIs...)