Skip to content

When should I use BeautifulSoup and when should I use browser automation tool?

Interactivity: Selenium or Playwright

BeautifulSoup is a Python library for parsing basic web pages. You download a web page with requests, feed it into BeautifulSoup, and you're ready to go! If a web site requires interaction or is protected by a login, though, you might need a browser automation tool with Selenium or Playwright.

Selenium and Playwright are Python libraries for automating web browsers. Need to click "next" buttons, scroll down a page, agree to terms of service, or log in to a website? Selenium and Playwright can do that for you!

But I love BeautifulSoup!

If you love love love Beautiful Soup, don't worry, you don't need to give it up completely when using Selenium or Playwright. Instead, you can send the HTML from a Selenium or Playwright browser into BeautifulSoup! BeautifulSoup is great for parsing HTML, even if it can't interact with a web page.

# Selenium
doc = BeautifulSoup(driver.page_source, 'html.parser')
# Playwright
doc = BeautifulSoup(await page.content(), 'html.parser')

Speed: BS4 wins

BeautifulSoup is much faster than Selenium or Playwright. If you're scraping a lot of pages, BeautifulSoup is the way to go! If you're scraping a few pages, though, Selenium or Playwright are probably fine.