Tanmay Sarkar
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Building a IMDB Web Scraper using Go

Building a IMDB Web Scraper using Go

Tanmay Sarkar's photo
Tanmay Sarkar
ยทOct 21, 2022ยท

9 min read

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Table of contents

Welcome all to my homage ๐Ÿ›–

Hi fellows, I have been learning about web scrapers these days and saw there is no many articles on Go itself on Hashnode and building a scraper with it is far away. So I thought about let's build a simple cli tool which will take birthday as input and crawl a tiny part of the website IMDB to look for celebrities who born on that date and stores various data into a file outputs/mm-dd.json inside output directory.

If you do not know about IMDB, it is a website which contains information about movies, TV shows, and celebrities. It is a very popular website and has a huge database of information. So, it is a good place to start learning about web scraping.

As you might not know, building a web scraper consists of four main steps :

  1. Crawling : Crawling is the process of finding all the links on a website and adding them to a queue.
  2. Scraping : Scraping is the process of extracting data from a website.
  3. Parsing : Parsing is the process of converting the raw data into a structured format.
  4. Storing : Storing is the process of saving the data into a file or database.

And we will look deep into all of them step by step, so sit tight and let's get started.

imdb + golang.png

Prerequisites ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿซ

And also you should have basic knowledge of crawlers and scrapers in general. Learn here

Let us begin then โšก๏ธ

1. Project Setup

At first, Create a directory and make a main.go file inside and open terminal in that directory to command :

go mod init github.com/sarkartanmay/IMBD-Scraper-Golang

Screenshot 2022-10-20 at 5.28.46 PM.png

I am using my GitHub repo link in my module name as a convention, so you should change that to your desired module name. E.g. github.com/username/project-name and you can learn more about Modules in Go here.

Then, install colly by commanding in terminal :

go get github.com/gocolly/colly

And this is how our project setup is done, let us now go straight into coding our web scraper.

2. Coding the Scraper

I hope as you write the code, your code editor will import the packages that are necessary. And with that, let us start coding our scraper.

First, we will make customized structs that will hold our scraped data in program memory. We will make a struct for each type of data we want to scrape. For example, we will make a struct for each celebrity and a struct for each movie.

๏ธ// โญ Star holds a celebrety's name and other imdb information.
type Star struct {
    Name      string  `json:"name"`
    Photo     string  `json:"photo"`
    JobTitle  string  `json:"job_title"`
    Birthdate string  `json:"birthdate"`
    Bio       string  `json:"bio"`
    TopMovies []Movie `json:"top_movies"`

// ๐ŸŽฆ Movie holds basic information about a movie.
type Movie struct {
    Title   string `json:"title"`
    Release string `json:"release"`

This is our two structures that will hold our scraped data. We will use the json package to convert our data into JSON format. We will use the json tag to specify the name of the key in the JSON object, and to tell Go that when we convert our struct into a JSON object, it must name them as we specified in the json tag.

For example, the Name field in the Star struct will be converted to the name key and TopMovies to top_movies in the JSON object.

Now, we will create function that will take two parameters (day, month) to crawl into IMDB with specified date and return scraped data in a slice of stars []stars โœจ.

// ๐Ÿ•ท Crawl crawls the imdb website for a given page and returns a list of stars.
func Crawl(month int, day int) []Star {

    // stars will hold all the scraped data.
    var stars []Star

    // Collectors are used to scrape data from a website.
    // Main collector instance is initialized here.
    // Our main collector c will only look for profile links of celebreties
    // and go on next pages if there is next button on current page.
    c := colly.NewCollector(
        // Colly collector will only visit the given domains.
        colly.AllowedDomains("www.imdb.com", "imdb.com"),
        // Colly collector stores cache and uses from here.
        // Cache is disabled by default, so we need to enable it.

    // ic stands for Info Collector, is just cloned from main collector.
    // This collector will be used to scrape data from the info page.
    // It will go inside a profile link and look for data in that only.
    // This collector will be on work everytime main collector find a new profile link.
    ic := c.Clone()

    // Where crawler sees 'mode-detail' class attribute, it will call back the function.
    c.OnHTML(".mode-detail", func(e *colly.HTMLElement) {
        // Getting the profile url from the href attribute, it is goquery selector string.
        // 'div.lister-item-image > a' is path of profile url in HTML.
        // At fist there is a Div tag with class 'lister-item-image' and
        // inside that there is a tag 'a' where href attribute is profile url.
        profileUrl := e.ChildAttr("div.lister-item-image > a", "href")
        // But the profile url is relative, so we need to add the base url.
        // profileUrl is "/name/nm0000123/" corrently.
        profileUrl = e.Request.AbsoluteURL(profileUrl)
        // Now profileUrl is "https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000123/".

        // Asking info collector to visit the profile url.

    // This crawler function gets into next page, if there is one.
    // On IMDB, there is a button with text 'Next' on each page with
    // class 'lister-page-next next-page' and we are looking only for that.
    c.OnHTML("a.lister-page-next", func(e *colly.HTMLElement) {
        // Getting the next page url from the href attribute.
        nextPageUrl := e.Attr("href")
        nextPageUrl = e.Request.AbsoluteURL(nextPageUrl)

        // Asking main collector to visit the next page url.

    // This info collector crawler function gets the information of the celebrety inside the 'profileURL' page.
    ic.OnHTML("#content-2-wide", func(e *colly.HTMLElement) {

        // Getting all details using info collector and storing them in a Star struct.
        temporaryStar := Star{
            Name:      e.ChildText("h1.header > span.itemprop"),
            Photo:     e.ChildAttr("#name-poster", "src"),
            JobTitle:  e.ChildText("#name-job-categories > a > span.itemprop"),
            Birthdate: e.ChildAttr("#name-born-info > time", "datetime"),
            Bio:       strings.TrimSpace(e.ChildText("#name-bio-text > div.name-trivia-bio-text > div.inline")),
            TopMovies: []Movie{},

        // Now iterating over all the top movies of the profile url page.
        e.ForEach("div.knownfor-title", func(_ int, el *colly.HTMLElement) {
            temporaryStar.TopMovies = append(temporaryStar.TopMovies, Movie{
                Title:   el.ChildText("div.knownfor-title-role > a.knownfor-ellipsis"),
                Release: el.ChildText("div.knownfor-title > div.knownfor-year > span.knownfor-ellipsis"),

        // Now appending the temporaryStar to the stars slice.
        stars = append(stars, temporaryStar)

    // Printing text of every request made on info collector.
    ic.OnRequest(func(r *colly.Request) {
        fmt.Println("Visiting:    ", r.URL.String())

    // Our link to crawl with user specified date and month.
    startUrl := fmt.Sprintf("https://www.imdb.com/search/name/?birth_monthday=%d-%d", month, day)
    fmt.Println("Starting crawling into    ", startUrl)

    // Starting the main collector.

    // Returning all the scraped data in a slice of stars.
    return stars

If you are overwhelmed by the code, don't worry. As I always write lots of comments in code, if you read them, you will understand what is going on.

Let's break down one important part of scraping.

  • HTML Structure Recognition and Query String ๐Ÿงต๐Ÿ”Ž๏ธ

Q. How we can recognize the HTML structure of a website ?

A. There are two ways to do that. One is to use the browser's developer tools manually and the other is to use the colly package's InspectElement function.

I like the first one, manually going through web pages and finding the HTML elements. Searching in HTML is kind of a skill itself, you need to know how to find the right element in HTML.

Let us see how we do that ?

Here is video that I made for you to understand how to find right HTML component of a website using query strings.

Now, we can go further into the code. Let us now deal with the []Star slice that we are returning from the Crawl function.

// main takes two arguments, month and day. 
// Parse them into integers and call Crawl function.
// Crawl function returns a slice of stars.
// That slice is converted into JSON object.
// And then writes the object into a file.
func main() {

    // Printing prompt for user to input values.
    var input string
    // User should type just like this. e.g.. 12-23
    fmt.Println("Type a date and month in (MM-DD) format:    ")
    _, err := fmt.Scanf("%s", &input)
    if err != nil { // Error handling
        // Fatalln will print the error and exit the program.
        log.Fatalln("Unable to read input because    ", err)

    // Splitting the input into month and day.
    sliceOfInput := strings.Split(input, "-")

    // Converting the month into integer.
    month, err := strconv.Atoi(sliceOfInput[0])
    if err != nil { 
        log.Fatalln("Unable to convert month into int because    ", err)
    // Converting the month into integer.
    day, err := strconv.Atoi(sliceOfInput[1])
    if err != nil { 
        log.Fatalln("Unable to convert date into int because    ", err)

    // Crawling the website with the given month and day and stores the data into a slice of Star.
    // Calling Crawl func with month and day.
    // Storing the returned slice of Star into stars variable.
    stars := Crawl(month, day)

    // To print all the scraped data in terminal.
    // This code part is commented out, because it is not necessary.
    // You can play with it to show the scraped data on terminal.
    // encoder := json.NewEncoder(os.Stderr)
    // encoder.SetIndent("", "   ")
    // err := encoder.Encode(stars)

    // Converting Star struct into JSON.
    data, err := json.MarshalIndent(stars, "", "    ")
    if err != nil {
        log.Println("Error while marshalling JSON: ", err)

    // Writing JSON into a file called 'mm-dd.json'.
    // file name will vary according to the month and day.
    // We are using os pkg to write the file.
    fileName := fmt.Sprintf("%s.json", input)
    err = os.WriteFile(fmt.Sprintf("./outputs/%s", fileName), data, 0644)
    if err != nil {
        if err.Error() == "open ./outputs/12-23.json: no such file or directory" {
            log.Println("Making directory named outputs.")
            os.Mkdir("./outputs", 0755) // making a directory.
            err := os.WriteFile(fmt.Sprintf("./outputs/%s", fileName), data, 0644)
            if err == nil {
                log.Fatalln("Web is scraped and JSON file is created.")
        log.Fatalln("Error while writing JSON: ", err)
    log.Println("Web is scraped and JSON file is created.")

// This is where our code ends.

For the whole code, you can check out the IMDB-Scraper-Golang repository.

3. Testing our Scraper

Now, we run our program to test it. We will run it with the date and month of my birthday. So, I will run the main.go then type 12-23 and hit enter.


Conclusion :

This was a simple yet interesting scraper project. We scraped the IMDB website and got the data of all the celebrities who were born on the same day as me. We used colly package to scrape the website. We also used the os package to write the scraped data into a file.

I hope you liked this blog and learned something new. If you have any inquiry or suggestions, feel free to tell me in the comments section or on Twitter. I will be very happy to get connected with you.

A special thanks โœจ to Akhil Sharma, I learned from him.

Follow me on @sarkartanmay393

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