How to contribute

You can contribute to improve Django Dynamic Scraper in many ways:

  • If you stumbled over a bug or have suggestions for an improvements or a feature addition report an issue on the GitHub page with a good description.
  • If you have already fixed the bug or added the feature in the DDS code you can also make a pull request on GitHub. While I can’t assure that every request will be taken over into the DDS source I will look at each request closely and integrate it if I fell that it’s a good fit!
  • Since this documentation is also available in the Github repository of DDS you can also make pull requests for documentation!

Here are some topics for which suggestions would be especially interesting:

  • If you worked your way through the documentation and you were completely lost at some point, it would be helpful to know where that was.
  • If there are unnecessary limitations of the Scrapy functionality in the DDS source which could be eliminated without adding complexity to the way you can use DDS that would be very interesting to know.

And finally: please let me know about how you are using Django Dynamic Scraper!

Running the test suite


Tests for DDS are organized in a separate tests Django project in the root folder of the repository. Due to restrictions of Scrapy’s networking engine Twisted, DDS test cases directly testing scrapers have to be run as new processes and can’t be executed sequentially via python test.

For running the tests first go to the tests directory and start a test server with:


Then you can run the test suite with:



If you are testing for DDS Django/Scrapy version compatibility: there might be 2-3 tests generally not working properly, so if just a handful of tests don’t pass have a closer look at the test output.

Django test apps

There are currently two Django apps containing tests. The basic app testing scraper unrelated functionality like correct processor output or scheduling time calculations. These tests can be run on a per-file-level:

python test basic.processors_test.ProcessorsTest

The scraper app is testing scraper related functionality. Tests can either be run via shell script (see above) or on a per-test-case level like this:

python test scraper.scraper_run_test.ScraperRunTest.test_scraper #Django 1.6+
python test scraper.ScraperRunTest.test_scraper #Django up to 1.5

Have a look at the shell script for more examples!

Running ScrapyJS/Splash JS rendering tests

Unit tests testing ScrapyJS/Splash Javascript rendering functionality need a working ScrapyJS/Splash (docker) installation and are therefor run separately with:


Test cases are located in scraper.scraper_js_run_test.ScraperJSRunTest. Some links:

SPLASH_URL in has to be adopted to your local installation to get this running!

Docker container can be run with:

docker run -p 5023:5023 -p 8050:8050 -p 8051:8051 -d scrapinghub/splash


For rendering websites served on localhost from within Docker/Splash, you can connect to localhost outside the Docker container via (see e.g. Stackoverflow).

Release Notes

Changes in version 0.8.0-beta (2015-09-22)

  • New request page types for main page and detail pages of scrapers (see: Adding corresponding request page types):
    • Cleaner association of request options like content or request type to main or detail pages (see: Advanced Request Options)
    • More flexibility in using different request options for main and detail pages (rendering Javascript on main but not on detail pages, different HTTP header or body values,...)
    • Allowance of several detail page URLs per scraper
    • Possibility for not saving the detail page URL used for scraping by unchecking corresponding new ScrapedObjClass attribute save_to_db
  • ATTENTION! This release comes with heavy internal changes regarding both DB structure and scraping logic. Unit tests are running through, but there might be untested edge cases. If you want to use the new functionality in a production environment please do this with extra care. You also might want to wait for 2-3 weeks after release and/or for a following 0.8.1 release (not sure if necessary yet). If you upgrade it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO BACKUP YOUR PROJECT AND YOUR DB before!
  • Replaced Scrapy Spider with CrawlSpider class being the basis for DjangoBaseSpider, allowing for more flexibility when extending
  • Custom migration for automatically creating new RequestPageType objects for existing scrapers
  • Unit tests for new functionality
  • Partly restructured documentation, separate Installation section
  • New migrations 0008, 0009, 0010, run Django migration command

Changes in version 0.7.3-beta (2015-08-10)

  • New attribute dont_filter for Scraper request options (see: Advanced Request Options), necessary for some scenarios where Scrapy falsely marks (and omits) requests as being duplicate (e.g. when scraping uniform URLs together with custom HTTP header pagination)
  • Fixed bug preventing processing of JSON with non-string data types (e.g. Number) for scraped attributes, values are now automatically converted to String
  • New migration 0007, run Django migration command

Changes in version 0.7.2-beta (2015-08-06)

  • Added new method attribute to Scraper not binding HTTP method choice (GET/POST) so strictly to choice of request_type (allowing e.g. more flexible POST requests), see: Advanced Request Options
  • Added new body attribute to Scraper allowing for sending custom request HTTP message body data, see: Advanced Request Options
  • Allowing pagination for headers, body attributes
  • Allowing of ScrapedObjectClass definitions in Django admin with no attributes defined as ID field (omits double checking process when used)
  • New migration 0006, run Django migration command

Changes in version 0.7.1-beta (2015-08-03)

  • Fixed severe bug preventing pagination for cookies and form_data to work properly
  • Added a new section in the docs for Advanced Request Options
  • Unit tests for some scraper request option selections

Changes in version 0.7.0-beta (2015-07-31)

  • Adding additional HTTP header attributes to scrapers in Django admin
  • Cookie support for scrapers
  • Passing Scraper specific Scrapy meta data
  • Support for form requests, passing form data within requests
  • Pagination support for cookies, form data
  • New migration 0005, run Django migration command
  • All changes visible in Scraper form of Django admin
  • ATTENTION! While unit tests for existing functionality all passing through, new functionality is not heavily tested yet due to problems in creating test scenarios. If you want to use the new functionality in a production environment please test with extra care. You also might want to wait for 2-3 weeks after release and/or for a following 0.7.1 release (not sure if necessary yet)
  • Please report problems/bugs on GitHub.

Changes in version 0.6.0-beta (2015-07-14)

  • Replaced implicit and static ID concept of mandatory DETAIL_PAGE_URL type attribute serving as ID with a more flexible concept of explicitly setting ID Fields for ScrapedObjClass in Django admin (see: Defining the object to be scraped)
  • New attribute id_field for ScrapedObjClass, please run Django migration command (migration 0004)
  • DETAIL_PAGE_URL type attribute not necessary any more when defining the scraped object class allowing for more scraping use cases (classic and simple/flat datasets not referencing a certain detail page)
  • Single DETAIL_PAGE_URL type ID Field still necessary for using DDS checker functionality (see: Defining item checkers)
  • Additional form checks for ScrapedObjClass definition in Django admin

Changes in version 0.5.2-beta (2015-06-18)

  • Two new processors ts_to_date and ts_to_time to extract local date/time from unix timestamp string (see: Processors)

Changes in version 0.5.1-beta (2015-06-17)

  • Make sure that Javascript rendering is only activated for pages with HTML content type

Changes in version 0.5.0-beta (2015-06-10)

  • Support for creating JSON/JSONPath scrapers for scraping JSON encoded pages (see: Scraping JSON content)
  • Added new separate content type choice for detail pages and checkers (e.g. main page in HTML, detail page in JSON)
  • New Scraper model attribute detail_page_content_type, please run Django migration command (migration 0003)
  • New library dependency python-jsonpath-rw 1.4+ (see Requirements)
  • Updated unit tests to support/test JSON scraping

Changes in version 0.4.2-beta (2015-06-05)

Changes in version 0.4.1-beta (2015-06-04)

Changes in version 0.4.0-beta (2015-06-02)

  • Support for Django 1.7/1.8 and Scrapy 0.22/0.24. Earlier versions not supported any more from this release on, if you need another configuration have a look at the DDS 0.3.x branch (new features won’t be back-ported though) (see Release Compatibility Table)
  • Switched to Django migrations, removed South dependency
  • Updated core library to work with Django 1.7/1.8 (Django 1.6 and older not working any more)
  • Replaced deprecated calls logged when run under Scrapy 0.24 (Scrapy 0.20 and older not working any more)
  • Things to consider when updating Scrapy: new ITEM_PIPELINES dict format, standalone scrapyd with changed scrapy.cfg settings and new deployment procedure (see: Scrapy Configuration)
  • Adopted example_project and tests Django projects to work with the updated dependecies
  • Updated open_news.json example project fixture
  • Changed DDS status to Beta

Changes in version 0.3.14-alpha (2015-05-30)

  • Pure documentation update release to get updated Scrapy 0.20/0.22/.24 compatibility info in the docs (see: Release Compatibility Table)

Changes in version 0.3.13-alpha (2015-05-29)

  • Adopted test suite to pass through under Scrapy 0.18 (Tests don’t work with Scrapy 0.16 any more)
  • Added Scrapy 0.18 to release compatibility table (see: Release Compatibility Table)

Changes in version 0.3.12-alpha (2015-05-28)

  • Added new release compatibility overview table to docs (see: Release Compatibility Table)
  • Adopted script to run with Django 1.6
  • Tested Django 1.5, Django 1.6 for compatibility with DDS v.0.3.x
  • Updated title xpath in fixture for Wikinews example scraper

Changes in version 0.3.11-alpha (2015-04-20)

  • Added only-active and --report-only-erros options to run_checker_tests management command (see: Run checker tests)

Changes in version 0.3.10-alpha (2015-03-17)

  • Added missing management command for checker functionality tests to distribution (see: Run checker tests)

Changes in version 0.3.9-alpha (2015-01-23)

  • Added new setting DSCRAPER_IMAGES_STORE_FORMAT for more flexibility with storing original and/or thumbnail images (see Scraping images/screenshots)

Changes in version 0.3.8-alpha (2014-10-14)

  • Added ability for duration processor to break down and parse second values greater than one hour in total (>= 3600 seconds) (see: Processors)

Changes in version 0.3.7-alpha (2014-03-20)

  • Improved run_checker_tests management command with --send-admin-mail flag for usage of command in cronjob (see: Run checker tests)

Changes in version 0.3.6-alpha (2014-03-19)

  • Added new admin action clone_scrapers to get a functional copy of scrapers easily

Changes in version 0.3.5-alpha (2013-11-02)

  • Add super init method to call init method in Scrapy BaseSpider class to DjangoBaseSpider init method (see Pull Request #32)

Changes in version 0.3.4-alpha (2013-10-18)

  • Fixed bug displaying wrong message in checker tests
  • Removed run_checker_tests celery task (which wasn’t working anyway) and replaced it with a simple Django management command run_checker_tests to run checker tests for all scrapers

Changes in version 0.3.3-alpha (2013-10-16)

  • Making status list editable in Scraper admin overview page for easier status change for many scrapers at once
  • Possibility to define x_path checkers with blank checker_x_path_result, the checker is then succeeding if elements are found on page (before this lead to an error message)

Changes in version 0.3.2-alpha (2013-09-28)

Changes in version 0.3.1-alpha (2013-09-03)

  • Possibility to add keyword arguments to spider and checker task method to specify which reference objects to use for spider/checker runs (see: Defining your tasks)

Changes in version 0.3-alpha (2013-01-15)

  • Main purpose of release is to upgrade to new libraries (Attention: some code changes necessary!)
  • Scrapy 0.16: The DjangoItem class used by DDS moved from scrapy.contrib_exp.djangoitem to scrapy.contrib.djangoitem. Please update your Django model class accordingly (see: Creating your Django models).
  • Scrapy 0.16: BOT_VERSION setting no longer used in Scrapy/DDS file (see: Setting up Scrapy)
  • Scrapy 0.16: Some minor import changes for DDS to get rid of deprecated settings import
  • Django 1.5: Changed Django settings configuration, please update your Scrapy/DDS file (see: Setting up Scrapy)
  • django-celery 3.x: Simpler installation, updated docs accordingly (see: Installing/configuring django-celery for DDS)
  • New log output about which Django settings used when running a scraper

Changes in version 0.2-alpha (2012-06-22)

  • Substantial API and DB layout changes compared to version 0.1
  • Introduction of South for data migrations

Changes in version 0.1-pre-alpha (2011-12-20)

  • Initial version



Django Dynamic Scraper’s pre-alpha phase was meant to be for people interested having a first look at the library and give some feedback if things were making generally sense the way they were worked out/conceptionally designed or if a different approach on implementing some parts of the software would have made more sense.

alpha (current)

DDS is currently in alpha stadium, which means that the library has proven itself in (at least) one production environment and can be (cautiously) used for production purposes. However being still very early in develpment, there are still API and DB changes for improving the lib in different ways. The alpha stadium will be used for getting most parts of the API relatively stable and eliminate the most urgent bugs/flaws from the software.


In the beta phase the API of the software should be relatively stable, though occasional changes will still be possible if necessary. The beta stadium should be the first period where it is save to use the software in production and beeing able to rely on its stability. Then the software should remain in beta for some time.

Version 1.0

Version 1.0 will be reached when the software has matured in the beta phase and when at least 10+ projects are using DDS productively for different purposes.