Running the Scraper

As you develop it will be a good idea to run the scraper to ensure that the output JSON is in good shape.

Run the scraper:

$ pupa update seattle

Where seattle is simply a Python-importable path to your scraper directory. From there, the jurisdiction object will be able to tell pupa where to find the scrapers.

In addition, there are some useful arguments to know about.

Firstly, when doing local testing, --fast disables Pupa’s scrape throttling, and uses the scrape_cache to prevent fetching pages over the line. This is useful when doing prototyping, but shouldn’t be used regularly, since it puts more load on these websites, and will read stale data (if your cache stays around).

Secondly, if don’t have an opencivicdata postgres database set up, it’s useful to pass --scrape to pupa, to prevent the --import and --report stages from running.

Lastly, being able to restrict which scraper gets run by indicating people, bills, events or votes after the jurisdiction.

At any point, you can run:

$ pupa update -h

To get most up-to-date information regarding the invocation of Pupa.

Usually, during rapid development, the invocation would look something like:

$ pupa update seattle people --fast

Validating Data

After this completes, the data will be in the scraped_data folder. Each OpenCivic object that gets saved will be written to scraped_data/<jurisdiction_id>/<type>_<tmp_id>.json.

This object will be a JSON-encoded OpenCivic object, which is a well-documented and defined format for Government data.

By spot-checking a few of the entries, you can check to see if data looks funny, or if things aren’t being categorized properly.

If you want to spot-check some data, using a modern POSIX system should allow you to run something similar to:

$ python -m json.tool $(ls | shuf -n 1) | vim -

Feel free to change vim to whatever editor you prefer for such tasks.

If you do use vim, there’s a helpful JSON Plugin

Here is an example JSON file you’d get if you run the events scraper we created in Writing an Events Scraper, although note that your IDs will be different:

{
    "_id": "efa7ccee-f4d6-11e4-b1eb-843a4bcaaa18",
    "agenda": [
        {
            "description": "Testimony from concerned citizens",
            "media": [
                {
                    "date": "",
                    "links": [
                        {
                            "media_type": "application/pdf",
                            "url": "http://example.com/hearing/testimony.pdf"
                        }
                    ],
                    "note": "Written version of testimony"
                }
            ],
            "notes": [],
            "order": "0",
            "related_entities": [
                {
                    "entity_type": "committee",
                    "name": "Transportation",
                    "note": "participant"
                },
                {
                    "entity_type": "committee",
                    "name": "Environment and Natural Resources",
                    "note": "participant"
                },
                {
                    "entity_type": "person",
                    "name": "Jane Brown",
                    "note": "participant"
                },
                {
                    "entity_type": "person",
                    "name": "Alicia Jones",
                    "note": "participant"
                },
                {
                    "entity_type": "person",
                    "name": "Fred Green",
                    "note": "participant"
                },
                {
                    "entity_type": "bill",
                    "name": "HB101",
                    "note": "consideration"
                }
            ],
            "subjects": [
                "Transportation",
                "Environment"
            ]
        }
    ],
    "all_day": false,
    "classification": "event",
    "description": "",
    "documents": [],
    "end_time": null,
    "extras": {},
    "links": [],
    "location": {
        "coordinates": null,
        "name": "unknown",
        "note": ""
    },
    "media": [
        {
            "date": "",
            "links": [
                {
                    "media_type": "video/mpeg",
                    "url": "http://example.com/hearing/video.mpg"
                }
            ],
            "note": "Video of meeting"
        },
        {
            "date": "",
            "links": [
                {
                    "media_type": "application/pdf",
                    "url": "http://example.com/hearing/minutes.pdf"
                }
            ],
            "note": "Meeting minutes"
        }
    ],
    "name": "Hearing",
    "participants": [
        {
            "entity_type": "committee",
            "name": "Transportation Committee",
            "note": "participant"
        },
        {
            "entity_type": "person",
            "name": "Joe Smith",
            "note": "Hearing Chair"
        }
    ],
    "sources": [
        {
            "note": "",
            "url": "http://example.com"
        }
    ],
    "start_time": "1776-07-04T17:08:00+00:00",
    "status": "confirmed",
    "timezone": "US/Pacific"
}
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