Design Improvements of a Web Crawler

Identify the web crawler's design shortcomings and challenges, and make improvements accordingly.


This lesson gives us a detailed rundown of the improvements that are required to enhance the functionality, performance, and security of our web crawler design. We have divided this lesson into two sections:

  1. Functionality and performance enhancement design improvements—extensibility and multi-worker architecture.
  2. Security-enhancement design improvements—crawler traps.

Let’s dive into these sections.

Design improvements

Our current design is simplistic and has some inherent shortcomings and challenges. Let’s highlight them one by one and make some adjustments to our design along the way.

  • Shortcoming: Currently, our design supports the HTTP protocol and only extracts textual content. This leads to the question of how we can extend our crawler to facilitate multiple communication protocols and extract various types of files.

    Adjustment: Since we have two separate components for serving communication handling and extracting, HTML Fetcher and Extractor, let’s discuss their modifications one by one.

    1. HTML Fetcher: We have only discussed the HTTP module in this component so far because of the widely-used HTTP URLs scheme. We can easily extend our design to incorporate other communication protocols like File Transfer Protocol (FTP). The workflow will then have an intermediary step where the crawler invokes the concerned communication module based on the URL’s scheme. The subsequent steps will remain the same.
    2. Extractor: Currently, we only extract the textual content from the downloaded document placed in the Document Input Stream (DIS). This document contains other file types as well, for example, images and videos. If we wish to extract other content from the stored document, we need to add new modules with functionalities to process those media types. Since we use a blob store for content storage, storing the newly-extracted content comprising text, images, and videos won’t be a problem.

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