What Data Toolbar does, it does well. Give it multiple pages of consistent data and it will draw the records in cleanly and quickly and deliver easily imported, delimited files. It had no problem going through multiple pages of results and did not skip records. But it can't automate input of search terms, and it fumbles when record fields are inconsistent.
Simplicity of use is a big plus with this program. Call up a Web page, start the Data Toolbar plug-in and click the fields you want to capture. Documentation indicates that it can also capture some non-text data, such as images attached to records, but that was outside the parameters of our tests. It was unable to capture and download PDFs that were linked in records in one test.
Unlike some of the other, free plug-in-based Web scrapers we tested, Data Toolbar is able to paginate through multiple pages of data tables after users identify the "next page" button. The program also allows users to adjust the speed it hits websites, which can avoid overloading the servers containing the information you need.
The tougher the task, though, the more Data Toolbar's shortcomings become apparent. It can't submit terms into Web page search forms, so scraping those pages requires the user to periodically input search terms. In one of our tests, that was feasible and it saved a lot of tedious cut-and-paste that lesser Web-based scrapers would have required. But Data Toobar was useless in another test, where the website limited the number of records delivered per search. It also is incapable of drilling down through records to capture underlying linked data.
It displayed some quirks in handling data sets where some fields were occasionally blank. It guessed incorrectly in creating the output file structure, and sometimes skipped over parts of records. We've passed along our findings to the developers and will update if we get a response.
For its $24 price, Data Toolbar can save users a tremendous amount of time and money on the right job. But don't expect it to help with the more complex tasks.
May 5, 2012//
Data Toolbar was a quick and almost idiot-proof solution for this test, scraping the names and addresses of 8,117 South Dakota lobbyists from the state's website.READ OUR FULL TEST RESULT »
Data Toolbar could not get past the search limitations of this database, a listing of physicans and surgeons in British Columbia that restricts results to 200 records at a time. It also failed to grab information from detail pages.READ OUR FULL TEST RESULT »
Data Toolbar can't automate the entering of search terms, so it's a poor choice for scraping pages with form-based searches. But in some cases it could produce results, with some help from the user.READ OUR FULL TEST RESULT »