Cloud Scraping with Terraform and Ansible - Running Existing Projects

Detailed steps for running the dataset projects available under
Unless otherwise specified each project provisions one central PostgreSQL instance and 20 scraper instances deployed on DigitalOcean Frankfurt FRA1 datacenter.

Install Terraform

See official docs for adding the corresponding HashiCorp Linux repository.

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install terraform

Configure Terraform

Generate an API access token <api_token> to be used by Terraform when creating resources. This step varies for each cloud provider. Only DigitalOcean is supported atm.

Generate a private/public key pair using ssh-keygen to be used for ssh authentication. Terraform will add the public key <public_key_file> to each newly created resource. The private key <private_key_file> will be used locally when initiating ssh connections to the newly created remote resources.

Initialize provider plugins under terraform directory.

cd ./terraform
terraform init

Modify Terraform Resources

You can modify machine specs and count from ./terraform/ module via pg.size, scraper.count, scraper.size.

module "dataset_project" {
  source = "../../../cloud/terraform"

  region                 = "fra1"
  public_key_name        = "get-set-fetch"
  public_key_file        = var.public_key_file
  private_key_file       = var.private_key_file
  ansible_inventory_file = "../ansible/inventory/hosts.cfg"

  pg = {
    name                  = "pg"
    image                 = "ubuntu-20-04-x64"
    size                  = "s-4vcpu-8gb"
    ansible_playbook_file = "../ansible/pg-setup.yml"

  scraper = {
    count                 = 20
    name                  = "scraper"
    image                 = "ubuntu-20-04-x64"
    size                  = "s-1vcpu-1gb"
    ansible_playbook_file = "../ansible/scraper-setup.yml"

Install Ansible

Check official docs for adding the corresponding PPA or installing via pip, the Python package manager.

sudo apt install ansible

Configure Ansible

PostgreSQL and scraper options are easily changed from ./ansible/pg-setup.yml and ./ansible/scraper-setup.yml respectively. Some of them like db.user and db.password are sensitive and reference corresponding encrypted fields from vault.yml prefixed by vault_.

Change the db user and password from the initially unencrypted ./ansible/vault.yml. Encrypt it and provide a <vault_password> when prompted.

cd ./ansible
ansible-vault encrypt vault.yml

Define Environment Variables

Define some of the settings above as environment variables. Raise the number of concurrent operations to 30.

cd ./ansible

export API_TOKEN="<api_token>" \
export ANSIBLE_ROLES_PATH=$PWD/../../../cloud/ansible
export VAULT_PASSWORD="<vault_password>"

Start Scraping

Create and configure PostgreSQL and scraper instances.
1st scraper instance also saves the scrape project defined under ./ansible/templates/js-scripts-config.json.j2 to the database. All scraper instances invoke the gsfscrape CLI in --discover mode.

terraform apply \
-var "api_token=${API_TOKEN}" \
-var "public_key_file=<public_key_file>" \
-var "private_key_file=<private_key_file>" \

Monitor Progress

Run the commands from the project root directory.
All files are generated or downloaded under the ./exports subdir.

Download PostgreSQL systemd and main logs.

ansible postgresql -u root -i ansible/inventory/hosts.cfg \
-m include_role -a "name=gsf-postgresql-logs" \
-e 'export_dir=exports' \
--private-key <private_key_file>

Download scraper systemd and scrape logs.

ansible scraper -u root -i ansible/inventory/hosts.cfg \
-m include_role -a "name=gsf-scraper-logs" \
-e 'export_dir=exports work_dir=/srv/gsf log_destination=scrape.log' \
--private-key <private_key_file>

Check scraping progress like number of scraped / in-progress / not-scraped resources.
Each call adds a new line to the csv file specified via export_file.

ansible postgresql -u root -i ansible/inventory/hosts.cfg \
-m include_role -a "name=gsf-scraper-stats" \
-e 'project_name=js-scripts export_file=exports/scraper-stats.csv db_name=<db_name> db_user=<db_user> db_password=<db_pass>' \
--private-key <private_key_file>


time, 2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx, in_progress, not_scraped, total, per_second, scraper_instances
1653841128, 283124, 250828, 65274, 81006, 1471, 547772, 1229480, 286.04619565217394, 20

Download list of scraped URLs with a certain scrape status. The status can be either the http response status code or a manually asigned one. Specify the status via status as a single digit.

ansible postgresql -u root -i ansible/inventory/hosts.cfg \
-m include_role -a "name=gsf-scraper-queue" \
-e 'project_name=js-scripts export_file=exports/scraper-queue-4xx.csv status=4 db_name=<db_name> db_user=<db_user> db_password=<db_pass>' \
--private-key <private_key_file>

Download Scraped Content

Invoke cli --export on 1st scraper instance. Specify the target csv file via export_file.

ansible scraper[0] -u root -i ansible/inventory/hosts.cfg \
-m include_role -a "name=gsf-scraper-export" \
-e 'work_dir=/srv/gsf log_level=info log_destination=scrape.log export_file=exports/scraped-content.csv' \
--private-key <private_key_file>


Stop and remove PostgreSQL and scraper instances.

terraform destroy \
-var "api_token=${API_TOKEN}" \
-var "public_key_file=<public_key_file>" \
-var "private_key_file=<private_key_file>" \