PhantomJS vs Puppeteer: Which Is Best for You?

January 3, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Web scraping with JavaScript and looking for a comparison between PhantomJs vs. Puppeteer?

This article will unravel the differences between Puppeteer and PhantomJS and conclude the best one for you.

PhantomJS vs. Puppeteer: Which Is Best?

PhantomJS is a discontinued headless browser with a JavaScript API for automating web pages. It has an independent JavaScript runtime and doesn't depend on Node.js only.

Puppeteer is an actively developed Node.js library for automating Chrome and Chromium-based browsers. While PhantomJS is strictly headless, Puppeteer can run in headless or non-headless mode.

Puppeteer is superior to PhantomJS since its features are more recent. It's one of the best headless browsers for web scraping, and it's the ideal choice if you want a feature-rich and updated tool to automate and scrape dynamic web pages more efficiently.

Overview: PhantomJS vs. Puppeteer

Let's overview the comparison between PhantomJS and Puppeteer in the table below.

Considerations Puppeteer PhantomJS
Ease of use Straightforward with an easier learning curve Steeper learning curve
Headless/non-headless support Headless and non-headless modes are available Strictly headless
Rendering engine Chrome's Blink engine WebKit engine
HTTP requests Yes Yes
Avoid getting blocked Proxy and header rotation, request limiting, Puppeteer Stealth plugin, Web scraping APIs Proxy and header rotation, limited options to bypass detection
Community and Documentation Well-documented with active community Outdated documentation, community support dropped significantly after the discontinuation
Maintenance and upkeep Actively maintained Discontinued
Runtime dependency Depends on Node.js Independent executable and Node.js

Next, we dive deeper into an overview of PhantomJS vs. Puppeteer to expose their strengths and weaknesses.

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PhantomJS Review

PhantomJS provides a JavaScript API for automating headless browsers based on the WebKit rendering engine. Due to discontinuation, testers and scrapers now prefer to use PhantomJS alternatives.

๐Ÿ‘ Pros of PhantomJS:

  • Support for the WebKit engine extends browser compatibility.
  • Quick command line tools are available.
  • Flexibility to run as an independent executable or as a Node.js module.

๐Ÿ‘Ž Cons of PhantomJS:

  • Discontinued.
  • Outdated documentation.
  • Inactive community.
  • Higher chances of getting blocked during scraping.
  • Steeper learning curve.
  • Limited integration with Chrome DevTools.
  • May not support modern JavaScript since there's no active development.
  • Strictly headless.
  • Support integration with testing frameworks is becoming less possible.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป Best Use Cases for PhantomJS:

  • General page automation.
  • Network monitoring.
  • Taking screenshots and converting web pages into PDFs.
  • Web scraping.

Puppeteer Review

Puppeteer uses the Chome DevTools APIs to automate a real user's actions on a web page. Puppeteer web scraping is now a preferred choice among scrapers using JavaScript.

๐Ÿ‘ Pros of Puppeteer:

  • Actively developed and more stable.
  • Well-documented.
  • Easier learning curve with an active community.
  • Anti-bot protection like Puppeteer Stealth is available to avoid getting blocked.
  • Provides better integration with the Chrome DevTools.
  • More flexible with the ability to switch between headless and non-headless modes.
  • Supports modern JavaScript scripting with a simpler syntax.
  • Easily integrates with other testing frameworks, including Jest and Mocha.

๐Ÿ‘Ž Cons of Puppeteer:

  • Limited to Chrome/Chromium browsers.
  • Strictly depends on the Node.js runtime.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป Best Use Cases for Puppeteer:

  • Automation testing.
  • Web scraping.
  • Taking screenshots and generating web page PDFs.
  • Performance monitoring.
  • Accessibility testing.

Conclusion

After comparing PhantomJS vs. Puppeteer in the article, it's clear that Puppeteer stands out as the superior choice. It's actively developed, supports more use cases, and is well-documented. Additionally, Puppeteer is more adjustable to avoid anti-bot detection.

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