Playwright vs Puppeteer for Web Scraping: Which Is Better?
Two headless browser libraries created by two well-known companies and one team of developers behind them both. So, which tool is better for web scraping?
In this comparison guide, you’ll learn all about Playwright and Puppeteer use in web scraping. You’ll find a side-by-side comparison of their popularity, installation, features, request handling, performance, and community.
What Is Puppeteer?
Puppeteer is backed by Chromium developers, and it provides an API to control Chromium-based environments. The tool was developed by Google in 2018.
The library can automate browser interactions like taking screenshots and PDFs, crawling single-page applications, rendering content, automating mouse and keyboard inputs, filling forms, and other actions.
What Is Playwright?
Playwright is a tool primarily used for app and end-to-end web testing, but many web scrapers choose it to automate browser actions when scraping.
The library was developed by Microsoft, specifically the team behind Puppeteer. According to the team, with Playwright, they aim to extend the success of Puppeteer by providing equivalent functionality for all major rendering engines.
The library allows you to automate your actions on different browsers and use various programming languages. Like Puppeteer, Playwright uses its own cookies to handle auto wait or separate browser instances. This is very convenient in cases when you need to mimic different sessions or users.
Puppeteer vs Playwright for Web Scraping: Which One to Choose?
According to npmtrends data, Puppeteer has always had more user downloads than Playwright. For example, at the beginning of 2023, Puppeteer had over 3 million monthly downloads, while Playwright – over 900,000. And predictably so, since Playwright is two years younger than Puppeteer.
You can see similar trends on Github (2024, January 9, data):
- Puppeteer: 85.7k stars, 9.2k forks;
- Playwright: 58k stars, 3.2k forks.
Prerequisites and Installation
Both tools are used with Node.js, so you need to install the latest version in your system. You can download it from the official website. To install the Node Package Manager (npm) package, open a terminal or command prompt and write:
If you’re using Puppeteer:
npm install puppeteer
If you’re using Playwright:
npm install playwright
Note that Playwright supports other programming languages but is mainly used with Node.js.
Puppeteer. The library gives you full control over the browser and runs in headless mode by default, but you can configure it to run headful as well.
To spoof your digital fingerprint with Puppeteer, it offers great plugins like puppeteer-extra-plugin-stealth. For example, you can rotate headers and user agent, or hide browser’s headless status by removing the minute variations between headless and a real browser. Recently, Puppeteer has released new configurations for spoofing fingerprint – you can use the headless=new mode.
Playwright. The tool is much more versatile than Puppeteer because of its browser and language support:
- Cross-browser. It can emulate major browser groups: Chromium, Firefox, and WebKit.
You can also use Playwright across any operating system (Windows, Linux, or macOS) both headless or headful.
Like Puppeteer, Playwright has its own packages like playwright-extra plugin that you can use to prevent bot detection. It will let you mimic human behaviour and handle reCAPTCHAs. Besides, developers are trying to make puppeteer-extra plugins compatible with playwright-extra.
Puppeteer. The library is asynchronous by default. This approach allows you to handle concurrent requests and scrape multiple pages in parallel.
Playwright. Like Puppeteer, Playwright is an asynchronous library. But it can also deal with requests synchronously. This technique allows you to handle one request at a time – it’s an easier approach in terms of writing and following the code. Additionally, you can jump from synchronous to asynchronous script with Playwright.
Playwright. It uses a WebSocket connection that stays open while scraping. This lets you send requests in one go, reducing latency and improving performance. Compared to Puppeteer, it can handle more complex and large-scale web scraping tasks.
Community Support and Documentation
Puppeteer. The library has been around longer than Playwright. Puppeteer has a large community that is active in forums like StackOverflow. So, if you have a web scraping dilemma, you can easily get advice from your peers.
Puppeteer offers robust documentation with detailed explanations, examples, and best practices, making it easy for developers and first-time users to get started.
Playwright. Even though Playwright is younger, it has a quickly growing community. Compared to Puppeteer, you’ll find fewer discussions online but enough to solve common issues when web scraping.
In terms of documentation, Playwright has also got everything covered – from integration to examples of using the tool.
Playwright vs Selenium: A Comparison Table
Let’s look at how the libraries compare side by side:
|Chrome or Chromium
|Chromium, Firefox, and WebKit
|Windows, Linux, and macOS
|Windows, Linux, and macOS
|Asynchronous and synchronous
|Ease of use
Alternatives to Playwright and Puppeteer
Playwright and Puppeteer aren’t the only headless libraries for web scraping. Selenium is another great tool for scraping dynamic elements. It can be used with the most popular programming languages, including Node.js. To learn more about the headless browser library, you can check our guides, where we compare Selenium with Playwright and Puppeteer.
Can't decide between Playwright vs Selenium? We're here to help.
We compare two popular headless browser libraries.