DEV Community

Cover image for Web Scraping — Scrape data from your instagram page with Nodejs, Playwright and Firebase.

Web Scraping — Scrape data from your instagram page with Nodejs, Playwright and Firebase.

dnature profile image Divine Hycenth ・4 min read

An introduction to web scraping with playwright, nodejs and firebase.


If you want to follow along this tutorial, you'll need the following:

  • Basic Knowledge of Firebase and a Firebase account
  • Basic knowledge of javascript
  • A coding Editor Vscode Preferred
  • API Development/Debugging tool.

What is web scrapping?

Web scrapping refers to the extraction of data from a website. This information is collected and exported into a format (i.e csv) that is more useful to the user.

What is a Headless Browser?

You might have heard of the term Headless Browser but still don't know what it means. You don't have to worry because the Internet's got our back 🙂

Headless browsers provide automated control of a web page in an environment similar to popular web browsers, but are executed via a command-line interface or using network communication. wikipedia.

Here are few most popular Headless Browsers 👇

Puppeteer: Puppeteer is a Node library which provides a high-level API to control headless Chrome or Chromium over the DevTools Protocol. It can also be configured to use full (non-headless) Chrome or Chromium.

Playwright: Playwright is a Node library developed by microsoft to automate Chromium, Firefox and WebKit with a single API. Playwright is built to enable cross-browser web automation that is ever-green, capable, reliable and fast.

Initial Setup 🚀

Lets start off by initializing firebase cloud functions for javascript:

firebase init functions
cd functions
npm run serve

The next step is to install Playwright:

npm install playwright

This installs Playwright and browser binaries for Chromium, Firefox and WebKit. Once installed, you can require Playwright in a Node.js script and automate web browser interactions.

Now lets create our Instagram Scraper

Instagram on the web uses React, which means we won’t see any dynamic content util the page is fully loaded. Playwright is available in the Clould Functions runtime, allowing you to spin up a Chrome/Firefox/Webkit browser on your server. It will render JavaScript and handle events just like the browser you’re using right now.

First, the function logs into a real instagram account. The page.type method will find the cooresponding DOM element and type characters into it. Once logged in, we navigate to a specific username and wait for the img tags to render on the screen, then scrape the src attribute from them.

const functions = require("firebase-functions");
const playwright = require("playwright");
exports.scrapeImages = functions
    timeoutSeconds: 500,
  .https.onRequest(async (req, res) => {
    // Randomly select a browser
    // You can also specify a single browser that you prefer
    for (const browserType of ["chromium", "firefox", "webkit"]) {
      console.log(browserType); // To know the chosen one 😁
      const browser = await playwright[browserType].launch();
      const context = await browser.newContext();
      const page = await context.newPage();
      await page.goto("");
      // Login form
      // set a delay to wait for page to completely load all contents
      await page.waitForTimeout(9000);
      // You can also take screenshots of pages
      await page.screenshot({
        path: `ig-sign-in.png`,
      await page.type("[name=username]", "<your-username>");
      await page.type('[type="password"]', "<your-password>");
      await page.waitForTimeout(5000);
      await page.goto(``);
      await page.waitForTimeout(5000);
      await page.waitForSelector("img ", {
        visible: true,
      await page.screenshot({ path: `profile.png` });
      await page.waitForTimeout(5000);
      // Execute code in the DOM
      const data = await page.evaluate(() => {
        const images = document.querySelectorAll("img");
        const urls = Array.from(images).map((v) => v.src);
        return urls;
      await browser.close();
      // Return the data in form of json
      return res.status(200).json(data);

Note: You might need to tweak the delay depending on the speed of your internet to avoid manipulating the dom when it's not fully loaded.

Now we need to test out our API and to do that we're going to need an API debugging tool and I'd recommend Insomnia because it's the best API tool i've ever used and it has tons of features. You can also use whatever you want or also checkout Postman.

In the above image, you can see the response JSON data colored with yellow on the right side. It is an array of urls that points to individual images on your instagram page.

You can do whatever you want with the data (Download the images) but in our case we are just logging it out on the console to see what it looks like.


Most times Bad dudes applies this technique to Illegally extract data from a website and I'm pretty sure that the person reading this is not one of them.

Always remember to Use your code for good 🙂

Checkout my awesome blog, i write about how to get things done and tools for software development

I hope you find this helpful.

Happy codding 💻 🙂

Discussion (4)

Editor guide
aleccc profile image

Worth noting that the documentation has alternatives to hard-coding the wait times (page.waitForTimeout). Some commands like fill and click have auto waits built-in. Or you can explicitly wait for an object to appear in the DOM.

// Playwright waits for #search element to be in the DOM
await page.fill('#search', 'query');
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
// Wait for #search to appear in the DOM.
await page.waitForSelector('#search', { state: 'attached' });
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

johnnyhuynhdev profile image
Johnny Dev

Hi Divine,
Just note that currently this approach only works on localhost with firebase serve, it would fail when you deploy it to the Cloud. In my observation, Firebase can't figure out where the binary browsers used for scraping are stored, therefore can't initialize the browsers. I am still finding a way to modify this behaviour. Do you have any ideas?

andyajhis profile image

Do u know, how to save login session after browser close and want to scraping again and again ?

dnature profile image
Divine Hycenth Author

I haven't tried that and maybe it's possible but i'm sure it's not going to work if you randomly spin up browsers using Playwright.
Let me know if you are able to do that :)