A universal scraping tool that can be used for all kinds of data collection. You can decide from where and what you want. All with regular expression. More info on the Github page.

v1.0.5 2017-08-30 20:09 UTC

This package is not auto-updated.

Last update: 2024-02-12 11:34:00 UTC


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You may find more info on

For Laravel 5/4 Developers

In the require key of composer.json file add the following:

"gidlov/copycat": "1.*"

Run the Composer update command.

For Laravel 5 Developers

Add to providers in app/config/app.php.


and to aliases in the same file.

'Copycat' => Gidlov\Copycat\Copycat::class,

For Laravel 4 Developers

Add to providers in app/config/app.php.


and to aliases in the same file.

'Copycat' => 'Gidlov\Copycat\Copycat',

Yet another scraping class

I didn’t do much research before I wrote this class, so there is probably something similar out there, and certainly some more decent solution. A Python version of this class is under development.

But still, I needed a class that could pick out selected pieces from a web page, with regular expression, show or save it. I also needed to be able to save files and or pictures, and also specify or complete a current file name.

It is also possible to use a search engine to look up an address to extract data from. Assuming you has entered an expression for that particular page.


  • Uses regular expression, match one or all.
  • Can download and save files with custom file names.
  • Possible to search through one or several tens of thousands of pages in sequence.
  • Can use search engines to find out the right page.
  • Also possible to apply callback functions for all items.

How to use this class

Include the class and initiate your object with some custom cURL parameters, if you need/like.

$cc = new Copycat;
  CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER, "Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1",
  CURLOPT_USERAGENT => 'Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/24.0.1312.57 Safari/537.17',

I use IMDb as our target source in these examples.

Say we want to retrieve a particular film score, for simplicity, we happen to know the address of this very film, Donnie Darko. This is how the code could look like.

    'score' => '/itemprop="ratingValue">(.*?)</ms',))

It’s basically everything. We specify what has to be matched, and a name for this, and we enter an address. Our answer array will look as follows:

Array (
  [0] => Array (
    [score] => 8.1

If we were to give the method URLs() an associative array instead of a string array('Donnie Darko' => '') the answer would be:

Array (
  [Donnie Darko] => Array (
    [score] => 8.1

Also note that I’m using method chaining, it is supported, but it’s a matter of taste.

But it’s unlikely that we know or can guess IMDb’s choice of URL for a particular movie, so we’ll Binging it when we don’t know it (Google tends to interrupt the sequence after an unknown number of inquiries, therefore I chose Bing).

    'score' => '/itemprop="ratingValue">(.*?)</ms',))
    'query' => '',
    'regex' => '/<a href="(http:\/\/\/title\/tt.*?\/)".*?>.*?<\/a>/ms',
    'to' => 'match',
    'keywords' => array(

Now we have introduced fillURLs() which consists of a search query, a regular expression to match our destination page and keywords that represent the search. The result is the same as in the first example.

Let’s catch more about this film. Original title, rating and votes, release year, director, starring actors and of course we save the cover image. Original file name of the image is something like MV5BMTczMzE4Nzk3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDg5Mjc4NA @ @. V1_SX214.jpg, So we rename it to the title instead.

    'title' => '/<title>(.*?)\(.*?<\/title>/ms',
    'description' => '/itemprop="description">(.*?)</ms',
    'score' => '/itemprop="ratingValue">(.*?)</ms',
    'votes' => '/itemprop="ratingCount">(.*?)</ms',
    'year' => '/class="nobr">.*?>(.*?)</ms',
    'file' => array(
      'key' => 'title',
      'directory' => 'poster',
      'after_key' => '.jpg',
      'regex' => '/img_primary">.*?src="(.*?)".*?<\/td>/ms',)))
    'actors' => '/itemprop="actor.*?itemprop="name">(.*?)</ms',))
    'query' => '',
    'regex' => '/<a href="(http:\/\/\/title\/tt.*?\/)".*?>.*?<\/a>/ms',
    'to' => 'match',
    'keywords' => array(

And the result of such an operation would provide:

Array (
  [0] => Array (
    [title] => Donnie Darko
    [description] => A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.
    [score] => 8.1
    [votes] => 363,099
    [year] => 2001
    [Donnie Darko.jpg] =>
    [actors] => Array (
      [0] => Jake Gyllenhaal
      [1] => Jake Gyllenhaal
      [2] => Holmes Osborne
      [3] => Maggie Gyllenhaal
      [4] => Daveigh Chase
      [5] => Mary McDonnell
      [6] => James Duval
      [7] => Arthur Taxier
      [8] => Patrick Swayze
      [9] => Mark Hoffman
      [10] => David St. James
      [11] => Tom Tangen
      [12] => Jazzie Mahannah
      [13] => Jolene Purdy
      [14] => Stuart Stone
      [15] => Gary Lundy
  [1] => Array (
    [title] => Stay
    [description] => This movie focuses on the attempts of a psychiatrist to prevent one of his patients from committing suicide while trying to maintain his own grip on reality.
    [score] => 6.7
    [votes] => 43,222
    [year] => 2005
    [Stay.jpg] =>,0,214,317_.jpg
    [actors] => Array (
      [0] => Ewan McGregor
      [1] => Ewan McGregor
      [2] => Ryan Gosling
      [3] => Kate Burton
      [4] => Naomi Watts
      [5] => Elizabeth Reaser
      [6] => Bob Hoskins
      [7] => Janeane Garofalo
      [8] => BD Wong
      [9] => John Tormey
      [10] => José Ramón Rosario
      [11] => Becky Ann Baker
      [12] => Lisa Kron
      [13] => Gregory Mitchell
      [14] => John Dominici
      [15] => Jessica Hecht

Apply your callback functions on all value items and view the results.

    '_all_' => array('trim'

$result = $cc->get();

To apply functions on selected elements, replace _all_ with your key value, like this:

    '_all_' => array('trim'),
    'title' => array(
      function($string) {
        return str_replace(' ', '_', $string);
    'actors' => array(
      function($string) {
        return $string.', ';

Note that it is fine to use anonymous functions too.


PHP itself is not suitable for long time-consuming operations, since the process is interrupted as soon as the user closes the web page, or when PHP's time limit is reached (however set_time_limit(0) is utilized in the construct method so right there should not be a problem).


  • PHP 5.3
  • cURL extension


Copycat is released under LGPL.


If this library is useful for you, say thanks buying me a coffee ☕!