Ruby gem for web scraping purposes.

View project on GitHub

MetaInspector Build Status Dependency Status

MetaInspector is a gem for web scraping purposes.

You give it an URL, and it lets you easily get its title, links, images, charset, description, keywords, meta tags...

See it in action!

You can try MetaInspector live at this little demo:

Changes in 3.0

This latest release introduces some backwards-incompatible changes, so we've decided to do a major version upgrade:

  • The redirect API has been changed, now the :allow_redirections option will expect only a boolean, which by default is true. That is, no more specifying :safe, :unsafe or :all.
  • We've dropped support for Ruby < 2.

Also, we've introduced a new feature:

  • Persist cookies across redirects. Now MetaInspector will include the received cookies when following redirects. This fixes some cases where a redirect would fail, sometimes caught in a redirection loop.


Install the gem from RubyGems:

gem install metainspector

If you're using it on a Rails application, just add it to your Gemfile and run bundle install

gem 'metainspector'

This gem is tested on Ruby versions 2.0.0 and 2.1.3.


Initialize a MetaInspector instance for an URL, like this:

page ='')

If you don't include the scheme on the URL, http:// will be used by default:

page ='')

You can also include the html which will be used as the document to scrape:

page ="", :document => "<html><head><title>Hello From Passed Html</title><a href='/hello'>Hello link</a></head><body></body></html>")

Accessing scraped data

Then you can see the scraped data like this:

page.url                 # URL of the page
page.scheme              # Scheme of the page (http, https)                # Hostname of the page (like,, without the scheme)
page.root_url            # Root url (scheme + host, like
page.title               # title of the page, as string
page.links               # array of strings, with every link found on the page as an absolute URL
page.internal_links      # array of strings, with every internal link found on the page as an absolute URL
page.external_links      # array of strings, with every external link found on the page as an absolute URL
page.meta['keywords']    # meta keywords, as string
page.meta['description'] # meta description, as string
page.description         # returns the meta description, or the first long paragraph if no meta description is found
page.image               # Most relevant image, if defined with the og:image meta tag
page.images              # array of strings, with every img found on the page as an absolute URL
page.feed                # Get rss or atom links in meta data fields as array
page.charset             # UTF-8
page.content_type        # content-type returned by the server when the url was requested
page.favicon             # absolute URL to the favicon

Meta tags

When it comes to meta tags, you have several options:

page.meta_tags          # Gives you all the meta tags by type:
                        # (meta name, meta http-equiv, meta property and meta charset)
                        # As meta tags can be repeated (in the case of 'og:image', for example),
                        # the values returned will be arrays
                        # For example:
                        # {
                            'name' => {
                                        'keywords'       => ['one, two, three'],
                                        'description'    => ['the description'],
                                        'author'         => ['Joe Sample'],
                                        'robots'         => ['index,follow'],
                                        'revisit'        => ['15 days'],
                                        '' => ['2011-09-15']

                            'http-equiv' => {
                                              'content-type'        => ['text/html; charset=UTF-8'],
                                              'content-style-type'  => ['text/css']

                            'property' => {
                                            'og:title'        => ['An OG title'],
                                            'og:type'         => ['website'],
                                            'og:url'          => [''],
                                            'og:image'        => ['',
                                            'og:image:width'  => ['300'],
                                            'og:image:height' => ['300', '1000']

                            'charset' => ['UTF-8']

As this method returns a hash, you can also take only the key that you need, like in:

page.meta_tags['property']  # Returns:
                            # {
                            #   'og:title'        => ['An OG title'],
                            #   'og:type'         => ['website'],
                            #   'og:url'          => [''],
                            #   'og:image'        => ['',
                            #                         '',
                            #                         ''],
                            #   'og:image:width'  => ['300'],
                            #   'og:image:height' => ['300', '1000']
                            # }

In most cases you will only be interested in the first occurrence of a meta tag, so you can use the singular form of that method:

page.meta_tag['name']  # Returns:
                       # {
                       #   'keywords'       => 'one, two, three',
                       #   'description'    => 'the description',
                       #   'author'         => 'Joe Sample',
                       #   'robots'         => 'index,follow',
                       #   'revisit'        => '15 days',
                       #   '' => '2011-09-15'
                       #  }

Or, as this is also a hash:

page.meta_tag['name']['keywords']    # Returns 'one, two, three'

And finally, you can use the shorter meta method that will merge the different keys so you have a simpler hash:

page.meta       # Returns:
                # {
                #     'keywords'            => 'one, two, three',
                #     'description'         => 'the description',
                #     'author'              => 'Joe Sample',
                #     'robots'              => 'index,follow',
                #     'revisit'             => '15 days',
                #     ''      => '2011-09-15',
                #     'content-type'        => 'text/html; charset=UTF-8',
                #     'content-style-type'  => 'text/css',
                #     'og:title'            => 'An OG title',
                #     'og:type'             => 'website',
                #     'og:url'              => '',
                #     'og:image'            => '',
                #     'og:image:width'      => '300',
                #     'og:image:height'     => '300',
                #     'charset'             => 'UTF-8'
                #   }

This way, you can get most meta tags just like that:

page.meta['author']     # Returns "Joe Sample"

Please be aware that all keys are converted to downcase, so it's '' and not ''.

Other representations

You can also access most of the scraped data as a hash:

page.to_hash  # { "url"   => "",
                  "title" => "MarkupValidator :: site-wide markup validation tool", ... }

The original document is accessible from:

page.to_s         # A String with the contents of the HTML document

And the full scraped document is accessible from:

page.parsed  # Nokogiri doc that you can use it to get any element from the page


Timeout & Retries

By default, MetaInspector times out after 20 seconds of waiting for a page to respond, and it will retry fetching the page 3 times. You can specify different values for both of these, like this:

# timeout after 5 seconds, retry 4 times
page ='', :timeout => 5, :retries => 4)

If MetaInspector fails to fetch the page after it has exhausted its retries, it will raise MetaInspector::Request::TimeoutError, which you can rescue in your application code.

  data =
rescue MetaInspector::Request::TimeoutError


By default, MetaInspector will follow redirects (up to a limit of 10).

If you want to disallow redirects, you can do it like this:

page ='', :allow_redirections => false)


By default, the following headers are set:

{'User-Agent' => "MetaInspector/#{MetaInspector::VERSION} (+"}

If you want to set custom headers then use the headers option:

 # Set the User-Agent header
 page ='', :headers => {'User-Agent' => 'My custom User-Agent'})

HTML Content Only

MetaInspector will try to parse all URLs by default. If you want to raise an exception when trying to parse a non-html URL (one that has a content-type different than text/html), you can state it like this:

page ='', :html_content_only => true)

This is useful when using MetaInspector on web spidering. Although on the initial URL you'll probably have an HTML URL, following links you may find yourself trying to parse non-html URLs.

page ='')
page.content_type  # "image/png"
page.description   # will returned a garbled string

page ='', :html_content_only => true)
page.content_type  # "image/png"
page.description   # raises an exception

Exception handling

By default, MetaInspector will raise the exceptions found. We think that this is the safest default: in case the URL you're trying to scrape is unreachable, you should clearly be notified, and treat the exception as needed in your app.

However, if you prefer you can also set the warn_level: :warn option, so that exceptions found will just be warned on the standard output, instead of being raised.

You can also set the warn_level: :store option so that exceptions found will be silenced, and left for you to inspect on page.exceptions. You can also ask for page.ok?, wich will return true if no exceptions are stored.

You should avoid using the :store option, or use it wisely, as silencing errors can be problematic, it's always better to face the errors and treat them accordingly.


You can find some sample scripts on the examples folder, including a basic scraping and a spider that will follow external links using a queue. What follows is an example of use from irb:

$ irb
>> require 'metainspector'
=> true

>> page ='')
=> #<MetaInspector:0x11330c0 @url="">

>> page.title
=> "MarkupValidator :: site-wide markup validation tool"

>> page.meta['description']
=> "Site-wide markup validation tool. Validate the markup of your whole site with just one click."

>> page.meta['keywords']
=> "html, markup, validation, validator, tool, w3c, development, standards, free"

>> page.links.size
=> 15

>> page.links[4]
=> "/plans-and-pricing"

ZOMG Fork! Thank you!

You're welcome to fork this project and send pull requests. Just remember to include specs.

Thanks to all the contributors:

You are more than welcome to come chat with us on our Gitter room and Google group.

Related projects


MetaInspector is released under the MIT license.