Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Create a better images downloader(Google, Bing and Yahoo) by Qt5

  I mentioned how to create a simple Bing image downloader in Download Bing images by Qt5, in this post I will explain how do I tackle the challenges I have encountered when I try to build a better image downloader app by Qt5, the skills I used are apply on QImageScraper version_1.0, if you want to know the details, please dive into the codes, they are too complicated to write down in this blog.

1 : Show all of the images searched by Bing

  To show all of the images searched by Bing, we need to make sure the page is scrolled to the bottom, unfortunately there is no way to check it with 100% accuracy if we are not scrolling the page manually, because the height of the scroll bar keep changing when you scrolling it, this make the program almost impossible to determine when should it stop to scroll the page.


  I give several solutions a try but none of them are optimal, I have no choice but seek a compromise. Rather than scrolling the page full auto, I adopt semi auto solution as Pic.1 shown.


2 : Not all of the images are downloable

  There are several reasons may cause this issue.

  1. The search engine(Bing, Yahoo, Google etc) fail to find direct link of the image.
  2. The server "think" you is not a real human(robot?)
  3. Network error
  4. There are no error happen, but the reply of the server take too long

  Although I cannot find a perfect solution for problem 2, but there are some tricks to alleviate it, let the flow chart(Pic.2) clear the miasma.



  Simply put, if error happen, I will try to download thumbnail, if even the thumbnail cannot download, I will try next image. After all, this solution is not too bad, let us see the results of download 893 smoke images search by Google.


  All of the images could be downloaded, 817 of them are big images, 76 of them are small images, not a perfect results but not bad either. Something I did not mentioned in Pic.2 and Pic.3 are 

  1. I always switch user agents
  2. I start next download with random period(0.5second~1.5second)
  Purpose of these "weird" operations is try to emulate behaviors of humans, this could lower down the risk of being treated as "robot" by the servers. I cannot find free, trustable proxies yet, else I would like to randomly connect to different proxies time to time too, please tell me where to find those proxies if you know, thanks.

3 : Type of the images are mismatch or did not specify in file extension

  Not all of the images have correct type(jpg, png, gif etc), I am very lucky that Qt5 provide us QImageReader, this class can determine the type of the image from contents rather than extension. With it we can change the suffix of the file into the real format, remove the files which are not images.

4 : QFile fail to rename/remove file

  QFile::rename and QFile::remove got some troubles on windows(works well on mac), this bug me a while, it cost me one day to find out QImageReader blocking the file

5 : Invalid file name 

  Not all of the file name are valid, it is extremely hard to find out a perfect way to determine the file name is valid or not, I only do some minimal process for this issue--Remove illegal characters and trimmed white spaces.

6 : Deploy app on major platforms

  One of the strong selling points Qt is the ability of cross-platform, to tell you the truth I can build the app and run it on windows, mac and linux without changing single line of codes, it work out of the box. Problem is, deploy the app on linux is not fun at all, it is a very complicated task, I will try deploy this image downloader after linuxqtdeploy become mature.


  In this blog post, I reviewed some problems I met when using Qt5 to develop an image downloader, this is by no means exhaustive but scrape the surface, if you want to know the details, every nitty-gritty, better dive into source codes.

Download Bing images by Qt5
Source codes of QImageScraper