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Actors

Learn how to develop, run and share serverless cloud programs. Create your own web scraping and automation tools and publish them on the Apify platform.

Actors are serverless cloud programs that can do almost anything a human can do in a web browser. They can do anything from small tasks like filling in forms or unsubscribing from online services, all the way up to scraping and processing vast numbers of web pages.

You can use actors manually in the Apify Console, using API or scheduler. You can easily integrate them with other apps and share your actors with other Apify users via our access rights system.

New to Apify? Try actors with our quick start tutorial.

A single isolated actor consists of source code and various settings. You can think of an actor as a cloud app or service that runs on the Apify platform. The run of an actor is not limited to the lifetime of a single HTTP transaction. It can run for as long as necessary, even forever.

Section overview

Public, private, and paid actors

Actors can be public (free or paid) or private. Private actors are yours to use and keep, and no one will see them if you don't want them to. Public actors are available to everyone in Apify Store. You can make them free to use, or you can charge for them.

Building public actors

There are four main stages of building a public actor:

  1. Development.
  2. Publication.
  3. Testing and maintenance.
  4. Promotion.

While you don't have to maintain private actors, public actors are a more long-term project. Be prepared to stick with the project for at least a few months. Ensure you have enough time to maintain the project (~2 hours weekly). With this perspective, you will be able to monetize and promote your actors better.

Code quality is a priority. It is public on Github, and your actors may be a new user's first and critical contact with Apify. Code should be open to changes and updates – don't fear to refactor. Beware of breaking changes, though! If you do a breaking change, communicate it to all existing users with an explanation.

Documentation is vital (your actor's README). It should be clear, detailed, and readable. Think of the users, who might not be developers, so use simple, easy-to-understand language and avoid technical jargon.

Ensure periodic testing. You can either do yourself or set up automatic tests / monitoring. Try to prevent your users from coming to you with the issues.

Inspiration

To come up with ideas for new actors, you can use your own experience with friends, colleagues, customers. Alternatively, you can use SEO tools that might help you to find the right search terms, websites related to web scraping, web automation, or web integrations. See the SEO article for more details. Finally, you may take a look at our actor ideas page to find out which actors are most in demand by the Apify community.

To better understand the context and practical usage of public actors, check out our blog. Get familiar with how we think and write about actors, e.g. Content Checker (short), Kickstarter scraper (mid-size), and Google Sheets actor (long one).