You didn't write that awful page. You're just trying to get some data out of it. Right now, you don't really care what HTML is supposed to look like.

Neither does this parser.

Beautiful Soup

"A tremendous boon." -- Python411 Podcast

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If Beautiful Soup has saved you a lot of time and money, please share the wealth.

Beautiful Soup is a Python HTML/XML parser designed for quick turnaround projects like screen-scraping. Three features make it powerful:

  1. Beautiful Soup won't choke if you give it bad markup. It yields a parse tree that makes approximately as much sense as your original document. This is usually good enough to collect the data you need and run away.
  2. Beautiful Soup provides a few simple methods and Pythonic idioms for navigating, searching, and modifying a parse tree: a toolkit for dissecting a document and extracting what you need. You don't have to create a custom parser for each application.
  3. Beautiful Soup automatically converts incoming documents to Unicode and outgoing documents to UTF-8. You don't have to think about encodings, unless the document doesn't specify an encoding and Beautiful Soup can't autodetect one. Then you just have to specify the original encoding.

Beautiful Soup parses anything you give it, and does the tree traversal stuff for you. You can tell it "Find all the links", or "Find all the links of class externalLink", or "Find all the links whose urls match "foo.com", or "Find the table heading that's got bold text, then give me that text."

Valuable data that was once locked up in poorly-designed websites is now within your reach. Projects that would have taken hours take only minutes with Beautiful Soup.

Download Beautiful Soup

The latest version is Beautiful Soup version 3.0.7a, released July 3, 2008. You can download it as a single, self-contained file, or as a tarball with installer script and unit tests. Beautiful Soup is licensed under the same terms as Python itself, so you can drop it into almost any Python application (or into your library path) and start using it immediately.

Beautiful Soup works with Python versions 2.3 and up. It works best with Python versions 2.4 and up. If you don't have Python 2.4, you should install the cjkcodecs, iconvcodec, and chardet libraries. If you don't do this, Beautiful Soup will still work, but it won't be very good at parsing documents in Asian encodings.

Older versions are still available: the 1.x series works with Python 1.5, and the 2.x series still has some installed base.


This document (source) is part of Crummy, the webspace of Leonard Richardson (contact information). It was last modified on Thursday, July 03 2008, 21:47:55 Nowhere Daylight Time and last built on Wednesday, December 03 2008, 19:00:06 Nowhere Standard Time.

Crummy is © 1996-2008 Leonard Richardson. Unless otherwise noted, all text licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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