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Converts XML into JSON/Python dicts/arrays and vice-versa.

Project description

=============================== xmljson

.. image:: :target:

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This library is not actively maintained. Alternatives are xmltodict_ and untangle. Use only if you need to parse using specific XML to JSON conventions.

.. _conventions: .. _xmltodict: .. _untangle:

xmljson converts XML into Python dictionary structures (trees, like in JSON) and vice-versa.


XML can be converted to a data structure (such as JSON) and back. For example::

        <name value="Alice"/>
        <name value="Bob"/>

can be converted into this data structure (which also a valid JSON object)::

    "employees": [{
        "person": {
            "name": {
                "@value": "Alice"
    }, {
        "person": {
            "name": {
                "@value": "Bob"

This uses the BadgerFish_ convention that prefixes attributes with @. The conventions supported by this library are:

  • Abdera_: Use "attributes" for attributes, "children" for nodes
  • BadgerFish_: Use "$" for text content, @ to prefix attributes
  • Cobra_: Use "attributes" for sorted attributes (even when empty), "children" for nodes, values are strings
  • GData_: Use "$t" for text content, attributes added as-is
  • Parker_: Use tail nodes for text content, ignore attributes
  • Yahoo_ Use "content" for text content, attributes added as-is

.. _Abdera: .. _BadgerFish: .. _Cobra: .. _GData: .. _Parker: .. _Yahoo:

Convert data to XML

To convert from a data structure to XML using the BadgerFish convention::

>>> from xmljson import badgerfish as bf
>>> bf.etree({'p': {'@id': 'main', '$': 'Hello', 'b': 'bold'}})

This returns an array of etree.Element_ structures. In this case, the result is identical to::

>>> from xml.etree.ElementTree import fromstring
>>> [fromstring('<p id="main">Hello<b>bold</b></p>')]

.. _etree.Element:

The result can be inserted into any existing root etree.Element_::

>>> from xml.etree.ElementTree import Element, tostring
>>> result = bf.etree({'p': {'@id': 'main'}}, root=Element('root'))
>>> tostring(result)
'<root><p id="main"/></root>'

This includes lxml.html <>_ as well::

>>> from lxml.html import Element, tostring
>>> result = bf.etree({'p': {'@id': 'main'}}, root=Element('html'))
>>> tostring(result, doctype='<!DOCTYPE html>')
'<!DOCTYPE html>\n<html><p id="main"></p></html>'

For ease of use, strings are treated as node text. For example, both the following are the same::

>>> bf.etree({'p': {'$': 'paragraph text'}})
>>> bf.etree({'p': 'paragraph text'})

By default, non-string values are converted to strings using Python's str, except for booleans -- which are converted into true and false (lower case). Override this behaviour using xml_fromstring::

>>> tostring(bf.etree({'x': 1.23, 'y': True}, root=Element('root')))
>>> from xmljson import BadgerFish              # import the class
>>> bf_str = BadgerFish(xml_tostring=str)       # convert using str()
>>> tostring(bf_str.etree({'x': 1.23, 'y': True}, root=Element('root')))

If the data contains invalid XML keys, these can be dropped via invalid_tags='drop' in the constructor::

>>> bf_drop = BadgerFish(invalid_tags='drop')
>>> data = bf_drop.etree({'$': '1', 'x': '1'}, root=Element('root'))    # Drops invalid <$> tag
>>> tostring(data)

Convert XML to data

To convert from XML to a data structure using the BadgerFish convention::

>>>'<p id="main">Hello<b>bold</b></p>'))
{"p": {"$": "Hello", "@id": "main", "b": {"$": "bold"}}}

To convert this to JSON, use::

>>> from json import dumps
>>> dumps('<p id="main">Hello<b>bold</b></p>')))
'{"p": {"b": {"$": "bold"}, "@id": "main", "$": "Hello"}}'

To preserve the order of attributes and children, specify the dict_type as OrderedDict (or any other dictionary-like type) in the constructor::

>>> from collections import OrderedDict
>>> from xmljson import BadgerFish              # import the class
>>> bf = BadgerFish(dict_type=OrderedDict)      # pick dict class

By default, values are parsed into boolean, int or float where possible (except in the Yahoo method). Override this behaviour using xml_fromstring::

>>> dumps('<x>1</x>')))
'{"x": {"$": 1}}'
>>> bf_str = BadgerFish(xml_fromstring=False)   # Keep XML values as strings
>>> dumps('<x>1</x>')))
'{"x": {"$": "1"}}'
>>> bf_str = BadgerFish(xml_fromstring=repr)    # Custom string parser
'{"x": {"$": "\'1\'"}}'

xml_fromstring can be any custom function that takes a string and returns a value. In the example below, only the integer 1 is converted to an integer. Everything else is retained as a float::

>>> def convert_only_int(val):
...     return int(val) if val.isdigit() else val
>>> bf_int = BadgerFish(xml_fromstring=convert_only_int)
>>> dumps('<p><x>1</x><y>2.5</y><z>NaN</z></p>')))
'{"p": {"x": {"$": 1}, "y": {"$": "2.5"}, "z": {"$": "NaN"}}}'


To use a different conversion method, replace BadgerFish with one of the other classes. Currently, these are supported::

>>> from xmljson import abdera          # == xmljson.Abdera()
>>> from xmljson import badgerfish      # == xmljson.BadgerFish()
>>> from xmljson import cobra           # == xmljson.Cobra()
>>> from xmljson import gdata           # == xmljson.GData()
>>> from xmljson import parker          # == xmljson.Parker()
>>> from xmljson import yahoo           # == xmljson.Yahoo()


Conventions may support additional options.

The Parker_ convention absorbs the root element by default. preserves the root instance::

>>> from xmljson import parker, Parker
>>> from xml.etree.ElementTree import fromstring
>>> from json import dumps
>>> dumps('<x><a>1</a><b>2</b></x>')))
'{"a": 1, "b": 2}'
>>> dumps('<x><a>1</a><b>2</b></x>'), preserve_root=True))
'{"x": {"a": 1, "b": 2}}'


This is a pure-Python package built for Python 2.7+ and Python 3.0+. To set up::

pip install xmljson

Simple CLI utility

After installation, you can benefit from using this package as simple CLI utility. By now only XML to JSON conversion supported. Example::

$ python -m xmljson -h
usage: xmljson [-h] [-o OUT_FILE]
            [-d {abdera,badgerfish,cobra,gdata,parker,xmldata,yahoo}]

positional arguments:
in_file               defaults to stdin

optional arguments:
-h, --help            show this help message and exit
-o OUT_FILE, --out_file OUT_FILE
                        defaults to stdout
-d {abdera,badgerfish,...}, --dialect {...}
                        defaults to parker

$ python -m xmljson -d parker tests/mydata.xml
  "foo": "spam",
  "bar": 42

This is a typical UNIX filter program: it reads file (or stdin), processes it in some way (convert XML to JSON in this case), then prints it to stdout (or file). Example with pipe::

$ some-xml-producer | python -m xmljson | some-json-processor

There is also pip's console_script entry-point, you can call this utility as xml2json::

$ xml2json -d abdera mydata.xml


  • Test cases for Unicode
  • Support for namespaces and namespace prefixes
  • Support XML comments

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