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A web scraping tool in Python 3

Project description

A web scraping tool in Python 3.

pyllage is a simple and practical tool to extract data from web pages.

As opposed to full fledged scraping frameworks, it provides a bare bones approach. The basic API allows quick testing of ideas and easy integration with other tools and scripts.


  • supports HTTP GET and POST requests
  • allows custom request headers (cookies, user-agents, etc)
  • adjusts encoding according to Content-Type information in either the response headers, or the <head> of the html document
  • custom parser built upon the standard HTMLParser class
  • practical selectors for extracting data (no tree traversal or XPath)


Currently, all package functionality is built upon the standard library. This may or may not change in the future.

Tests are written to py.test, so that’s a requirement if you want to run the bundled tests.


pip install pyllage

Quick Start

Here’s a few quick examples illustrating some of the functions:

import pyllage
stack = pyllage.get_stack("")

# get all links, print the href=... parts

links = pyllage.choose(stack, tag="a")
for key in links:

# get all text data except scripts and print it

texts = pyllage.choose(stack, tag="script", select=False)
data = pyllage.rip_data(texts)

# get all spans and divs with class=help (but not class=helpmore)

helps = pyllage.choose(stack, tag="span div", attrs="class=help", exact=True)

# get all divs containing the word pyllage in their text part

pylls = pyllage.choose(stack, tag="div", data="pyllage")

How the parser works & The stack

The parser spits out a dictionary that we call the stack.

It’s looks something like this:

{1: {"tag": "div", "attrs": "class=main", "data": ""},
 2: {"tag": "p", "attrs": "", "data": "Hello world"},
 3: {"tag": "span", "attrs": "class=red bold", "data": "Exclaim!"},
 4: {"tag": "a", "attrs": 'href="http://somewhere"', "data": "click me"}}

The keys of stack are consecutive integers starting from 1.

While parsing an html document, the parser creates a new entry in the stack every time it finds an opening tag. Every entry itself is a dictionary with 3 items:

tag is the tag name of the encountered tag

attrs is everything else inside the opening bracket (class, id, style, href, etc.)

data is the text that is parsed after the opening bracket, and before the closing bracket (or a new opening bracket)

For example: <div id=main_div>Hello</div>

tag is “div”

attrs is “id=main_div”

data is “Hello”

While parsing the html and populating the stack this way, the parser prunes insignificant entries (entries with no attrs or data). For example:


The outer div here won’t be included in the stack, since it doesn’t have any useful info (no class or id etc, and no direct data).

Some tags may have more than 1 attribute. These will be concatenated into a single string like this:

<div class="wrapper" style="float:left;"></div> will parse into:

{'tag': 'div', 'attrs': 'class=wrapper | style=float:left;', 'data': ''}


Functions for retrieving the stack

pyllage.get_stack(url, headers={}, method="GET", postdata=None, filename=""):
"""Wraps http request and parsing. Also allows stack write."""

This is the main utility function for retrieving the stack from a url. It wraps the functionality of the 3 functions below, providing a shortcut. Normally, you can just use get_stack unless you need to interfere with the url -> stack process.

headers lets you include cookies or user-agent strings.

method is either “GET” or “POST”.

postdata is a bytes object containing data to be sent to the server for POST requests.

If filename is given, the returned stack will also be written to disk, allowing for inspecting with a text editor.

pyllage.get(url, headers={} method="GET", postdata=None):
"""Http request the url, return response, headers, status and codec."""

Raw function that makes the Http request.

response = get("", {"Cookie": "valid=true;"})

response = get("", method="POST", postdata=b"answer=42")

The function returns a dictionary with the following keys:

headers contains the received http headers (may include cookies, etc)

status is an integer representing the status message returned by the server (200 = OK, 404 = Not found, etc)

html contains the body of the response. Note that this is of bytes type.

codec is a string containing the encoding declared in the http response. pyllage looks at the response headers for a Content-Type with charset value. If there’s none, it looks at the <head> part of the html body. If there’s no codec information there, it defaults to utf-8.

"""Instantiate a parser to process html, return the stack."""

Please note that the html must be decoded into a string before it can be parsed. The get_stack function handles this automatically.

pyllage.stack_to_file(filename, stack, codec):
"""Write a stack to file with formatting."""

Writes the stack to a file on disk. Note that it overwrites any existing data in the given file.

Selector functions for operating on the stack

pyllage.choose(stack, tag=None, attrs=None, data=None, select=True, exact=False):
"""Returns a dictionary of items from stack that fit given criteria.

If select is True, returns items that fit criteria. If False, returns all others.
If exact is False, compares tag, attrs and data flexibly.
If exact is True, compares tag, attrs and data exactly as given."""

Main selector function. Examples:

pyllage.choose(stack, tag="a") Returns all <a> entries.

pyllage.choose(stack, tag="div span a", select=False) Returns all entries with tags other than <div>, <span>, or <a>.

pyllage.choose(stack, tag="div", attrs="id=") Returns all <div> entries with an id attribute.

pyllage.choose(stack, attrs="class=blue", exact=True) Returns all entries with exactly the attribute “class=blue” (won’t select “class=blue button” for example)

pyllage.choose(stack, data="", exact=True, select=False) Returns all entries with non-empty data.

pyllage.relative(stack, index, offset=1, count=1):
"""Returns count number of items, starting at offset from index.

With defaults, it just returns the next item.
Offset can be negative, count must be greater than 1."""

index is the integer key for the base item in stack. Useful for extracting data from tags with no id or class attribute.

E.g. something like <div class="x"><span>The data you need is</span><span>42</span></div> When you can select the wrapping div with its class, and then using its index, call pyllage.relative(stack, index, 2, 1)

pyllage.relative(stack, index, -5, count=4) Returns the 4 entries that comes right before the given index.

Note that this function works as expected on stacks that you have manipulated. That is, if the indexes in your stack are [3, 5, 88, 101], then pyllage.relative(stack, 5) will give the entry at 88.

"""Returns an ordered list of non-blank data values in stack."""

For getting the data after you have selected the entry.

"""Returns an ordered list of the indexes in stack."""

Useful for doing batch operations with pyllage.relative. For example:

links = pyllage.choose(stack, tag="a")      # choose all links
link_inds = pyllage.rip_index(links)        # get the indexes
new_stack = {}
for i in link_inds:
    new_stack.update(pyllage.relative(stack, i))

Now new_stack contains all the elements directly following an <a> tag.

pyllage.between(stack, start, stop):
"""Returns items between given indexes, inclusive."""

When you have a very large document, and you’re only interested in a certain part of it, you can use this crop the stack.

Also works as expected in manipulated stacks. Say your stack indexes are [3, 5, 88, 101]. pyllage.between(stack, 50, 90) will return the item at 88.


pyllage is currently under development, so more features are on their way.

If you have any ideas about features, or would like some new selector functions, feel free to open an issue on Github.


pyllage is open sourced under GPLv3.

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