BeautifulSoup and Problem Tables

clurks nospam at
Mon Sep 22 04:30:21 CEST 2008

academicedgar at wrote:

> Hi
> I would appreciate some help.  I am trying to learn Python and want to
> use BeautifulSoup to pull some data from tables.  I was really psyched
> earlier tonight when I discovered that I could do this
> from BeautifulSoup import BeautifulSoup
> bst=file(r"c:\bstest.htm").read()
> soup=BeautifulSoup(bst)
> rows=soup.findAll('tr')
> len(rows)
> a=len(rows[0].findAll('td'))
> b=len(rows[1].findAll('td'))
> c=len(rows[2].findAll('td'))
> d=len(rows[3].findAll('td'))
> e=len(rows[4].findAll('td'))
> f=len(rows[5].findAll('td'))
> g=len(rows[6].findAll('td'))
> h=len(rows[8].findAll('td'))
> i=len(rows[9].findAll('td'))
> j=len(rows[10].findAll('td'))
> k=rows[1].findAll('td')[1].contents[0]
> So here I am chortling to myself thinking this is too easy.  I know
> that the data columns are in rows[0] and so I can learn some more
> python to figure out how to create tuples so I can lable each data
> item using the row and column headings plucked from the contents.
> However, I discovered that my tables have inconsistent numbers of
> rows.  Even though the tables look pretty.  It might be that the
> column heading for the third column is "Apples" but the value for
> "Apples" in the fourth row is not in the third position in the row but
> the fourth.
> Now I am reluctant to make any assumptions because the tables were
> created inconsistently. What I mean is that in some tables if there is
> no value for a row/column intersection then there is a blank line, in
> other tables if there is no value for a row/column intersection then
> the length of  k (as above) is 0.
> I have been Googling for some insight into this and I have not been
> successful finding anything. I would really appreciate any suggestions
> or some direction about how to better describe the problem.

This may help, and it may not.

One of the most useful features of BeautifulSoup is the .prettify()
function.  Use it, and you can examine your xml with a browser or
decent editor.  You will be able, hopefully, to see attributes that
may explain your difficulties.  The one that snuck up and bit me was
table:number-columns-repeated -- I don't know what is biting you,
but it is weird the way known cells are completely skipped with this
attribute -- you have to know about it and check for it.

If there is a way to deal with that attribute using BeautifulSoup I
was unable to find it given the documentation and examples available
to me.  I took a step back and tried xml.sax -- it is straighforward
and easy to use -- you build an xml.sax.handler for your xml, and it
deals with it.

It worked for me, but, as always, YMMV


More information about the Python-list mailing list