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8.3 htmllib -- A parser for HTML documents

8.3 htmllib -- A parser for HTML documents

This module defines a class which can serve as a base for parsing text files formatted in the HyperText Mark-up Language (HTML). The class is not directly concerned with I/O -- it must be provided with input in string form via a method, and makes calls to methods of a ``formatter'' object in order to produce output. The HTMLParser class is designed to be used as a base class for other classes in order to add functionality, and allows most of its methods to be extended or overridden. In turn, this class is derived from and extends the SGMLParser class defined in module sgmllib. The HTMLParser implementation supports the HTML 2.0 language as described in RFC 1866. Two implementations of formatter objects are provided in the formatter module; refer to the documentation for that module for information on the formatter interface.

The following is a summary of the interface defined by sgmllib.SGMLParser:

  • The interface to feed data to an instance is through the feed() method, which takes a string argument. This can be called with as little or as much text at a time as desired; "p.feed(a); p.feed(b)" has the same effect as "p.feed(a+b)". When the data contains complete HTML markup constructs, these are processed immediately; incomplete constructs are saved in a buffer. To force processing of all unprocessed data, call the close() method.

    For example, to parse the entire contents of a file, use:


  • The interface to define semantics for HTML tags is very simple: derive a class and define methods called start_tag(), end_tag(), or do_tag(). The parser will call these at appropriate moments: start_tag or do_tag() is called when an opening tag of the form <tag ...> is encountered; end_tag() is called when a closing tag of the form <tag> is encountered. If an opening tag requires a corresponding closing tag, like <H1> ... </H1>, the class should define the start_tag() method; if a tag requires no closing tag, like <P>, the class should define the do_tag() method.

The module defines a parser class and an exception:

class HTMLParser( formatter)
This is the basic HTML parser class. It supports all entity names required by the XHTML 1.0 Recommendation ( It also defines handlers for all HTML 2.0 and many HTML 3.0 and 3.2 elements.

exception HTMLParseError
Exception raised by the HTMLParser class when it encounters an error while parsing. New in version 2.4.

See Also:

Module formatter:
Interface definition for transforming an abstract flow of formatting events into specific output events on writer objects.
Module HTMLParser:
Alternate HTML parser that offers a slightly lower-level view of the input, but is designed to work with XHTML, and does not implement some of the SGML syntax not used in ``HTML as deployed'' and which isn't legal for XHTML.
Module htmlentitydefs:
Definition of replacement text for XHTML 1.0 entities.
Module sgmllib:
Base class for HTMLParser.

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