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Easy Extraction » Linux Magazine

Easy Extraction » Linux Magazine

Xidel lets you easily extract and process data from XML, HTML, and JSON documents.

There are numerous ways to scrape a web page for data. In fact, the right mix of Python modules and Python logic glue could probably do the trick, but sometimes you just want a convenient tool that lets you extract data from websites. Xidel [1], a multi-platform command-line tool, offers a one-stop alternative to quickly extract, process, and save data from XML, HTML, or JSON documents.

Under the Hood

Xidel wraps XQuery, XPath, and JSON into one convenient front end. XQuery, a W3C Recommendation since 2007, lets you query XML or HTML files as if they were database servers, process the extracted data as desired, and save data to other files. As shown in the XQuery tutorial [2], XQuery-capable software can complete requests like finding all the CDs in an online catalog that cost less than $10, sorted by release date.

Xidel also fully supports the other W3C Recommendations, XPath [3] and the data-interchange language JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) [4]. XPath defines both a syntax for identifying all the elements of an XML document and a library of standard functions that make it easy to navigate through such elements and extract them. JSON data structures represent any kind of data as objects made of unordered sets of name/value pairs (I’ll show some examples of this later on in this article).


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