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===========================
APIs specific to lxml.etree
===========================
lxml.etree tries to follow established APIs wherever possible. Sometimes,
however, the need to expose a feature in an easy way led to the invention of a
new API. This page describes the major differences and a few additions to the
main ElementTree API.
For a complete reference of the API, see the `generated API
documentation`_.
Separate pages describe the support for `parsing XML`_, executing `XPath and
XSLT`_, `validating XML`_ and interfacing with other XML tools through the
`SAX-API`_.
lxml is extremely extensible through `XPath functions in Python`_, custom
`Python element classes`_, custom `URL resolvers`_ and even `at the C-level`_.
.. _`parsing XML`: parsing.html
.. _`XPath and XSLT`: xpathxslt.html
.. _`validating XML`: validation.html
.. _`SAX-API`: sax.html
.. _`XPath functions in Python`: extensions.html
.. _`Python element classes`: element_classes.html
.. _`at the C-level`: capi.html
.. _`URL resolvers`: resolvers.html
.. _`generated API documentation`: api/index.html
.. contents::
..
1 lxml.etree
2 Other Element APIs
3 Trees and Documents
4 Iteration
5 Error handling on exceptions
6 Error logging
7 Serialisation
8 CDATA
9 XInclude and ElementInclude
10 write_c14n on ElementTree
..
>>> try: from StringIO import StringIO
... except ImportError:
... from io import BytesIO
... def StringIO(s=None):
... if isinstance(s, str): s = s.encode("UTF-8")
... return BytesIO(s)
>>> try: from collections import deque
... except ImportError:
... class deque(list):
... def popleft(self): return self.pop(0)
>>> try: unicode = unicode
... except NameError: unicode = str
lxml.etree
----------
lxml.etree tries to follow the `ElementTree API`_ wherever it can. There are
however some incompatibilities (see `compatibility`_). The extensions are
documented here.
.. _`ElementTree API`: http://effbot.org/zone/element-index.htm
.. _`compatibility`: compatibility.html
If you need to know which version of lxml is installed, you can access the
``lxml.etree.LXML_VERSION`` attribute to retrieve a version tuple. Note,
however, that it did not exist before version 1.0, so you will get an
AttributeError in older versions. The versions of libxml2 and libxslt are
available through the attributes ``LIBXML_VERSION`` and ``LIBXSLT_VERSION``.
The following examples usually assume this to be executed first:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> from lxml import etree
..
>>> import sys
>>> from lxml import etree as _etree
>>> if sys.version_info[0] >= 3:
... class etree_mock(object):
... def __getattr__(self, name): return getattr(_etree, name)
... def tostring(self, *args, **kwargs):
... s = _etree.tostring(*args, **kwargs)
... if isinstance(s, bytes) and bytes([10]) in s: s = s.decode("utf-8") # CR
... if s[-1] == '\n': s = s[:-1]
... return s
... else:
... class etree_mock(object):
... def __getattr__(self, name): return getattr(_etree, name)
... def tostring(self, *args, **kwargs):
... s = _etree.tostring(*args, **kwargs)
... if s[-1] == '\n': s = s[:-1]
... return s
>>> etree = etree_mock()
Other Element APIs
------------------
While lxml.etree itself uses the ElementTree API, it is possible to replace
the Element implementation by `custom element subclasses`_. This has been
used to implement well-known XML APIs on top of lxml. For example, lxml ships
with a data-binding implementation called `objectify`_, which is similar to
the `Amara bindery`_ tool.
lxml.etree comes with a number of `different lookup schemes`_ to customize the
mapping between libxml2 nodes and the Element classes used by lxml.etree.
.. _`custom element subclasses`: element_classes.html
.. _`objectify`: objectify.html
.. _`different lookup schemes`: element_classes.html#setting-up-a-class-lookup-scheme
.. _`Amara bindery`: http://uche.ogbuji.net/tech/4suite/amara/
Trees and Documents
-------------------
Compared to the original ElementTree API, lxml.etree has an extended tree
model. It knows about parents and siblings of elements:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> root = etree.Element("root")
>>> a = etree.SubElement(root, "a")
>>> b = etree.SubElement(root, "b")
>>> c = etree.SubElement(root, "c")
>>> d = etree.SubElement(root, "d")
>>> e = etree.SubElement(d, "e")
>>> b.getparent() == root
True
>>> print(b.getnext().tag)
c
>>> print(c.getprevious().tag)
b
Elements always live within a document context in lxml. This implies that
there is also a notion of an absolute document root. You can retrieve an
ElementTree for the root node of a document from any of its elements.
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> tree = d.getroottree()
>>> print(tree.getroot().tag)
root
Note that this is different from wrapping an Element in an ElementTree. You
can use ElementTrees to create XML trees with an explicit root node:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> tree = etree.ElementTree(d)
>>> print(tree.getroot().tag)
d
>>> etree.tostring(tree)
b'<d><e/></d>'
ElementTree objects are serialised as complete documents, including
preceding or trailing processing instructions and comments.
All operations that you run on such an ElementTree (like XPath, XSLT, etc.)
will understand the explicitly chosen root as root node of a document. They
will not see any elements outside the ElementTree. However, ElementTrees do
not modify their Elements:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> element = tree.getroot()
>>> print(element.tag)
d
>>> print(element.getparent().tag)
root
>>> print(element.getroottree().getroot().tag)
root
The rule is that all operations that are applied to Elements use either the
Element itself as reference point, or the absolute root of the document that
contains this Element (e.g. for absolute XPath expressions). All operations
on an ElementTree use its explicit root node as reference.
Iteration
---------
The ElementTree API makes Elements iterable to supports iteration over their
children. Using the tree defined above, we get:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> [ child.tag for child in root ]
['a', 'b', 'c', 'd']
To iterate in the opposite direction, use the builtin ``reversed()`` function
that exists in Python 2.4 and later.
Tree traversal should use the ``element.iter()`` method:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> [ el.tag for el in root.iter() ]
['root', 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e']
lxml.etree also supports this, but additionally features an extended API for
iteration over the children, following/preceding siblings, ancestors and
descendants of an element, as defined by the respective XPath axis:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> [ child.tag for child in root.iterchildren() ]
['a', 'b', 'c', 'd']
>>> [ child.tag for child in root.iterchildren(reversed=True) ]
['d', 'c', 'b', 'a']
>>> [ sibling.tag for sibling in b.itersiblings() ]
['c', 'd']
>>> [ sibling.tag for sibling in c.itersiblings(preceding=True) ]
['b', 'a']
>>> [ ancestor.tag for ancestor in e.iterancestors() ]
['d', 'root']
>>> [ el.tag for el in root.iterdescendants() ]
['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e']
Note how ``element.iterdescendants()`` does not include the element
itself, as opposed to ``element.iter()``. The latter effectively
implements the 'descendant-or-self' axis in XPath.
All of these iterators support one (or more, since lxml 2.4) additional
arguments that filter the generated elements by tag name:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> [ child.tag for child in root.iterchildren('a') ]
['a']
>>> [ child.tag for child in d.iterchildren('a') ]
[]
>>> [ el.tag for el in root.iterdescendants('d') ]
['d']
>>> [ el.tag for el in root.iter('d') ]
['d']
>>> [ el.tag for el in root.iter('d', 'a') ]
['a', 'd']
Note that the order of the elements is determined by the iteration order,
which is the document order in most cases (except for preceding siblings
and ancestors, where it is the reversed document order). The order of
the tag selection arguments is irrelevant, as you can see in the last
example.
The most common way to traverse an XML tree is depth-first, which
traverses the tree in document order. This is implemented by the
``.iter()`` method. While there is no dedicated method for
breadth-first traversal, it is almost as simple if you use the
``collections.deque`` type that is available in Python 2.4 and later.
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> root = etree.XML('<root><a><b/><c/></a><d><e/></d></root>')
>>> print(etree.tostring(root, pretty_print=True, encoding=unicode))
<root>
<a>
<b/>
<c/>
</a>
<d>
<e/>
</d>
</root>
>>> queue = deque([root])
>>> while queue:
... el = queue.popleft() # pop next element
... queue.extend(el) # append its children
... print(el.tag)
root
a
d
b
c
e
See also the section on the utility functions ``iterparse()`` and
``iterwalk()`` in the `parser documentation`_.
.. _`parser documentation`: parsing.html#iterparse-and-iterwalk
Error handling on exceptions
----------------------------
Libxml2 provides error messages for failures, be it during parsing, XPath
evaluation or schema validation. The preferred way of accessing them is
through the local ``error_log`` property of the respective evaluator or
transformer object. See their documentation for details.
However, lxml also keeps a global error log of all errors that occurred at the
application level. Whenever an exception is raised, you can retrieve the
errors that occured and "might have" lead to the problem from the error log
copy attached to the exception:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> etree.clear_error_log()
>>> broken_xml = '''
... <root>
... <a>
... </root>
... '''
>>> try:
... etree.parse(StringIO(broken_xml))
... except etree.XMLSyntaxError, e:
... pass # just put the exception into e
..
>>> etree.clear_error_log()
>>> try:
... etree.parse(StringIO(broken_xml))
... except etree.XMLSyntaxError:
... import sys; e = sys.exc_info()[1]
Once you have caught this exception, you can access its ``error_log`` property
to retrieve the log entries or filter them by a specific type, error domain or
error level:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> log = e.error_log.filter_from_level(etree.ErrorLevels.FATAL)
>>> print(log)
<string>:4:8:FATAL:PARSER:ERR_TAG_NAME_MISMATCH: Opening and ending tag mismatch: a line 3 and root
<string>:5:1:FATAL:PARSER:ERR_TAG_NOT_FINISHED: Premature end of data in tag root line 2
This might look a little cryptic at first, but it is the information that
libxml2 gives you. At least the message at the end should give you a hint
what went wrong and you can see that the fatal errors (FATAL) happened during
parsing (PARSER) lines 4, column 8 and line 5, column 1 of a string (<string>,
or the filename if available). Here, PARSER is the so-called error domain,
see ``lxml.etree.ErrorDomains`` for that. You can get it from a log entry
like this:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> entry = log[0]
>>> print(entry.domain_name)
PARSER
>>> print(entry.type_name)
ERR_TAG_NAME_MISMATCH
>>> print(entry.filename)
<string>
There is also a convenience attribute ``last_error`` that returns the last
error or fatal error that occurred:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> entry = e.error_log.last_error
>>> print(entry.domain_name)
PARSER
>>> print(entry.type_name)
ERR_TAG_NOT_FINISHED
>>> print(entry.filename)
<string>
Error logging
-------------
lxml.etree supports logging libxml2 messages to the Python stdlib logging
module. This is done through the ``etree.PyErrorLog`` class. It disables the
error reporting from exceptions and forwards log messages to a Python logger.
To use it, see the descriptions of the function ``etree.useGlobalPythonLog``
and the class ``etree.PyErrorLog`` for help. Note that this does not affect
the local error logs of XSLT, XMLSchema, etc.
Serialisation
-------------
lxml.etree has direct support for pretty printing XML output. Functions like
``ElementTree.write()`` and ``tostring()`` support it through a keyword
argument:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> root = etree.XML("<root><test/></root>")
>>> etree.tostring(root)
b'<root><test/></root>'
>>> print(etree.tostring(root, pretty_print=True))
<root>
<test/>
</root>
Note the newline that is appended at the end when pretty printing the
output. It was added in lxml 2.0.
By default, lxml (just as ElementTree) outputs the XML declaration only if it
is required by the standard:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> unicode_root = etree.Element( u"t\u3120st" )
>>> unicode_root.text = u"t\u0A0Ast"
>>> etree.tostring(unicode_root, encoding="utf-8")
b'<t\xe3\x84\xa0st>t\xe0\xa8\x8ast</t\xe3\x84\xa0st>'
>>> print(etree.tostring(unicode_root, encoding="iso-8859-1"))
<?xml version='1.0' encoding='iso-8859-1'?>
<t&#12576;st>t&#2570;st</t&#12576;st>
Also see the general remarks on `Unicode support`_.
.. _`Unicode support`: parsing.html#python-unicode-strings
You can enable or disable the declaration explicitly by passing another
keyword argument for the serialisation:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> print(etree.tostring(root, xml_declaration=True))
<?xml version='1.0' encoding='ASCII'?>
<root><test/></root>
>>> unicode_root.clear()
>>> etree.tostring(unicode_root, encoding="UTF-16LE",
... xml_declaration=False)
b'<\x00t\x00 1s\x00t\x00/\x00>\x00'
Note that a standard compliant XML parser will not consider the last line
well-formed XML if the encoding is not explicitly provided somehow, e.g. in an
underlying transport protocol:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> notxml = etree.tostring(unicode_root, encoding="UTF-16LE",
... xml_declaration=False)
>>> root = etree.XML(notxml) #doctest: +ELLIPSIS
Traceback (most recent call last):
...
lxml.etree.XMLSyntaxError: ...
Since version 2.3, the serialisation can override the internal subset
of the document with a user provided DOCTYPE:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> xml = '<!DOCTYPE root>\n<root/>'
>>> tree = etree.parse(StringIO(xml))
>>> print(etree.tostring(tree))
<!DOCTYPE root>
<root/>
>>> print(etree.tostring(tree,
... doctype='<!DOCTYPE root SYSTEM "/tmp/test.dtd">'))
<!DOCTYPE root SYSTEM "/tmp/test.dtd">
<root/>
The content will be encoded, but otherwise copied verbatimly into the
output stream. It is therefore left to the user to take care for a
correct doctype format, including the name of the root node.
CDATA
-----
By default, lxml's parser will strip CDATA sections from the tree and
replace them by their plain text content. As real applications for
CDATA are rare, this is the best way to deal with this issue.
However, in some cases, keeping CDATA sections or creating them in a
document is required to adhere to existing XML language definitions.
For these special cases, you can instruct the parser to leave CDATA
sections in the document:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> parser = etree.XMLParser(strip_cdata=False)
>>> root = etree.XML('<root><![CDATA[test]]></root>', parser)
>>> root.text
'test'
>>> etree.tostring(root)
b'<root><![CDATA[test]]></root>'
Note how the ``.text`` property does not give any indication that the
text content is wrapped by a CDATA section. If you want to make sure
your data is wrapped by a CDATA block, you can use the ``CDATA()``
text wrapper:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> root.text = 'test'
>>> root.text
'test'
>>> etree.tostring(root)
b'<root>test</root>'
>>> root.text = etree.CDATA(root.text)
>>> root.text
'test'
>>> etree.tostring(root)
b'<root><![CDATA[test]]></root>'
XInclude and ElementInclude
---------------------------
You can let lxml process xinclude statements in a document by calling the
xinclude() method on a tree:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> data = StringIO('''\
... <doc xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude">
... <foo/>
... <xi:include href="doc/test.xml" />
... </doc>''')
>>> tree = etree.parse(data)
>>> tree.xinclude()
>>> print(etree.tostring(tree.getroot()))
<doc xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude">
<foo/>
<a xml:base="doc/test.xml"/>
</doc>
Note that the ElementTree compatible ElementInclude_ module is also supported
as ``lxml.ElementInclude``. It has the additional advantage of supporting
custom `URL resolvers`_ at the Python level. The normal XInclude mechanism
cannot deploy these. If you need ElementTree compatibility or custom
resolvers, you have to stick to the external Python module.
.. _ElementInclude: http://effbot.org/zone/element-xinclude.htm
write_c14n on ElementTree
-------------------------
The lxml.etree.ElementTree class has a method write_c14n, which takes a file
object as argument. This file object will receive an UTF-8 representation of
the canonicalized form of the XML, following the W3C C14N recommendation. For
example:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> f = StringIO('<a><b/></a>')
>>> tree = etree.parse(f)
>>> f2 = StringIO()
>>> tree.write_c14n(f2)
>>> print(f2.getvalue().decode("utf-8"))
<a><b></b></a>
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