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lxml supports a number of interesting languages for tree traversal and element
selection. The most important is obviously XPath_, but there is also
ObjectPath_ in the `lxml.objectify`_ module. The newest child of this family
is `CSS selection`_, which is made available in form of the ``lxml.cssselect``
Although it started its life in lxml, cssselect_ is now an independent project.
It translates CSS selectors to XPath 1.0 expressions that can be used with
lxml's XPath engine. ``lxml.cssselect`` adds a few convenience shortcuts into
that package.
.. _XPath: xpathxslt.html#xpath
.. _ObjectPath: objectify.html#objectpath
.. _`lxml.objectify`: objectify.html
.. _`CSS selection`:
.. _cssselect:
.. contents::
1 The CSSSelector class
2 CSS Selectors
2.1 Namespaces
3 Limitations
The CSSSelector class
The most important class in the ``lxml.cssselect`` module is ``CSSSelector``. It
provides the same interface as the XPath_ class, but accepts a CSS selector
expression as input:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> from lxml.cssselect import CSSSelector
>>> sel = CSSSelector('div.content')
>>> sel #doctest: +ELLIPSIS
<CSSSelector ... for 'div.content'>
>>> sel.css
The selector actually compiles to XPath, and you can see the
expression by inspecting the object:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> sel.path
"descendant-or-self::div[@class and contains(concat(' ', normalize-space(@class), ' '), ' content ')]"
To use the selector, simply call it with a document or element
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> from lxml.etree import fromstring
>>> h = fromstring('''<div id="outer">
... <div id="inner" class="content body">
... text
... </div></div>''')
>>> [e.get('id') for e in sel(h)]
Using ``CSSSelector`` is equivalent to translating with ``cssselect``
and using the ``XPath`` class:
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> from cssselect import GenericTranslator
>>> from lxml.etree import XPath
>>> sel = XPath(GenericTranslator().css_to_xpath('div.content'))
``CSSSelector`` takes a ``translator`` parameter to let you choose which
translator to use. It can be ``'xml'`` (the default), ``'xhtml'``, ``'html'``
or a `Translator object`_.
.. _Translator object:
The cssselect method
lxml ``Element`` objects have a ``cssselect`` convenience method.
.. sourcecode:: pycon
>>> h.cssselect('div.content') == sel(h)
Note however that pre-compiling the expression with the ``CSSSelector`` or
``XPath`` class can provide a substantial speedup.
The method also accepts a ``translator`` parameter. On ``HtmlElement``
objects, the default is changed to ``'html'``.
Supported Selectors
Most `Level 3`_ selectors are supported. The details are in the
`cssselect documentation`_.
.. _Level 3:
.. _cssselect documentation:
In CSS you can use ``namespace-prefix|element``, similar to
``namespace-prefix:element`` in an XPath expression. In fact, it maps
one-to-one, and the same rules are used to map namespace prefixes to
namespace URIs: the ``CSSSelector`` class accepts a dictionary as its
``namespaces`` argument.