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Simple library to convert a Python dictionary or other native data type into a valid XML string.

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Converts a Python dictionary or other native data type into a valid XML string.


Supports item (int, float, bool, str, unicode, datetime, none) and collection (list, set, tuple and dict, as well as iterable and dict-like objects) data types, with arbitrary nesting for the collections. Items with a datetime type are converted to ISO format strings. Items with a none type become empty XML elements.

The root object passed into the dicttoxml method can be any of the supported data types.

To satisfy XML syntax, the method prepends an <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?> element and wraps the output in a <root> ... </root> element. However, this can be disabled to create XML snippets.

For lists of items, if each item is also a collection data type (lists, dict), the elements of that item are wrapped in a generic <item> ... </item> element.

Each element includes a type attribute with the data type. Note: datetime data types are converted into ISO format strings, and unicode and datetime data types get a str attribute.

Python -> XML
integer   int
float     float
string    str
unicode   str
datetime  str
None      null
boolean   bool
list      list
set       list
tuple     list
dict      dict

Elements with an unsupported data type raise a TypeError exception.

If an element name is invalid XML, it is rendered with the name "key" and the invalid name is included as a name attribute. E.g. { "^.{0,256}$": "foo" } would be rendered <key name="^.{0,256}$">foo</key>. An exception is element names with spaces, which are converted to underscores.

This module should work in Python 2.6+ and Python 3.


The dicttoxml module is published on the Python Package Index, so you can install it using pip or easy_install.

pip install dicttoxml


easy_install dicttoxml

Alternately, you can download the tarballed installer - dicttoxml-[VERSION].tar.gz - for this package from the dist directory on github and uncompress it. Then, from a terminal or command window, navigate into the unzipped folder and type the command:

python install

That should be all you need to do.

Basic Usage

Once installed, import the library into your script and convert a dict into xml by running the dicttoxml function:

>>> import dicttoxml
>>> xml = dicttoxml.dicttoxml(some_dict)

Alternately, you can import the dicttoxml() function from the library.

>>> from dicttoxml import dicttoxml
>>> xml = dicttoxml(some_dict)

That's it!



Let's say you want to fetch a JSON object from a URL and convert it into XML. Here's how you can do that:

>>> import json
>>> import urllib
>>> import dicttoxml
>>> page = urllib.urlopen('')
>>> content =
>>> obj = json.loads(content)
>>> print(obj)
{u'mylist': [u'foo', u'bar', u'baz'], u'mydict': {u'foo': u'bar', u'baz': 1}, u'ok': True}
>>> xml = dicttoxml.dicttoxml(obj)
>>> print(xml)
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?><root><mylist><item type="str">foo</item><item type="str">bar</item><item type="str">baz</item></mylist><mydict><foo type="str">bar</foo><baz type="int">1</baz></mydict><ok type="bool">true</ok></root>

It's that simple.

XML Snippet

You can also create an XML snippet for inclusion into another XML document, rather than a full XML document itself.

Continuing with the example from above:

>>> xml_snippet = dicttoxml.dicttoxml(obj, root=False)
>>> print(xml_snippet)
<mylist><item type="str">foo</item><item type="str">bar</item><item type="str">baz</item></mylist><mydict><foo type="str">bar</foo><baz type="int">1</baz></mydict><ok type="bool">true</ok>

With the optional root argument set to False, the method converts the dict into XML without including an <?xml> prolog or a <root> element to enclose all the other elements.


As they say, Python comes with batteries included. You can easily syntax-check and pretty-print your XML using Python's xml.dom.minidom module.

Again, continuing with our example:

>>> from xml.dom.minidom import parseString
>>> dom = parseString(xml)
>>> print(dom.toprettyxml())
<?xml version="1.0" ?>
    <mylist type="list">
        <item type="str">foo</item>
        <item type="str">bar</item>
        <item type="str">baz</item>
    <mydict type="dict">
        <foo type="str">bar</foo>
        <baz type="int">1</baz>
    <ok type="bool">true</ok>

This makes the XML easier to read. If it is not well-formed, the xml parser will raise an exception.

Unique ID Attributes

Starting in version 1.1, you can set an optional ids parameter so that dicttoxml gives each element a unique id attribute.

With the ids flag on, the function generates a unique randomly-generated ID for each element based on the parent element in the form parent_unique. For list items, the id is in the form parent_unique_index.

Continuing with our example:

>>> xml_with_ids = dicttoxml.dicttoxml(obj, ids=True)
>>> print(parseString(xml_with_ids).toprettyxml())
<?xml version="1.0" ?>
        <mylist id="root_160980" type="list">
                <item id="mylist_609405_1" type="str">foo</item>
                <item id="mylist_609405_2" type="str">bar</item>
                <item id="mylist_609405_3" type="str">baz</item>
        <mydict id="root_140407" type="dict">
                <foo id="mydict_260437" type="str">bar</foo>
                <baz id="mydict_111194" type="int">1</baz>
        <ok id="root_612831" type="bool">true</ok>

Note that the default XML output remains the same as previous, so as not to break compatibility for existing uses.

Dict-Like and Iterable Objects

Starting in version 1.3, dicttoxml accepts dict-like objects that are derived from the dict base class and treats them like dicts. For example:

>>> import collections
>>> dictlike = collections.OrderedDict({'foo': 1, 'bar': 2, 'baz': 3})
>>> xml = dicttoxml.dicttoxml(dictlike)
>>> print(xml)
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?><root><baz type="int">3</baz><foo type="int">1</foo><bar type="int">2</bar></root>

Also starting in version 1.3, dicttoxml accepts iterable objects and treats them like lists. For example:

>>> myiterator = xrange(1,11)
>>> xml = dicttoxml.dicttoxml(myiterator)
>>> print(xml)
'<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?><root><item type="int">1</item><item type="int">2</item><item type="int">3</item><item type="int">4</item><item type="int">5</item><item type="int">6</item><item type="int">7</item><item type="int">8</item><item type="int">9</item><item type="int">10</item></root>'

As always, this remains compatible with arbitrary nesting of objects and types.


You can also enable debugging information.

>>> import dicttoxml
>>> dicttoxml.set_debug()
Debug mode is on. Events are logged at: dicttoxml.log
>>> xml = dicttoxml.dicttoxml(some_dict)

By default, debugging information is logged to dicttoxml.log, but you can change this:

>>> dicttoxml.set_debug(filename='some_other_filename.log')
Debug mode is on. Events are logged at: some_other_filename.log

To turn debug mode off, just call set_debug with an argument of False:

>>> dicttoxml.set_debug(False)
Debug mode is off.

If you encounter any errors in the code, please file an issue:



  • Version: 1.3.5
  • Release Date: 2014-04-14

Revision History

Version 1.3.5

  • Release Date: 2014-04-14
  • Changes:
    • dicttoxml() accepts [None] as a parameter and returns a valid XML object, as per issue #13.

Version 1.3.4

  • Release Date: 2014-04-14
  • Changes:
    • dicttoxml() now accepts None as a parameter and returns a valid XML object, as per issue #13.

Version 1.3.3

  • Release Date: 2014-04-14
  • Changes:
    • Automatically converts spaces in key names to underscores, as per issue #12.

Version 1.3.2

  • Release Date: 2014-04-14
  • Changes:
    • Added convert_none() function to convert a null value into XML
    • Added key_is_valid_xml() function to test if a key is valid XML
    • Updated convert_kv(), convert_bool() and convert_none() functions to test whether the key is a valid XML name and, if it is not, to render it as <key name="{invalidname}">value</key>. This addresses issue 10.

Version 1.3.1

  • Release Date: 2013-07-12
  • Changes:
    • Updated README to note support for dict-like and iterable objects.

Version 1.3

  • Release Date: 2013-07-12
  • Changes:
    • changed test for dict type from type(x)=dict to isinstance(x,dict) to include dict-like subclases derived from dict, as per issue 9.
    • Added test for isinstance(x,collections.Iterable) to test for list, set, tuple to accommodate iterable objects, as per issue 9.

Version 1.2

  • Release Date: 2013-07-11
  • Changes:
    • Fixed typo in convert_list() exception raise as per issue 8.

Version 1.1.2

  • Release Date: 2013-05-06
  • Changes:
    • Renamed github repo from dict2xml to dicttoxml to match PyPI name.

Version 1.1.1

  • Release Date: 2013-05-06
  • Changes:
    • Fixed README.markdown

Version 1.1

  • Release Date: 2013-05-06
  • Changes:
    • Added an optional ids argument to give each element a unique, randomly generated id attribute.
    • All elements now inlcude a type attribute.
    • Updated readme with more examples and Python 3 compatible syntax.
    • Thanks to cpetz for suggesting this feature.

Verson 1.0

  • Release Date: 2013-03-04
  • Changes:
    • Replaced debug function with logging module.
    • Converted code to work in Python 2.6+ and Python 3.
    • Fixed unresolved isoformat reference in convert_list.
    • Bug thanks to regisd for forking code and making several important fixes!

Version 0.9.1

  • Release Date: 2013-03-03
  • Changes:

Version 0.9

  • Release Date: 2013-02-27
  • Changes:
    • Added support for tuples.

Version 0.8

  • Release Date: 2013-02-23
  • Changes:
    • Changed name to dicttoxml and published to the Python Package Index (PyPI).

Version 0.7

  • Release Date: 2012-09-12
  • Changes:
    • Fixed issue #4 - thanks to PaulMdx for finding it and suggesting a fix.

Version 0.6

  • Release Date: 2012-07-13
  • Changes:
    • Merged pull request from 0902horn on github to escape special XML characters.

Version 0.5

  • Release Date: 2012-02-28
  • Changes:
    • Added support for datetime objects (converts them into ISO format strings) and sets (converts them into lists).
    • Fixed bug 2 by raising an exception on unsupported data types.

Version 0.4

  • Release Date: 2012-01-26
  • Changes:
    • Added optional root argument (default True) on whether to wrap the generated XML in an XML declaration and a root element.
    • Added ability to convert a root object of other data types - int, float, str, unicode, list - as well as dict.
    • Corrected license attribute in
    • Renamed notify() function to debug_notify() and made it more comprehensive.

Version 0.3

  • Release Date: 2012-01-24
  • Changes:
    • Fixed inconsistent str/string attributes.

Version 0.2

  • Release Date: 2012-01-24
  • Changes:
    • Fixed bug in list items.
    • Added element attribute with data type.

Version 0.1

  • Release Date: 2012-01-24
  • Changes:
    • First commit.

Copyright and Licence

Copyright 2012 by Ryan McGreal.

Released under the GNU General Public Licence, Version 2:

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