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first attempt at this post

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commit cf7bbeade2bb615de4d98f2af1869ab1fdce8b2e 1 parent bca48f2
Nate Young authored
Showing with 60 additions and 16 deletions.
  1. +60 −16 html-selector/
76 html-selector/
@@ -1,22 +1,66 @@
-# HTML Selectors for Scraping Webpages with Clojure
+# CSS Selectors, Scraping and Clojure
-1. starting with a webpage we've got on disk
-2. DOM is a nice format to parse and HTML on the web these days is tough to parse
-3. (already on maven - easy to add to project.clj)
-4. docs at
-5. feed HtmlDocumentBuilder an InputSource (feed the InputSource a Reader, which Clojure has a great fn for)
-6. decide what information we want off the page and what we'd write in jQuery to get it (sizzle selectors)
+## Building a DOM
-($ "#statTable1")
-($ "tbody" "tr")
+Parsing HTML can be tricky, most of my naive attempts to parse real-world pages produced a lot of stack traces. The [ HTML parser]( has so far cleared those low hurdles. It's implemented in Java and it has a maven artifact, which makes it easy to include in a leiningen project, so it's my current weapon of choice.
-($ ".pos")
-($ ".player" ".name")
-($ ".stat")
+ :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.2.0"]
+ [org.clojure/clojure-contrib "1.2.0"]
+ [nu.validator.htmlparser/htmlparser "1.2.1"]]
-($ "#matchup-summary-table" "tr")
-($ "td")
+It's easy to get a DOM from a webpage using ([api docs here](, feed `HtmlDocumentBuilder` an `InputSource` which you feed a ``, which is easily created via the `reader` fn from ``:
-We'd like to be able to create these snippets, which then merely need to be fed the contexts (a list of nodes) from which they will select their work and return a flat list. That way the results can serve as contexts for other selectors.
+ (defn build-document [file-name]
+ (.parse (HtmlDocumentBuilder.) (InputSource. (reader file-name))))
-nodelist-seq aside (this is why you need `letfn`, won't work with a let and an anonymous fn)
+## Selectors
+To start, I'd like to be able to select a node by:
+* id: `#statTable1`
+* tag name: `table`
+* class attribute: `.class`
+Selection by id and tagname is easy, there are already methods on `getElementById` method on `Document`.
+ (defn id-sel [document id]
+ (let [id (.substring id 1)]
+ (.getElementById document id)))
+A DOM is already a tree, but not in a Clojure data structure that we can walk with the lbs the language already gives us, like Stuart Sierra's `clojure.walk`. The Java interface for walking the DOM returns a node's children as `NodeList` (which does not implement `Iterable`), so converting that into a seq is a useful first step. After that, `filter` can be used to
+ (defn selector [node pred]
+ (let [children (nodelist-seq (.getChildNodes node))]
+ (lazy-cat
+ (filter pred children)
+ (when-not (empty? children)
+ (mapcat #(selector % pred) children)))))
+ (defn element-tagname [elt]
+ (when (= Node/ELEMENT_NODE (.getNodeType elt))
+ (.getNodeName elt)))
+ (defn get-attribute [elt attr]
+ (.?. elt getAttributes (getNamedItem attr) getValue))
+ (defn hasclass? [elt class]
+ (when-let [class-attr (get-attribute elt "class")]
+ (some #(= class %) (split class-attr #" "))))
+ (defn class-sel [node class]
+ (selector node #(hasclass? % (.substring class 1))))
+Is there a better way to write `selector` here? I'd love to hear in the comments. Zippers from `` and prewalk/postwalk from Stuart Sierra's `clojure.walk` might be faster/cleaner/more elegant.
+The `.?.` method in `get-attribute` is remarkably useful. It's analogous to the `..` operator in `clojure.core` for chaining method invocations on objects. As not all `Node` objects have attributes on them, and not all attributes have the one we're looking for, in both cases, a null value is returned by the method invoked. Trying to invoke any other method returns an NPE. `.?.` does the grunt-work of handling that and short-circuiting to return nil, which is a perfectly reasonable and usable return value for those cases.
+## Composing Selectors
+I wanted selectors to be composable. I wanted to be able to feed the results of one selector to another selector to produce further refined results. This would allow me to declare a selector and use it under multiple contexts.
+Selectors take a single node and produce a list of "selected" nodes. To run a second selector over a list of selected nodes, the `mapcat` operator executes it for each selection and combines the individual result lists back into a flat list of "selected" nodes.
+## The 'M' Word
+By now, you may have realized that this approach is the same as that ubiquitous and hip mathematical notion, the List monad.
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