January 03, 2011

Simple Article Extractor from HTML

The following is a simple article extractor from a given web(html) page. Being in Python its simple and is less than 55 lines of code. I tried this on a few webpages , and was satisfied with the output.
Though i have mentioned the comments as part of the code, the following is a quick HOWTO of how to make modifications to this article extractor:
1) To extract meta information , like author, title, description, keywords etc -   extract the meta tags in line 30, i.e, after the soup object is constructed, but before the tags are stripped. Also, in strip_tags, return a tuple instead of the text alone.
2) Understand how 'unwanted_tags' works; feel free to add the ids/class names that you might encounter. I have mentioned only a few, but more names like "print","popup","tools","socialtools" can be added.
3) Feel free to suggest any other improvements.

from BeautifulSoup import BeautifulSoup,Comment
import re

invalid_tags = ['b', 'i', 'u','link','em','small','span','blockquote','strong','abbr','ol','h1', 'h2', 'h3','h4','font','tr','td','center','tbody','table']
not_allowed_tags = ['script','noscript','img','object','meta','code','pre','br','hr','form','input','iframe' ,'style','dl','dt','sup','head','acronym']

#attributes that are checked for in a given html tag - if present, the tag is removed.

def unwanted(tag_class):
  for each_class in unwanted_tags:
    if each_class in tag_class:
      return True
  return False

#from http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1765848/remove-a-tag-using-beautifulsoup-but-keep-its-contents
def remove_tag(tag):
  for i, x in enumerate(tag.parent.contents):
    if x == tag: break
    print "Can't find", tag, "in", tag.parent
  for r in reversed(tag.contents):
    tag.parent.insert(i, r)

def strip_tags(html):
  tags = ""
  soup = BeautifulSoup(html)
  #remove doctype
  doctype = soup.findAll(text=re.compile("DOCTYPE"))
  [tree.extract() for tree in doctype]
  #remove all links
  links = soup.findAll(text=re.compile("http://"))
  [tree.extract() for tree in links]
  #remove all comments
  comments = soup.findAll(text=lambda text:isinstance(text, Comment) )
  [comment.extract() for comment in comments]
  for tag in soup.findAll(True):
    #remove all the tags that are not allowed.
    if tag.name in not_allowed_tags :
    #replace the tags with the content of the tag
    if tag.name in invalid_tags:     
    # similar to not_allowed_tags but does a check for the attribute-class/id before removing it
    if unwanted(tag.get('class','')) or unwanted(tag.get('id','')) :
    # special case of lists - the lists can be part of navbars/sideheadings too,
    # hence check length before removing them
    if tag.name =='li':
      tagc = strip_tags(str(tag.contents))
      if len(str(tagc).split()) < 3:
    #finally remove all empty and spurious tags and replce it with its content
    if tag.name in ['div','a','p','ul','li','html','body'] :
  return soup
#open the file which contains the html
#this step can be replaced with reading directly from the url
#however, i think its always better to store the html in the
#  local storage for any later processing.
html = open("techcrunch.html").read()
soup = strip_tags(html)
content = str(soup.prettify())

#write the stripped content into another file.
outfile = open("tech.txt","w")

If the formatting is screwed up, then you can access the code here or here.
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