What’s the best method to extract article text from HTML documents?

In this age of the Modern world when the Internet is home to infinite knowledge, netizens are sure to make use of the resources and discover its potential. But to make use of the resources and apply to more places than just one, extracting resources is as important as being able to use it in better ways.

This article is a roadmap to understand different methods and make most out of the resources in hand.

Methods Used

  • Using Libraries

  • Using XPath

Using Libraries

Developers who depend on web resources for their web scraping project often make use of built-in libraries to scrape data off the internet.

There are a number of well-liked libraries for parsing HTML in different programming languages. All of these libraries seek to make the process of extracting data from HTML documents easier while offering a variety of features and functionalities. We'll talk about various popular libraries for parsing HTML and describe how to use them in this response.

Python’s BeautifulSoup

BeautifulSoup is a well-known Python tool for parsing HTML and XML texts. It offers a straightforward user interface that makes navigating and interacting with the parsed data simple. Several parsers, including the built-in Python parser, lxml, and html5lib, are supported by BeautifulSoup.

Before using BeautifulSoup to parse an HTML document, you must first install it using the Python package management pip. You can create a BeautifulSoup object by reading the HTML page from a file or providing it as a string after installing the library by importing it into your Python script. The document will subsequently be parsed by the library, which will then offer tools for navigating its hierarchy.

For instance, you can use the 'find' method in BeautifulSoup to discover particular HTML components based on their tag name, class, or other attributes. Using the methods offered, you can also retrieve these elements' contents or extract particular properties.

Python’s lxml

A robust Python library called lxml combines an intuitive Pythonic API with the performance of the C libraries libxml2 and libxslt. Both HTML and XML documents can be parsed with its support, and it offers effective ways to navigate and work with the parsed data.

You must use pip to install lxml before using it. Once the library has been installed, you can import it into your Python script and use 'lxml.html.parse()' to parse an HTML document to produce an object called 'lxml.etree.ElementTree'. You can execute various operations on the parsed document using this object, which represents the document.

With the help of lxml's XPath capability, you can choose components depending on intricate criteria. Using the techniques offered, you can edit the document's structure or extract data from certain elements. In addition, lxml provides capabilities including schema validation, XSLT transformations, and HTML serialization.

Java’s jsoup

A Java library created exclusively for parsing HTML files is called jsoup. By utilizing CSS selectors, it offers a simple API for HTML data extraction. Both local files and external URLs can be parsed with the jsoup tool.

You must include jsoup's JAR file in your Java project in order to utilize it. After they are added, you can import the required classes and use 'Jsoup.parse()' to parse an HTML document to produce an object called 'Document'. This object contains methods for navigating and data extraction from the parsed document.

Using CSS selectors to quickly pick elements and obtain their contents or attributes is simple with jsoup. Additionally, the library provides sophisticated functions like handling corrupted documents and altering HTML structure.

Using built-in libraries to parse HTML can be very simple, but it's important to remember that the complexity of the parsing process might change depending on the structure and complexity of the HTML text itself. HTML that is inconsistently formed or poorly formatted can make parsing difficult and necessitate extra handling or preprocessing processes.

In conclusion, the availability of libraries like BeautifulSoup, html.parser, lxml, JSoup, Nokogiri, etc.,has made parsing HTMLrather simple. For exploring, extracting, and modifying data from HTML documents, these packages offer practical APIs.


XPath HTML parsing is a potent method that enables programmers to extract particular data from HTML texts. A means to choose items based on their structure and content is provided by the query language XPath, which is used to browse through XML and HTML pages. We will now explore the key ideas, methods, and tools involved in the process of parsing HTML using XPath.

To parse HTML using XPath, sequence of actions must be carried out −

  • Get the HTML file − The first step is to get the HTML file that has to be parsed. Either reading an HTML file from disk or submitting an HTTP request to a web server can accomplish this.

  • Parse the HTML − After obtaining the HTML file, we must convert it into a structured representation that is simple to browse and search. In addition to BeautifulSoup in Python, jsoup in Java, and lxml in Python, there are several libraries and tools for parsing HTML in various programming languages.

  • Building an XPath − After the HTML file has been processed, we can build an XPath expression that specifies the elements we want to use. The names of the elements, the values of their attributes, and a number of operators and functions make up XPath expressions.

  • Evaluate the XPath expression − The last step is to compare the crafted XPath expression to the HTML document that has been parsed. This procedure entails searching through the document's structure for nodes that fit the expression's criteria.

  • Extraction of desired data − Following evaluation of the XPath expression, the desired data can be extracted from the matched nodes. This can apply to nested items as well as text content and attribute values.

In comparison to other techniques for extracting data from HTML texts, parsing HTML with XPath can be a fairly simple operation. An XML or HTML document's elements can be chosen and navigated using the powerful query language XPath. For defining patterns and criteria to locate particular components or properties, it offers a clear and expressive vocabulary.


To conclude, the Internet is filled with resources in HTML format and many ways to parse it. But it is crucial to keep in mind that the effectiveness of these techniques may change based on the complexity of the HTML structure, the caliber of the parsing libraries utilized, and the particular demands of the extraction work. Numerous techniques must frequently be combined or tailored to the particular HTML texts being processed.

Built-in Libraries can always be a better alternative because of their practical APIs and their availability in the domain of web scraping.

With ever growing tools, it is also important to understand the effectiveness of each tool and use it in the best ways to make the most of the resources and the tools.

Updated on: 18-Aug-2023


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