How to parse XML using Beautiful Soup

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by Abdul Rawoof A R dot icon Updated: Sep 7, 2023

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Many use Beautiful Soup, a Python library, to scrape web pages and parse documents. The tool makes it easy to get and use data from websites for tasks like mining, scraping, and automation. In this discussion, we'll cover the history of Beautiful Soup and delve into its basic usage in Python.   


Leonard Richardson, a software developer, created Beautiful Soup in 2004. For one of his projects, Leonard needed a tool to extract data from HTML files. He found that the Python parsing libraries needed to meet his needs. So, he created Beautiful Soup to make HTML parsing easier and more intuitive. He released it as an open-source project. It gained popularity among Python developers.   


It can process various data types, from simple text files to complex web pages. Here are some examples:   

HTML Files: Beautiful Soup is designed to parse HTML documents. You can pass an HTML file to Beautiful Soup. The program collects information from various parts of a webpage, like tags and text.   

Web Pages: Beautiful Soup can fetch web pages using libraries like requests or urllib. Then, parse the retrieved HTML content. This allows you to extract specific information from web pages.  

XML Files: Beautiful Soup can also handle XML documents. It provides similar functionality to HTML parsing. It allows you to navigate and extract data from XML tags and attributes.   

Web APIs: Some web APIs return data in HTML or XML format. Beautiful Soup can parse the API responses and extract the desired data.   

Text Files: Beautiful Soup primarily parses HTML and XML but can also handle plain text files.   

Web Scraping: For web scraping tasks, people use Beautiful Soup. You can get specific information from websites, like text and images.  


It provides a range of features for data extraction and analysis. Here are some key features of Beautiful Soup:   

Parsing: Beautiful Soup allows you to parse HTML and XML documents. It can handle malformed markup. It offers an intuitive interface for navigating and manipulating.   

Tag and Attribute Access: To access specific tags and their attributes, you can use it. You can find tags by their name, CSS class, or attribute values. Then, you can get their contents or attribute values.   

Navigating the Structure: To navigate, use tags for parents, children, and siblings. Beautiful Soup has methods like find() and find_all() to find and get specific tags or elements.   

Searching and Filtering: It allows you to search and filter the parsed document. You can find tags using names, attribute values, CSS selectors, or regular expressions. This will help you get the matching elements.   

Modifying and Manipulating: Beautiful Soup provides methods to change the parsed document. You can also manipulate the text contents of tags.   


To change your HTML or XML document, you can use insert(), insert_before(), or insert_after(). An object corresponds to an XML or HTML tag in the original document. It has three primary functions, string, and parses, which convert BeautifulSoup into Elements. To parse XML files using BeautifulSoup, it's best to use Python's lxml parser. Most people who use an HTML parser to parse XML will have better luck with an XML parser. Two named functions in the module allow for parsing a file or a Python string with XML content. When parsing XML documents, most work is finding the right tags.   

Fig: Preview of the output that you will get on running this code from your IDE.


In this solution, we are using the Beautiful Soup library.


Follow the steps carefully to get the output easily.

  1. Install PyCharm Community Edition on your computer.
  2. Open the terminal and install the required libraries with the following commands.
  3. Install BeautifulSoup - pip install beautifulsoup.
  4. Create a new Python file(e.g.
  5. Copy the snippet using the 'copy' button and paste it into that file.
  6. Run the file using the run button.

I hope you found this helpful. I have added the link to dependent libraries, and version information in the following sections.

I found this code snippet by searching for 'Beautiful Soup parsing an XML file' in kandi. You can try any such use case!

Environment Tested

I tested this solution in the following versions. Be mindful of changes when working with other versions.

  1. The solution is created in PyCharm 2022.3.3.
  2. The solution is tested on Python 3.9.7.
  3. BeautifulSoup current version.

Using this solution, we are able to parse XML using BeautifulSoup with simple steps. This process also facilitates an easy-to-use, hassle-free method to create a hands-on working version of code which would help us to parse XML using BeautifulSoup.

Dependent Library

beautifulsoupby waylan

Python doticonstar image 138 doticonVersion:Currentdoticon
License: Others (Non-SPDX)

Git Clone of Beautiful Soup (


            beautifulsoupby waylan

            Python doticon star image 138 doticonVersion:Currentdoticon License: Others (Non-SPDX)

            Git Clone of Beautiful Soup (

                      You can also search for any dependent libraries on kandi like 'BeautifulSoup'.


                      1. How can I use the bs4 import BeautifulSoup module to parse an XML document?   

                      To parse an XML document using the bs4 (BeautifulSoup) module, you can follow these steps:   

                      • Install the BS4 package if you haven't already. You can use a pip to install it.   
                      • Import the necessary modules.   
                      • Read the XML document and create a BeautifulSoup object.   

                      You can use BeautifulSoup's methods to find and use information from the XML document. For example, you can access tags, attributes, and text content.   

                      You can access a specific tag using the find () or find_all() methods.   


                      2. What is an lxml parser, and how does it work?   

                      The lxml library in Python is great for working with XML and HTML. It's powerful and efficient. The tool parses and manipulates XML and HTML documents. The developers built the library on top of the C libraries libxml2 and libxslt. It provides fast and reliable parsing and transformation capabilities.   


                      At its core, lxml uses an event-driven parser based on libxml2. This parser works by scanning the input document and emitting events. These events can start or finish something or show details about a character.   


                      3. What are the advantages of using various XML parsers over other types?   

                      XML parsers have certain benefits compared to other parsers. These benefits depend on the specific use case and requirements. Here are some advantages of using XML parsers:   

                      • Structure and Validity.   
                      • Standardization.   
                      • Flexibility.   
                      • Extensibility.   
                      • Tooling and Ecosystem.   


                      4. With Python's standard library, what type of XML data can you extract from a parsed document?   

                      Python's standard library has modules for parsing and working with XML data, like XML and xml.sax. There is also XML.tree.ElementTree. When you use these modules to parse an XML document, you can extract different data types.   


                      Python's standard library can extract common data types from a parsed XML document. 

                      • Element Attributes.   
                      • Element Text.   
                      • Element Names.   
                      • Element Hierarchies.   
                      • Element Values.   
                      • Element Order.   


                      5. Can Python's standard library parse documents and extract data without limitations?   

                      The software has different tools to read documents and get information from them. But there are some limitations to consider:   

                      • Format Support.   
                      • Advanced Document Types.   
                      • Performance.   
                      • Customization.   
                      • Compatibility.  


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