XML parsing in Python

This article focuses on how one can parse a given XML file and extract some useful data out of it in a structured way.

XML: XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. It was designed to store and transport data. It was designed to be both human- and machine-readable.That’s why, the design goals of XML emphasize simplicity, generality, and usability across the Internet.
The XML file to be parsed in this tutorial is actually a RSS feed.

RSS: RSS(Rich Site Summary, often called Really Simple Syndication) uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated informationlike blog entries, news headlines, audio, video. RSS is XML formatted plain text.

  • The RSS format itself is relatively easy to read both by automated processes and by humans alike.
  • The RSS processed in this tutorial is the RSS feed of top news stories from a popular news website. You can check it out here. Our goal is to process this RSS feed (or XML file) and save it in some other format for future use.

Python Module used: This article will focus on using inbuilt xml module in python for parsing XML and the main focus will be on the ElementTree XML API of this module.

Above code will:

  • Load RSS feed from specified URL and save it as an XML file.
  • Parse the XML file to save news as a list of dictionaries where each dictionary is a single news item.
  • Save the news items into a CSV file.