xe module for Python

xe (short for "XML elements") is a Python library module designed to make it easy to work with XML. xe was originally designed as a simple way to create XML, specifically for writing Atom syndication feeds, but it has grown.

Once you have an xe class that represents an XML element, you have the following advantages:

You can use xe as the base for a module that will, in some sense, understand the semantics of the XML values you are reading and writing. (You don't have to: as a quick-and-dirty way to work with some XML values, you could just use TextElement for everything.)

There is support for parsing XML data into xe classes. The xe element classes have a method, .import_xml(), that accepts any remotely sensible source of XML: a open file or file-like object, a filename, a URL, a DOM node object, or a literal string containing XML. For an example of how this works, an example file is included with PyFeed: rss_parse_example.py

I have tried to do a good job with docstrings. At a Python interpreter prompt, if you run help() on any xe class, you should get some helpful information. If you find anyplace I need to improve the docstrings, please email me.

The classes in xe just use the heck out of inheritance. There are abstract base classes that implement broadly useful behavior, and lots of classes that just inherit and use this behavior; but there are plenty of places where the child classes overload the inherited behavior and do something different. The way Python handles inheritance made this a joy to code up. Anyway, if you run help() on a class, it will show you all the inherited methods too, so that's a good way to understand a class.

For processing arbitrary XML, xe may not be the best choice. It is not really designed for handling things like word processor document formats, where you will have a soup of lots of simple text mixed with attribute tags. (However, if you really want to try it, xe should be able to do it; look at the XMLText class.)

If you have any questions, comments, or bug reports about xe, please contact me using this email address: xe@langri.com

I've had fun writing xe and I hope that you will find it useful.

Steve R. Hastings

Example of use

Suppose you had a simple Python program and you wanted to add a preferences file to it. Initially, you just want a user name, and a paper size. This small amount of code would work:
prefs = xe.NestElement("prefs")
prefs.user_name = xe.TextElement("user_name")
prefs.paper = xe.NestElement("paper")
prefs.paper.width = xe.IntElement("width")
prefs.paper.height = xe.IntElement("height")
This describes an XML data structure that contains a user name and a paper size. Let's fill in some values:
prefs.user_name = "John Doe"
prefs.paper.width = 8
prefs.paper.height = 10
If you print it, or convert it to a string, the result will look like this:
    <user_name>John Doe</user_name>

Instead of just printing it, you could save this in a file. Later, to parse the file, you could just take your prefs variable and do this:
For a real application, you would probably make a class called Prefs() that would hold the preferences, rather than manually building a single "prefs" instance as in the example above. Take a look at atom.py in PyFeed; it's actually very simple and straightforward!


I have released xe under the BSD license. See comments at the top of xe.py for details.


Click here to download the latest version of xe