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
- You can get an XML format string representation of the
element, either pretty-printed (nicely indented) or more terse.
- You can access the value directly, or get a string
representation of it. Likewise you can assign the value
directly, or assign a string representation of the value (to the .text
attribute). For example, a IntElement has an integer value
you can access directly by the .value attribute, and you can also
access a .text attribute to get the integer as a string.
- The xe class can check that values make sense.
For example, if you have an element that represents a timestamp, and
some code attempts to assign a string value that does not represent a
valid timestamp, the timestamp class will raise an exception.
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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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
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.
here to download the latest version of xe