"A major element of getting started on working with XML in
Python is sorting out the comparative capabilities of all the
available modules. In this first installment of his new Python
column, "Charming Python," David Mertz briefly describes the most
popular and useful XML-related Python modules, and points you to
resources for downloading individual modules and reading more about
them. This article will help you determine which modules are most
appropriate for your specific task."
"Python is in many ways an ideal language for working with XML
documents. Like Perl, REBOL, REXX, and TCL, it is a flexible
scripting language with powerful text manipulation capabilities.
Moreover, more than most types of text files (or streams), XML
documents typically encode rich and complex data structures. The
familiar "read some lines and compare them to some regular
expressions" style of text processing is generally not well suited
to adequately parsing and processing XML. Python, fortunately (and
more so than most other languages), has both straightforward ways
of dealing with complex data structures (usually with classes and
attributes), and a range of XML-related modules to aid in parsing,
processing, and generating XML."
"One general concept to keep in mind about XML is that XML
documents can be processed in either a validating or non-validating
fashion. In the former type of processing, it is necessary to read
a "Document Type Definition" (DTD) prior to reading an XML document
it applies to. The processing in this case will evaluate not just
the simple syntactic rules for XML documents in general, but also
the specific grammatical constraints of the DTD. In many cases,
non-validating processing is adequate (and generally both faster to
run, and easier to program) -- we trust the document creator to
follow the rules of the document domain. Most modules discussed
below are non-validating; descriptions will indicate where
validation options exist."
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