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Beautiful Soup

You didn't write that awful page. You're just trying to get some data out of it. Beautiful Soup is here to help. Since 2004, it's been saving programmers hours or days of work on quick-turnaround screen scraping projects.

Beautiful Soup is a Python library designed for quick turnaround projects like screen-scraping. Three features make it powerful:

  1. Beautiful Soup provides a few simple methods and Pythonic idioms for navigating, searching, and modifying a parse tree: a toolkit for dissecting a document and extracting what you need. It doesn't take much code to write an application
  2. Beautiful Soup automatically converts incoming documents to Unicode and outgoing documents to UTF-8. You don't have to think about encodings, unless the document doesn't specify an encoding and Beautiful Soup can't detect one. Then you just have to specify the original encoding.
  3. Beautiful Soup sits on top of popular Python parsers like lxml and html5lib, allowing you to try out different parsing strategies or trade speed for flexibility.

Beautiful Soup parses anything you give it, and does the tree traversal stuff for you. You can tell it "Find all the links", or "Find all the links of class externalLink", or "Find all the links whose urls match "foo.com", or "Find the table heading that's got bold text, then give me that text."

Valuable data that was once locked up in poorly-designed websites is now within your reach. Projects that would have taken hours take only minutes with Beautiful Soup.

Interested? Read more.

Getting and giving support

Beautiful Soup for enterprise available via Tidelift

If you have questions, send them to the discussion group. If you find a bug, file it on Launchpad. If it's a security vulnerability, report it confidentially through Tidelift.

If you use Beautiful Soup as part of your work, please consider a Tidelift subscription. This will support many of the free software projects your organization depends on, not just Beautiful Soup.

If Beautiful Soup is useful to you on a personal level, you might like to read Tool Safety, a short zine I wrote about what I learned about software development from working on Beautiful Soup. Thanks!

Download Beautiful Soup

The current release is Beautiful Soup 4.12.2 (April 7, 2023). You can install Beautiful Soup 4 with pip install beautifulsoup4.

In Debian and Ubuntu, Beautiful Soup is available as the python3-bs4 package. In Fedora it's available as the python3-beautifulsoup4 package.

Beautiful Soup is licensed under the MIT license, so you can also download the tarball, drop the bs4/ directory into almost any Python application (or into your library path) and start using it immediately.

Beautiful Soup 4 is supported on Python versions 3.6 and greater. Support for Python 2 was discontinued on January 1, 2021—one year after the Python 2 sunsetting date.

Beautiful Soup 3

Beautiful Soup 3 was the official release line of Beautiful Soup from May 2006 to March 2012. It does not support Python 3 and was discontinued or January 1, 2021—one year after the Python 2 sunsetting date. If you have any active projects using Beautiful Soup 3, you should migrate to Beautiful Soup 4 as part of your Python 3 conversion.

Here's the Beautiful Soup 3 documentation.

The current and hopefully final release of Beautiful Soup 3 is 3.2.2 (October 5, 2019). It's the BeautifulSoup package on pip. It's also available as python-beautifulsoup in Debian and Ubuntu, and as python-BeautifulSoup in Fedora.

Once Beautiful Soup 3 is discontinued, these package names will be available for use by a more recent version of Beautiful Soup.

Beautiful Soup 3, like Beautiful Soup 4, is supported through Tidelift.

Hall of Fame

Over the years, Beautiful Soup has been used in hundreds of different projects. There's no way I can list them all, but I want to highlight a few high-profile projects. Beautiful Soup isn't what makes these projects interesting, but it did make their completion easier:

If you've used Beautiful Soup in a project you'd like me to know about, please do send email to me or the discussion group.


Development happens at Launchpad. You can get the source code or file bugs.

This document is part of Crummy, the webspace of Leonard Richardson (contact information). It was last modified on Friday, April 07 2023, 19:56:57 Nowhere Standard Time and last built on Tuesday, May 30 2023, 15:00:01 Nowhere Standard Time.

Crummy is © 1996-2023 Leonard Richardson. Unless otherwise noted, all text licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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