XML path language (XPath) is a massively underappreciated tool in the world of web scraping and automation. Imagine RegEx, but for webpages — that is XPath.
Every element of a webpage is organized by the Document Object Model (DOM). The DOM is a tree-like structure, where each element represents a node, with paths to parent and child nodes.
XPath offers us a language for quickly traversing across this tree. And, like RegEx, we can add logic to our node selection to make our queries more powerful.
In this article, we will cover:
> XPath Essentials - Testing Our Queries - The Root - Paths in XPath > Navigating the Tree - Node Indexing - Extracting XPaths from the Browser > XPath Logic > Example with Python
First, before we do anything else, we need to understand how we can test our XPath strings. Fortunately, we can do that right here in the web browser.
I’ll be using Chrome throughout this article, but the procedure is very similar across all modern browsers.
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