Using Beautiful Soup

In the last month I’ve taken on the position of VP of IT in Cornell BEARS, a mentoring organization. My job is to update and maintain the website at, and to handle any coding needs.

So far I’ve spent about 14 hours on a parsing script for Cornell Qualtrics data. I used BeautifulSoup, an excellent HTML/XML parsing module that made my life so much better.

This is the breakdown of my 14 hours:

  • 30 minutes: clicking through the survey; skimming the code the previous IT person did
  • 30 minutes: exploring the different export options (decided to go with XML, the HTML was an ugly table); Googling different XML parsers, reading about them
  • 30 minutes: Decided on BeautifulSoup based on stackoverflow and friend recommendation, started installing; Reading about lxml, trying to install binary files or something
  • 15 minutes: Realized I didn’t have to compile from source, used an .exe to install lxml instead
  • 30 minutes: Read BeautifulSoup documentation
  • 2 hours: tried to follow previous IT person’s logic, ended up scrapping that
  • 15 minutes: Regex refresher
  • 1 hour: debugging code in response to invalid data entries (for some reason Qualtrics still saves invalid data, such as blank data)
  • 15 minutes: Reading about alternatives to Python’s lack of switch statements, then decided to be simple and used elifs
  • 30 minutes: Reorganizing code, making common code into functions
  • 30 minutes: spelling mistakes
  • 2 hours: actual coding
  • 30 minutes: the mystery of the missing commas; Optimizing code aesthetics
  • 30 minutes: Using the DOM inspector and finding out that the questions weren’t always labeled in order behind the scenes (tragic moment)

I realize that didn’t add up to 14 hours, but I did take some breaks to update my website and the CCA website, so this is more or less accurate.

I really like Beautiful Soup. I wonder if I can use it with PHP later on to generate blog script. Or instead of PHP, I can just use purely Python. I would like that.


One thought on “Using Beautiful Soup

  1. You could certainly see your skills within the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who arent afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart. ekdeekcgbeea


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