Installing lxml for Python and Run an Example

The goal of this guide is to install the lxml Python package and run the example cssutils Python script that uses the lxml package. This guide was written while running Ubuntu, but can be applied to any Linux distribution. Open up the terminal and let’s get started.

Step 1: Install easy_install For Python

The easy_install binary is a Python package manager that makes it easy to install cssutils. The following steps will get this installed:

sudo apt-get install curl
curl -O http://python-distribute.org/distribute_setup.py
sudo python distribute_setup.py

Step 2: Install Required Linux Packages for lxml

Now, we install the required Linux packages for installing lxml Python package.

sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev libxslt-dev python-dev 

Step 3: Install the lxml and cssutils Python Packages

Next, install the lxml and cssutils Python packages using easy_install.

sudo easy_install lxml
sudo easy_install cssutils

Step 4: Prepare lxml Example

The following is a script copy/pasted from http://cssutils.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/examples/style.py. Copy paste this to your favorite text editor and save it. I named it lxml_test.py.

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
example renderer

moves infos from external stylesheet "css" to internal @style attributes 
and for debugging also in @title attributes.

adds css as text to html
from pprint import pprint
import codecs
import cssutils
import os
import sys
import webbrowser

# lxml egg may be in a lib dir below this file (not in SVN though)
sys.path.append(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), 'lib'))
    import pkg_resources
except pkg_resources.DistributionNotFound, e:

    from lxml import etree
    from lxml.builder import E
    from lxml.cssselect import CSSSelector
except ImportError, e:
    print 'You need lxml for this example:', e

def log(level, *msg):
    """print '%s- %s' % (level * 't ',
                      ' '.join((str(m) for m in msg)))"""

def getDocument(html, css=None):
    returns a DOM of html, if css is given it is appended to html/body as 
    document = etree.HTML(html)
    if css:
        # prepare document (add css for debugging)
        e = etree.Element('pre', {'class': 'cssutils'})
        e.text = css
    return document
def styleattribute(element):
    "returns css.CSSStyleDeclaration of inline styles, for html: @style"
    cssText = element.get('style')
    if cssText:
        return cssutils.css.CSSStyleDeclaration(cssText=cssText)
        return None

def getView(document, css, media='all', name=None, 
            styleCallback=lambda element: None):
        a DOM document, currently an lxml HTML document
        a CSS StyleSheet string
    media: optional
        TODO: view for which media it should be
    name: optional
        TODO: names of sheets only
    styleCallback: optional
        should return css.CSSStyleDeclaration of inline styles, for html
        a style declaration for ``[email protected]``. Gets one parameter 
        ``element`` which is the relevant DOMElement
    returns style view
        a dict of {DOMElement: css.CSSStyleDeclaration} for html
    sheet = cssutils.parseString(css)
    view = {}
    specificities = {} # needed temporarily 

    # TODO: filter rules simpler?, add @media
    rules = (rule for rule in sheet if rule.type == rule.STYLE_RULE)    
    for rule in rules:
        for selector in rule.selectorList:
            log(0, 'SELECTOR', selector.selectorText)
            # TODO: make this a callback to be able to use other stuff than lxml
            cssselector = CSSSelector(selector.selectorText)
            matching = cssselector.evaluate(document)
            for element in matching:
                #if element.tag in ('div',):
                    # add styles for all matching DOM elements
                    log(1, 'ELEMENT', id(element), element.text)
                    if element not in view:    
                        # add initial empty style declatation
                        view[element] = cssutils.css.CSSStyleDeclaration()
                        specificities[element] = {}                    
                        # and add inline @style if present
                        inlinestyle = styleCallback(element)
                        if inlinestyle:
                            for p in inlinestyle:
                                # set inline style specificity
                                specificities[element][p.name] = (1,0,0,0)
                    for p in rule.style:
                        # update style declaration
                        if p not in view[element]:
                            # setProperty needs a new Property object and
                            # MUST NOT reuse the existing Property
                            # which would be the same for all elements!
                            # see Issue #23
                            view[element].setProperty(p.name, p.value, p.priority)
                            specificities[element][p.name] = selector.specificity
                            log(2, view[element].getProperty('color'))
                            log(2, view[element].getProperty('color'))
                            sameprio = (p.priority == 
                            if not sameprio and bool(p.priority) or (
                               sameprio and selector.specificity >= 
                                # later, more specific or higher prio 
                                view[element].setProperty(p.name, p.value, p.priority)
    return view                        

def render2style(document, view):
    - add style into @style attribute
    - add style into @title attribute (for debugging)
    for element, style in view.items():
        v = style.getCssText(separator=u'')
        element.set('style', v)
        element.set('title', v)

def render2content(document, view, css):
    - add css as <style> element to be rendered by browser
    - replace elements content with actual style
    result is a HTML which the browser renders itself from the original css
    cssutils only writes debugging, useful to compare with render2style
    e = etree.Element('style', {'type': 'text/css'})
    e.text = css
    for element, style in view.items():
        v = style.getCssText(separator=u'')
        element.text = v

def show(text, name, encoding='utf-8'):
    "saves text to file with name and encoding"
    f = codecs.open(name, 'w', encoding=encoding)

def main():
    tpl = '''<html><head><title>style test</title></head><body>%s</body></html>'''
    html = tpl % '''
            <h1>Style example 1</h1>
            <p style="color: red;">&lt;p> with inline style: "color: red"</p>
            <p id="x" style="color: red;">p#x with inline style: "color: red"</p>
            <div>a &lt;div> green?</div>
            <div id="y">#y pink?</div>
    css = r'''
        * {
            margin: 0;
        body {
            color: blue !important;
            font: normal 100% sans-serif;
        p {
            color: green;
            font-size: 2em;
        p#x {
            color: black !important;
        div {
            color: green;
            font-size: 1.5em;
        #y {
            color: #f0f;
        .cssutils {
            font: 1em "Lucida Console", monospace;
            border: 1px outset;
            padding: 5px;
    # TODO:
    #defaultsheet = cssutils.parseFile('sheets/default_html4.css')
    # adds style to @style
    document = getDocument(html, css)
    view = getView(document, css, styleCallback=styleattribute)
    render2style(document, view)
    text = etree.tostring(document, pretty_print=True)
    show(text, '__tempinline.html')

    # replaces elements content with style
    document = getDocument(html)
    view = getView(document, css, styleCallback=styleattribute)
    render2content(document, view, css)    
    text = etree.tostring(document, pretty_print=True)
    show(text, '__tempbrowser.html')

if __name__ == '__main__':
    import sys

Step 5: Run lxml Example

Finally, run the example program.

python lxml_test.py


I’m hoping this guide met the goal of teaching you how to install lxml and run an example Python script to demonstrate some capabilities of lxml and cssutils. Feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

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