Thomas Jensen Thomas Jensen - 1 year ago 213
Python Question

Converting a pdf to text/html in python so I can parse it

I have the following sample code where I download a pdf from the European Parliament website on a given legislative proposal:

EDIT: I ended up just getting the link and feeding it to adobes online conversion tool (see the code below):

import mechanize
import urllib2
import re
from BeautifulSoup import *

adobe = ""

url = ""

def get_pdf(soup2):
link = soup2.findAll("a", "com_acronym")
new_link = []
amendments = []
for i in link:
if "REPORT" in i["href"]:
if new_link == None:
print "No A number"
for i in new_link:
page =
bs = BeautifulSoup(page)
text = bs.findAll("a")
for i in text:
if"PDF", str(i)) != None:
pdf_link = "" + i["href"]
pdf = urllib2.urlopen(pdf_link)
name_pdf = "%s_%s.pdf" % (y,p)
localfile = open(name_pdf, "w")
br.select_form(name = "convertFrm")
br.form["srcPdfUrl"] = str(pdf_link)
br["convertTo"] = ["html"]
br["visuallyImpaired"] = ["notcompatible"]
br.form["platform"] =["Macintosh"]
pdf_html = br.submit()

soup = BeautifulSoup(pdf_html)

page = range(1,2) #can be set to 400 to get every document for a given year
year = range(1999,2000) #can be set to 2011 to get documents from all years

for y in year:
for p in page:
br = mechanize.Browser()
br.select_form(name = "byReferenceForm")
br.form["year"] = str(y)
br.form["sequence"] = str(p)
response = br.submit()
soup1 = BeautifulSoup(response)
test = soup1.find(text="No search result")
if test != None:
print "%s %s No page skipping..." % (y,p)
print "%s %s Writing dossier..." % (y,p)
for i in br.links(url_regex="file.jsp"):
link = i
response2 = br.follow_link(link).read()
soup2 = BeautifulSoup(response2)

In the get_pdf() function I would like to convert the pdf file to text in python so I can parse the text for information about the legislative procedure. can anyone explaon me how this can be done?


Answer Source

It's not exactly magic. I suggest

  • downloading the PDF file to a temp directory,
  • calling out to an external program to extract the text into a (temp) text file,
  • reading the text file.

For text extraction command-line utilities you have a number of possibilities and there may be others not mentioned in the link (perhaps Java-based). Try them first to see if they fit your needs. That is, try each step separately (finding the links, downloading the files, extracting the text) and then piece them together. For calling out, use subprocess.Popen or

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