[R] how to read a web page and extract an html table?

James Howison jhowison at syr.edu
Tue May 6 18:01:42 CEST 2003

> On Tue, 6 May 2003 07:31:29 -0700 (PDT), you wrote in message
> <20030506143129.33487.qmail at web12105.mail.yahoo.com>:
>> I want to extract the table from the html file.
>> Is there a function html2R, the opposite of R2html?
>> How should I do this?
> I don't think there is anything that does that, but the XML package
> (from CRAN) contains a function called htmlTreeParse should get you
> partway there.
> Duncan Murdoch

Or if you know (or can learn) perl here is a script that will do it 
(and output it as a csv).  You need to edit $url and @tableheaders and 
to install WWW::Mechanize and HTML::TableExtract from cpan.  


use HTML::TableExtract;
use WWW::Mechanize;

my $url = "http://shangorilla.syr.edu/testR.html";
my @tableheaders = qw (Firstcol Secondcol Thirdcol);

my $agent = WWW::Mechanize->new();

# Output headers
print join(',', at tableheaders), "\n";

# Find table in html page
$te = new HTML::TableExtract( headers => \@tableheaders );
$te->parse( $agent->content() ); #parse contents

# Examine all matching tables (there is only be one?)
foreach $ts ($te->table_states) {
     foreach $row ($ts->rows) {
         print join(',', @$row), "\n";

(copy into editor and save as testRtable.pl then chmod u+x 
run as ./testRtable.pl to check content
./testRtable.pl > csvforReadingIntoR.txt

Then in R

 > data <- read.csv("csvforReadingIntoR.txt")

I think that should work for you. (or just send me the url and I'll run 
it and mail you back the csv - if this is a one off.)

Speaking of perl - Does anyone know if there is a standard way to use 
perl scripts from within R - I guess one can call them as one does from 
the commandline.  Is it possible to program R modules in perl (or would 
the cpan dependancies kill us?)

If this is a one off (ie not for scripting) then I think you can 
directly select a table in IE and paste it into Excel - then save as 
csv to read into R.


On Tuesday, May 6, 2003, at 11:17  AM, Duncan Murdoch wrote:

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