How to Parse HTML in PHP

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Parsing HTML is the one of the main process. If you need to parse HTML in PHP, , regular expressions is not always the option. Here we are about to discuss types of ways to parse HTML in PHP

Using SimpleXML[edit]

  • SimpleXML is a PHP library which provides an easy way to work with XML documents (especially reading and iterating through XML data).
  • The only restraint is that the XML document must be well-formed.

Parsing XML using procedural approach:

// Load an XML string
$xmlstr = file_get_contents('library.xml');
$library = simplexml_load_string($xmlstr);

// Load an XML file
$library = simplexml_load_file('library.xml');

// You can load a local file path or a valid URL (if allow_url_fopen is set to "On" in php.ini

Parsing XML using OOP approach

// $isPathToFile: it informs the constructor that the 1st argument represents the path to a file,
// rather than a string that contains 1the XML data itself.

// Load an XML string
$xmlstr = file_get_contents('library.xml');
$library = new SimpleXMLElement($xmlstr);

// Load an XML file
$library = new SimpleXMLElement('library.xml', NULL, true);

// $isPathToFile: it informs the constructor that the first argument represents the path to a file, rather than a string that contains 1the XML data itself.

Accessing Children and Attributes

  • When SimpleXML parses an XML document, it converts all its XML elements, or nodes, to properties of the resulting SimpleXMLElement object
  • In addition, it converts XML attributes to an associative array that may be accessed from the property to which they belong.

When you know their names:

$library = new SimpleXMLElement('library.xml', NULL, true);
foreach ($library->book as $book){
    echo $book['isbn'];
    echo $book->title;
    echo $book->author;
    echo $book->publisher;
  • The major drawback of this approach is that it is necessary to know the names of every element and attribute in the XML document.

When you don't know their names (or you don't want to know them):

foreach ($library->children() as $child){
    echo $child->getName();
    // Get attributes of this element
    foreach ($child->attributes() as $attr){
        echo ' ' . $attr->getName() . ': ' . $attr;
    // Get children
    foreach ($child->children() as $subchild){
        echo ' ' . $subchild->getName() . ': ' . $subchild;

Parsing HTML from a string[edit]

PHP implements a DOM Level 2 compliant parser, allowing you to work with HTML using familiar methods like getElementById() or appendChild().

$html = '<html><body><span id="text">Hello, World!</span></body></html>';

$doc = new DOMDocument();

echo $doc->getElementById("text")->textContent;


Hello, World!

Note that PHP will emit warnings about any problems with the HTML, especially if you are importing a document fragment. To avoid these warnings, tell the DOM library (libxml) to handle its own errors by calling libxml_use_internal_errors() before importing your HTML. You can then use libxml_get_errors() to handle errors if needed.

Using XPath[edit]

$html = '<html><body><span class="text">Hello, World!</span></body></html>';

$doc = new DOMDocument();

$xpath = new DOMXPath($doc);
$span = $xpath->query("//span[@class='text']")->item(0);

echo $span->textContent;


Hello, World!

About This Tutorial

This page was last edited on 28 January 2019, at 07:35.