Grab Data with templatemaker

Posted to Software  |  Nathan Yau

Adrian Holovaty released templatemaker yesterday. Adrian is probably best known as the guy, featured on YouTube, who played the MacGyver theme song. So clearly, he a man a many talents.

Anyways, templatemaker is a Python script to extract data from text, um, HTML. For example, you could pass a review page from a site like Yelp, or several pages, and the script will “learn” the template. Once a template is established, you can extract the stuff that changes (e.g. ratings, restaurant name). Here, in Adrian’s words:

You can give templatemaker an arbitrary number of HTML files, and it will create the “template” that was used to create those files. (“Template,” in this case, means a string with a number of “holes” in it, where the holes represent the parts of the page that change.) Once you’ve got the template, you can then give it any HTML file that uses that same template, and it will give you the raw data: “The value for hole 1 is ‘July 6, 2007’, the value for hole 2 is ‘blue’,” etc.

It’s under the BSD license, so all the more reason to use it. I haven’t used it yet, but looking forward to it.


The Changing American Diet

See what we ate on an average day, for the past several decades.

Years You Have Left to Live, Probably

The individual data points of life are much less predictable than the average. Here’s a simulation that shows you how much time is left on the clock.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2011

I almost didn’t make a best-of list this year, but as I clicked through the year’s post, it was hard …

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.