Processing XML Files with Python's xml.etree.ElementTree

Processing XML Files with Python's xml.etree.ElementTree


In the realm of NetDevOps, processing XML files is a common task, especially given the prevalence of XML in network configuration and data exchange formats. Python, with its rich library ecosystem, offers an effective solution for this - the xml.etree.ElementTree module. This post will provide an overview of how to use this module to parse, manipulate, and create XML files, making it a valuable resource for both seasoned professionals and newcomers in the field.

Understanding xml.etree.ElementTree

Python's xml.etree.ElementTree is a comprehensive library for parsing and creating XML data. Its simplicity and readability make it an ideal choice for NetDevOps tasks involving XML file manipulation.

Parsing XML files

To start, let's look at how to parse an existing XML file:

import xml.etree.ElementTree as ET

tree = ET.parse('example.xml')
root = tree.getroot()

In this example, we load an XML file named example.xml and retrieve its root element.

Navigating Elements

Once you have the root, you can navigate through the XML tree:

for child in root:
    print(child.tag, child.attrib)

This loop will print each child element's tag and attributes.

Searching for Elements

ElementTree also allows you to search for specific elements:

for element in root.iter('desired_tag'):

This code will find all elements with the tag 'desired_tag' and print their attributes.

Modifying XML

You can modify XML by changing element attributes, adding new elements, or removing existing ones:

for element in root.iter('desired_tag'):
    element.set('new_attribute', 'value')
    # Adding a new sub-element
    ET.SubElement(element, 'new_child', attrib={'attribute': 'value'})

Creating XML Files

To create an XML file from scratch:

new_root = ET.Element('root')
child = ET.SubElement(new_root, 'child', attrib={'key': 'value'})
tree = ET.ElementTree(new_root)

This code creates a new XML file with a root element and one child element.


The xml.etree.ElementTree module in Python is a versatile tool for handling XML files in NetDevOps. Its ability to parse, navigate, search, modify, and create XML documents caters to a wide range of requirements. By incorporating these techniques into your NetDevOps workflows, you can effectively manage XML-based configurations and data exchanges, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of your network operations. Remember, while this guide offers a starting point, the real mastery comes with experimentation and practice in real-world scenarios.

Stay tuned for more insights and practical guides in the world of NetDevOps!