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Beautiful Soup | previous_element property

Programming
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Python
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Beautiful Soup
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Documentation
schedule Jul 1, 2022
Last updated
local_offer PythonBeautiful Soup
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In Beautiful Soup, the previous_element property returns the previous string or tag in the parse tree. We will go through the subtleties of this property using examples.

Examples

Consider the following HTML document:

my_html = """
   <p>Alex</p>
   <p id="bob">Bob</p>
"""
soup = BeautifulSoup(my_html)

Let's get the previous_element of <p>Bob</p>:

p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")
p_bob.previous_element
'\n'

The result may be surprising for those who expected to see <p>Alex</p>. Such a result arises because there is a new line character \n between <p>Alex</p> and <p>Bob</p>. To get to Alex, then, you would need to call the previous_element yet again:

p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")
p_bob.previous_element.previous_element
'Alex'

Here, we've obtained the string (i.e. the inner text) of <p>Alex</p>. To get the tag itself, we need to call the previous_element yet again:

p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")
p_bob.previous_element.previous_element.previous_element
<p>Alex</p>

If you just wanted to access the previous element, then the better alternative would be to call the find_previous_sibling() method:

p_bob = soup.find(id="bob")
<p>Alex</p>
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Published by Isshin Inada
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