Difference between urllib and urllib2

Feb 6, 2024 ยท 1 min read

The urllib and urllib2 modules in Python provide developers with easy ways to make HTTP requests. Though they seem similar, there are some key differences that impact how you use them.

urllib: Basic HTTP Requests

The urllib module provides basic building blocks for making HTTP requests. With urllib, you can:

  • Open and read URLs
  • Parse query parameters
  • Encode special characters in URLs
  • For example:

    import urllib
    response = urllib.urlopen('http://www.example.com/?page=1')
    html = response.read()

    However, urllib lacks some important features like HTTPS verification and error handling. It also handles HTTP responses differently than urllib2.

    urllib2: More Robust HTTP

    urllib2 builds on top of urllib and provides more robust HTTP capabilities:

  • SSL/TLS verification for HTTPS requests
  • Custom request headers
  • Error handling via try/except blocks
  • Automatic decompression
  • Handling redirects
  • Here's an example with urllib2:

    import urllib2
    request = urllib2.Request('https://www.example.com/')
    response = urllib2.urlopen(request)
    page = response.read()

    As you can see, urllib2 allows HTTPS URLs and gives you more control over the request and error handling.

    Key Takeaways

    In summary, use urllib for simple HTTP requests and urllib2 when you need robust HTTPS, redirects, custom headers, or error handling. urllib2 builds on urllib so you'll have access to both regardless.

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