Is BeautifulSoup a library or module?

Feb 5, 2024 ยท 2 min read

BeautifulSoup is commonly referred to as both a library and a module in Python. But what exactly does this mean?

Library vs Module - What's the Difference?

In Python, a module refers to any .py file containing Python definitions and statements. For example, BeautifulSoup.py would be considered a module.

A library is a collection of modules packaged together, usually with some common purpose or area of functionality. BeautifulSoup would be considered a library because it contains several modules used for parsing, navigating, and searching HTML and XML documents.

So modules are the building blocks that make up a library. BeautifulSoup library contains modules like BeautifulSoup.py, __init__.py, element.py and more.

Is BeautifulSoup a Library or Module?

Technically, BeautifulSoup is a library comprised of various modules. However, its main module, BeautifulSoup.py is commonly referred to as just "BeautifulSoup" for simplicity.

So you will often hear both terms used interchangeably:

# Referring to the BeautifulSoup module
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup 

# Referring to the BeautifulSoup library   
import BeautifulSoup

This dual usage tends to confuse some folks new to BeautifulSoup. But now you understand that BeautifulSoup is a full-fledged HTML parsing library, and BeautifulSoup.py is its primary module.

Why does this distinction matter?

Libraries encapsulate complexity so you can focus on your program's logic rather than recreating wheels. Understanding BeautifulSoup as a robust library for navigating HTML and XML documents helps frame why it is so useful for web scraping.

Its main BeautifulSoup module provides the key classes and methods for parsing, searching, and modifying parse trees. The other modules provide utilities that supplement the main module's functionality.

BeautifulSoup is a versatile HTML/XML parsing library and BeautifulSoup.py is its core module. This clarity helps understand how all the pieces fit together!

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