TypeError: can’t use a string pattern on a bytes-like object in re.findall()

I am trying to learn how to automatically fetch urls from a page. In the following code I am trying to get the title of the webpage:

import urllib.request
import re

url = "http://www.google.com"
regex = r'<title>(,+?)</title>'
pattern  = re.compile(regex)

with urllib.request.urlopen(url) as response:
   html = response.read()

title = re.findall(pattern, html)

And I get this unexpected error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "pathtofileCrawler.py", line 11, in <module>
    title = re.findall(pattern, html)
  File "C:Python33libre.py", line 201, in findall
    return _compile(pattern, flags).findall(string)
TypeError: can't use a string pattern on a bytes-like object

What am I doing wrong?

2 Answers

You want to convert html (a byte-like object) into a string using .decode, e.g. html = response.read().decode('utf-8').

See Convert bytes to a Python String

The problem is that your regex is a string, but html is bytes:

>>> type(html)
<class 'bytes'>

Since python doesn’t know how those bytes are encoded, it throws an exception when you try to use a string regex on them.

You can either decode the bytes to a string:

html = html.decode('ISO-8859-1')  # encoding may vary!
title = re.findall(pattern, html)  # no more error

Or use a bytes regex:

regex = rb'<title>(,+?)</title>'
#        ^

In this particular context, you can get the encoding from the response headers:

with urllib.request.urlopen(url) as response:
    encoding = response.info().get_param('charset', 'utf8')
    html = response.read().decode(encoding)

See the urlopen documentation for more details.

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