Parsing XML With jsoup In CFML - A Simple Example

September 23, 2017

At work, we've had some tasks lately to build out database schemas for populating rates tied to a given item and category. The rates themselves are in a PDF file. Much of the work has involved some form of manual entry or small copy/paste conversions into the build script. As it stands, these manual tasks can take anywhere from a day, to a day and a half, to complete. Not at all ideal. Especially with about ~40 more builds to go.

So I started an initial investigation into building a script. Something that would at least cut our build generation time drastically. The main piece was extracting rates and other useful info from a given PDF. I've never done this before in CFML but, I was delighted to see that the data extracted was XML. Well, not delighted it was XML but more that it was workable data!

Extracting PDF Text

ColdFusion makes this easy with the <cfpdf> tag. One line of code gives me XML that I can work with.

cfpdf(name="rawXML" action="extracttext", source="./path/to/my.pdf");

Parsing With jsoup

I'll admit, this part had me stumped for a minute (hence this article!). I knew I could use jsoup to accomplish the task however, I was getting strange results back.

Consider this XML:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
        <Page number="1">Some text here.</Page>
        <Page number="2">Some more text here.</Page>
        <Page number="3">Some other text here.</Page>

Visually, it appears simple enough to extract the data inside of each <Page> with a selector.

// jsoup object
Jsoup = createObject("java", "org.jsoup.Jsoup");
// Extract XML data
cfpdf(name="rawXML" action="extracttext", source="./path/to/my.pdf");
// Parse the data into a jsoup Document
doc = Jsoup.parse(rawXML);
// Select the text in each <Page> element
pages ="Pages"); // Returns an array Elements

But this wasn't so.

When I access a node in the array returned, I would see a string like this:

Some text here.<Page number="2">Some more text here. Some other text here.</Page></Page></Page>

This is no good when I need each node separate for further extraction of data.

I may have been doing something wrong with the above attempt, but it turns out jsoup has an XML parser that can be passed to the parse() method. All that's needed to make this available is to create an instance of jsoup's Parser class.

Here's a final example that also includes iterating over the array of Element objects containing the string values I need.

Jsoup = createObject("java", "org.jsoup.Jsoup");
Parser = createObject("java", "org.jsoup.parser.Parser");

cfpdf(name="rawXML" action="extracttext", source="./path/to/my.pdf");
doc = Jsoup.parse(rawXML, "", Parser.xmlParser());"Pages").each(function(page) {

So lesson here is to use jsoup's xmlParser() when parsing XML. Regular HTML works just fine without declaring the parser. Hope this helps.