String Remove HTML Tags
This page was last reviewed on Mar 20, 2023.
Dot Net Perls
HTML tags. HTML is the universal language of web page markup. But when processing files, it often helps to remove tags and deal directly with text.
With advanced parsers, we can handle nearly any HTML, even invalid HTML. But this is complex. With a simple replaceAll call, we can strip some HTML—this is limited but effective.
This program contains two important methods. Both methods work on trivial HTML sources. On comments, and unusual markup, they may (and often will) fail.
Info StripHtmlRegex uses replaceAll. The first argument is a regular expression, and the second is the replacement.
String replace
Next The char array method implements a simple imperative parser in a for-loop. It changes state based on angle brackets.
char Array
Info The 2 methods have the same, correct, output on the example string. In main() we test them.
public class Program { public static String stripHtmlRegex(String source) { // Replace all tag characters with an empty string. return source.replaceAll("<.*?>", ""); } public static String stripTagsCharArray(String source) { // Create char array to store our result. char[] array = new char[source.length()]; int arrayIndex = 0; boolean inside = false; // Loop over characters and append when not inside a tag. for (int i = 0; i < source.length(); i++) { char let = source.charAt(i); if (let == '<') { inside = true; continue; } if (let == '>') { inside = false; continue; } if (!inside) { array[arrayIndex] = let; arrayIndex++; } } // ... Return written data. return new String(array, 0, arrayIndex); } public static void main(String[] args) { final String html = "<p id=x>Sometimes, <b>simpler</b> is better, " + "but <i>not</i> always.</p>"; System.out.println(html); String test = stripHtmlRegex(html); System.out.println(test); String test2 = stripTagsCharArray(html); System.out.println(test2); } }
<p id=x>Sometimes, <b>simpler</b> is better, but <i>not</i> always.</p> Sometimes, simpler is better, but not always. Sometimes, simpler is better, but not always.
Not ideal. To be clear, these methods are not ideal. For example, neither method has support for HTML markup nested within comments. They can corrupt correct pages.
For HTML, web browser developers create complex and optimized parsers. An HTML parser is more than one line of Java code. Many features are not supported with these methods.
And Due to the complex, organic nature of the web, these HTML methods can be used only on a limited subset of pages.
Enhancements. If a program needs comment support, this could be added to the second method. We could check for the HTML comment start, and end, sequences.
In software, we often prefer the simplest solution for our needs. In a situation where only simple HTML constructs are found, the first method with replaceAll is useful.
Dot Net Perls is a collection of tested code examples. Pages are continually updated to stay current, with code correctness a top priority.
Sam Allen is passionate about computer languages. In the past, his work has been recommended by Apple and Microsoft and he has studied computers at a selective university in the United States.
This page was last updated on Mar 20, 2023 (edit).
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