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hgrep v0.1.0

grep HTML with CSS selectors

hgrep - search HTML with CSS selectors

Some people, when confronted with an HTML parsing problem, think, "I know, I'll use hgrep!" Now they have -1 problems.

hgrep is a Unix CLI tool which lets you select elements with jQuery/CSS syntax and print either the HTML serialization of the selection, or a specified attribute of each element, or their text representation.

For example, to print all the story links from the HN front page:

curl -s | hgrep -a href ".athing .title > a"

Or which subreddits feature on the Reddit front page:

curl -s | hgrep -t ".sitetable a.subreddit"


npm install -g


HTML cannot be parsed with regular expressions, as the nearest Stack Overflow guru will be happy to inform you. Coding to a parser API is too much trouble for simple use cases. Besides, the best, most user-friendly APIs are available in the form of jQuery in the browser and a jQuery-like NodeJS library, Cheerio.

hgrep is a simple CLI wrapper around Cheerio, enabling the use of familiar jQuery/CSS selectors to grep through HTML on the command line.

Detailed usage is documented below.

hgrep(1) -- search HTML with CSS selectors


hgrep [-a <attr> | -t | -v] [-r <range>] <selector> [<filter>]
hgrep -h | --help


hgrep searches an HTML document or fragments read from standard input for elements matching a given condition, specified as a jQuery/CSS-like <selector>. The list of selected elements is optionally filtered by another selector which specifies constraints on their descendants and is then reduced to an optional range. By default, the selection is serialized to HTML and written to standard output. Alternately, a specified attribute of each element in the selection may be output.

The following parameters are available:

  • <selector>: Specifies the elements to be selected in a jQuery/CSS-style format as implemented by cheerio, which uses css-select. Custom selectors of note include :contains, which can be used to specify what text contents the desired elements must have.

  • <filter>: Selector which specifies conditions to be met by the descendants of the elements specified by <selector>. This enables specifications like "select all <tr>s which have <a> elements containing 'Follow User' in the link text". Note that the output will be a list of <tr> elements.

  • -r <range>: Specifies the range of elements found by the <selector>/<filter> to be considered. <range> can be a number indicating a single element at the given offset from the beginning of the list. Negative numbers represent offsets from the end of the list, with -1 being the last element. Alternately, a range of the form start:end specifies elements with offset from start through end-1, where start and end can be negative numbers. start must be strictly less than end. Finally, start: specifies elements from start to the end of the list.

  • -a <attr>: Output one line containing the <attr> attribute for each selected element. Blank lines are output for elements which lack the specified attribute, unless the -x flag is specified.

  • -x: In the -a case, do not output blank lines for elements which lack the specified attribute.

  • -t: Output the text contents of each selected element, rather than the elements themselves. The text is trimmed of whitespace at both ends.

  • -v: Output the input document with all selected elements removed.


hgrep exits with 0 if a match was found, and 1 if no match was found. In case the input document was malformed or the specifier syntax is incorrect, hgrep exits with a non-zero value.


The examples below use the Hacker News home page.

Get all the links

curl -s | hgrep -a href a

Get only story links

curl -s | hgrep -a href ".athing .title > a"

Get all the story titles

curl -s | hgrep -t ".athing .title > a"

Convert the HN front page stories into tab-separated values

curl -s > hn.html
cat hn.html | hgrep -t ".athing .title > a" > title
cat hn.html | hgrep -a href ".athing .title > a" > link
cat hn.html | hgrep -t .subtext | sed -ne 's/^\([0-9][0-9]*\) points.*/\1/p;t' -e 's/.*//p' > points
paste title link points > hn.tsv

The examples below use the Wikipedia world population page.


Output HTML for the first data row of the table:

curl -s $url | hgrep -r 1 "table.wikitable tr"

Output HTML for rows containing the word "Island"

curl -s $url | hgrep "table.wikitable tr" "td:contains(Island)" 

Print text contents of 2nd column of each row, one line per row

curl -s $url | hgrep -t "table.wikitable td:nth-child(2)"

Strip first 3 columns of the table:

curl -s $url | hgrep "table.wikitable" | hgrep -v "td:nth-child(-n+2)"


cheerio, css-select


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