Using JPype to bridge python and Java


Java provides some interesting libraries that have no exact equivalent in python. In my case, the awesome boilerpipe library allows me to remove uninteresting parts of HTML pages, like menus, footers and other "boilerplate" contents.

Boilerpipe is written in Java. Two solutions then: using java from python or reimplement boilerpipe in python. I will let you guess which one I chosen, meh.

JPype allows to bridge python project with java libraries. It takes another point of view than Jython: rather than reimplementing python in Java, both languages are interfacing at the VM level. This means you need to start a VM from your python script, but it does the job and stay fully compatible with Cpython and its C extensions.

First steps with JPype

Once JPype installed (you'll have to hack a bit some files to integrate seamlessly with your system) you can access java classes by doing something like that:

import jpype

# you can then access to the basic java functions"hello world")

# and you have to shutdown the VM at the end

Okay, now we have a hello world, but what we want seems somehow more complex. We want to interact with java classes, so we will have to load them.

Interfacing with Boilerpipe

To install boilerpipe, you just have to run an ant script:

$ cd boilerpipe
$ ant

Here is a simple example of how to use boilerpipe in Java, from their sources

package de.l3s.boilerpipe.demo;
import de.l3s.boilerpipe.extractors.ArticleExtractor;

public class Oneliner {
    public static void main(final String[] args) throws Exception {
        final URL url = new URL("");

To run it:

$ javac -cp dist/boilerpipe-1.1-dev.jar:lib/nekohtml-1.9.13.jar:lib/xerces-2.9.1.jar src/demo/de/l3s/boilerpipe/demo/
$ java -cp src/demo:dist/boilerpipe-1.1-dev.jar:lib/nekohtml-1.9.13.jar:lib/xerces-2.9.1.jar de.l3s.boilerpipe.demo.Oneliner

Yes, this is kind of ugly, sorry for your eyes. Let's try something similar, but from python

import jpype

# start the JVM with the good classpaths
classpath = "dist/boilerpipe-1.1-dev.jar:lib/nekohtml-1.9.13.jar:lib/xerces-2.9.1.jar"
jpype.startJVM(jpype.getDefaultJVMPath(), "-Djava.class.path=%s" % classpath)

# get the Java classes we want to use
DefaultExtractor = jpype.JPackage("de").l3s.boilerpipe.extractors.DefaultExtractor

# call them !
print DefaultExtractor.INSTANCE.getText(""))

And you get what you want.

I must say I didn't thought it could work so easily. This will allow me to extract text content from URLs and remove the boilerplate text easily for infuse (my master thesis project), without having to write java code, nice!

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