Pandas: How to read an XML file into a DataFrame

Updated: February 19, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Pandas is a powerful library in Python for data manipulation and analysis. It offers various functionalities to handle different types of data, including CSV, Excel, and even XML files. This tutorial will guide you through the process of reading XML files into a DataFrame using Pandas, enhancing your data processing capabilities. We’ll start from the basics and gradually move to more advanced topics, incorporating multiple code examples to help you understand each step better.

Basic XML Parsing

Before diving into the code, make sure you have Pandas installed. If not, you can install it using pip:

pip install pandas

Let’s start with a simple XML:

    <city>New York</city>

To read this XML file into a DataFrame, you’ll first need to use the read_xml() method provided by pandas. Here’s a simple example:

import pandas as pd

dataframe = pd.read_xml('path_to_your_file.xml')

This will output:

   name  age      city
0  John   30  New York
1  Anna   25     Paris

Handling Complex XML Structures

XML files can be more complex than the example above. They may contain nested tags, attributes, and different levels of hierarchy. To handle such complexity, Pandas read_xml() offers various parameters. Let’s consider the following XML structure:

  <country name="USA">
    <city name="New York">
      <person name="John" age="30"/>
      <person name="Anna" age="25"/>

To efficiently handle this structure and map it into a DataFrame, you will want to focus on the xpath parameter, which allows you to query specific parts of the XML tree:

import pandas as pd

dataframe = pd.read_xml('path_to_your_file.xml', xpath='//person')

This will display only the person elements in a table format, including their attributes:

   name  age
0  John   30
1  Anna   25

Working with XML Namespaces

Some XML files use namespaces, which can complicate the process of parsing. However, Pandas provides functionality to handle these as well. Consider the following XML, which includes namespaces:

<ns:data xmlns:ns="">
  <ns:country name="USA">
    <ns:city name="New York">
      <ns:person name="John" age="30"/>
      <ns:person name="Anna" age="25"/>

To parse this XML and convert it to a DataFrame, you need to specify the namespaces in a dictionary and pass it to the namespaces parameter:

import pandas as pd

namespaces = {'ns': ''}
dataframe = pd.read_xml('path_to_your_file.xml', namespaces=namespaces)

Advanced Parsing Techniques

For highly complex XML structures, you might need to use more advanced techniques. One such technique involves using the lxml library alongside Pandas to pre-process the XML before converting it into a DataFrame. Here’s an example:

from lxml import etree
import pandas as pd

tree = etree.parse('path_to_your_file.xml')
root = tree.getroot()

# Pre-process XML data, such as filtering or modifying parts of the tree
dataframe = pd.read_xml(etree.tostring(root))

This method gives you greater control over the XML data before it’s read into a DataFrame, allowing for more sophisticated data manipulation and cleaning techniques.


Reading XML files into a DataFrame using Pandas is a straightforward process that can significantly enhance your data analysis and manipulation skills. By starting with simple structures and gradually moving to more complex scenarios, you can handle a wide range of XML data efficiently. The key is to familiarize yourself with the different parameters and techniques available, allowing you to adapt to various data structures and requirements.