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University of Michigan

Using Python to Access Web Data

University of Michigan via Coursera


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This course will show how one can treat the Internet as a source of data. We will scrape, parse, and read web data as well as access data using web APIs. We will work with HTML, XML, and JSON data formats in Python. This course will cover Chapters 11-13 of the textbook “Python for Everybody”. To succeed in this course, you should be familiar with the material covered in Chapters 1-10 of the textbook and the first two courses in this specialization. These topics include variables and expressions, conditional execution (loops, branching, and try/except), functions, Python data structures (strings, lists, dictionaries, and tuples), and manipulating files. This course covers Python 3.


  • Getting Started
    • In this section you will install Python and a text editor. In previous classes in the specialization this was an optional assignment, but in this class it is the first requirement to get started. From this point forward we will stop using the browser-based Python grading environment because the browser-based Python environment (Skulpt) is not capable of running the more complex programs we will be developing in this class.
  • Regular Expressions (Chapter 11)
    • Regular expressions are a very specialized language that allow us to succinctly search strings and extract data from strings. Regular expressions are a language unto themselves. It is not essential to know how to use regular expressions, but they can be quite useful and powerful.
  • Networks and Sockets (Chapter 12)
    • In this section we learn about the protocols that web browsers use to retrieve documents and web applications use to interact with Application Program Interfaces (APIs).
  • Programs that Surf the Web (Chapter 12)
    • In this section we learn to use Python to retrieve data from web sites and APIs over the Internet.
  • Web Services and XML (Chapter 13)
    • In this section, we learn how to retrieve and parse XML (eXtensible Markup Language) data.
  • JSON and the REST Architecture (Chapter 13)
    • In this module, we work with Application Program Interfaces / Web Services using the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data format.

Taught by

Charles Severance


4.7 rating, based on 5,667 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 44002 ratings

Start your review of Using Python to Access Web Data

  • Anonymous
    I have one big criticism of this class. The Python keyword "import" is never explained. The concept of "module" is never explained. We're just told to cant this magic incantation "import re" and suddenly statements that generated traceback erro…
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed the first two courses of Dr. Chuck's Python for Everybody Specialization -- but not this one. As some other reviewers have already stated I, too, felt increasingly frustrated and somehow left alone during this course. Most of this c…
  • As I mentioned in the previous reviews about this Specialization, all these courses are meant for beginners without previous programming experience and difficulty of courses rises gradually. Thus, the first course was a real piece of cake, second g…
  • Anonymous
    TL, dr: Flawed course in comparison to the first two ones. The course introduce new concepts, more or less technical to understand what's going on when you try to access web data from an external application, such as a programming language. If you'…
  • This course has helped me a big deal. Mr. Severence is such a genius in preparing the courses for his students to succeed. And something I liked most about the course is that one had to go on the ground and do tremendous research by himself to understand how certain things work out. Some people might find this very challenging but a good instructor does not spoon feed his trainee on a silver plate. The trainee's hands have to et dirty so as to grasp the concept permanently. To me, this course has changed my life and nowadays I don't have time to waste because everytime I get, I want to code and feel the excitement of discovering more things and seeing how things work out. Learning never stops, see you in the next chapter.
  • Anonymous
    It is hard for me to give this anything lower than 5 stars since I'm truly learning much more than I otherwise would have from this course. I can only speak as a learner and not as an educational institution or teacher. With that said, I do understa…
  • Anonymous
    I am working my way through the Python Specialization. The first two courses were fantastic. This course, "Using Python to Access Web Data", was a bit of a struggle. While I still like Dr. Chuck's on camera teaching and the examples he provided,…
  • Steve Schoenbaechler
    With this review, you must understand, a major part of this review is because of my interest/expectations/etc., what I was looking for from the course. If you are interested in “fully engaging” in Python, becoming a computer scientist, etc., this c…
  • Officially finished this course! 60% done with the specification. My personal takeaway is that every person has their own pace, so I did much research on topics that were new to me outside the classroom (for example: differences between JAVA & JavaS…
  • "Using Python to Access Web Data" by the University of Michigan is a must-take course for anyone interested in harnessing the power of Python for web data manipulation. The course provides a well-rounded education in web scraping, web services, and…
  • Anonymous
    Although my specialty is zoology, I signed up and paid for this course (one in a series offered by them) to learn a little about Python which intrigued me for some reason. The course gives a somewhat disjointed, quick overview of using Python to a…
  • Ilke Guntan
    It was a nice course as an introduction to access web data. However, compared to previous courses, the explanation part was shorter and it was more on the edge of 'believe me and write the code like...' It made harder to learn it in true sense. I guess, it is mostly because of the explanations requires too much background knowledge that cannot be convey in these short lessons. I would prefer to have it longer though.
  • Dr. Chuck's Python course on Web Data Access was insightful, especially regarding the challenges encountered while working with the third party APIs for data scraping. His teaching style effectively demystified the complexities of accessing web data using Python.

    Navigating the Twitter API posed a unique set of challenges, and it felt a little difficult for me to go through the intricacies. On Twitter's Dev Portal, they are discouraging the use of v1 and have been promoting to use the v2. I could not successfully run that code on my computer to scrape the data from Twitter. Other than that, everything was explained lucidly. I would recommend others to work through this course for learning to use Python for accessing Web Data.
  • Jerald Dana Cole
    I just completed the course. It is excellent, but needs a few bug fixes. The Week 5 Chapter assignment references the wrong exemplar (not wrong, per se, but far more complex than a simpler example covered in the lectures that transfers better to th…
  • Anonymous
    Been reviewing just as I am done-- maybe you've read my reviews before! Again, these courses are meant as a surface-level, Baby's First Programming Class-type deal; for that, they're really good, I think. I had never really done a program that did…
  • Nikita Neganov
    As I mentioned in the previous reviews about this Specialisation, all these courses are meant for beginners without previous programming experience and difficulty of courses rises gradually. Thus, the first course was a real piece of cake, second go…
  • As we progress into the course, it quickly gets complicated way beyond what one expects to be "for everybody". But with some solid background in programming and some real life computer experience beyond beginners level, it is possible to complete the course - but not in time for the first free 7 days!
    So the whole thing here is "get the first shot for free - and then pay to complete".
    But the course gets better and better, and is worth the money. Chuck is doing a decent job.
  • The necessity of things like SSL encryption aren't explained, just kinda referenced. Good start to understanding where you can begin learning these kinds of things.
  • A very good introduction to HTML, XML, and JSON, and for learning the use of Python to extract, parse data from internet.
  • "Using Python to Access Web Data" is a fantastic course for anyone interested in web scraping and data retrieval. Dr. Chuck's dedication and expertise make it a standout educational experience, and I'm truly grateful for the knowledge and skills I gained from this course. Thank you to the University of Michigan and Dr. Chuck for this enriching opportunity.

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