Python – Extract / Identify Tables from PDF python


Are there any open source libraries that support table identification & extraction?

By this I mean:

  1. Identify a table structure exists
  2. Classify the table from its contents
  3. Extract data from the table in a useful output format e.g. JSON / CSV etc.

I have looked through similar questions on this topic and found the following:

  • PDFMiner which addresses problem 3, but it seems the user is required to specify to PDFMiner where a table structure exists for each table (correct me if I'm wrong)
  • pdf-table-extract which attempts to address problem 1 but according to the To-Do list, cannot currently identify tables that are separated by whitespace. This is a problem as all tables in my PDFs are separated by whitespace!

Currently, I am thinking that I would have to spend a lot of time developing a Machine Learning solution to identify table structures from PDFs. Therefore, any alternative approaches would be more than welcome!

Best Answer

After many fruitful hours of exploring OCR libraries, bounding boxes and clustering algorithms - I found a solution so simple it makes you want to cry!

I hope you are using Linux;

pdftotext -layout NAME_OF_PDF.pdf


Now you have a nice text file with all the information lined up in nice columns, now it is trivial to format into a csv etc..

It is for times like this that I love Linux, these guys came up with AMAZING solutions to everything, and put it there for FREE!