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Alexandre Vandermonde February 2016

Website form login using Python urllib2

I've breen trying to learn to use the urllib2 package in Python. I tried to login in as a student (the left form) to a signup page for maths students: http://reg.maths.lth.se/. I have inspected the code (using Firebug) and the left form should obviously be called using POST with a key called pnr whose value should be a string 10 characters long (the last part can perhaps not be seen from the HTML code, but it is basically my social security number so I know how long it should be). Note that the action in the header for the appropriate POST method is another URL, namely http://reg.maths.lth.se/login/student.

I tried (with a fake pnr in the example below, but I used my real number in my own code).

import urllib
import urllib2

url = 'http://reg.maths.lth.se/'
values = dict(pnr='0000000000')
data = urllib.urlencode(values)
req = urllib2.Request(url,data)
resp = urllib2.urlopen(req)
page = resp.read()

print page

While this executes, the print is the source code of the original page http://reg.maths.lth.se/, so it doesn't seem like I logged in. Also, I could add any key/value pairs to the values dictionary and it doesn't produce any error, which seems strange to me.

Also, if I go to the page http://reg.maths.lth.se/login/student, there is clearly no POST method for submitting data.

Any suggestions?


alecxe February 2016

If you would inspect what request is sent to the server when you enter the number and submit the form, you would notice that it is a POST request with pnr and _token parameters:

enter image description here

You are missing the _token parameter which you need to extract from the HTML source of the page. It is a hidden input element:

<input name="_token" type="hidden" value="WRbJ5x05vvDlzMgzQydFxkUfcFSjSLDhknMHtU6m">

I suggest looking into tools like Mechanize, MechanicalSoup or RoboBrowser that would ease the form submission. You may also parse the HTML with an HTML parser, like BeautifulSoup yourself, extract the token and send via urllib2 or requests:

import requests
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup

PNR = "00000000"

url = "http://reg.maths.lth.se/"
login_url = "http://reg.maths.lth.se/login/student"
with requests.Session() as session:
    # extract token
    response = session.get(url)
    soup = BeautifulSoup(response.content, "html.parser")
    token = soup.find("input", {"name": "_token"})["value"]

    # submit form
    session.post(login_url, data={
        "_token": token,
        "pnr": PNR

    # navigate to the main page again (should be logged in)
    response = session.get(url)

    soup = BeautifulSoup(response.content, "html.parser")

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Asked in February 2016
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