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TSL Text Scraping Language

by Dan Borufka ST3

Python-based text scraping language (pseudo code-style)



  • Total 162
  • Win 98
  • Mac 40
  • Linux 24
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Linux 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0



TSL – Text Scraping Language

Sublime Text plugin for processing of a scraping language in pseudo-code

The TSL Sublime Text package allows you to write and execute pseudo-code style language to process text files with Regular expressions and simple logic. This gives an easy entry to data mining to non-programmers.

Once dropped in your Sublime Text's package directory, files with the extension .tsl will automatically get syntax-highlighting and a build system to run them. Force building by choosing Tools > Build System > TSL from the ST3 menu.


Sublime Text Syntax Highlighting

… This will read all lines from stats/milestones.csv, take all lines, splits them into columns, selects the second column and saves the corresponding row into a file labeled by said column (e.g. stats/31-03-2019.txt).


How does it work?


Available TSL Commands


How does it work?

TSL runs through the script line by line and executes corresponding Python code in the background. File handling, complex data types, and templating are built-in for rapid prototyping. Every line starts with a command followed by a space and space-separated arguments. Most commands support optional clauses like as ... (storage variable) or in ... (file handle) to supply further information.


A command's inputs and outputs can be strings or collections of strings. In ladder case, TSL iterates over a collection's strings and applies the command to each of them. The commands as, remember, split, and for every loops change the context to the provided variable. This means you can omit as clauses in the following commands, always automatically referring to the context. To reference variables rather than strings use square brackets. log something will log the string “something”, while log [something] will log the content of the variable called something.


When working inside for every loops, TSL automagically uses a singular version of your variable to step through the entries of your collection.


in /contacts/childnames.txt
    take lines as children
    log [children]
    for every [child]
        split by tab
        select 2nd as first-name
    log [first-names]

Variables created during loops will automatically be appended to a collection named using the plural form. In the example above, the creation of first-name automatically populates a collection called first-names. Irregular plurals like child -> children or foot -> feet have basic support. If the plural fails try compound words for better inflection, e.g. species-collection instead of species.


drop the TSL folder into %USERPROFILE%/AppData/Roaming/Sublime Text 3/Packages to install the plugin.

Available TSL Commands

File & system operations

bash <command> as <variable>

Runs a bash command and saves the returned output to a variable.


bash git branch as branches

empty [<filepath>]

Opens up a file and deletes all its content.


in wordbag.txt

in <path/to/textfile.txt>

Opens up a file and reads all its lines. You can log the lines using log line All future file operations are refering to this one until your next “in” statement. You'll usually see this followed by a take or find all command


in stats/01092019.txt

in <path/to/folder>

Creates the nested directory structure if it doesn't exist. Otherwise, the path will be used as context for future operations.


in "/Sublime Text/Packages"
        count files as fileCount
        log [fileCount]

save [as <filepath>]

Saves the latest collection in the given filename.


save as runner/cleaned_userinputs.txt

write [<variable>]

Writes given variable (or the results of the last find all) into the last file opened with in


write [userIds]

add *<string | variable>* [to <filepath>]

Appends content to a file different from the currently open one


add [libraries] to libs.txt


select th [of [input]]

Selects a specific item of a collection, given its index.


in bigrams.txt   
        select 4th

select words [of [input]][as <output>]

Selects all words found in the last opened file.


in utterances.txt    
        select words

select [from <string | RegEx | int>*] [to *<string | RegEx | int>]

Selects the range from the indicated string/RegEX/number until the indicated string or regular expression or number. Note that we start counting with 1 to keep it natural


select from "{" to "}"
    select from \s to \s
    select from 1 to ";"
    select two of [bigrams]

select from <string | RegEx | integer>

Selects the range from the indicated string / regular expression / number until the end of the line


select from "dateTime"
    select from \d\d\d
    select from 122

select to <string | RegEx | integer>

Selects the range from the beginning of the line to the indicated string / regular expression / number.


select to "dateTime"
    select to \W
    select to 5th  
    select to 370

Debugging & calculations

be <property>

Sets one of the following properties of TSL to true:

verbose | active

calculate operation as <variable>

Calculates mathematical operations


calculate (5 * 4) / 2 as ratio

log <variable | string>

Prints to the console. Use strings with template tags (e.g. “here is: [varName]”) for variables

count <variable> as <countVariable>

Stores the count of lines in a selection.


count [entries-per-day] as frequency
    log [frequency]

count *<files | folders>* in <path/to/dir> as <countVariable>

Stores the count of files or folders in a directory.


count files in "C:\Windows" as systemFiles
    log "Exactly [systemFiles] system files found."


change <varName> to <formula>

Iterates over a collection and changes all entries according to the template tag. Use brackets to tag variables, like so: [varName]


change [salute] to "Hi, [salute] #[i]"

will e.g. change “my name is Dan” to “Hi, my name is Dan #1”

combine <setName> with <setName> as <varName>

Merges two sets and stores it in a new variable.


combine [vowels] with [consonants] as letters

find *<string | RegEx>* [in <varName>] [as <varName>]

Finds all occurrences of a string or regular expression in the lines of the currently open file or a stored collection. The results of this search are automatically stored in a variable found


in corpus_de.txt
        take lines as utterances
        find all [aeiou]+ in [utterances]
        log [found]

remove lines

Removes the last selected lines (e.g. the ones found using a find all)

replace *<string | RegEx>* by <string> [in <variable>]

Replaces given string or regular expression by another string, optionally in a particular collection.


replace \W+ by "_"

sort [<varName>]

Sorts either the supplied or last referenced collection alphanumerically (in ascending order).

sort [<varName>] by [<reference>]

Sorts either the supplied collection by the alphanumerical ascending order of reference collection.

split *<string|RegEx>* by <delimiter> as <variable>

Splits a string into a collection using delimiter. The delimiter can be any combination of characters or one of the following keywords: brackets, commas, dots, hyphens, lines, parens, periods, semicolons, spaces, tabs, underscores.


split apples;bananas;oranges by semicolons as fruits
    log [fruits]

unique [<varName>]

Removes all duplicate entries from given collection.

unique lines

Removes all duplicate lines from the last referenced collection.


remember *<string | variable>* as <variableName>

Stores a string or variable in a new variable.

take *<lines | results | files | folders>* [as <name>]

Changes the selected collection to whole lines (take lines as ...), results of a find all directive, or to the files found in a folder specified with a preceding in <folderPath> directive.


in source.txt
        find all <[^>]+>
        take lines as htmlLines
        log [htmlLines]

    in libraries/de
        take files as germanLibs
        log [germanLibs]


for every <variable>

Loops through a collection, populating the variable i with the current index. Use the singular form here to loop through a collection (books -> book, babies -> baby).

If a collection is empty, the for-loop is skipped. This is useful to create conditional flows.

Always terminate a loop with three consecutive hyphens in a separte line.


in corpus.txt
        find all [^\b]+\b[^\b]+ as bigrams
        for every [bigram]
            log "#[i]: [bigram]"

run path/to/script.tsl

Runs another TSL file

The external TSL file will receive the same scope as inlined code.


Templates are enclosed in square brackets and can appear in quoted strings, file paths, and even within regular expressions:

    in stats/milestones.tsv
        take lines as rows

        for every [row]
            split by tabs as column
            select second as team-name
            select 3rd as task

            find all [team-name]\:(.*) in [task]
            take results

            in "stats/[team-name].txt"
                write [task]

If the variables can not be found, the template tags remain untouched, including square brackets. This allows us to easily mix them with regular expressions.