I recently have been ̶w̶a̶s̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ spending my time on making a web scraper specifically designed for FanFictions from fanfiction.net (Okay, I'll admit, I like reading them in my spare time that I should spend with coding) I wrote it so I could read FanFictions offline. (For a Raspberry Pi E-Paper reader, but that's offtopic for this question)

I even spent more time making a GUI for it.

Here is the code:

import tkinter as tk
from tkinter import filedialog
from tkinter import ttk
from tkinter import messagebox
import requests    # pip install requests
import bs4         # pip install beautifulsoup4
import pathlib
from time import sleep
import re
# import logging

# Set logging level
# logging.basicConfig(level=logging.DEBUG)

# Define functions that takes care of the ID and URL entries
# https://bit.ly/tkinterautofillonso
after_ids = {}

def get_url(id_):
    """returns url from id."""
    url = "https://www.fanfiction.net/s/{}/"
    return url.format(id_.replace(" ", ""))

def get_id(url):
    """returns id from the url."""
    l = url.split("/")
    return l[4] if len(l) > 4 else ""

def autofill_entry(mode, delay=50):
    """Auto-fills Url/ID."""
    for v in after_ids.values():
    if mode == "url":  
        id_ = get_id(fanfic_url.get())
        after_ids[0] = root.after(delay, lambda: fanfic_id.set(id_))
    elif mode == "id":
        url = get_url(fanfic_id.get())
        after_ids[1] = root.after(delay, lambda: fanfic_url.set(url))
# Thanks @Saad at SO

# Define a function to have the user choose a directory and set the path accordingly
def get_directory():
    global path
    # Ask for directory
    selected_directory = filedialog.askdirectory()
    # Set selected directory if user did not cancel
    if selected_directory:
        path = pathlib.Path(selected_directory)

# Define a function to set the status
def set_status(string):
    status.config(text = string + 100 * " ")
    # Allows GUI to process and display events

# Define the function to download the fanfic
def download_fanfic():
    num_chapter = 1
    chapter = 0
    base_url = fanfic_url.get()
    progress_bar["value"] = 0
    while not chapter == num_chapter:
        # Set progress barmax value
        progress_bar["maximum"] = 10 * num_chapter
        chapter += 1
        url = base_url + f"{chapter}/"
        set_status(f"Downloading {url}...")
        progress_bar["value"] = 1 * chapter
            response = requests.get(url)
        except requests.exceptions.MissingSchema:
            set_status(f"Error downloading {url}...")
            messagebox.showerror("FanFiction Downloader: ERROR",
                                 "Uh oh, an error has occurred!\n"
                                 "That does not seem to a be a valid URL!")
        except requests.exceptions.InvalidSchema:
            set_status(f"Error downloading {url}...")
            messagebox.showerror("FanFiction Downloader: ERROR",
                                 "Uh oh, an error has occurred!\n"
                                 "That does not seem to a be a valid URL!")
            set_status(f"Status code is {response.status_code}")
            if response.status_code == 200:
                set_status("Parsing FanFiction...")
                # Parse HTML with html5lib
                soup = bs4.BeautifulSoup(response.content, "html5lib")
                progress_bar["value"] = 2 * chapter
                # Check if we actually got a real chapter not an error message
                if response.text.find("FanFiction.Net Message Type ") == -1 and \
                   response.text.find("Story Not Found") == -1:
                    # Count the number of chapters we need to download
                    set_status("Counting chapters...")
                    # This gets the number between the words "Chapters: " and " - Words: ")
                    num_chapter = int(
                        soup.find("span", class_="xgray xcontrast_txt").text[
                                "span", class_="xgray xcontrast_txt"
                            ).text.find("Chapters: ") + 10:soup.find(
                                "span", class_="xgray xcontrast_txt"
                            ).text.find(" - Words: ")
                    progress_bar["value"] = 3 * chapter
                    # Add title
                    set_status("Finding title...")
                    text = soup.find("b", class_="xcontrast_txt").string + "\n"
                    progress_bar["value"] = 4 * chapter
                    # Find first link that looks like the author's name
                    set_status("Finding author...")
                    for author in soup.findAll("a", class_="xcontrast_txt"):
                        if author.parent.name == "div":
                            text += f"By: {author.string}\n\n"
                            # Break because we only want the first one
                    progress_bar["value"] = 5 * chapter
                    # Add the synopsis
                    set_status("Finding synopsis...")
                    text += f"Synopsis: {soup.find('div', class_='xcontrast_txt').string}\n\n"
                    progress_bar["value"] = 6 * chapter
                    # Add more information about fanfiction
                    set_status("Finding FanFiction information...")
                    text += soup.find("span", class_="xgray xcontrast_txt").text + "\n\n"
                    progress_bar["value"] = 7 * chapter
                    # Add fanfic iteself
                    set_status("Finding FanFiction content...")
                    for paragraph in soup.find_all("p"):
                        text += paragraph.text + "\n"
                    progress_bar["value"] = 8 * chapter
                    set_status("Signing FanFiction...")
                    # Add signature
                    text += "\n\nThis fanfiction was downloaded with the fanfiction downloader v3\n"
                    text += "See the source code at https://bit.ly/fanficdownloaderv3code\n"
                    # Add link to original fanfiction
                    text += f"Link to fanfiction (To read online): {url}\n"
                    progress_bar["value"] = 9 * chapter
                    # Make path to fanfiction
                    file_path = path / (
                        re.sub("[^\w\-_\. ]", "_", soup.title.string).replace(" ", "_") + ".txt"
                    set_status("Writing FanFiction to "
                               f"{str(file_path)[:80] + '...' if len(str(file_path)) > 80 else str(file_path)}")
                    # If a file with that name already exists
                    if file_path.exists():
                        if messagebox.askokcancel("FanFiction Downloader v3: Confirmation",
                                                  "It looks like this file already exists! Overwrite?"):
                            with file_path.open("wt") as file:
                            set_status("Sucessfully written FanFiction to "
                                      f"{str(file_path)[:68] + '...' if len(str(file_path)) > 68 else str(file_path)}")
                            set_status("Canceled writting FanFiction to "
                                      f"{str(file_path)[:70] + '...' if len(str(file_path)) > 70 else str(file_path)}")
                        with file_path.open("wt") as file:
                        set_status("Sucessfully written FanFiction to "
                                  f"{str(file_path)[:68] + '...' if len(str(file_path)) > 68 else str(file_path)}")
                    progress_bar["value"] = 10 * chapter
                    # Chapter does not exist
                    if response.text.find("FanFiction.Net Message Type ") == -1:
                        messagebox.showerror("FanFiction Downloader: ERROR",
                                             "Uh oh, an error has occurred!\n"
                                             "Story Not Found\n"
                                             "Story is unavailable for reading. (A)")
                    # Story does not exist
                    elif response.text.find("Story Not Found") == -1:
                        messagebox.showerror("FanFiction Downloader v3: ERROR",
                                             "Uh oh, an error has occurred!\n"
                                             "Chapter not found. Please check to see you are not using an outdated url.\n"
                                             "New chapter/story can take up to 15 minutes to show up.")
                # Raise an error
                messagebox.showerror("FanFiction Downloader v3: ERROR",
                                     "Uh oh, an error has occurred!\n"
                                     f"Unexpected status code: {response.status_code}\n"
                                     "No files have been written.")

# Define the path where to download the fanfics
path = pathlib.Path.cwd()

# Root window
root = tk.Tk()
# Set title of root window
root.title("FanFiction Downloader v3")

# Define the labeled frame where we input stuff
input_frame = tk.LabelFrame(master=root, text="Input")
input_frame.grid(row=0, column=0, padx=1, pady=1, rowspan=2, sticky=tk.NS)

# Label for entering URL
ttk.Label(master=input_frame, text="URL of FanFiction:").grid(row=0, column=0, padx=1, pady=1)
# Entry field for URL
fanfic_url = tk.StringVar()
fanfic_url.trace_variable("w", lambda *a: autofill_entry("url"))
url_entry = ttk.Entry(master=input_frame, textvariable=fanfic_url)
url_entry.grid(row=0, column=1, padx=1, pady=1)

# Label for entering fanfic ID
ttk.Label(master=input_frame, text="ID of FanFiction:").grid(row=1, column=0, padx=1, pady=1)
# Entry field for fanfic ID
fanfic_id = tk.StringVar()
fanfic_id.trace_variable("w", lambda *a: autofill_entry("id"))
id_entry = ttk.Entry(master=input_frame, textvariable=fanfic_id)
id_entry.grid(row=1, column=1, padx=1, pady=1)

# Define the labeled frame where we output stuff
output_frame = tk.LabelFrame(master=root, text="Output")
output_frame.grid(row=0, column=1, padx=1, pady=1, sticky=tk.NW)

# Label for entering directory of downloaded files
    master=output_frame, text="Directory path of downloaded FanFictions:"
).grid(row=0, column=0, padx=1, pady=1)
# Entry field for directory of downloaded files
directory = tk.StringVar()
directory_entry = ttk.Entry(master=output_frame, textvariable=directory)
directory_entry.grid(row=0, column=1, padx=1, pady=1)
# Button to browse for directory of downloaded files
ttk.Button(master=output_frame, text="Browse", command=get_directory).grid(row=0, column=2, padx=1, pady=1)

# Button to start downloading fanfic
ttk.Button(master=root, text="Start", command=download_fanfic).grid(row=1, column=1, padx=1, pady=1, sticky=tk.NSEW)

# Define the labeled frame where we output status stuff
status_frame = tk.LabelFrame(master=root, text="Status")
status_frame.grid(row=2, column=0, padx=1, pady=1, columnspan=2, sticky=tk.NSEW)

# Progress bar for, well, progress
progress_bar = ttk.Progressbar(master=status_frame, orient=tk.HORIZONTAL, length=670, mode="determinate")
progress_bar.grid(row=0, column=0, padx=1, pady=1)
# Status bar for showing current operation
status = ttk.Label(master=status_frame, text="Idle", width=100)
status.grid(row=1, column=0, padx=1, pady=1, sticky=tk.NW)

# Start GUI event loop

Here is the Gist link too

When I implemented the progress bar, I did some stuff that doesn't look pretty and the progress bar likes to jump back to the beginning for like 0.1 seconds. The thing works, but that detail is driving me up the wall. I'd appreciate help in that department. I'd also appreciate general code optimizations/cleanups.

EDIT: After playing with it a bit more, I realized that Windows likes to mark the program as not responding if there are a lot of FanFictions to download. Is there a way to get rid of that too?

Thanks in advance.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for side-project candidness. I know that feel. \$\endgroup\$ – Reinderien Jun 19 '20 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. I was supposed to keep working on my RPi, but I wanted some more stories than the Bible on it. (I will admit the Bible can get boring - and I did mention that I made an E-paper reader with RPi) So you turn to Python to get FanFictions for you, because I am too lazy to look up a program to do it on code review stack exchange but I will work 4+ hours into making a program to do it for me. Perfectly sensible... \$\endgroup\$ – Unsigned_Arduino Jun 19 '20 at 17:05


Move these:

# pip install requests
# pip install beautifulsoup4

into a pip-compatible requirements.txt:


Type hints

They will help. I don't know if id_ is an int or str here, but:

def get_url(id_: int) -> str:

Path parsing


l = url.split("/")
return l[4] if len(l) > 4 else ""

is a little risky. You're probably better off writing a regular expression that is explicit in where the ID is situated with respect to the element above it:


assuming that the ID is integral. Also, avoid using an empty string as the default if no ID is found; either return None or maybe raise an exception, depending on how much of a problem it is.

Mode variables

Since mode only has two states, use a bool, maybe named get_url. If it had more than two states, or if you feel that the use of bool is too confusing, use an Enum - but avoid using strings for this purpose.


def get_directory():
    global path

should not declare a global. Simply return path.

Separation of UI and logic

download_fanfic is a big old ball of yarn. You have calls to requests beside calls to messagebox. Separate out the actual downloading logic and parsing logic into their own separate functions that do not have any tk code in them at all. Errors can be signalled via exceptions, and progress can be signalled via a generic callback function.


Try converting this:

set_status("Writing FanFiction to " ...

into a call to the standard logging framework, and adding your own logging handler to do what set_status currently does. It will make your application much more flexible - you could fairly easily flip one switch to have the entire thing run in console-only mode.

Requests check

        if response.status_code == 200:

should be replaced with:

if response.ok:

or better yet



I realized that Windows likes to mark the program as not responding if there are a lot of FanFictions to download. Is there a way to get rid of that too?

Put the downloading code in a worker thread, so that no single tk ui function is long-lived.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you so much for your answer. I will now go w̶a̶s̶t̶e spend time on fixing it :) \$\endgroup\$ – Unsigned_Arduino Jun 19 '20 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry if I'm bothering you, but I'm having trouble with trying not to use global, because I can't figure out how to assign the result of get_directory() in a lambda if the result is not None \$\endgroup\$ – Unsigned_Arduino Jun 19 '20 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not a bother. Let us continue this discussion in chat - chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/109586/… \$\endgroup\$ – Reinderien Jun 19 '20 at 17:54

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