Bacalaureat Data Git

Project summary

This repository contains the Romanian Baccalaureate results and scraper scripts, which are published on the Internet bi-annually, but are not made available in downloadable and accessible formats, only via badly obfuscated HTML pages. Regardless, this information is in public domain, so I'm not sure why they went through all the trouble to make the data "hard" to scrape.

The scraper scripts are written in PHP (which was a massive mistake performance-wise) and require at least v5.4 to run.

2012 data

Pre-processed data

Look for the files matching the pattern 12-[07|09].[csv|js|xml].rar in this repository for readily downloadable pre-processed data. These files were created using parse12.php. The 07 is the July session, while 09 is the September session. The two are not merged, meaning people who passed in 12-09 are still with the failing grade in 12-07.

For more information on how they're generated, read the DIY sections below and possibly consult the source.

Do-it-yourself

gen12.php

Generates a list of URLs of the results in two separate files, 12-07.lst and 12-09.lst. Download these links to data12 via a download manager. You can use wget -i 12-XX.lst -P data12/ to grab them all.

This will download 29964 files totaling 2 GB in size. Will take approximately 10 minutes on a 100 Mb/s connection.

The files you're supposed to download are already available in a nicely compressed archive located at data12/data12.rar.

a3bacalaureat.as

This file is NOT part of the data processing, so you may skip this section, if you're not curious how incompetent the developers of bacalaureat.edu.ro are.

Apparently they don't like people scraping their data (which is in public domain) so they've implemented some anti-scraping measures. And really pathetic ones at that.

Each page is a static HTML, but it does not contain the information in plain-text, instead, it has a <script> section with a function called ged() which returns a base64-encoded string. However, upon trying to decode this, you'll only find yourself with garbage data. What happens next is that a Flash file is loaded, a3bacalaureat.swf to be exact, on which the s3() function is invoked. Twice, in fact, in nested try/catch. (At this point, you're kind-of getting to know the programmer you're up against. But let's keep the faith, and think that the programmer was just close to the deadline and was encountering a Heisenbug on some page loads. The obvious solution is obviously to retry on error once again then fuck it if that failed too.) So, I downloaded the SWF file, thinking that I'll probably just have to resort to using some web browser automation (such as Selenium or PhantomJS) to run the Flash and extract the rendered HTML. However, a simple Google search for "flash decompiler" led me to an online service, where I uploaded the aforementioned file, expecting an error saying that the SWF is probably obfuscated and protected against disassembly. Boy, was I disappointed when the source of s3() greeted me. And then I got even more disappointed when I looked at it. It just retrieves the string from ged() then runs a bunch of character replaces, then some more character replaces switching between their cases, then just decoding that string as base64 and returning it to sdd(), a JavaScript function which then document.write()-s it.

The SWF file also contains com.dynamicflash.util.Base64, which is licensed under the MIT license, requiring them to distribute a copy of the license and the copyright notice of the library's developer with each copy of their security through obscurity contraption. Of course, they forgot to do so.

The a3bacalaureat.as file contains the full source code of a3bacalaureat.swf. Read and weep. The PHP implementation is located at the bottom of parse12.php.

parse12.php

Parses the pages located in data12/ into three open formats: CSV, JSON and XML. It is recommended to run the whole thing on an SSD, otherwise it's going to take a while, since each student object is flushed to disk immediately after creation in order to avoid memory exhaustion issues.

This script will be significantly slower than parse13.php, because it has to decrypt the data before processing it. For more information, read the section above, titled a3bacalaureat.as.

This script will create six files in YY-MM.FMT format. Expect each file to be 20-140 MB in size.

2013 data

Pre-processed data

Look for the files matching the pattern 13-[07|09].[csv|js|xml].rar in this repository for readily downloadable pre-processed data. These files were created using parse13-07.php and gen13-09.php.

I will try to update the scripts and include the pre-processed data, but since this project isn't a priority, expect up to ~1 month of delay.

Do-it-yourself

get13-07.php

The 2013 Bacalaureat site is not just a bunch of static pages, and because of this, it needs a proper crawler. get13-07.php is different from gen12.php in the sense that it downloads the files, not just generates a list of URLs. Make sure to create data13/ and that it's empty. The __VIEWSTATE and __EVENTVALIDATION fields update with every pagination, and it is not possible to resume an interrupted session. You will need to update these fields in the script from the very last downloaded page in order to do so. These tokens may also expire (I'm not sure), so if the ones in the script currently don't work, just go to the results page and extract the values of <input type="hidden" name="__[VIEWSTATE|EVENTVALIDATION]" value="..." /> from the source of the page.

This script will take about 12 hours to run, which will give you 18885 files totaling 9.1 GB in size.

If you don't feel like waiting 12 hours, the data is available for download at data13/data13-07.rar. The data in this archive is stripped, taking up only 4.5 GB. The size of the archive is only 14 MB. Upon decompression, look at the size of data13 and think of this meme.

gen13-09.php

This script works the same way as gen12.php except for the 2013-09 session. Generates a list of URLs where the files contain Siveco's NSA-proof encryption. (see above, the flash thingy, or better yet, don't.)

strip13-07.php

This file is NOT part of the data processing, so you may skip this section, if you're not curious how incompetent the developers of bacalaureat.edu.ro are.

This script removes the __VIEWSTATE and __EVENTVALIDATION values from the files downloaded to data13. These fields take up 250 kB of the ~400 kB HTML pages.

You could say these view states in ASP.NET are similar to sessions in PHP (though they work differently under the hood), the dear developers working for the government showed their typical level of incompetence and fucked up really hard somehow managing to get the view state to contain data they should be pulling from their database plus some other data that is really long and looks like a solution to a really nasty server-side hack. What else they fucked up? Well, I'd encrypt session information. They didn't. You can decode it, if you're the curious type. If you're the lazy and curious, here's what you'd find if you'd decode it: 1906 bool values set to True, 1906 string values counting from 1 to 18885 with steps of 10, then this, again, except this time the name of the first student are appended to the string (I'm guessing they use this to create the selection; because they obviously couldn't pull this from their database), then a bunch of strings and other objects, containing even more view state-irrelevant information, such as "Data ultimei actualiz─âri: 16.07.2013 08:10".

Seriously, what the fuck? Was it written by 13-year-olds who know nothing about C# and ASP.NET? Anyways, I didn't expect much from an institution that gives a text about Twilight as the reading comprehension part of their English exam in 2013, and before that in 2012, on the listening part of the exam they spelled the name of Jon Stewart as John Stuart. Clearly, even THEY failed the listening part. As a Daily Show watcher, that made me so furious, I couldn't take the rest of the English exam seriously. Still nailed it and got B2-B2-B2-B2-B2.

parse13-[07|09].php

Parses the pages located in data13/ into three open formats: CSV, JSON and XML. It is recommended to run the whole thing on an SSD, otherwise it's going to take a while, since each student object is flushed to disk immediately after creation in order to avoid memory exhaustion issues.

This script will create three files in YY-MM.FMT format. Expect each file to be 45-130 MB in size.

Miscellaneous stuff

The archives are broken!!1

The archives were created using RAR5. Decompression requires RAR 5.x and it won't work with RAR 4.x clients, and most 3rd-party applications that offer RAR decompression due to their most likely outdated libraries.

If you are on Windows, simply update your WinRAR installation to the latest version. If you are on Linux, there is a freeware UNRAR utility which works just fine, given that it has been updated to 5.x. Your package manager most likely has it in the non-free section. If not, or is outdated, you can get standalone binaries from RARLAB.

Unfortunately the UNRAR utility doesn't seem to support multiple input files, so unrar x *.rar won't work. To get around this and extract all the archives at once, use find . -iname '*.rar' -exec sh -c 'unrar x "{}"' \;

As for the reason why this format was chosen, is because it resulted in the smallest archive sizes out of all the applications I tried. Due to repository size constraints on GitHub, I couldn't afford to push GB's of files.

wtf.js

This file was generated using:

grep wtf 12-07.js > wtf.js
grep wtf 12-09.js >> wtf.js
grep wtf 13-07.js >> wtf.js

Upon writing the parsers, I thought to check the final grades against the grades the students got, as a funny way to unit-test the data. During the parser tests, where I only used a few random pages, the grade differences never went above the rounding error treshold, as expected.

However, upon parsing the complete database, I found that 15 grades differ from what they should be to the tune of up to 0.53. On line 8 of wtf.js you will find a girl who failed with 5.58, when her grade should be 6.11, a passing grade.