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XML was designed to describe data and to focus on what data is.

HTML was designed to display data and to focus on how data looks.

What You Should Already Know

Before you continue you should have a basic understanding of the following:

• HTML / XHTML
• JavaScript or VBScript

If you want to study these subjects first, find the tutorials on our Home page.

What is XML?

• XML stands for EXtensible Markup Language


• XML is a markup language much like HTML
• XML was designed to describe data
• XML tags are not predefined. You must define your own tags
• XML uses a Document Type Definition (DTD) or an XML Schema to describe the data
• XML with a DTD or XML Schema is designed to be self-descriptive
• XML is a W3C Recommendation

XML is a W3C Recommendation

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) became a W3C Recommendation 10. February 1998.

You can read more about XML standards in our W3C tutorial.

The Main Difference Between XML and HTML

XML was designed to carry data.

XML is not a replacement for HTML.


XML and HTML were designed with different goals:

XML was designed to describe data and to focus on what data is.
HTML was designed to display data and to focus on how data looks.

HTML is about displaying information, while XML is about describing information.

XML Does not DO Anything

XML was not designed to DO anything.

Maybe it is a little hard to understand, but XML does not DO anything. XML was created to
structure, store and to send information.

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The following example is a note to Tove from Jani, stored as XML:

<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

The note has a header and a message body. It also has sender and receiver information. But still,
this XML document does not DO anything. It is just pure information wrapped in XML tags. Someone
must write a piece of software to send, receive or display it.

XML is Free and Extensible

XML tags are not predefined. You must "invent" your own tags.

The tags used to mark up HTML documents and the structure of HTML documents are predefined.
The author of HTML documents can only use tags that are defined in the HTML standard (like <p>,
<h1>, etc.).

XML allows the author to define his own tags and his own document structure.

The tags in the example above (like <to> and <from>) are not defined in any XML standard. These
tags are "invented" by the author of the XML document.

XML is a Complement to HTML

XML is not a replacement for HTML.

It is important to understand that XML is not a replacement for HTML. In future Web development it
is most likely that XML will be used to describe the data, while HTML will be used to format and
display the same data.

My best description of XML is this: XML is a cross-platform, software and hardware


independent tool for transmitting information.

XML in Future Web Development

XML is going to be everywhere.

We have been participating in XML development since its creation. It has been amazing to see how
quickly the XML standard has been developed and how quickly a large number of software vendors
have adopted the standard.

We strongly believe that XML will be as important to the future of the Web as HTML has been to the
foundation of the Web and that XML will be the most common tool for all data manipulation and
data transmission.

XML Joke

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Question: When should I use XML?

Answer: When you need a buzzword in your resume.

It is important to understand that XML was designed to store, carry, and exchange data.
XML was not designed to display data.

XML can Separate Data from HTML

With XML, your data is stored outside your HTML.

When HTML is used to display data, the data is stored inside your HTML. With XML, data can be
stored in separate XML files. This way you can concentrate on using HTML for data layout and
display, and be sure that changes in the underlying data will not require any changes to your HTML.

XML data can also be stored inside HTML pages as "Data Islands". You can still concentrate on using
HTML only for formatting and displaying the data.

XML is Used to Exchange Data

With XML, data can be exchanged between incompatible systems.

In the real world, computer systems and databases contain data in incompatible formats. One of the
most time-consuming challenges for developers has been to exchange data between such systems
over the Internet.

Converting the data to XML can greatly reduce this complexity and create data that can be read by
many different types of applications.

XML and B2B

With XML, financial information can be exchanged over the Internet.

Expect to see a lot about XML and B2B (Business To Business) in the near future.

XML is going to be the main language for exchanging financial information between businesses over
the Internet. A lot of interesting B2B applications are under development.

XML Can be Used to Share Data

With XML, plain text files can be used to share data.

Since XML data is stored in plain text format, XML provides a software- and hardware-independent
way of sharing data.

This makes it much easier to create data that different applications can work with. It also makes it
easier to expand or upgrade a system to new operating systems, servers, applications, and new
browsers.

XML Can be Used to Store Data

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With XML, plain text files can be used to store data.

XML can also be used to store data in files or in databases. Applications can be written to store and
retrieve information from the store, and generic applications can be used to display the data.

XML Can Make your Data More Useful

With XML, your data is available to more users.

Since XML is independent of hardware, software and application, you can make your data available
to other than only standard HTML browsers.

Other clients and applications can access your XML files as data sources, like they are accessing
databases. Your data can be made available to all kinds of "reading machines" (agents), and it is
easier to make your data available for blind people, or people with other disabilities.

XML Can be Used to Create New Languages

XML is the mother of WAP and WML.

The Wireless Markup Language (WML), used to markup Internet applications for handheld devices
like mobile phones, is written in XML.

You can read more about WML in our WML tutorial.

If Developers Have Sense

If they DO have sense, all future applications will exchange their data in XML.

The future might give us word processors, spreadsheet applications and databases that can read
each other's data in a pure text format, without any conversion utilities in between.

We can only pray that Microsoft and all the other software vendors will agree.

The syntax rules of XML are very simple and very strict. The rules are very easy to learn,
and very easy to use.

Because of this, creating software that can read and manipulate XML is very easy.

An Example XML Document

XML documents use a self-describing and simple syntax.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>

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<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

The first line in the document - the XML declaration - defines the XML version and the character
encoding used in the document. In this case the document conforms to the 1.0 specification of XML
and uses the ISO-8859-1 (Latin-1/West European) character set.

The next line describes the root element of the document (like it was saying: "this document is a
note"):

<note>

The next 4 lines describe 4 child elements of the root (to, from, heading, and body):

<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>

And finally the last line defines the end of the root element:

</note>

Can you detect from this example that the XML document contains a Note to Tove from Jani? Don't
you agree that XML is pretty self-descriptive?

All XML Elements Must Have a Closing Tag

With XML, it is illegal to omit the closing tag.

In HTML some elements do not have to have a closing tag. The following code is legal in HTML:

<p>This is a paragraph
<p>This is another paragraph

In XML all elements must have a closing tag, like this:

<p>This is a paragraph</p>
<p>This is another paragraph</p>

Note: You might have noticed from the previous example that the XML declaration did not have a
closing tag. This is not an error. The declaration is not a part of the XML document itself. It is not an
XML element, and it should not have a closing tag.

XML Tags are Case Sensitive

Unlike HTML, XML tags are case sensitive.

With XML, the tag <Letter> is different from the tag <letter>.

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Opening and closing tags must therefore be written with the same case:

<Message>This is incorrect</message>

<message>This is correct</message>

XML Elements Must be Properly Nested

Improper nesting of tags makes no sense to XML.

In HTML some elements can be improperly nested within each other like this:

<b><i>This text is bold and italic</b></i>

In XML all elements must be properly nested within each other like this:

<b><i>This text is bold and italic</i></b>

XML Documents Must Have a Root Element

All XML documents must contain a single tag pair to define a root element.

All other elements must be within this root element.

All elements can have sub elements (child elements). Sub elements must be correctly nested within
their parent element:

<root>
<child>
<subchild>.....</subchild>
</child>
</root>

XML Attribute Values Must be Quoted

With XML, it is illegal to omit quotation marks around attribute values.

XML elements can have attributes in name/value pairs just like in HTML. In XML the attribute value
must always be quoted. Study the two XML documents below. The first one is incorrect, the second
is correct:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<note date=12/11/2002>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
</note>

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<note date="12/11/2002">
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>

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</note>

The error in the first document is that the date attribute in the note element is not quoted.

This is correct: date="12/11/2002". This is incorrect: date=12/11/2002.

With XML, White Space is Preserved

With XML, the white space in your document is not truncated.

This is unlike HTML. With HTML, a sentence like this:

Hello my name is Tove,

will be displayed like this:

Hello my name is Tove,

because HTML reduces multiple, consecutive white space characters to a single white space.

With XML, CR / LF is Converted to LF

With XML, a new line is always stored as LF.

Do you know what a typewriter is? Well, a typewriter is a mechanical device which was used last
century to produce printed documents. :-)

After you have typed one line of text on a typewriter, you have to manually return the printing
carriage to the left margin position and manually feed the paper up one line.

In Windows applications, a new line is normally stored as a pair of characters: carriage return (CR)
and line feed (LF). The character pair bears some resemblance to the typewriter actions of setting a
new line. In Unix applications, a new line is normally stored as a LF character. Macintosh
applications use only a CR character to store a new line.

Comments in XML

The syntax for writing comments in XML is similar to that of HTML.

<!-- This is a comment -->

There is Nothing Special About XML

There is nothing special about XML. It is just plain text with the addition of some XML tags enclosed
in angle brackets.

Software that can handle plain text can also handle XML. In a simple text editor, the XML tags will
be visible and will not be handled specially.

In an XML-aware application however, the XML tags can be handled specially. The tags may or may
not be visible, or have a functional meaning, depending on the nature of the application.

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XML Elements are extensible and they have relationships.

XML Elements have simple naming rules.

XML Elements are Extensible

XML documents can be extended to carry more information.

Look at the following XML NOTE example:

<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

Let's imagine that we created an application that extracted the <to>, <from>, and <body>
elements from the XML document to produce this output:

MESSAGE

To: Tove
From: Jani

Don't forget me this weekend!

Imagine that the author of the XML document added some extra information to it:

<note>
<date>2002-08-01</date>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

Should the application break or crash?

No. The application should still be able to find the <to>, <from>, and <body> elements in the XML
document and produce the same output.

XML documents are Extensible.

XML Elements have Relationships

Elements are related as parents and children.

To understand XML terminology, you have to know how relationships between XML elements are
named, and how element content is described.

Imagine that this is a description of a book:

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My First XML

Introduction to XML

• What is HTML
• What is XML

XML Syntax

• Elements must have a closing tag

• Elements must be properly nested

Imagine that this XML document describes the book:

<book>
<title>My First XML</title>
<prod id="33-657" media="paper"></prod>
<chapter>Introduction to XML
<para>What is HTML</para>
<para>What is XML</para>
</chapter>

<chapter>XML Syntax
<para>Elements must have a closing tag</para>
<para>Elements must be properly nested</para>
</chapter>

</book>

Book is the root element. Title, prod, and chapter are child elements of book. Book is the parent
element of title, prod, and chapter. Title, prod, and chapter are siblings (or sister elements)
because they have the same parent.

Elements have Content

Elements can have different content types.

An XML element is everything from (including) the element's start tag to (including) the element's
end tag.

An element can have element content, mixed content, simple content, or empty content. An
element can also have attributes.

In the example above, book has element content, because it contains other elements. Chapter
has mixed content because it contains both text and other elements. Para has simple content (or
text content) because it contains only text. Prod has empty content, because it carries no
information.

In the example above only the prod element has attributes. The attribute named id has the
value "33-657". The attribute named media has the value "paper".

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Element Naming

XML elements must follow these naming rules:

• Names can contain letters, numbers, and other characters


• Names must not start with a number or punctuation character
• Names must not start with the letters xml (or XML, or Xml, etc)
• Names cannot contain spaces

Take care when you "invent" element names and follow these simple rules:

Any name can be used, no words are reserved, but the idea is to make names descriptive. Names
with an underscore separator are nice.

Examples: <first_name>, <last_name>.

Avoid "-" and "." in names. For example, if you name something "first-name," it could be a mess if
your software tries to subtract name from first. Or if you name something "first.name," your
software may think that "name" is a property of the object "first."

Element names can be as long as you like, but don't exaggerate. Names should be short and
simple, like this: <book_title> not like this: <the_title_of_the_book>.

XML documents often have a corresponding database, in which fields exist corresponding to
elements in the XML document. A good practice is to use the naming rules of your database for the
elements in the XML documents.

Non-English letters like éòá are perfectly legal in XML element names, but watch out for problems if
your software vendor doesn't support them.

The ":" should not be used in element names because it is reserved to be used for something called
namespaces (more later).

XML elements can have attributes in the start tag, just like HTML.

Attributes are used to provide additional information about elements.

XML Attributes

XML elements can have attributes.

From HTML you will remember this: <IMG SRC="computer.gif">. The SRC attribute provides
additional information about the IMG element.

In HTML (and in XML) attributes provide additional information about elements:

<img src="computer.gif">
<a href="demo.asp">

Attributes often provide information that is not a part of the data. In the example below, the file
type is irrelevant to the data, but important to the software that wants to manipulate the element:

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<file type="gif">computer.gif</file>

Quote Styles, "female" or 'female'?

Attribute values must always be enclosed in quotes, but either single or double quotes can be used.
For a person's sex, the person tag can be written like this:

<person sex="female">

or like this:

<person sex='female'>

Note: If the attribute value itself contains double quotes it is necessary to use single quotes, like in
this example:

<gangster name='George "Shotgun" Ziegler'>

Note: If the attribute value itself contains single quotes it is necessary to use double quotes, like in
this example:

<gangster name="George 'Shotgun' Ziegler">

Use of Elements vs. Attributes

Data can be stored in child elements or in attributes.

Take a look at these examples:

<person sex="female">
<firstname>Anna</firstname>
<lastname>Smith</lastname>
</person>

<person>
<sex>female</sex>
<firstname>Anna</firstname>
<lastname>Smith</lastname>
</person>

In the first example sex is an attribute. In the last, sex is a child element. Both examples provide
the same information.

There are no rules about when to use attributes, and when to use child elements. My experience is
that attributes are handy in HTML, but in XML you should try to avoid them. Use child elements if
the information feels like data.

My Favorite Way

I like to store data in child elements.

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The following three XML documents contain exactly the same information:

A date attribute is used in the first example:

<note date="12/11/2002">
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

A date element is used in the second example:

<note>
<date>12/11/2002</date>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

An expanded date element is used in the third: (THIS IS MY FAVORITE):

<note>
<date>
<day>12</day>
<month>11</month>
<year>2002</year>
</date>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

Avoid using attributes?

Should you avoid using attributes?

Some of the problems with using attributes are:

• attributes cannot contain multiple values (child elements can)


• attributes are not easily expandable (for future changes)
• attributes cannot describe structures (child elements can)
• attributes are more difficult to manipulate by program code
• attribute values are not easy to test against a Document Type Definition (DTD) - which is
used to define the legal elements of an XML document

If you use attributes as containers for data, you end up with documents that are difficult to read and
maintain. Try to use elements to describe data. Use attributes only to provide information that is
not relevant to the data.

Don't end up like this (this is not how XML should be used):

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<note day="12" month="11" year="2002"
to="Tove" from="Jani" heading="Reminder"
body="Don't forget me this weekend!">
</note>

An Exception to my Attribute Rule

Rules always have exceptions.

My rule about attributes has one exception:

Sometimes I assign ID references to elements. These ID references can be used to access XML
elements in much the same way as the NAME or ID attributes in HTML. This example demonstrates
this:

<messages>
<note id="p501">
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

<note id="p502">
<to>Jani</to>
<from>Tove</from>
<heading>Re: Reminder</heading>
<body>I will not!</body>
</note>
</messages>

The ID in these examples is just a counter, or a unique identifier, to identify the different notes in
the XML file, and not a part of the note data.

What I am trying to say here is that metadata (data about data) should be stored as attributes, and
that data itself should be stored as elements.

XML Validations:

XML with correct syntax is Well Formed XML.

XML validated against a DTD is Valid XML.

Well Formed XML Documents

A "Well Formed" XML document has correct XML syntax.

A "Well Formed" XML document is a document that conforms to the XML syntax rules that were
described in the previous chapters:

• XML documents must have a root element


• XML elements must have a closing tag

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• XML tags are case sensitive
• XML elements must be properly nested
• XML attribute values must always be quoted

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

Valid XML Documents

A "Valid" XML document also conforms to a DTD.

A "Valid" XML document is a "Well Formed" XML document, which also conforms to the rules of a
Document Type Definition (DTD):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<!DOCTYPE note SYSTEM "InternalNote.dtd">
<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

XML DTD

A DTD defines the legal elements of an XML document.

The purpose of a DTD is to define the legal building blocks of an XML document. It defines the
document structure with a list of legal elements. You can read more about DTD, and how to validate
your XML documents in our DTD tutorial.

Documentation of DTD Tutorial:

A Document Type Definition defines the legal building blocks of an XML document. It
defines the document structure with a list of legal elements.

A DTD can be declared inline in your XML document, or as an external reference.

Internal DOCTYPE Declaration

If the DTD is included in your XML source file, it should be wrapped in a DOCTYPE definition with the
following syntax:

<!DOCTYPE root-element [element-declarations]>

Example XML document with a DTD: (Open it in IE5, and select view source):

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<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE note [
<!ELEMENT note (to,from,heading,body)>
<!ELEMENT to (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT from (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT heading (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT body (#PCDATA)>
]>
<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend</body>
</note>

The DTD above is interpreted like this:

!DOCTYPE note (in line 2) defines that this is a document of the type note.
!ELEMENT note (in line 3) defines the note element as having four elements:
"to,from,heading,body".
!ELEMENT to (in line 4) defines the to element to be of the type "#PCDATA".
!ELEMENT from (in line 5) defines the from element to be of the type "#PCDATA"
and so on.....

External DOCTYPE Declaration

If the DTD is external to your XML source file, it should be wrapped in a DOCTYPE definition with the
following syntax:

<!DOCTYPE root-element SYSTEM "filename">

This is the same XML document as above, but with an external DTD: (Open it in IE5, and select
view source)

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE note SYSTEM "note.dtd">
<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

And this is a copy of the file "note.dtd" containing the DTD:

<!ELEMENT note (to,from,heading,body)>


<!ELEMENT to (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT from (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT heading (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT body (#PCDATA)>

Why Use a DTD?

With DTD, each of your XML files can carry a description of its own format with it.

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With a DTD, independent groups of people can agree to use a common DTD for interchanging data.

Your application can use a standard DTD to verify that the data you receive from the outside world
is valid.

You can also use a DTD to verify your own data.

The main building blocks of both XML and HTML documents are tags like
<body>....</body>.

The Building Blocks of XML Documents

Seen from a DTD point of view, all XML documents (and HTML documents) are made up by the
following simple building blocks:

• Elements
• Attributes
• Entities
• PCDATA
• CDATA

The following is a brief explanation of each of the building blocks:

Elements

Elements are the main building blocks of both XML and HTML documents.

Examples of HTML elements are "body" and "table". Examples of XML elements could be "note" and
"message". Elements can contain text, other elements, or be empty. Examples of empty HTML
elements are "hr", "br" and "img".

Examples:

<body>body text in between</body>


<message>some message in between</message>

Attributes

Attributes provide extra information about elements.

Attributes are always placed inside the starting tag of an element. Attributes always come in
name/value pairs. The following "img" element has additional information about a source file:

<img src="computer.gif" />

The name of the element is "img". The name of the attribute is "src". The value of the attribute is
"computer.gif". Since the element itself is empty it is closed by a " /".

Entities

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Entities are variables used to define common text. Entity references are references to entities.

Most of you will know the HTML entity reference: "&nbsp;". This "no-breaking-space" entity is used
in HTML to insert an extra space in a document. Entities are expanded when a document is parsed
by an XML parser.

The following entities are predefined in XML:

Entity References Character


&lt; <
&gt; >
&amp; &
&quot; "
&apos; '

PCDATA

PCDATA means parsed character data.

Think of character data as the text found between the start tag and the end tag of an XML element.

PDATA is text that WILL be parsed by a parser. The text will be examined by the parser
for entities and markup.

Tags inside the text will be treated as markup and entities will be expanded.

However, parsed character data should not contain any &, <, or > characters; these need to be
represented by the &amp; &lt; and &gt; entities, respectively.

CDATA

CDATA means character data.

CDATA is text that will NOT be parsed by a parser. Tags inside the text will NOT be treated as
markup and entities will not be expanded.

In a DTD, XML elements are declared with a DTD element declaration.

Declaring an Element

In the DTD, XML elements are declared with an element declaration. An element declaration has the
following syntax:

<!ELEMENT element-name category>


or
<!ELEMENT element-name (element-content)>

Empty Elements

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Empty elements are declared with the category keyword EMPTY:

<!ELEMENT element-name EMPTY>

example:
<!ELEMENT br EMPTY>
XML example:
<br />

Elements with Only Parsed Character Data

Elements with only parsed character data are declared with #PCDATA inside parentheses:

<!ELEMENT element-name (#PCDATA)>

example:
<!ELEMENT from (#PCDATA)>

Elements with any Contents

Elements declared with the category keyword ANY, can contain any combination of parsable data:

<!ELEMENT element-name ANY>


example:
<!ELEMENT note ANY>

Elements with Children (sequences)

Elements with one or more children are defined with the name of the children elements inside
parentheses:

<!ELEMENT element-name
(child-element-name)>
or
<!ELEMENT element-name
(child-element-name,child-element-name,.....)>
example:
<!ELEMENT note (to,from,heading,body)>

When children are declared in a sequence separated by commas, the children must appear in the
same sequence in the document. In a full declaration, the children must also be declared, and the
children can also have children. The full declaration of the "note" element will be:

<!ELEMENT note (to,from,heading,body)>


<!ELEMENT to (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT from (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT heading (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT body (#PCDATA)>

Declaring Only One Occurrence of an Element

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<!ELEMENT element-name (child-name)>
example:
<!ELEMENT note (message)>

The example declaration above declares that the child element message must occur once, and only
once inside the "note" element.

Declaring Minimum One Occurrence of an Element

<!ELEMENT element-name (child-name+)>


example:
<!ELEMENT note (message+)>

The + sign in the example above declares that the child element message must occur one or more
times inside the "note" element.

Declaring Zero or More Occurrences of an Element

<!ELEMENT element-name (child-name*)>


example:
<!ELEMENT note (message*)>

The * sign in the example above declares that the child element message can occur zero or more
times inside the "note" element.

Declaring Zero or One Occurrences of an Element

<!ELEMENT element-name (child-name?)>


example:
<!ELEMENT note (message?)>

The ? sign in the example above declares that the child element message can occur zero or one
times inside the "note" element.

Declaring either/or Content

example:
<!ELEMENT note (to,from,header,(message|body))>

The example above declares that the "note" element must contain a "to" element, a "from" element,
a "header" element, and either a "message" or a "body" element.

Declaring Mixed Content

example:
<!ELEMENT note (#PCDATA|to|from|header|message)*>

The example above declares that the "note" element can contain zero or more occurrences of
parsed character, "to", "from", "header", or "message" elements.

In a DTD, Attributes are declared with an ATTLIST declaration.

19
Declaring Attributes

An attribute declaration has the following syntax:

<!ATTLIST element-name attribute-name


attribute-type default-value>
example:
DTD example:
<!ATTLIST payment type CDATA "check">

XML example:
<payment type="check" />

The attribute-type can have the following values:

Value Explanation
CDATA The value is character data
(en1|en2|..) The value must be one from an enumerated list
ID The value is a unique id
IDREF The value is the id of another element
IDREFS The value is a list of other ids
NMTOKEN The value is a valid XML name
NMTOKENS The value is a list of valid XML names
ENTITY The value is an entity
ENTITIES The value is a list of entities
NOTATION The value is a name of a notation
xml: The value is a predefined xml value

The default-value can have the following values:

Value Explanation
value The default value of the attribute
#REQUIRED The attribute value must be included in the element
#IMPLIED The attribute does not have to be included
#FIXED value The attribute value is fixed

Specifying a Default Attribute Value

DTD:
<!ELEMENT square EMPTY>
<!ATTLIST square width CDATA "0">
Valid XML:
<square width="100" />

In the example above, the "square" element is defined to be an empty element with a "width"
attribute of type CDATA. If no width is specified, it has a default value of 0.

#IMPLIED

20
Syntax
<!ATTLIST element-name attribute-name
attribute-type #IMPLIED>

Example
DTD:
<!ATTLIST contact fax CDATA #IMPLIED>
Valid XML:
<contact fax="555-667788" />
Valid XML:
<contact />

Use the #IMPLIED keyword if you don't want to force the author to include an attribute, and you
don't have an option for a default value.

#REQUIRED

Syntax
<!ATTLIST element-name attribute_name
attribute-type #REQUIRED>

Example
DTD:
<!ATTLIST person number CDATA #REQUIRED>
Valid XML:
<person number="5677" />
Invalid XML:
<person />

Use the #REQUIRED keyword if you don't have an option for a default value, but still want to force
the attribute to be present.

#FIXED

Syntax
<!ATTLIST element-name attribute-name
attribute-type #FIXED "value">

Example
DTD:
<!ATTLIST sender company CDATA #FIXED "Microsoft">
Valid XML:
<sender company="Microsoft" />
Invalid XML:
<sender company="W3Schools" />

Use the #FIXED keyword when you want an attribute to have a fixed value without allowing the
author to change it. If an author includes another value, the XML parser will return an error.

Enumerated Attribute Values

21
Syntax:
<!ATTLIST element-name
attribute-name (en1|en2|..) default-value>
DTD example:
<!ATTLIST payment type (check|cash) "cash">

XML example:
<payment type="check" />
or
<payment type="cash" />

Use enumerated attribute values when you want the attribute values to be one of a fixed set of legal
values.

Entities are variables used to define shortcuts to common text.

• Entity references are references to entities

• Entities can be declared internal or external

An Internal Entity Declaration

Syntax
<!ENTITY entity-name "entity-value">

Example
DTD Example:
<!ENTITY writer "Donald Duck.">
<!ENTITY copyright "Copyright W3Schools.">
XML example:
<author>&writer;&copyright;</author>

An External Entity Declaration

Syntax
<!ENTITY entity-name SYSTEM "URI/URL">

Example
DTD Example:
<!ENTITY writer
SYSTEM "http://www.w3schools.com/dtd/entities.dtd">
<!ENTITY copyright
SYSTEM "http://www.w3schools.com/dtd/entities.dtd">
XML example:
<author>&writer;&copyright;</author>

Internet Explorer 5.0 can validate your XML against a DTD.

Validating With the XML Parser

22
If you try to open an XML document, the XML Parser might generate an error. By accessing the
parseError object, the exact error code, the error text, and even the line that caused the error can
be retrieved:

Note: The load( ) method is used for files, while the loadXML( ) method is used for strings.

var xmlDoc = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")


xmlDoc.async="false"
xmlDoc.validateOnParse="true"
xmlDoc.load("note_dtd_error.xml")

document.write("<br>Error Code: ")


document.write(xmlDoc.parseError.errorCode)
document.write("<br>Error Reason: ")
document.write(xmlDoc.parseError.reason)
document.write("<br>Error Line: ")
document.write(xmlDoc.parseError.line)

Try it Yourself or just look at the XML file

Turning Validation Off

Validation can be turned off by setting the XML parser's validateOnParse="false".

var xmlDoc = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")


xmlDoc.async="false"
xmlDoc.validateOnParse="false"
xmlDoc.load("note_dtd_error.xml")

document.write("<br>Error Code: ")


document.write(xmlDoc.parseError.errorCode)
document.write("<br>Error Reason: ")
document.write(xmlDoc.parseError.reason)
document.write("<br>Error Line: ")
document.write(xmlDoc.parseError.line)

Try it Yourself

A General XML Validator

To help you validate your xml files, we have created this link so that you can Validate any XML file.

The parseError Object

You can read more about the parseError object in our XML DOM tutorial.

DTD Examples:

TV Schedule DTD

By David Moisan. Copied from his Web: http://www.davidmoisan.org/

23
<!DOCTYPE TVSCHEDULE [
<!ELEMENT TVSCHEDULE (CHANNEL+)>
<!ELEMENT CHANNEL (BANNER,DAY+)>
<!ELEMENT BANNER (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT DAY (DATE,(HOLIDAY|PROGRAMSLOT+)+)>
<!ELEMENT HOLIDAY (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT DATE (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT PROGRAMSLOT (TIME,TITLE,DESCRIPTION?)>
<!ELEMENT TIME (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT TITLE (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT DESCRIPTION (#PCDATA)>

<!ATTLIST TVSCHEDULE NAME CDATA #REQUIRED>


<!ATTLIST CHANNEL CHAN CDATA #REQUIRED>
<!ATTLIST PROGRAMSLOT VTR CDATA #IMPLIED>
<!ATTLIST TITLE RATING CDATA #IMPLIED>
<!ATTLIST TITLE LANGUAGE CDATA #IMPLIED>

]>

Newspaper Article DTD

Copied from http://www.vervet.com/

<!DOCTYPE NEWSPAPER [
<!ELEMENT NEWSPAPER (ARTICLE+)>
<!ELEMENT ARTICLE (HEADLINE,BYLINE,LEAD,BODY,NOTES)>
<!ELEMENT HEADLINE (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT BYLINE (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT LEAD (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT BODY (#PCDATA)>
<!ELEMENT NOTES (#PCDATA)>
<!ATTLIST ARTICLE AUTHOR CDATA #REQUIRED>
<!ATTLIST ARTICLE EDITOR CDATA #IMPLIED>
<!ATTLIST ARTICLE DATE CDATA #IMPLIED>
<!ATTLIST ARTICLE EDITION CDATA #IMPLIED>
<!ENTITY NEWSPAPER "Vervet Logic Times">
<!ENTITY PUBLISHER "Vervet Logic Press">
<!ENTITY COPYRIGHT "Copyright 1998 Vervet Logic Press">
]>

Product Catalog DTD

Copied from http://www.vervet.com/

<!DOCTYPE CATALOG [
<!ENTITY AUTHOR "John Doe">
<!ENTITY COMPANY "JD Power Tools, Inc.">
<!ENTITY EMAIL "jd@jd-tools.com">

<!ELEMENT CATALOG (PRODUCT+)>

<!ELEMENT PRODUCT
(SPECIFICATIONS+,OPTIONS?,PRICE+,NOTES?)>
<!ATTLIST PRODUCT

24
NAME CDATA #IMPLIED
CATEGORY (HandTool|Table|Shop-Professional) "HandTool"
PARTNUM CDATA #IMPLIED
PLANT (Pittsburgh|Milwaukee|Chicago) "Chicago"
INVENTORY (InStock|Backordered|Discontinued) "InStock">

<!ELEMENT SPECIFICATIONS (#PCDATA)>


<!ATTLIST SPECIFICATIONS
WEIGHT CDATA #IMPLIED
POWER CDATA #IMPLIED>

<!ELEMENT OPTIONS (#PCDATA)>


<!ATTLIST OPTIONS
FINISH (Metal|Polished|Matte) "Matte"
ADAPTER (Included|Optional|NotApplicable) "Included"
CASE (HardShell|Soft|NotApplicable) "HardShell">

<!ELEMENT PRICE (#PCDATA)>


<!ATTLIST PRICE
MSRP CDATA #IMPLIED
WHOLESALE CDATA #IMPLIED
STREET CDATA #IMPLIED
SHIPPING CDATA #IMPLIED>

<!ELEMENT NOTES (#PCDATA)>

]>

DTD Summary

This tutorial has taught you how to describe the structure of an XML document.

You have learned how to use a DTD to define the legal elements of an XML document, and how the
DTD can be declared inside your XML document, or as an external reference.

You have learned how to declare the legal elements, attributes, entities, and CDATA sections for
XML documents.

You have also seen how to validate an XML document against a DTD.

Now You Know DTD, What's Next?

The next step is to learn about XML Schema.

XML Schema is used to define the legal elements of an XML document, just like a DTD. We think
that very soon XML Schemas will be used in most Web applications as a replacement for DTDs.

XML Schema is an XML-based alternative to DTD.

Unlike DTD, XML Schemas has support for data types and namespaces.

25
XML Schema

XML Schema is an XML based alternative to DTD.

W3C supports an alternative to DTD called XML Schema. You can read more about XML Schema in
our Schema tutorial.

XML Validator:

XML Errors will Stop you

Errors in XML documents will stop your XML program.

The W3C XML specification states that a program should not continue to process an XML document
if it finds an error. The reason is that XML software should be easy to write, and that all XML
documents should be compatible.

With HTML it was possible to create documents with lots of errors (like when you forget an end tag).
One of the main reasons that HTML browsers are so big and incompatible, is that they have their
own ways to figure out what a document should look like when they encounter an HTML error.

With XML this should not be possible.

Syntax-check your XML - IE Only

To help you syntax-check your xml, we have used Microsoft's XML parser to create an XML validator.

Paste your XML in the text area below, and syntax-check it by pressing the "Validate" button.

Syntax-check your XML File - IE Only

You can also syntax-check your XML file by typing the URL of your file into the input field below, and
then press the "Validate" button

Filename:

If you want to syntax-check an error-free XML file, you can paste the following address into the
filename field: http://www.w3schools.com/xml/cd_catalog.xml

Note: If you get the error "Access denied" when accessing this file, it is because your Internet
Explorer security settings do not allow access across domains!

XML Browser Support

26
Nearly all major browsers have support for XML and XSLT.

Mozilla Firefox

As of version 1.0.2, Firefox has support for XML and XSLT (and CSS).

Mozilla

Mozilla includes Expat for XML parsing and has support to display XML + CSS. Mozilla also has some
support for Namespaces.

Mozilla is available with an XSLT implementation.

Netscape

As of version 8, Netscape uses the Mozilla engine, and therefore it has the same XML / XSLT support
as Mozilla.

Opera

As of version 9, Opera has support for XML and XSLT (and CSS). Version 8 supports only XML +
CSS.

Internet Explorer

As of version 6, Internet Explorer supports XML, Namespaces, CSS, XSLT, and XPath.

Note: Internet Explorer 5 also has XML support, but the XSL part is NOT compatible with the
official W3C XSL Recommendation!

Viewing XML Files

Raw XML files can be viewed in Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, and Netscape
6+.

However, to make XML documents display as nice web pages, you will have to add some
display information.

Viewing XML Files

In Firefox and Internet Explorer:

Open the XML file (typically by clicking on a link) - The XML document will be displayed with color-
coded root and child elements. A plus (+) or minus sign (-) to the left of the elements can be
clicked to expand or collapse the element structure. To view the raw XML source (without the + and
- signs), select "View Page Source" or "View Source" from the browser menu.

In Netscape 6:

27
Open the XML file, then right-click in XML file and select "View Page Source". The XML document will
then be displayed with color-coded root and child elements.

In Opera 7 and 8:

In Opera 7: Open the XML file, then right-click in XML file and select "Frame" / "View Source". The
XML document will be displayed as plain text. In Opera 8: Open the XML file, then right-click in XML
file and select "Source". The XML document will be displayed as plain text.

Look at this XML file: note.xml

Note: Do not expect XML files to be formatted like HTML documents!

Viewing an Invalid XML File

If an erroneous XML file is opened, the browser will report the error.

Look at this XML file: note_error.xml

Other XML Examples

Viewing some XML documents will help you get the XML feeling.

An XML CD catalog
This is my father's CD collection, stored as XML data (old and boring titles I guess... :-)).

An XML plant catalog


This is a plant catalog from a plant shop, stored as XML data.

A Simple Food Menu


This is a breakfast food menu from a restaurant, stored as XML data.

Why Does XML Display Like This?

XML documents do not carry information about how to display the data.

Since XML tags are "invented" by the author of the XML document, browsers do not know if a tag
like <table> describes an HTML table or a dining table.

Without any information about how to display the data, most browsers will just display the XML
document as it is.

In the next chapters, we will take a look at different solutions to the display problem, using CSS,
XSL, JavaScript, and XML Data Islands.

Displaying XML with CSS:

With CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) you can add display information to an XML document.

28
Displaying your XML Files with CSS?

It is possible to use CSS to format an XML document.

Below is an example of how to use a CSS style sheet to format an XML document:

Take a look at this XML file: The CD catalog

Then look at this style sheet: The CSS file

Finally, view: The CD catalog formatted with the CSS file

Below is a fraction of the XML file. The second line, <?xml-stylesheet type="text/css"
href="cd_catalog.css"?>, links the XML file to the CSS file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="cd_catalog.css"?>
<CATALOG>
<CD>
<TITLE>Empire Burlesque</TITLE>
<ARTIST>Bob Dylan</ARTIST>
<COUNTRY>USA</COUNTRY>
<COMPANY>Columbia</COMPANY>
<PRICE>10.90</PRICE>
<YEAR>1985</YEAR>
</CD>
<CD>
<TITLE>Hide your heart</TITLE>
<ARTIST>Bonnie Tyler</ARTIST>
<COUNTRY>UK</COUNTRY>
<COMPANY>CBS Records</COMPANY>
<PRICE>9.90</PRICE>
<YEAR>1988</YEAR>
</CD>
.
.
.
.
</CATALOG>

Note: Formatting XML with CSS is NOT the future of how to style XML documents. XML document
should be styled by using the W3C's XSL standard!

Displaying XML with XSL

With XSL you can add display information to your XML document.

Displaying XML with XSL

XSL is the preferred style sheet language of XML.

29
XSL (the eXtensible Stylesheet Language) is far more sophisticated than CSS. One way to use XSL
is to transform XML into HTML before it is displayed by the browser as demonstrated in these
examples:

View the XML file, the XSL style sheet, and View the result.

Below is a fraction of the XML file. The second line, <?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl"
href="simple.xsl"?>, links the XML file to the XSL file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="simple.xsl"?>
<breakfast_menu>
<food>
<name>Belgian Waffles</name>
<price>$5.95</price>
<description>
two of our famous Belgian Waffles
</description>
<calories>650</calories>
</food>
</breakfast_menu>

If you want to learn more about XSL, please visit our XSL tutorial.

XSL Languages

It started with XSL and ended up with XSLT, XPath, and XSL-FO.

It Started with XSL

XSL stands for EXtensible Stylesheet Language.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) started to develop XSL because there was a need for an
XML-based Stylesheet Language.

CSS = HTML Style Sheets

HTML uses predefined tags and the meaning of the tags are well understood.

The <table> element in HTML defines a table - and a browser knows how to display it.

Adding styles to HTML elements is simple. Telling a browser to display an element in a special font
or color, is easy with CSS.

XSL = XML Style Sheets

XML does not use predefined tags (we can use any tag-names we like), and the meaning of these
tags are not well understood.

A <table> element could mean an HTML table, a piece of furniture, or something else - and a
browser does not know how to display it.

30
XSL describes how the XML document should be displayed!

XSL - More Than a Style Sheet Language

XSL consists of three parts:

• XSLT - a language for transforming XML documents


• XPath - a language for navigating in XML documents
• XSL-FO - a language for formatting XML documents

This Tutorial is About XSLT

The rest of this tutorial is about XSLT - the language for transforming XML documents.

But you can also study our XPath Tutorial and our XSL-FO Tutorial.

Introduction to XSLT

XSLT is a language for transforming XML documents into XHTML documents or to other
XML documents.

XPath is a language for navigating in XML documents.

What You Should Already Know

Before you continue you should have a basic understanding of the following:

• HTML / XHTML
• XML / XML Namespaces
• XPath

If you want to study these subjects first, find the tutorials on our Home page.

What is XSLT?

• XSLT stands for XSL Transformations


• XSLT is the most important part of XSL
• XSLT transforms an XML document into another XML document
• XSLT uses XPath to navigate in XML documents
• XSLT is a W3C Recommendation

XSLT = XSL Transformations

XSLT is the most important part of XSL.

31
XSLT is used to transform an XML document into another XML document, or another type of
document that is recognized by a browser, like HTML and XHTML. Normally XSLT does this by
transforming each XML element into an (X)HTML element.

With XSLT you can add/remove elements and attributes to or from the output file. You can also
rearrange and sort elements, perform tests and make decisions about which elements to hide and
display, and a lot more.

A common way to describe the transformation process is to say that XSLT transforms an XML
source-tree into an XML result-tree.

XSLT Uses XPath

XSLT uses XPath to find information in an XML document. XPath is used to navigate through
elements and attributes in XML documents.

If you want to study XPath first, please read our XPath Tutorial.

How Does it Work?

In the transformation process, XSLT uses XPath to define parts of the source document that should
match one or more predefined templates. When a match is found, XSLT will transform the matching
part of the source document into the result document.

XSLT is a W3C Recommendation

XSLT became a W3C Recommendation 16. November 1999.

To read more about the XSLT activities at W3C, please read our W3C Tutorial.

XSLT Browsers

Nearly all major browsers have support for XML and XSLT.

Mozilla Firefox

As of version 1.0.2, Firefox has support for XML and XSLT (and CSS).

Mozilla

Mozilla includes Expat for XML parsing and has support to display XML + CSS. Mozilla also has some
support for Namespaces.

Mozilla is available with an XSLT implementation.

Netscape

32
As of version 8, Netscape uses the Mozilla engine, and therefore it has the same XML / XSLT support
as Mozilla.

Opera

As of version 9, Opera has support for XML and XSLT (and CSS). Version 8 supports only XML +
CSS.

Internet Explorer

As of version 6, Internet Explorer supports XML, Namespaces, CSS, XSLT, and XPath.

Version 5 is NOT compatible with the official W3C XSL Recommendation.

XSLT – Transformation

Example study: How to transform XML into XHTML using XSLT.

The details of this example will be explained in the next chapter.

XSLT defines 37 elements, which break down into 3 overlapping categories:

Two root elements:

xsl:stylesheet

xsl:transform

12 top-level elements. These elements may appear as immediate children of the root and are the
following:

xsl:attribute-set xsl:decimal-format

xsl:import xsl:include

xsl:key xsl:namespace-alias

xsl:output xsl:param

xsl:preserve-space xsl:strip-space

Xsl:template xsl:variable

23 instruction elements. These elements appear in the content of elements that contain templates.
Here we don't mean the xsl:template element. We mean the content of that and several other
elements, such as xsl:for-each and xsl:message, which are composed of literal result elements,
character data, and XSLT instructions that are processed to produce part of the result tree. These
elements are as follows:

xsl:apply-imports xsl:apply-templates

33
xsl:attribute xsl:call-template

xsl:choose xsl:comment

xsl:copy xsl:copy-of

xsl:element xsl:fallback

xsl:for-each xsl:if

xsl:message xsl:number

xsl:otherwise xsl:param

xsl:processing-instruction xsl:sort

xsl:text xsl:value-of

xsl:variable xsl:with-param

xsl:when

Correct Style Sheet Declaration

The root element that declares the document to be an XSL style sheet is <xsl:stylesheet> or
<xsl:transform>.

Note: <xsl:stylesheet> and <xsl:transform> are completely synonymous and either can be used!

The correct way to declare an XSL style sheet according to the W3C XSLT Recommendation is:

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">

or:

<xsl:transform version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">

To get access to the XSLT elements, attributes and features we must declare the XSLT namespace at
the top of the document.

The xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform" points to the official W3C XSLT


namespace. If you use this namespace, you must also include the attribute version="1.0".

34
Start with a Raw XML Document

We want to transform the following XML document ("cdcatalog.xml") into XHTML:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<catalog>
<cd>
<title>Empire Burlesque</title>
<artist>Bob Dylan</artist>
<country>USA</country>
<company>Columbia</company>
<price>10.90</price>
<year>1985</year>
</cd>
.
.
.
</catalog>

Viewing XML Files in Firefox and Internet Explorer: Open the XML file (typically by clicking on
a link) - The XML document will be displayed with color-coded root and child elements. A plus (+) or
minus sign (-) to the left of the elements can be clicked to expand or collapse the element
structure. To view the raw XML source (without the + and - signs), select "View Page Source" or
"View Source" from the browser menu.

Viewing XML Files in Netscape 6: Open the XML file, then right-click in XML file and select "View
Page Source". The XML document will then be displayed with color-coded root and child elements.

Viewing XML Files in Opera 7: Open the XML file, then right-click in XML file and select "Frame" /
"View Source". The XML document will be displayed as plain text.

View "cdcatalog.xml"

Create an XSL Style Sheet

Then you create an XSL Style Sheet ("cdcatalog.xsl") with a transformation template:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th align="left">Title</th>
<th align="left">Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>

35
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

View "cdcatalog.xsl"

Link the XSL Style Sheet to the XML Document

Add the XSL style sheet reference to your XML document ("cdcatalog.xml"):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="cdcatalog.xsl"?>
<catalog>
<cd>
<title>Empire Burlesque</title>
<artist>Bob Dylan</artist>
<country>USA</country>
<company>Columbia</company>
<price>10.90</price>
<year>1985</year>
</cd>
.
.
.
</catalog>

If you have an XSLT compliant browser it will nicely transform your XML into XHTML.

View the result

The details of the example above will be explained in the next chapters.

XSLT <xsl:template> Element

An XSL style sheet consists of one or more set of rules that are called templates.

Each template contains rules to apply when a specified node is matched.

The <xsl:template> Element

The <xsl:template> element is used to build templates.

The match attribute is used to associate a template with an XML element. The match attribute can
also be used to define a template for the entire XML document. The value of the match attribute is
an XPath expression (i.e. match="/" defines the whole document).

Ok, let's look at a simplified version of the XSL file from the previous chapter:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

36
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>.</td>
<td>.</td>
</tr>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Since an XSL style sheet is an XML document itself, it always begins with the XML declaration:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>.

The next element, <xsl:stylesheet>, defines that this document is an XSLT style sheet document
(along with the version number and XSLT namespace attributes).

The <xsl:template> element defines a template. The match="/" attribute associates the
template with the root of the XML source document.

The content inside the <xsl:template> element defines some HTML to write to the output.

The last two lines define the end of the template and the end of the style sheet.

The result of the transformation above will look like this:

My CD Collection

Title Artist
. .

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result

The result from this example was a little disappointing, because no data was copied from the XML
document to the output.

In the next chapter you will learn how to use the <xsl:value-of> element to select values from the
XML elements.

XSLT <xsl:value-of> Element

The <xsl:value-of> element is used to extract the value of a selected node.

37
The <xsl:value-of> Element

The <xsl:value-of> element can be used to extract the value of an XML element and add it to the
output stream of the transformation:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="catalog/cd/title"/></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="catalog/cd/artist"/></td>
</tr>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Note: The value of the select attribute is an XPath expression. An XPath expression works like
navigating a file system; where a forward slash (/) selects subdirectories.

The result of the transformation above will look like this:

My CD Collection

Title Artist
Empire Burlesque Bob Dylan

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result

The result from this example was also a little disappointing, because only one line of data was
copied from the XML document to the output.

In the next chapter you will learn how to use the <xsl:for-each> element to loop through the XML
elements, and display all of the records.

XSLT <xsl:for-each> Element

The <xsl:for-each> element allows you to do looping in XSLT.

The <xsl:for-each> Element

The XSL <xsl:for-each> element can be used to select every XML element of a specified node-set:

38
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Note: The value of the select attribute is an XPath expression. An XPath expression works like
navigating a file system; where a forward slash (/) selects subdirectories.

The result of the transformation above will look like this:

My CD Collection

Title Artist
Empire Burlesque Bob Dylan
Hide your heart Bonnie Tyler
Greatest Hits Dolly Parton
Still got the blues Gary More
Eros Eros Ramazzotti
One night only Bee Gees
Sylvias Mother Dr.Hook
Maggie May Rod Stewart
Romanza Andrea Bocelli
When a man loves a woman Percy Sledge
Black angel Savage Rose
1999 Grammy Nominees Many
For the good times Kenny Rogers
Big Willie style Will Smith
Tupelo Honey Van Morrison
Soulsville Jorn Hoel
The very best of Cat Stevens
Stop Sam Brown
Bridge of Spies T`Pau

39
Private Dancer Tina Turner
Midt om natten Kim Larsen
Pavarotti Gala Concert Luciano Pavarotti
The dock of the bay Otis Redding
Picture book Simply Red
Red The Communards
Unchain my heart Joe Cocker

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result

Filtering the Output

We can also filter the output from the XML file by adding a criterion to the select attribute in the
<xsl:for-each> element.

<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd[artist='Bob Dylan']">

Legal filter operators are:

• = (equal)
• != (not equal)
• &lt; less than
• &gt; greater than

Take a look at the adjusted XSL style sheet:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd[artist='Bob Dylan']">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

The result of the transformation above will look like this:

My CD Collection

40
Title Artist
Empire Burlesque Bob Dylan

XSLT <xsl:sort> Element

The <xsl:sort> element is used to sort the output.

Where to put the Sort Information

To sort the output, simply add an <xsl:sort> element inside the <xsl:for-each> element in the XSL
file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<xsl:sort select="artist"/>
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Note: The select attribute indicates what XML element to sort on.

The result of the transformation above will look like this:

My CD Collection

Title Artist
Romanza Andrea Bocelli
One night only Bee Gees
Empire Burlesque Bob Dylan
Hide your heart Bonnie Tyler
The very best of Cat Stevens
Greatest Hits Dolly Parton
Sylvias Mother Dr.Hook

41
Eros Eros Ramazzotti
Still got the blues Gary Moore
Unchain my heart Joe Cocker
Soulsville Jorn Hoel
For the good times Kenny Rogers
Midt om natten Kim Larsen
Pavarotti Gala Concert Luciano Pavarotti
1999 Grammy Nominees Many
The dock of the bay Otis Redding
When a man loves a woman Percy Sledge
Maggie May Rod Stewart
Stop Sam Brown
Black angel Savage Rose
Picture book Simply Red
Bridge of Spies T`Pau
Red The Communards
Private Dancer Tina Turner
Tupelo Honey Van Morrison
Big Willie style Will Smith

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result

XSLT <xsl:if> Element

The <xsl:if> element is used to put a conditional test against the content of the XML file.

The <xsl:if> Element

To put a conditional if test against the content of the XML file, add an <xsl:if> element to the XSL
document.

Syntax
<xsl:if test="expression">
...
...some output if the expression is true...
...
</xsl:if>

Where to Put the <xsl:if> Element

To add a conditional test, add the <xsl:if> element inside the <xsl:for-each> element in the XSL
file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"

42
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<xsl:if test="price &gt; 10">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</tr>
</xsl:if>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Note: The value of the required test attribute contains the expression to be evaluated.

The code above will only output the title and artist elements of the CDs that has a price that is
higher than 10.

The result of the transformation above will look like this:

My CD Collection

Title Artist
Empire Burlesque Bob Dylan
Still got the blues Gary Moore
One night only Bee Gees
Romanza Andrea Bocelli
Black Angel Savage Rose
1999 Grammy Nominees Many

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result

XSLT <xsl:choose> Element

The <xsl:choose> element is used in conjunction with <xsl:when> and <xsl:otherwise>


to express multiple conditional tests.

The <xsl:choose> Element

Syntax
<xsl:choose>

43
<xsl:when test="expression">
... some output ...
</xsl:when>
<xsl:otherwise>
... some output ....
</xsl:otherwise>
</xsl:choose>

Where to put the Choose Condition

To insert a multiple conditional test against the XML file, add the <xsl:choose>, <xsl:when>, and
<xsl:otherwise> elements to the XSL file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<xsl:choose>
<xsl:when test="price &gt; 10">
<td bgcolor="#ff00ff">
<xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</xsl:when>
<xsl:otherwise>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</xsl:otherwise>
</xsl:choose>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

The code above will add a pink background-color to the "Artist" column WHEN the price of the CD is
higher than 10.

The result of the transformation will look like this:

My CD Collection

Title Artist
Empire Burlesque Bob Dylan
Hide your heart Bonnie Tyler

44
Greatest Hits Dolly Parton
Still got the blues Gary Moore
Eros Eros Ramazzotti
One night only Bee Gees
Sylvias Mother Dr.Hook
Maggie May Rod Stewart
Romanza Andrea Bocelli
When a man loves a woman Percy Sledge
Black angel Savage Rose
1999 Grammy Nominees Many
For the good times Kenny Rogers
Big Willie style Will Smith
Tupelo Honey Van Morrison
Soulsville Jorn Hoel
The very best of Cat Stevens
Stop Sam Brown
Bridge of Spies T`Pau
Private Dancer Tina Turner
Midt om natten Kim Larsen
Pavarotti Gala Concert Luciano Pavarotti
The dock of the bay Otis Redding
Picture book Simply Red
Red The Communards
Unchain my heart Joe Cocker

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result

Another Example

Here is another example that contains two <xsl:when> elements:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<xsl:choose>
<xsl:when test="price &gt; 10">
<td bgcolor="#ff00ff">

45
<xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</xsl:when>
<xsl:when test="price &gt; 9">
<td bgcolor="#cccccc">
<xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</xsl:when>
<xsl:otherwise>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</xsl:otherwise>
</xsl:choose>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

The code above will add a pink background color to the "Artist" column WHEN the price of the CD is
higher than 10, and a grey background-color WHEN the price of the CD is higher than 9 and lower
or equal to 10.

The result of the transformation will look like this:

My CD Collection

Title Artist
Empire Burlesque Bob Dylan
Hide your heart Bonnie Tyler
Greatest Hits Dolly Parton
Still got the blues Gary Moore
Eros Eros Ramazzotti
One night only Bee Gees
Sylvias Mother Dr.Hook
Maggie May Rod Stewart
Romanza Andrea Bocelli
When a man loves a woman Percy Sledge
Black angel Savage Rose
1999 Grammy Nominees Many
For the good times Kenny Rogers
Big Willie style Will Smith
Tupelo Honey Van Morrison
Soulsville Jorn Hoel
The very best of Cat Stevens
Stop Sam Brown
Bridge of Spies T`Pau
Private Dancer Tina Turner
Midt om natten Kim Larsen
Pavarotti Gala Concert Luciano Pavarotti
The dock of the bay Otis Redding

46
Picture book Simply Red
Red The Communards
Unchain my heart Joe Cocker

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result

XSLT <xsl:apply-templates> Element

The <xsl:apply-templates> element applies a template to the current element or to the


current element's child nodes.

The <xsl:apply-templates> Element

The <xsl:apply-templates> element applies a template to the current element or to the current
element's child nodes.

If we add a select attribute to the <xsl:apply-templates> element it will process only the child
element that matches the value of the attribute. We can use the select attribute to specify the order
in which the child nodes are processed.

Look at the following XSL style sheet:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<xsl:apply-templates/>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
<xsl:template match="cd">
<p>
<xsl:apply-templates select="title"/>
<xsl:apply-templates select="artist"/>
</p>
</xsl:template>
<xsl:template match="title">
Title: <span style="color:#ff0000">
<xsl:value-of select="."/></span>
<br />
</xsl:template>
<xsl:template match="artist">
Artist: <span style="color:#00ff00">
<xsl:value-of select="."/></span>
<br />
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

The result of the transformation will look like this:

My CD Collection

47
Title: Empire Burlesque
Artist: Bob Dylan

Title: Hide your heart


Artist: Bonnie Tyler

Title: Greatest Hits


Artist: Dolly Parton

Title: Still got the blues


Artist: Gary Moore

Title: Eros
Artist: Eros Ramazzotti

Title: One night only


Artist: Bee Gees

Title: Sylvias Mother


Artist: Dr.Hook

Title: Maggie May


Artist: Rod Stewart

Title: Romanza
Artist: Andrea Bocelli

Title: When a man loves a woman


Artist: Percy Sledge

Title: Black angel


Artist: Savage Rose

Title: 1999 Grammy Nominees


Artist: Many

Title: For the good times


Artist: Kenny Rogers

Title: Big Willie style


Artist: Will Smith

Title: Tupelo Honey


Artist: Van Morrison

Title: Soulsville
Artist: Jorn Hoel

Title: The very best of


Artist: Cat Stevens

Title: Stop
Artist: Sam Brown

Title: Bridge of Spies


Artist: T`Pau

48
Title: Private Dancer
Artist: Tina Turner

Title: Midt om natten


Artist: Kim Larsen

Title: Pavarotti Gala Concert


Artist: Luciano Pavarotti

Title: The dock of the bay


Artist: Otis Redding

Title: Picture book


Artist: Simply Red

Title: Red
Artist: The Communards

Title: Unchain my heart


Artist: Joe Cocker

View the XML file, View the XSL file, and View the result.

XSLT - On the Client

If your browser supports it, XSLT can be used to transform the document to XHTML in
your browser.

A JavaScript Solution
In the previous chapters we have explained how XSLT can be used to transform a document from
XML to XHTML. We did this by adding an XSL style sheet to the XML file and let the browser do the
transformation.

Even if this works fine, it is not always desirable to include a style sheet reference in an XML file
(e.g. it will not work in a non XSLT aware browser.)

A more versatile solution would be to use a JavaScript to do the transformation.

By using a JavaScript, we can:

• do browser-specific testing
• use different style sheets according to browser and user needs

That is the beauty of XSLT! One of the design goals for XSLT was to make it possible to transform
data from one format to another, supporting different browsers and different user needs.

XSLT transformation on the client side is bound to be a major part of the browsers work tasks in the
future, as we will see a growth in the specialized browser market (Braille, aural browsers, Web
printers, handheld devices, etc.)

The XML File and the XSL File

49
Look at the XML document that you have seen in the previous chapters:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<catalog>
<cd>
<title>Empire Burlesque</title>
<artist>Bob Dylan</artist>
<country>USA</country>
<company>Columbia</company>
<price>10.90</price>
<year>1985</year>
</cd>
.
.
.
</catalog>

View the XML file.

And the accompanying XSL style sheet:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th align="left">Title</th>
<th align="left">Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title" /></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist" /></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

View the XSL file.

Notice that the XML file does not have a reference to the XSL file.

IMPORTANT: The above sentence indicates that an XML file could be transformed using many
different XSL style sheets.

Transforming XML to XHTML in the Browser

Here is the source code needed to transform the XML file to XHTML on the client:

50
<html>
<body>
<script type="text/javascript">
// Load XML
var xml = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xml.async = false
xml.load("cdcatalog.xml")
// Load XSL
var xsl = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xsl.async = false
xsl.load("cdcatalog.xsl")
// Transform
document.write(xml.transformNode(xsl))
</script>
</body>
</html>

Tip: If you don't know how to write JavaScript, you can study our JavaScript tutorial.

The first block of code creates an instance of the Microsoft XML parser (XMLDOM), and loads the
XML file into memory. The second block of code creates another instance of the parser and loads the
XSL file into memory. The last line of code transforms the XML document using the XSL document,
and displays the result as XHTML in your browser. Nice!

See how it works in IE.

XSLT - On the Server

Since not all browsers support XSLT, one solution is to transform the XML to XHTML on
the server.

A Cross Browser Solution


In the previous chapter we explained how XSLT can be used to transform a document from XML to
XHTML in the browser. We created a JavaScript that used an XML parser to do the transformation.
The JavaScript solution will not work in a browser that doesn't have an XML parser.

To make XML data available to all kind of browsers, we must transform the XML document on the
SERVER and send it as XHTML back to the browser.

That's another beauty of XSLT. One of the design goals for XSLT was to make it possible to
transform data from one format to another on a server, returning readable data to all kinds of
browsers.

The XML File and the XSLT File

Look at the XML document that you have seen in the previous chapters:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<catalog>
<cd>
<title>Empire Burlesque</title>
<artist>Bob Dylan</artist>

51
<country>USA</country>
<company>Columbia</company>
<price>10.90</price>
<year>1985</year>
</cd>
.
.
.
</catalog>

View the XML file.

And the accompanying XSL style sheet:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr bgcolor="#9acd32">
<th align="left">Title</th>
<th align="left">Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title" /></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist" /></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

View the XSL file.

Notice that the XML file does not have a reference to the XSL file.

IMPORTANT: The above sentence indicates that an XML file could be transformed using many
different XSL style sheets.

Transforming XML to XHTML on the Server

Here is the ASP source code needed to transform the XML file to XHTML on the server:

<%
'Load XML
set xml = Server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xml.async = false
xml.load(Server.MapPath("cdcatalog.xml"))

52
'Load XSL
set xsl = Server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xsl.async = false
xsl.load(Server.MapPath("cdcatalog.xsl"))

'Transform file
Response.Write(xml.transformNode(xsl))
%>

Tip: If you don't know how to write ASP, you can study our ASP tutorial.

The first block of code creates an instance of the Microsoft XML parser (XMLDOM), and loads the
XML file into memory. The second block of code creates another instance of the parser and loads the
XSL file into memory. The last line of code transforms the XML document using the XSL document,
and sends the result as XHTML to your browser. Nice!

See how it works.

XSLT - Editing XML

Data stored in XML files can be edited from an Internet browser.

Open, Edit and Save XML

Now, we will show how to open, edit, and save an XML file that is stored on the server.

We will use XSL to transform the XML document into an HTML form. The values of the XML elements
will be written to HTML input fields in an HTML form. The HTML form is editable. After editing the
data, the data is going to be submitted back to the server and the XML file will be updated (this part
is done with ASP).

The XML File and the XSL File

First, look at the XML document that will be used ("tool.xml"):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<tool>
<field id="prodName">
<value>HAMMER HG2606</value>
</field>
<field id="prodNo">
<value>32456240</value>
</field>
<field id="price">
<value>$30.00</value>
</field>
</tool>

View the XML file.

Then, take a look at the following style sheet ("tool.xsl"):

53
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<form method="post" action="edittool.asp">
<h2>Tool Information (edit):</h2>
<table border="0">
<xsl:for-each select="tool/field">
<tr>
<td>
<xsl:value-of select="@id"/>
</td>
<td>
<input type="text">
<xsl:attribute name="id">
<xsl:value-of select="@id" />
</xsl:attribute>
<xsl:attribute name="name">
<xsl:value-of select="@id" />
</xsl:attribute>
<xsl:attribute name="value">
<xsl:value-of select="value" />
</xsl:attribute>
</input>
</td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
<br />
<input type="submit" id="btn_sub" name="btn_sub" value="Submit" />
<input type="reset" id="btn_res" name="btn_res" value="Reset" />
</form>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

View the XSL file.

The XSL file above loops through the elements in the XML file and creates one input field for each
XML "field" element. The value of the XML "field" element's "id" attribute is added to both the "id"
and "name" attributes of each HTML input field. The value of each XML "value" element is added to
the "value" attribute of each HTML input field. The result is an editable HTML form that contains the
values from the XML file.

Then, we have a second style sheet: "tool_updated.xsl". This is the XSL file that will be used to
display the updated XML data. This style sheet will not result in an editable HTML form, but a static
HTML table:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>Updated Tool Information:</h2>

54
<table border="1">
<xsl:for-each select="tool/field">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="@id" /></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="value" /></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

View the XSL file.

The ASP File

The HTML form in the "tool.xsl" file above has an action attribute with a value of "edittool.asp".

The "edittool.asp" page contains two functions: The loadFile() function loads and transforms the
XML file for display and the updateFile() function applies the changes to the XML file:

<%
function loadFile(xmlfile,xslfile)
Dim xmlDoc,xslDoc
'Load XML file
set xmlDoc = Server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xmlDoc.async = false
xmlDoc.load(xmlfile)
'Load XSL file
set xslDoc = Server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xslDoc.async = false
xslDoc.load(xslfile)
'Transform file
Response.Write(xmlDoc.transformNode(xslDoc))
end function
function updateFile(xmlfile)
Dim xmlDoc,rootEl,f
Dim i
'Load XML file
set xmlDoc = Server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xmlDoc.async = false
xmlDoc.load(xmlfile)
'Set the rootEl variable equal to the root element
Set rootEl = xmlDoc.documentElement
'Loop through the form collection
for i = 1 To Request.Form.Count
'Eliminate button elements in the form
if instr(1,Request.Form.Key(i),"btn_")=0 then
'The selectSingleNode method queries the XML file for a
'single node that matches a query. This query requests
'the value element that is the child of a field element
'that has an id attribute which matches the current key
'value in the Form Collection. When there is a match -
'set the text property equal to the value of the current
'field in the Form Collection.
set f = rootEl.selectSingleNode("field[@id='" & _

55
Request.Form.Key(i) & "']/value")
f.Text = Request.Form(i)
end if
next
'Save the modified XML file
xmlDoc.save xmlfile
'Release all object references
set xmlDoc=nothing
set rootEl=nothing
set f=nothing
'Load the modified XML file with a style sheet that
'allows the client to see the edited information
loadFile xmlfile,server.MapPath("tool_updated.xsl")
end function
'If the form has been submitted update the
'XML file and display result - if not,
'transform the XML file for editing
if Request.Form("btn_sub")="" then
loadFile server.MapPath("tool.xml"),server.MapPath("tool.xsl")
else
updateFile server.MapPath("tool.xml")
end if
%>

Tip: If you don't know how to write ASP, you can study our ASP tutorial.

Note: We are doing the transformation and applying the changes to the XML file on the server. This
is a cross-browser solution. The client will only get HTML back from the server - which will work in
any browser.

XML Editors

If you are serious about XML, you will benefit from using a professional XML Editor.

XML is Text-based

XML is a text-based markup language.

One great thing about XML is that XML files can be created and edited using a simple text-editor like
Notepad.

However, when you start working with XML, you will soon find that it is better to edit XML
documents using a professional XML editor.

Why Not Notepad?

Many web developers use Notepad to edit both HTML and XML documents because Notepad is
included with the most common OS and it is simple to use. Personally I often use Notepad for quick
editing of simple HTML, CSS, and XML files.

But, if you use Notepad for XML editing, you will soon run into problems.

Notepad does not know that you are writing XML, so it will not be able to assist you.

56
Why an XML Editor?

Today XML is an important technology, and development projects use XML-based technologies like:

• XML Schema to define XML structures and data types


• XSLT to transform XML data
• SOAP to exchange XML data between applications
• WSDL to describe web services
• RDF to describe web resources
• XPath and XQuery to access XML data
• SMIL to define graphics

To be able to write error-free XML documents, you will need an intelligent XML editor!

XML Editors

Professional XML editors will help you to write error-free XML documents, validate your XML against
a DTD or a schema, and force you to stick to a valid XML structure.

An XML editor should be able to:

• Add closing tags to your opening tags automatically


• Force you to write valid XML
• Verify your XML against a DTD
• Verify your XML against a Schema
• Color code your XML syntax

Altova's XMLSpy

At W3Schools we have been using XMLSpy for many years. XMLSpy is our favorite XML editor. These
are some of the features we especially like:

• Easy to use
• Syntax coloring
• Automatic tag completion
• Context-sensitive entry helpers
• Automatic well-formedness check
• Built in DTD and/or XML Schema-based validation
• Easy switching between text view and grid view
• Built in graphical XML Schema editor
• Powerful conversion utilities
• Database import and export
• Built in templates for most XML document types
• Built in XPath 1.0/2.0 analyzer
• XSLT 1.0/2.0 editor, profiler, and debugger
• XQuery editor, profiler, and debugger
• SOAP client and debugger
• Graphical WSDL editor

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• Powerful project management capabilities
• Code generation in Java, C++, and C#

Read more about XMLSpy

You Have Learned XSLT, Now What?

XSLT Summary

This tutorial has taught you how to use XSLT to transform XML documents into other formats, like
XHTML.

You have learned how to add/remove elements and attributes to or from the output file.

You have also learned how to rearrange and sort elements, perform tests and make decisions about
which elements to hide and display.

For more information on XSLT, please look at our XSLT reference.

Now You Know XSLT, What's Next?

XSL includes 3 languages: XSLT, XPath and XSL-FO, so the next step is to learn about XPath and
XSL-FO.

XPath

XPath is used to navigate through elements and attributes in an XML document.

XPath is a major element in the W3C's XSL standard. An understanding of XPath is fundamental for
advanced use of XML.

Without any XPath knowledge, you will not be able to create XSLT documents.

If you want to learn more about the XPath, please visit our XPath tutorial.

XSL-FO

XSL-FO describes the formatting of XML data for output to screen, paper or other media.

XSL-FO documents are XML files with information about the output layout and output content.

If you want to learn more about XSL-FO, please visit our XSL-FO tutorial.

XML Data Island:

With Internet Explorer, the unofficial <xml> tag can be used to create an XML data
island.

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XML Data Embedded in HTML

An XML data island is XML data embedded into an HTML page.

Here is how it works; assume we have the following XML document ("note.xml"):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

Then, in an HTML document, you can embed the XML file above with the <xml> tag. The id
attribute of the <xml> tag defines an ID for the data island, and the src attribute points to the XML
file to embed:

<html>
<body>
<xml id="note" src="note.xml"></xml>
</body>
</html>

However, the embedded XML data is, up to this point, not visible for the user.

The next step is to format and display the data in the data island by binding it to HTML elements.

Bind Data Island to HTML Elements

In the next example, we will embed an XML file called "cd_catalog.xml" into an HTML file.

View "cd_catalog.xml".

The HTML file looks like this:

<html>
<body>

<xml id="cdcat" src="cd_catalog.xml"></xml>

<table border="1" datasrc="#cdcat">


<tr>
<td><span datafld="ARTIST"></span></td>
<td><span datafld="TITLE"></span></td>
</tr>
</table>

</body>
</html>

Example explained:

59
The datasrc attribute of the <table> tag binds the HTML table element to the XML data island. The
datasrc attribute refers to the id attribute of the data island.

<td> tags cannot be bound to data, so we are using <span> tags. The <span> tag allows the
datafld attribute to refer to the XML element to be displayed. In this case, it is datafld="ARTIST" for
the <ARTIST> element and datafld="TITLE" for the <TITLE> element in the XML file. As the XML is
read, additional rows are created for each <CD> element.

If you are running IE 5.0 or higher, you can try it yourself.

Also try this example, demonstrating <thead>, <tbody>, and <tfoot>.

XML in Real Life:

Example: XML News

XMLNews is a specification for exchanging news and other information.

Using such a standard makes it easier for both news producers and news consumers to produce,
receive, and archive any kind of news information across different hardware, software, and
programming languages.

An example XMLNews document:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

<nitf>

<head>
<title>Colombia Earthquake</title>
</head>

<body>

<headline>
<hl1>143 Dead in Colombia Earthquake</hl1>
</headline>
<byline>
<bytag>By Jared Kotler, Associated Press Writer</bytag>
</byline>
<dateline>
<location>Bogota, Colombia</location>
<date>Monday January 25 1999 7:28 ET</date>
</dateline>

</body>

</nitf>

XML Parser:

To read and update, create and manipulate an XML document, you will need an XML
parser.

60
Examples

Parse an XML file - Crossbrowser example


This example is a cross-browser example that loads an existing XML document ("note.xml") into the
XML parser.

Parse an XML string - Crossbrowser example


This example is a cross-browser example on how to load and parse an XML string.

Parsing XML Documents

To manipulate an XML document, you need an XML parser. The parser loads the document into your
computer's memory. Once the document is loaded, its data can be manipulated using the DOM. The
DOM treats the XML document as a tree.

To learn more about the XML DOM, please read our XML DOM tutorial.

There are some differences between Microsoft's XML parser and the XML parser used in Mozilla
browsers. In this tutorial we will show you how to create cross browser scripts that will work in both
Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers.

Microsoft's XML Parser

Microsoft's XML parser is a COM component that comes with Internet Explorer 5 and higher. Once
you have installed Internet Explorer, the parser is available to scripts.

Microsoft's XML parser supports all the necessary functions to traverse the node tree, access the
nodes and their attribute values, insert and delete nodes, and convert the node tree back to XML.

To create an instance of Microsoft's XML parser, use the following code:

JavaScript:

var xmlDoc=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM");

VBScript:

set xmlDoc=CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")

ASP:

set xmlDoc=Server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")

The following code fragment loads an existing XML document ("note.xml") into Microsoft's XML
parser:

var xmlDoc=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM");


xmlDoc.async="false";
xmlDoc.load("note.xml");

61
The first line of the script above creates an instance of the XML parser. The second line turns off
asynchronized loading, to make sure that the parser will not continue execution of the script before
the document is fully loaded. The third line tells the parser to load an XML document called
"note.xml".

XML Parser in Mozilla, Firefox, and Opera

Mozilla's XML parser supports all the necessary functions to traverse the node tree, access the
nodes and their attribute values, insert and delete nodes, and convert the node tree back to XML.

To create an instance of the XML parser in Mozilla browsers, use the following code:

JavaScript:

var xmlDoc=document.implementation.createDocument("ns","root",null);

The first parameter, ns, defines the namespace used for the XML document. The second parameter,
root, is the XML root element in the XML file. The third parameter, null, is always null because it is
not implemented yet.

The following code fragment loads an existing XML document ("note.xml") into Mozillas' XML parser:

var xmlDoc=document.implementation.createDocument("","",null);
xmlDoc.load("note.xml");

The first line of the script above creates an instance of the XML parser. The second line tells the
parser to load an XML document called "note.xml".

Parsing an XML File - A Cross browser Example

The following example is a cross browser example that loads an existing XML document
("note.xml") into the XML parser:

<html>
<head>
<script type="text/javascript">
var xmlDoc;
function loadXML()
{
// code for IE
if (window.ActiveXObject)
{
xmlDoc=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM");
xmlDoc.async=false;
xmlDoc.load("note.xml");
getmessage();
}
// code for Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, etc.
else if (document.implementation &&
document.implementation.createDocument)
{
xmlDoc=document.implementation.createDocument("","",null);
xmlDoc.load("note.xml");

62
xmlDoc.onload=getmessage;
}
else
{
alert('Your browser cannot handle this script');
}
}
function getmessage()
{
document.getElementById("to").innerHTML=
xmlDoc.getElementsByTagName("to")[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue;
document.getElementById("from").innerHTML=
xmlDoc.getElementsByTagName("from")[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue;
document.getElementById("message").innerHTML=
xmlDoc.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue;
}
</script>
</head>
<body onload="loadXML()">
<h1>W3Schools Internal Note</h1>
<p><b>To:</b> <span id="to"></span><br />
<b>From:</b> <span id="from"></span><br />
<b>Message:</b> <span id="message"></span>
</p>
</body>
</html>

Output:

W3Schools Internal Note


To: Tove
From: Jani
Message: Don't forget me this weekend!

Important Note

To extract the text (Jani) from an XML element like: <from>Jani</from>, the correct syntax is:

getElementsByTagName("from")[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue

IMPORTANT: getElementsByTagName returns an array of nodes. The array contains all elements
with the specified name within the XML document. In this case there is only one "from" element, but
you still have to specify the array index ( [0] ).

Parsing an XML String - A Cross browser Example

The following code is a cross-browser example on how to load and parse an XML string:

<html>
<body>
<script type="text/javascript">

63
var text="<note>";
text=text+"<to>Tove</to>";
text=text+"<from>Jani</from>";
text=text+"<heading>Reminder</heading>";
text=text+"<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>";
text=text+"</note>";
// code for IE
if (window.ActiveXObject)
{
var doc=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM");
doc.async="false";
doc.loadXML(text);
}
// code for Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, etc.
else
{
var parser=new DOMParser();
var doc=parser.parseFromString(text,"text/xml");
}
// documentElement always represents the root node
var x=doc.documentElement;
document.write("Text of first child element: ");
document.write(x.childNodes[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue);
document.write("<br />");
document.write("Text of second child element: ");
document.write(x.childNodes[1].childNodes[0].nodeValue);
</script>
</body>
</html>

Output:

Text of first child element: Tove


Text of second child element: Jani

Note: Internet Explorer uses the loadXML() method to parse an XML string, while Mozilla browsers
uses the DOMParser object.

XML Namespaces:

XML Namespaces provide a method to avoid element name conflicts.

Name Conflicts

Since element names in XML are not predefined, a name conflict will occur when two different
documents use the same element names.

This XML document carries information in a table:

<table>
<tr>
<td>Apples</td>
<td>Bananas</td>
</tr>

64
</table>

This XML document carries information about a table (a piece of furniture):

<table>
<name>African Coffee Table</name>
<width>80</width>
<length>120</length>
</table>

If these two XML documents were added together, there would be an element name conflict because
both documents contain a <table> element with different content and definition.

Solving Name Conflicts Using a Prefix

This XML document carries information in a table:

<h:table>
<h:tr>
<h:td>Apples</h:td>
<h:td>Bananas</h:td>
</h:tr>
</h:table>

This XML document carries information about a piece of furniture:

<f:table>
<f:name>African Coffee Table</f:name>
<f:width>80</f:width>
<f:length>120</f:length>
</f:table>

Now there will be no name conflict because the two documents use a different name for their
<table> element (<h:table> and <f:table>).

By using a prefix, we have created two different types of <table> elements.

Using Namespaces

This XML document carries information in a table:

<h:table xmlns:h="http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/">
<h:tr>
<h:td>Apples</h:td>
<h:td>Bananas</h:td>
</h:tr>
</h:table>

This XML document carries information about a piece of furniture:

<f:table xmlns:f="http://www.w3schools.com/furniture">

65
<f:name>African Coffee Table</f:name>
<f:width>80</f:width>
<f:length>120</f:length>
</f:table>

Instead of using only prefixes, we have added an xmlns attribute to the <table> tag to give the
prefix a qualified name associated with a namespace.

The XML Namespace (xmlns) Attribute

The XML namespace attribute is placed in the start tag of an element and has the following syntax:

xmlns:namespace-prefix="namespaceURI"

When a namespace is defined in the start tag of an element, all child elements with the same prefix
are associated with the same namespace.

Note that the address used to identify the namespace is not used by the parser to look up
information. The only purpose is to give the namespace a unique name. However, very often
companies use the namespace as a pointer to a real Web page containing information about the
namespace.
Try to go to http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/.

Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)

A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a string of characters which identifies an Internet


Resource. The most common URI is the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) which identifies an
Internet domain address. Another, not so common type of URI is the Universal Resource Name
(URN). In our examples we will only use URLs.

Default Namespaces

Defining a default namespace for an element saves us from using prefixes in all the child elements.
It has the following syntax:

xmlns="namespaceURI"

This XML document carries information in a table:

<table xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/">
<tr>
<td>Apples</td>
<td>Bananas</td>
</tr>
</table>

This XML document carries information about a piece of furniture:

<table xmlns="http://www.w3schools.com/furniture">
<name>African Coffee Table</name>
<width>80</width>

66
<length>120</length>
</table>

Namespaces in Real Use

When you start using XSL, you will soon see namespaces in real use. XSL style sheets are used to
transform XML documents into other formats, like HTML.

If you take a close look at the XSL document below, you will see that most of the tags are HTML
tags. The tags that are not HTML tags have the prefix xsl, identified by the namespace
"http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform":

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:template match="/">
<html>
<body>
<h2>My CD Collection</h2>
<table border="1">
<tr>
<th align="left">Title</th>
<th align="left">Artist</th>
</tr>
<xsl:for-each select="catalog/cd">
<tr>
<td><xsl:value-of select="title"/></td>
<td><xsl:value-of select="artist"/></td>
</tr>
</xsl:for-each>
</table>
</body>
</html>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

XML CDATA:

All text in an XML document will be parsed by the parser.

Only text inside a CDATA section will be ignored by the parser.

Parsed Data

XML parsers normally parse all the text in an XML document.

When an XML element is parsed, the text between the XML tags is also parsed:

<message>This text is also parsed</message>

The parser does this because XML elements can contain other elements, as in this example, where
the <name> element contains two other elements (first and last):

67
<name><first>Bill</first><last>Gates</last></name>

and the parser will break it up into sub-elements like this:

<name>
<first>Bill</first>
<last>Gates</last>
</name>

Escape Characters

Illegal XML characters have to be replaced by entity references.

If you place a character like "<" inside an XML element, it will generate an error because the parser
interprets it as the start of a new element. You cannot write something like this:

<message>if salary < 1000 then</message>

To avoid this, you have to replace the "<" character with an entity reference, like this:

<message>if salary &lt; 1000 then</message>

There are 5 predefined entity references in XML:

&lt; < less than


&gt; > greater than
&amp; & ampersand
&apos; ' apostrophe
&quot; " quotation mark

Note: Only the characters "<" and "&" are strictly illegal in XML. Apostrophes, quotation marks and
greater than signs are legal, but it is a good habit to replace them.

CDATA

Everything inside a CDATA section is ignored by the parser.

If your text contains a lot of "<" or "&" characters - as program code often does - the XML element
can be defined as a CDATA section.

A CDATA section starts with "<![CDATA[" and ends with "]]>":

<script>
<![CDATA[
function matchwo(a,b)
{
if (a < b && a < 0) then
{
return 1
}

68
else
{
return 0
}
}
]]>
</script>

In the example above, everything inside the CDATA section is ignored by the parser.

Notes on CDATA sections:

A CDATA section cannot contain the string "]]>", therefore, nested CDATA sections are not allowed.

Also make sure there are no spaces or line breaks inside the "]]>" string.

XML Encoding:

XML documents may contain foreign characters, like Norwegian æ ø å , or French ê è é.

To let your XML parser understand these characters, you should save your XML
documents as Unicode.

Windows 2000 Notepad

Windows 2000 Notepad can save files as Unicode.

Save the XML file below as Unicode (note that the document does not contain any encoding
attribute):

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<note>
<from>Jani</from>
<to>Tove</to>
<message>Norwegian: æøå. French: êèé</message>
</note>

The file above, note_encode_none_u.xml will NOT generate an error in IE 5+, Firefox, or Opera, but
it WILL generate an error in Netscape 6.2.

Windows 2000 Notepad with Encoding

Windows 2000 Notepad files saved as Unicode use "UTF-16" encoding.

If you add an encoding attribute to XML files saved as Unicode, windows encoding values will
generate an error.

The following encoding (open it), will NOT give an error message:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="windows-1252"?>

69
The following encoding (open it), will NOT give an error message:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

The following encoding (open it), will NOT give an error message:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

The following encoding (open it), will NOT generate an error in IE 5+, Firefox, or Opera, but it WILL
generate an error in Netscape 6.2.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-16"?>

Error Messages

If you try to load an XML document into Internet Explorer, you can get two different errors
indicating encoding problems:

An invalid character was found in text content.

You will get this error message if a character in the XML document does not match the encoding
attribute. Normally you will get this error message if your XML document contains "foreign"
characters, and the file was saved with a single-byte encoding editor like Notepad, and no encoding
attribute was specified.

Switch from current encoding to specified encoding not supported.

You will get this error message if your file was saved as Unicode/UTF-16 but the encoding attribute
specified a single-byte encoding like Windows-1252, ISO-8859-1 or UTF-8. You can also get this
error message if your document was saved with single-byte encoding, but the encoding attribute
specified a double-byte encoding like UTF-16.

Conclusion

The conclusion is that the encoding attribute has to specify the encoding used when the document
was saved. My best advice to avoid errors is:

• Use an editor that supports encoding


• Make sure you know what encoding it uses
• Use the same encoding attribute in your XML documents

XML on the Server:

XML can be generated on a server without installing any XML controls.

Storing XML on the Server

XML files can be stored on an Internet server exactly the same way as HTML files.

70
Start Windows Notepad and write the following lines:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<note>
<from>Jani</from>
<to>Tove</to>
<message>Remember me this weekend</message>
</note>

Save the file on your web server with a proper name like "note.xml".

Generating XML with ASP

XML can be generated on a server without any installed XML software.

To generate an XML response from the server - simply write the following code and save it as an
ASP file on the web server:

<%
response.ContentType="text/xml"
response.Write("<?xml version='1.0' encoding='ISO-8859-1'?>")
response.Write("<note>")
response.Write("<from>Jani</from>")
response.Write("<to>Tove</to>")
response.Write("<message>Remember me this weekend</message>")
response.Write("</note>")
%>

Note that the content type of the response must be set to "text/xml".

See how the ASP file will be returned from the server.

If you don't know how to write ASP, please visit our ASP tutorial

Getting XML From a Database

XML can be generated from a database without any installed XML software.

To generate an XML database response from the server, simply write the following code and save it
as an ASP file on the web server:

<%
response.ContentType = "text/xml"
set conn=Server.CreateObject("ADODB.Connection")
conn.provider="Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;"
conn.open server.mappath("/db/database.mdb")
sql="select fname,lname from tblGuestBook"
set rs=Conn.Execute(sql)
rs.MoveFirst()
response.write("<?xml version='1.0' encoding='ISO-8859-1'?>")
response.write("<guestbook>")
while (not rs.EOF)
response.write("<guest>")

71
response.write("<fname>" & rs("fname") & "</fname>")
response.write("<lname>" & rs("lname") & "</lname>")
response.write("</guest>")
rs.MoveNext()
wend
rs.close()
conn.close()
response.write("</guestbook>")
%>

See the real life database output from the ASP file above.

The example above uses ASP with ADO. If you don't know how to use ADO, please visit our ADO
tutorial.

XML Application:

This chapter demonstrates a small framework for an XML application.

Note: This example uses a Data Island, which only works in Internet Explorer.

The XML Example Document

Look at the following XML document ("cd_catalog.xml"), that represents a CD catalog:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<CATALOG>
<CD>
<TITLE>Empire Burlesque</TITLE>
<ARTIST>Bob Dylan</ARTIST>
<COUNTRY>USA</COUNTRY>
<COMPANY>Columbia</COMPANY>
<PRICE>10.90</PRICE>
<YEAR>1985</YEAR>
</CD>
.
.
... more ...
.

View the full "cd_catalog.xml" file in your browser.

Load the XML Document Into a Data Island

A Data Island can be used to access the XML file.

To get your XML document "inside" an HTML page, add an XML Data Island to the HTML page:

<xml src="cd_catalog.xml" id="xmldso" async="false">


</xml>

72
With the example code above, the XML file "cd_catalog.xml" will be loaded into an "invisible" Data
Island called "xmldso". The async="false" attribute is added to make sure that all the XML data is
loaded before any other HTML processing takes place.

Bind the Data Island to an HTML Table

To make the XML data visible on the HTML page, you must "bind" the Data Island to an HTML
element.

To bind the XML data to an HTML table, add a datasrc attribute to the table element, and add
datafld attributes to the span elements inside the table data:

<table datasrc="#xmldso" width="100%" border="1">


<thead>
<th>Title</th>
<th>Artist</th>
<th>Year</th>
</thead>
<tr align="left">
<td><span datafld="TITLE"></span></td>
<td><span datafld="ARTIST"></span></td>
<td><span datafld="YEAR"></span></td>
</tr>
</table>

If you have IE 5.0 or higher: See how the XML data is displayed inside an HTML table.

Bind the Data Island to <span> or <div> Elements

<span> or <div> elements can be used to display XML data.

You don't have to use the HTML table element to display XML data. Data from a Data Island can be
displayed anywhere on an HTML page.

All you have to do is to add some <span> or <div> elements to your page. Use the datasrc
attribute to bind the elements to the Data Island, and the datafld attribute to bind each element to
an XML element, like this:

<br />Title:
<span datasrc="#xmldso" datafld="TITLE"></span>
<br />Artist:
<span datasrc="#xmldso" datafld="ARTIST"></span>
<br />Year:
<span datasrc="#xmldso" datafld="YEAR"></span>

or like this:

<br />Title:
<div datasrc="#xmldso" datafld="TITLE"></div>
<br />Artist:
<div datasrc="#xmldso" datafld="ARTIST"></div>
<br />Year:
<div datasrc="#xmldso" datafld="YEAR"></div>

73
If you have IE 5.0 or higher: See how the XML data is displayed inside the HTML elements.

Note that if you use an HTML <div> element, the data will be displayed on a new line.

With the examples above, you will only see one line of your XML data. To navigate to the next line
of data, you have to add some scripting to your code.

Add a Navigation Script

Navigation has to be performed by a script.

To add navigation to the XML Data Island, create a script that calls the movenext() and
moveprevious() methods of the Data Island.

<script type="text/javascript">
function movenext()
{
x=xmldso.recordset
if (x.absoluteposition < x.recordcount)
{
x.movenext()
}
}
function moveprevious()
{
x=xmldso.recordset
if (x.absoluteposition > 1)
{
x.moveprevious()
}
}
</script>

If you have IE 5.0 or higher: See how you can navigate through the XML records.

All Together Now

With a little creativity you can create a full application.

If you use what you have learned on this page, and a little imagination, you can easily develop this
into a full application.

If you have IE 5.0 or higher: See how you can add a little fancy to this application.

The XMLHttpRequest Object:

The XMLHttpRequest object is supported in Internet Explorer 5.0+, Safari 1.2, Mozilla 1.0
/ Firefox, Opera 9, and Netscape 7.

What is an HTTP Request?

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With an HTTP request, a web page can make a request to, and get a response from a web server -
without reloading the page. The user will stay on the same page, and he or she will not notice that
scripts might request pages, or send data to a server in the background.

By using the XMLHttpRequest object, a web developer can change a page with data from
the server after the page has loaded.

Google Suggest is using the XMLHttpRequest object to create a very dynamic web interface: When
you start typing in Google's search box, a JavaScript sends the letters off to a server and the server
returns a list of suggestions.

Is the XMLHttpRequest Object a W3C Standard?

The XMLHttpRequest object is a JavaScript object, and is not specified in any W3C recommendation.

However, the W3C DOM Level 3 "Load and Save" specification contains some similar functionality,
but these are not implemented in any browsers yet. So, at the moment, if you need to send an
HTTP request from a browser, you will have to use the XMLHttpRequest object.

Creating an XMLHttpRequest Object

For Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Netscape:

var xmlhttp=new XMLHttpRequest()

For Internet Explorer:

var xmlhttp=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP")

Example
<script type="text/javascript">
var xmlhttp
function loadXMLDoc(url)
{
xmlhttp=null
// code for Mozilla, etc.
if (window.XMLHttpRequest)
{
xmlhttp=new XMLHttpRequest()
}
// code for IE
else if (window.ActiveXObject)
{
xmlhttp=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP")
}
if (xmlhttp!=null)
{
xmlhttp.onreadystatechange=state_Change
xmlhttp.open("GET",url,true)
xmlhttp.send(null)
}
else
{
alert("Your browser does not support XMLHTTP.")

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}
}
function state_Change()
{
// if xmlhttp shows "loaded"
if (xmlhttp.readyState==4)
{
// if "OK"
if (xmlhttp.status==200)
{
// ...some code here...
}
else
{
alert("Problem retrieving XML data")
}
}
}
</script>

Try it yourself using JavaScript

The syntax is a little bit different in VBScript: Try it yourself using VBScript

Note: An important property in the example above is the onreadystatechange property. This
property is an event handler which is triggered each time the state of the request changes. The
states run from 0 (uninitialized) to 4 (complete). By having the function xmlhttpChange() check for
the state changing, we can tell when the process is complete and continue only if it has been
successful.

Why are we Using Async in our Examples?

All the examples here use the async mode (the third parameter of open() set to true).

The async parameter specifies whether the request should be handled asynchronously or not. True
means that script continues to run after the send() method, without waiting for a response from the
server. false means that the script waits for a response before continuing script processing. By
setting this parameter to false, you run the risk of having your script hang if there is a network or
server problem, or if the request is long (the UI locks while the request is being made) a user may
even see the "Not Responding" message. It is safer to send asynchronously and design your code
around the onreadystatechange event!

More Examples

Load a textfile into a div element with XML HTTP (JavaScript)

Make a HEAD request with XML HTTP (JavaScript)

Make a specified HEAD request with XML HTTP (JavaScript)

List data from an XML file with XML HTTP (JavaScript)

The XMLHttpRequest Object Reference

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Methods
Method Description
abort() Cancels the current request
getAllResponseHeaders() Returns the complete set of http headers as a string
getResponseHeader("headername") Returns the value of the specified http header
open("method","URL",async,"uname","pswd") Specifies the method, URL, and other optional
attributes of a request

The method parameter can have a value of "GET",


"POST", or "PUT" (use "GET" when requesting data and
use "POST" when sending data (especially if the length
of the data is greater than 512 bytes.

The URL parameter may be either a relative or


complete URL.

The async parameter specifies whether the request


should be handled asynchronously or not. true means
that script processing carries on after the send()
method, without waiting for a response. false means
that the script waits for a response before continuing
script processing
send(content) Sends the request
setRequestHeader("label","value") Adds a label/value pair to the http header to be sent

Properties
Property Description
onreadystatechange An event handler for an event that fires at every state change
readyState Returns the state of the object:

0 = uninitialized
1 = loading
2 = loaded
3 = interactive
4 = complete
responseText Returns the response as a string
responseXML Returns the response as XML. This property returns an XML document
object, which can be examined and parsed using W3C DOM node tree
methods and properties
status Returns the status as a number (e.g. 404 for "Not Found" or 200 for
"OK")
statusText Returns the status as a string (e.g. "Not Found" or "OK")

Save Data to an XML File:

Usually, we save data in databases. However, if we want to make the data more portable,
we can store the data in an XML file.

Create and Save an XML File

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Storing data in XML files is useful if the data is to be sent to applications on non-Windows platforms.
Remember that XML is portable across all platforms and the data will not need to be converted!

First we will learn how to create and save an XML file. The XML file below will be named "test.xml"
and will be stored in the c directory on the server. We will use ASP and Microsoft's XMLDOM object
to create and save the XML file:

<%
Dim xmlDoc, rootEl, child1, child2, p
'Create an XML document
Set xmlDoc = Server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
'Create a root element and append it to the document
Set rootEl = xmlDoc.createElement("root")
xmlDoc.appendChild rootEl
'Create and append child elements
Set child1 = xmlDoc.createElement("child1")
Set child2 = xmlDoc.createElement("child2")
rootEl.appendChild child1
rootEl.appendChild child2
'Add an XML processing instruction
'and insert it before the root element
Set p=xmlDoc.createProcessingInstruction("xml","version='1.0'")
xmlDoc.insertBefore p,xmlDoc.childNodes(0)
'Save the XML file to the c directory
xmlDoc.Save "c:\test.xml"
%>

If you open the saved XML file it will look something like this ("test.xml"):

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<root>
<child1 />
<child2 />
</root>

Real Form Example

Now, we will look at a real HTML form example.

We will first look at the HTML form that will be used in this example: The HTML form below asks for
the user's name, country, and e-mail address. This information will then be written to an XML file for
storage.

"customers.htm":

<html>
<body>
<form action="saveForm.asp" method="post">
<p><b>Enter your contact information</b></p>
First Name: <input type="text" id="fname" name="fname"><br />
Last Name: <input type="text" id="lname" name="lname"><br />
Country: <input type="text" id="country" name="country"><br />
Email: <input type="text" id="email" name="email"><br />
<input type="submit" id="btn_sub" name="btn_sub" value="Submit">
<input type="reset" id="btn_res" name="btn_res" value="Reset">

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</form>
</body>
</html>

The action for the HTML form above is set to "saveForm.asp". The "saveForm.asp" file is an ASP
page that will loop through the form fields and store their values in an XML file:

<%
dim xmlDoc
dim rootEl,fieldName,fieldValue,attID
dim p,i
'Do not stop if an error occurs
On Error Resume Next
Set xmlDoc = server.CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xmlDoc.preserveWhiteSpace=true
'Create a root element and append it to the document
Set rootEl = xmlDoc.createElement("customer")
xmlDoc.appendChild rootEl
'Loop through the form collection
for i = 1 To Request.Form.Count
'Eliminate button elements in the form
if instr(1,Request.Form.Key(i),"btn_")=0 then
'Create a field and a value element, and an id attribute
Set fieldName = xmlDoc.createElement("field")
Set fieldValue = xmlDoc.createElement("value")
Set attID = xmlDoc.createAttribute("id")
'Set the value of the id attribute equal to the name of
'the current form field
attID.Text = Request.Form.Key(i)
'Append the id attribute to the field element
fieldName.setAttributeNode attID
'Set the value of the value element equal to
'the value of the current form field
fieldValue.Text = Request.Form(i)
'Append the field element as a child of the root element
rootEl.appendChild fieldName
'Append the value element as a child of the field element
fieldName.appendChild fieldValue
end if
next
'Add an XML processing instruction
'and insert it before the root element
Set p = xmlDoc.createProcessingInstruction("xml","version='1.0'")
xmlDoc.insertBefore p,xmlDoc.childNodes(0)
'Save the XML file
xmlDoc.save "c:\Customer.xml"
'Release all object references
set xmlDoc=nothing
set rootEl=nothing
set fieldName=nothing
set fieldValue=nothing
set attID=nothing
set p=nothing
'Test to see if an error occurred
if err.number<>0 then
response.write("Error: No information saved.")
else
response.write("Your information has been saved.")

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end if
%>

Note: If the XML file name specified already exists, it will be overwritten!

The XML file that will be produced by the code above will look something like this ("Customer.xml"):

<?xml version="1.0" ?>


<customer>
<field id="firstName">
<value>Hege</value>
</field>
<field id="lastName">
<value>Refsnes</value>
</field>
<field id="country">
<value>Norway</value>
</field>
<field id="email">
<value>mymail@myaddress.com</value>
</field>
</customer>

XML DHTML Behaviors:

Internet Explorer 5 introduced DHTML behaviors. Behaviors are a way to add DHTML
functionality to HTML elements with the ease of CSS.

Behaviors - What are They?

IE5 introduced DHTML behaviors. Behaviors are a way to add DHTML functionality to HTML elements
with the ease of CSS.

How do behaviors work? By using XML we can link behaviors to any element in a web page and
manipulate that element.

DHTML behaviors do not use a <script> tag. Instead, they are using a CSS attribute called
"behavior". This "behavior" specifies a URL to an HTC file which contains the actual behavior (The
HTC file is written in XML).

Syntax
behavior: url(some_filename.htc)

Note: The behavior attribute is only supported by IE 5 and higher, all other browsers will ignore it.
This means that Mozilla, Firefox, Netscape and other browsers will only see the regular content and
IE 5+ can see the DHTML behaviors.

Example

The following HTML file has a <style> element that defines a behavior for the <h1> element:

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<html>
<head>
<style type="text/css">
h1 { behavior: url(behave.htc) }
</style>
</head>

<body>
<h1>Mouse over me!!!</h1>
</body>
</html>

The XML document "behave.htc" is shown below:

<attach for="element" event="onmouseover" handler="hig_lite" />


<attach for="element" event="onmouseout" handler="low_lite" />

<script type="text/javascript">
function hig_lite()
{
element.style.color='red'
}
function low_lite()
{
element.style.color='blue'
}
</script>

The behavior file contains a JavaScript and the event handlers for the script.

Try it yourself (mouse over the text in the example).

The following HTML file has a <style> element that defines a behavior for elements with an id of
"typing":

<html>
<head>
<style type="text/css">
#typing
{
behavior:url(typing.htc);
font-family:'courier new';
}
</style>
</head>

<body>
<span id="typing" speed="100">IE5 introduced DHTML behaviors.
Behaviors are a way to add DHTML functionality to HTML elements
with the ease of CSS.<br /><br />How do behaviors work?<br />
By using XML we can link behaviors to any element in a web page
and manipulate that element.</p>
</span>
</body>
</html>

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The XML document "typing.htc" is shown below:

<attach for="window" event="onload" handler="beginTyping" />


<method name="type" />
<script type="text/javascript">
var i,text1,text2,textLength,t
function beginTyping()
{
i=0
text1=element.innerText
textLength=text1.length
element.innerText=""
text2=""
t=window.setInterval(element.id+".type()",speed)
}
function type()
{
text2=text2+text1.substring(i,i+1)
element.innerText=text2
i=i+1
if (i==textLength){clearInterval(t)}
}
</script>

Try it yourself

XML Editors:

If you are serious about XML, you will benefit from using a professional XML Editor.

XML is Text-based

XML is a text-based markup language.

One great thing about XML is that XML files can be created and edited using a simple text-editor like
Notepad.

However, when you start working with XML, you will soon find that it is better to edit XML
documents using a professional XML editor.

Why Not Notepad?

Many web developers use Notepad to edit both HTML and XML documents because Notepad is
included with the most common OS and it is simple to use. Personally I often use Notepad for quick
editing of simple HTML, CSS, and XML files.

But, if you use Notepad for XML editing, you will soon run into problems.

Notepad does not know that you are writing XML, so it will not be able to assist you.

Why an XML Editor?

82
Today XML is an important technology, and development projects use XML-based technologies like:

• XML Schema to define XML structures and data types


• XSLT to transform XML data
• SOAP to exchange XML data between applications
• WSDL to describe web services
• RDF to describe web resources
• XPath and XQuery to access XML data
• SMIL to define graphics

To be able to write error-free XML documents, you will need an intelligent XML editor!

XML Editors

Professional XML editors will help you to write error-free XML documents, validate your XML against
a DTD or a schema, and force you to stick to a valid XML structure.

An XML editor should be able to:

• Add closing tags to your opening tags automatically


• Force you to write valid XML
• Verify your XML against a DTD
• Verify your XML against a Schema
• Color code your XML syntax

Altova's XMLSpy

At W3Schools we have been using XMLSpy for many years. XMLSpy is our favorite XML editor. These
are some of the features we especially like:

• Easy to use
• Syntax coloring
• Automatic tag completion
• Context-sensitive entry helpers
• Automatic well-formedness check
• Built in DTD and/or XML Schema-based validation
• Easy switching between text view and grid view
• Built in graphical XML Schema editor
• Powerful conversion utilities
• Database import and export
• Built in templates for most XML document types
• Built in XPath 1.0/2.0 analyzer
• XSLT 1.0/2.0 editor, profiler, and debugger
• XQuery editor, profiler, and debugger
• SOAP client and debugger
• Graphical WSDL editor
• Powerful project management capabilities
• Code generation in Java, C++, and C#

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XML Quiz:

1. What does XML stand for?

eXtra Modern Link


Example Markup Language
eXtensible Markup Language
X-Markup Language

2. There is a way of describing XML data, how?

XML uses XSL to describe data


XML uses a DTD to describe the data
XML uses a description node to describe data

3. XML's goal is to replace HTML

False
True

4. What is the correct syntax of the declaration which defines the XML version?

<?xml version="1.0" />


<?xml version="1.0"?>
<xml version="1.0" />

5. What does DTD stand for?

Direct Type Definition


Document Type Definition
Do The Dance
Dynamic Type Definition

6. Is this a "well formed" XML document?

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<note>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>
</note>

No

84
Yes

7. Is this a "well formed" XML document?

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<to>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
<heading>Reminder</heading>
<body>Don't forget me this weekend!</body>

No
Yes

8. Which statement is true?

All XML elements must be lower case


All XML elements must be properly closed
All XML documents must have a DTD
All the statements are true

9. Which statement is true?

XML documents must have a root tag


XML elements must be properly nested
XML tags are case sensitive
All the statements are true

XML QUIZ http://www.w3schools.com

10. XML preserves white spaces


True
False

11. Is this a "well formed" XML document?

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<note>
<to age="29">Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
</note>

No
Yes

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12. Is this a "well formed" XML document?

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<note>
<to age=29>Tove</to>
<from>Jani</from>
</note>

No
Yes

13. XML elements cannot be empty

False
True

14. Which is not a correct name for an XML element?

<h1>
<1dollar>
All 3 names are incorrect
<Note>

15. Which is not a correct name for an XML element?

<first name>
<age>
All 3 names are incorrect
<NAME>

16. Which is not a correct name for an XML element?

<phone number>
All 3 names are incorrect
<xmldocument>
<7eleven>

17. XML attribute values must always be enclosed in quotes

True
False

18. What does XSL stand for?

eXtra Style Language


eXtensible Stylesheet Language
eXpandable Style Language
eXtensible Style Listing

19. What is a correct way of referring to a stylesheet called "mystyle.xsl" ?

86
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="mystyle.xsl" ?>
<stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="mystyle.xsl" />
<link type="text/xsl" href="mystyle.xsl" />

XPath Introduction:

XPath is a language for finding information in an XML document. XPath is used to


navigate through elements and attributes in an XML document.

What You Should Already Know

Before you continue you should have a basic understanding of the following:

87
• HTML / XHTML
• XML / XML Namespaces

If you want to study these subjects first, find the tutorials on our Home page.

What is XPath?

• XPath is a syntax for defining parts of an XML document


• XPath uses path expressions to navigate in XML documents
• XPath contains a library of standard functions
• XPath is a major element in XSLT
• XPath is a W3C Standard

XPath Path Expressions

XPath uses path expressions to select nodes or node-sets in an XML document. These path
expressions look very much like the expressions you see when you work with a traditional computer
file system.

XPath Standard Functions

XPath includes over 100 built-in functions. There are functions for string values, numeric values,
date and time comparison, node and QName manipulation, sequence manipulation, Boolean values,
and more.

XPath is Used in XSLT

XPath is a major element in the XSLT standard. Without XPath knowledge you will not be able to
create XSLT documents.

You can read more about XSLT in our XSLT tutorial.

XQuery and XPointer are both built on XPath expressions. XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 share the same
data model and support the same functions and operators.

You can read more about XQuery in our XQuery tutorial.

XPath is a W3C Standard

XPath became a W3C Recommendation 16. November 1999.

XPath was designed to be used by XSLT, XPointer and other XML parsing software.

You can read more about the XPath standard in our W3C tutorial.

In XPath, there are seven kinds of nodes: element, attribute, text, namespace,
processing-instruction, comment, and document (root) nodes.

88
XPath Terminology

Nodes

In XPath, there are seven kinds of nodes: element, attribute, text, namespace, processing-
instruction, comment, and document (root) nodes. XML documents are treated as trees of nodes.
The root of the tree is called the document node (or root node).

Look at the following XML document:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<bookstore>
<book>
<title lang="en">Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

Example of nodes in the XML document above:

<bookstore> (document node)


<author>J K. Rowling</author> (element node)
lang="en" (attribute node)

Atomic values

Atomic values are nodes with no children or parent.

Example of atomic values:

J K. Rowling
"en"

Items

Items are atomic values or nodes.

Relationship of Nodes

Parent

Each element and attribute has one parent.

In the following example; the book element is the parent of the title, author, year, and price:

<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>

89
Children

Element nodes may have zero, one or more children.

In the following example; the title, author, year, and price elements are all children of the book
element:

<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>

Siblings

Nodes that have the same parent.

In the following example; the title, author, year, and price elements are all siblings:

<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>

Ancestors

A node's parent, parent's parent, etc.

In the following example; the ancestors of the title element are the book element and the bookstore
element:

<bookstore>
<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

Descendants

A node's children, children's children, etc.

In the following example; descendants of the bookstore element are the book, title, author, year,
and price elements:

<bookstore>
<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>

90
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

XPath uses path expressions to select nodes or node-sets in an XML document. The node
is selected by following a path or steps.

The XML Example Document

We will use the following XML document in the examples below.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<bookstore>
<book>
<title lang="eng">Harry Potter</title>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
<book>
<title lang="eng">Learning XML</title>
<price>39.95</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

Selecting Nodes

XPath uses path expressions to select nodes in an XML document. The node is selected by following
a path or steps. The most useful path expressions are listed below:

Expression Description
nodename Selects all child nodes of the node
/ Selects from the root node
// Selects nodes in the document from the current node that match the selection no
matter where they are
. Selects the current node
.. Selects the parent of the current node
@ Selects attributes

Examples

In the table below we have listed some path expressions and the result of the expressions:

Path Expression Result


bookstore Selects all the child nodes of the bookstore element
/bookstore Selects the root element bookstore

Note: If the path starts with a slash ( / ) it always represents an


absolute path to an element!
bookstore/book Selects all book elements that are children of bookstore
//book Selects all book elements no matter where they are in the document

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bookstore//book Selects all book elements that are descendant of the bookstore
element, no matter where they are under the bookstore element
//@lang Selects all attributes that are named lang

Predicates

Predicates are used to find a specific node or a node that contains a specific value.

Predicates are always embedded in square brackets.

Examples

In the table below we have listed some path expressions with predicates and the result of the
expressions:

Path Expression Result


/bookstore/book[1] Selects the first book element that is the child of
the bookstore element
/bookstore/book[last()] Selects the last book element that is the child of
the bookstore element
/bookstore/book[last()-1] Selects the last but one book element that is the
child of the bookstore element
/bookstore/book[position()<3] Selects the first two book elements that are
children of the bookstore element
//title[@lang] Selects all the title elements that have an attribute
named lang
//title[@lang='eng'] Selects all the title elements that have an attribute
named lang with a value of 'eng'
/bookstore/book[price>35.00] Selects all the book elements of the bookstore
element that have a price element with a value
greater than 35.00
/bookstore/book[price>35.00]/title Selects all the title elements of the book elements
of the bookstore element that have a price
element with a value greater than 35.00

Selecting Unknown Nodes

XPath wildcards can be used to select unknown XML elements.

Wildcard Description
* Matches any element node
@* Matches any attribute node
node() Matches any node of any kind

Examples

In the table below we have listed some path expressions and the result of the expressions:

Path Expression Result


/bookstore/* Selects all the child nodes of the bookstore element
//* Selects all elements in the document

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//title[@*] Selects all title elements which have any attribute

Selecting Several Paths

By using the | operator in an XPath expression you can select several paths.

Examples

In the table below we have listed some path expressions and the result of the expressions:

Path Expression Result


//book/title | //book/price Selects all the title AND price elements of all book elements
//title | //price Selects all the title AND price elements in the document
/bookstore/book/title | //price Selects all the title elements of the book element of the
bookstore element AND all the price elements in the
document

The XML Example Document

We will use the following XML document in the examples below.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<bookstore>
<book>
<title lang="eng">Harry Potter</title>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
<book>
<title lang="eng">Learning XML</title>
<price>39.95</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

XPath Axes

An axis defines a node-set relative to the current node.

AxisName Result
ancestor Selects all ancestors (parent, grandparent, etc.) of the current
node
ancestor-or-self Selects all ancestors (parent, grandparent, etc.) of the current
node and the current node itself
attribute Selects all attributes of the current node
child Selects all children of the current node
descendant Selects all descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) of the
current node
descendant-or-self Selects all descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) of the
current node and the current node itself
following Selects everything in the document after the closing tag of the
current node

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following-sibling Selects all siblings after the current node
namespace Selects all namespace nodes of the current node
parent Selects the parent of the current node
preceding Selects everything in the document that is before the start tag
of the current node
preceding-sibling Selects all siblings before the current node
self Selects the current node

Location Path Expression

A location path can be absolute or relative.

An absolute location path starts with a slash ( / ) and a relative location path does not. In both
cases the location path consists of one or more steps, each separated by a slash:

An absolute location path:


/step/step/...
A relative location path:
step/step/...

Each step is evaluated against the nodes in the current node-set.

A step consists of:

• an axis (defines the tree-relationship between the selected nodes and the current node)
• a node-test (identifies a node within an axis)
• zero or more predicates (to further refine the selected node-set)

The syntax for a location step is:

axisname::nodetest[predicate]

Examples
Example Result
child::book Selects all book nodes that are children of the current node
attribute::lang Selects the lang attribute of the current node
child::* Selects all children of the current node
attribute::* Selects all attributes of the current node
child::text() Selects all text child nodes of the current node
child::node() Selects all child nodes of the current node
descendant::book Selects all book descendants of the current node
ancestor::book Selects all book ancestors of the current node
ancestor-or-self::book Selects all book ancestors of the current node - and the
current as well if it is a book node
child::*/child::price Selects all price grandchildren of the current node

An XPath expression returns either a node-set, a string, a Boolean, or a number.

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XPath Operators

Below is a list of the operators that can be used in XPath expressions:

Operator Description Example Return value


| Computes two node-sets //book | //cd Returns a node-set with
all book and cd elements
+ Addition 6+4 10
- Subtraction 6-4 2
* Multiplication 6*4 24
div Division 8 div 4 2
= Equal price=9.80 true if price is 9.80
false if price is 9.90
!= Not equal price!=9.80 true if price is 9.90
false if price is 9.80
< Less than price<9.80 true if price is 9.00
false if price is 9.80
<= Less than or equal to price<=9.80 true if price is 9.00
false if price is 9.90
> Greater than price>9.80 true if price is 9.90
false if price is 9.80
>= Greater than or equal to price>=9.80 true if price is 9.90
false if price is 9.70
or or price=9.80 or price=9.70 true if price is 9.80
false if price is 9.50
and and price>9.00 and price<9.90 true if price is 9.80
false if price is 8.50
mod Modulus (division remainder) 5 mod 2 1

Let's try to learn some basic XPath syntax by looking at some examples.

The XML Example Document

We will use the following XML document in the examples below.

"books.xml":

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<bookstore>
<book category="COOKING">
<title lang="en">Everyday Italian</title>
<author>Giada De Laurentiis</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>30.00</price>
</book>
<book category="CHILDREN">
<title lang="en">Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
<book category="WEB">

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<title lang="en">XQuery Kick Start</title>
<author>James McGovern</author>
<author>Per Bothner</author>
<author>Kurt Cagle</author>
<author>James Linn</author>
<author>Vaidyanathan Nagarajan</author>
<year>2003</year>
<price>49.99</price>
</book>
<book category="WEB">
<title lang="en">Learning XML</title>
<author>Erik T. Ray</author>
<year>2003</year>
<price>39.95</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

View the "books.xml" file in your browser.

Selecting Nodes

We will use the Microsoft XMLDOM object to load the XML document and the selectNodes() function
to select nodes from the XML document:

set xmlDoc=CreateObject("Microsoft.XMLDOM")
xmlDoc.async="false"
xmlDoc.load("books.xml")
xmlDoc.selectNodes(path expression)

Select all book Nodes

The following example selects all the book nodes under the bookstore element:

xmlDoc.selectNodes("/bookstore/book")

If you have IE 5 or higher you can try it yourself.

Select the First book Node

The following example selects only the first book node under the bookstore element:

xmlDoc.selectNodes("/bookstore/book[0]")

If you have IE 5 or higher you can try it yourself

Note: IE5 and later has implemented that [0] should be the first node, but according to the W3C
standard it should have been [1]!!

A Workaround!

To solve the [0] and [1] problem in IE5+, you can set the SelectionLanguage to XPath.

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The following example selects only the first book node under the bookstore element:

xmlDoc.setProperty "SelectionLanguage", "XPath"


xmlDoc.selectNodes("/bookstore/book[1]")

Try it yourself

Select the prices

The following example selects the text from all the price nodes:

xmlDoc.selectNodes("/bookstore/book/price/text()")

If you have IE 5 or higher you can try it yourself.

Selecting price Nodes with Price>35

The following example selects all the price nodes with a price higher than 35:

xmlDoc.selectNodes("/bookstore/book[price>35]/price")

If you have IE 5 or higher you can try it yourself.

Selecting title Nodes with Price>35

The following example selects all the title nodes with a price higher than 35:

xmlDoc.selectNodes("/bookstore/book[price>35]/title")

If you have IE 5 or higher you can try it yourself.

XPath Summary

This tutorial has taught you how to find information in an XML document.

You have learned how to use XPath to navigate through elements and attributes in an XML
document.

You have also learned how to use some of the standard functions that are built-in in XPath.

For more information on XPath, please look at our XPath Reference.

Now You Know XPath, What's Next?

The next step is to learn about XSLT, XQuery, XLink, and XPointer.

XSLT

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XSLT is the style sheet language for XML files.

With XSLT you can transform XML documents into other formats, like XHTML.

If you want to learn more about XSLT, please visit our XSLT tutorial.

XQuery

XQuery is about querying XML data.

XQuery is designed to query anything that can appear as XML, including databases.

If you want to learn more about XQuery, please visit our XQuery tutorial.

XLink and XPointer

Linking in XML is divided into two parts: XLink and XPointer.

XLink and XPointer define a standard way of creating hyperlinks in XML documents.

If you want to learn more about XLink and XPointer, please visit our XLink and XPointer tutorial.

Introduction to XSL-FO:

XSL-FO is about formatting XML data for output.

What You Should Already Know

Before you study XSL-FO you should have a basic understanding of XML and XML Namespaces.

If you want to study these subjects first, please read our XML Tutorial.

What is XSL-FO?

• XSL-FO is a language for formatting XML data


• XSL-FO stands for Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects
• XSL-FO is a W3C Recommendation
• XSL-FO is now formally named XSL

XSL-FO is About Formatting

XSL-FO is an XML-based markup language describing the formatting of XML data for output to
screen, paper or other media.

XSL-FO is Formally Named XSL

Why this confusion? Is XSL-FO and XSL the same thing?

98
Yes it is, but we will give you an explanation:

Styling is both about transforming and formatting information. When the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C) made their first XSL Working Draft, it contained the language syntax for both
transforming and formatting XML documents.

Later, the XSL Working Group at W3C split the original draft into separate Recommendations:

• XSLT, a language for transforming XML documents


• XSL or XSL-FO, a language for formatting XML documents
• XPath, a language for navigating through elements and attributes in XML documents

The rest of this tutorial is about formatting XML documents: XSL-FO, also called XSL.

You can read more about XSLT in our XSLT Tutorial.

You can read more about XPath in our XPath Tutorial.

XSL-FO is a Web Standard

XSL-FO became a W3C Recommendation 15. October 2001. Formally named XSL.

To read more about the XSL activities at W3C please read our W3C Tutorial.

XSL-FO documents are XML files with output information.

XSL-FO Documents

XSL-FO documents are XML files with output information. They contain information about the output
layout and output contents.

XSL-FO documents are stored in files with a .fo or a .fob file extension. It is also quite common to
see XSL-FO documents stored with an .xml extension, because this makes them more accessible to
XML editors.

XSL-FO Document Structure

XSL-FO documents have a structure like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<fo:root xmlns:fo="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Format">

<fo:layout-master-set>
<fo:simple-page-master master-name="A4">
<!-- Page template goes here -->
</fo:simple-page-master>
</fo:layout-master-set>

<fo:page-sequence master-reference="A4">
<!-- Page content goes here -->
</fo:page-sequence>
</fo:root>

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Structure explained

XSL-FO documents are XML documents, and must always start with an XML declaration:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

The <fo:root> element is the root element of XSL-FO documents. The root element also declares
the namespace for XSL-FO:

<fo:root xmlns:fo="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Format">
<!-- The full XSL-FO document goes here -->
</fo:root>

The <fo:layout-master-set> element contains one or more page templates:

<fo:layout-master-set>
<!-- All page templates go here -->
</fo:layout-master-set>

Each <fo:simple-page-master> element contains a single page template. Each template must have
a unique name (master-name):

<fo:simple-page-master master-name="A4">
<!-- One page template goes here -->
</fo:simple-page-master>

One or more <fo:page-sequence> elements describe the page contents. The master-reference
attribute refers to the simple-page-master template with the same name:

<fo:page-sequence master-reference="A4">
<!-- Page content goes here -->
</fo:page-sequence>

Note: The master-reference "A4" does not actually describe a predefined page format. It is just a
name. You can use any name like "MyPage", "MyTemplate", etc.

XSL-FO uses rectangular boxes (areas) to display output.

XSL-FO Areas

The XSL formatting model defines a number of rectangular areas (boxes) to display output.

All output (text, pictures, etc.) will be formatted into these boxes and then displayed or printed to a
target media.

We will take a closer look at the following areas:

• Pages
• Regions
• Block areas
• Line areas

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• Inline areas

XSL-FO Pages

XSL-FO output is formatted into pages. Printed output will normally go into many separate pages.
Browser output will often go into one long page.

XSL-FO Pages contain Regions.

XSL-FO Regions

Each XSL-FO Page contains a number of Regions:

• region-body (the body of the page)


• region-before (the header of the page)
• region-after (the footer of the page)
• region-start (the left sidebar)
• region-end (the right sidebar)

XSL-FO Regions contain Block areas.

XSL-FO Block Areas

XSL-FO Block areas define small block elements (the ones that normally starts with a new line) like
paragraphs, tables and lists.

XSL-FO Block areas can contain other Block areas, but most often they contain Line areas.

XSL-FO Line Areas

XSL-FO Line areas define text lines inside Block areas.

XSL-FO Line areas contain Inline areas.

XSL-FO Inline Areas

XSL-FO Inline areas define text inside Lines (bullets, single character, graphics, and more).

XSL-FO defines output inside <fo:flow> elements.

XSL-FO Page, Flow, and Block

"Blocks" of content "Flows" into "Pages" and then to the output media.

XSL-FO output is normally nested inside <fo:block> elements, nested inside <fo:flow> elements,
nested inside <fo:page-sequence> elements:

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<fo:page-sequence>
<fo:flow flow-name="xsl-region-body">
<fo:block>
<!-- Output goes here -->
</fo:block>
</fo:flow>
</fo:page-sequence>

XSL-FO Example

It is time to look at a real XSL-FO example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<fo:root xmlns:fo="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Format">

<fo:layout-master-set>
<fo:simple-page-master master-name="A4">
</fo:simple-page-master>
</fo:layout-master-set>

<fo:page-sequence master-reference="A4">
<fo:flow flow-name="xsl-region-body">
<fo:block>Hello W3Schools</fo:block>
</fo:flow>
</fo:page-sequence>
</fo:root>

The output from this code would be something like this:

Hello W3Schools

XSL-FO Flow

XSL-FO pages are filled with data from <fo:flow> elements.

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XSL-FO Page Sequences

XSL-FO uses <fo:page-sequence> elements to define output pages.

Each output page refers to a page master which defines the layout.

Each output page has a <fo:flow> element defining the output.

Each output page is printed (or displayed) in sequence.

XSL-FO Flow

XSL-FO pages are filled with content from the <fo:flow> element.

The <fo:flow> element contains all the elements to be printed to the page.

When the page is full, the same page master will be used over (and over) again until all the text is
printed.

Where To Flow?

The <fo:flow> element has a "flow-name" attribute.

The value of the flow-name attribute defines where the content of the <fo:flow> element will go.

The legal values are:

• xsl-region-body (into the region-body)


• xsl-region-before (into the region-before)
• xsl-region-after (into the region-after)
• xsl-region-start (into the region-start)
• xsl-region-end (into the region-end)

XSL-FO Pages:

XSL-FO uses page templates called "Page Masters" to define the layout of pages.

XSL-FO Page Templates

XSL-FO uses page templates called "Page Masters" to define the layout of pages. Each template
must have a unique name:

<fo:simple-page-master master-name="intro">
<fo:region-body margin="5in" />
</fo:simple-page-master>
<fo:simple-page-master master-name="left">
<fo:region-body margin-left="2in" margin-right="3in" />
</fo:simple-page-master>

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<fo:simple-page-master master-name="right">
<fo:region-body margin-left="3in" margin-right="2in" />
</fo:simple-page-master>

In the example above, three <fo:simple-page-master> elements, define three different templates.
Each template (page-master) has a different name.

The first template is called "intro". It could be used as a template for introduction pages.

The second and third templates are called "left" and "right". They could be used as templates for
even and odd page numbers.

XSL-FO Page Size

XSL-FO uses the following attributes to define the size of a page:

• page-width defines the width of a page


• page-height defines the height of a page

XSL-FO Page Margins

XSL-FO uses the following attributes to define the margins of a page:

• margin-top defines the top margin


• margin-bottom defines the bottom margin
• margin-left defines the left margin
• margin-right defines the right margin
• margin defines all four margins

XSL-FO Page Regions

XSL-FO uses the following elements to define the regions of a page:

• region-body defines the body region


• region-before defines the top region (header)
• region-after defines the bottom region (footer)
• region-start defines the left region (left sidebar)
• region-end defines the right region (right sidebar)

Note that the region-before, region-after, region-start, and region-end is a part of the body region.
To avoid text in the body region to overwrite text in these regions, the body region must have
margins at least the size of these regions.

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Margin Top

REGION BEFORE

M R M
a E R a
r G E r
g I G g
i O I i
REGION BODY
n N O n
N
L S R
e T E i
f A N g
t R D h
T t

REGION AFTER

Margin Bottom

XSL-FO Example

This is an extract from an XSL-FO document:

<fo:simple-page-master master-name="A4"
page-width="297mm" page-height="210mm"
margin-top="1cm" margin-bottom="1cm"
margin-left="1cm" margin-right="1cm">
<fo:region-body margin="3cm"/>
<fo:region-before extent="2cm"/>
<fo:region-after extent="2cm"/>
<fo:region-start extent="2cm"/>
<fo:region-end extent="2cm"/>
</fo:simple-page-master>

The code above defines a "Simple Page Master Template" with the name "A4".

The width of the page is 297 millimeters and the height is 210 millimeters.

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The top, bottom, left, and right margins of the page are all 1 centimeter.

The body has a 3 centimeter margin (on all sides).

The before, after, start, and end regions (of the body) are all 2 centimeters.

The width of the body in the example above can be calculated by subtracting the left and right
margins and the region-body margins from the width of the page itself:

297mm - (2 x 1cm) - (2 x 3cm) = 297mm - 20mm - 60mm = 217mm.

Note that the regions (region-start and region-end) are not a part of the calculation. As described
earlier, these regions are parts of the body.

XSL-FO Blocks:

XSL-FO output goes into blocks.

XSL-FO Pages, Flow, and Block

"Blocks" of content "Flow" into "Pages" of the output media.

XSL-FO output is normally nested inside <fo:block> elements, nested inside <fo:flow> elements,
nested inside <fo:page-sequence> elements:

<fo:page-sequence>
<fo:flow flow-name="xsl-region-body">
<fo:block>
<!-- Output goes here -->
</fo:block>
</fo:flow>
</fo:page-sequence>

Block Area Attributes

Blocks are sequences of output in rectangular boxes:

<fo:block
border-width="1mm">
This block of output will have a one millimeter border around it.
</fo:block>

Since block areas are rectangular boxes, they share many common area properties:

• space before and space after


• margin
• border
• padding

space before
margin

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border
padding

content

space after

The space before and space after is the empty space separating the block from the other blocks.

The margin is the empty area on the outside of the block.

The border is the rectangle drawn around the external edge of the area. It can have different
widths on all four sides. It can also be filled with different colors and background images.

The padding is the area between the border and the content area.

The content area contains the actual content like text, pictures, graphics, or whatever.

Block Margin

• margin
• margin-top
• margin-bottom
• margin-left
• margin-right

Block Border

Border style attributes:

• border-style
• border-before-style
• border-after-style
• border-start-style
• border-end-style
• border-top-style (same as border-before)
• border-bottom-style (same as border-after)
• border-left-style (same as border-start)
• border-right-style (same as border-end)

Border color attributes:

• border-color
• border-before-color
• border-after-color
• border-start-color

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• border-end-color
• border-top-color (same as border-before)
• border-bottom-color (same as border-after)
• border-left-color (same as border-start)
• border-right-color (same as border-end)

Border width attributes:

• border-width
• border-before-width
• border-after-width
• border-start-width
• border-end-width
• border-top-width (same as border-before)
• border-bottom-width (same as border-after)
• border-left-width (same as border-start)
• border-right-width (same as border-end)

Block Padding

• padding
• padding-before
• padding-after
• padding-start
• padding-end
• padding-top (same as padding-before)
• padding-bottom (same as padding-after)
• padding-left (same as padding-start)
• padding-right (same as padding-end)

Block Background

• background-color
• background-image
• background-repeat
• background-attachment (scroll or fixed)

Block Styling Attributes

Blocks are sequences of output that can be styled individually:

<fo:block
font-size="12pt"
font-family="sans-serif">
This block of output will be written in a 12pt sans-serif font.
</fo:block>

Font attributes:

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• font-family
• font-weight
• font-style
• font-size
• font-variant

Text attributes:

• text-align
• text-align-last
• text-indent
• start-indent
• end-indent
• wrap-option (defines word wrap)
• break-before (defines page breaks)
• break-after (defines page breaks)
• reference-orientation (defines text rotation in 90" increments)

Example

<fo:block
font-size="14pt" font-family="verdana" color="red"
space-before="5mm" space-after="5mm">
W3Schools
</fo:block>
<fo:block
text-indent="5mm"
font-family="verdana" font-size="12pt"
space-before="5mm" space-after="5mm">
At W3Schools you will find all the Web-building tutorials you
need, from basic HTML and XHTML to advanced XML, XSL, Multimedia
and WAP.
</fo:block>

Result:

W3Schools
At W3Schools you will find all the Web-building
tutorials you need, from basic HTML and XHTML to
advanced XML, XSL, Multimedia and WAP.

When you look at the example above, you can see that it will take a lot of code to produce a
document with many headers and paragraphs.

Normally XSL-FO document do not combine formatting information and content like we have done
here.

With a little help from XSLT we can put the formatting information into templates and write a
cleaner content.

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You will learn more about how to combine XSL-FO with XSLT templates in a later chapter in this
tutorial.

XSL-FO Lists:

XSL-FO uses List Blocks to define lists.

XSL-FO List Blocks

There are four XSL-FO objects used to create lists:

• fo:list-block (contains the whole list)


• fo:list-item (contains each item in the list)
• fo:list-item-label (contains the label for the list-item - typically an <fo:block> containing a
number, character, etc.)
• fo:list-item-body (contains the content/body of the list-item - typically one or more
<fo:block> objects)

An XSL-FO list example:

<fo:list-block>
<fo:list-item>
<fo:list-item-label>
<fo:block>*</fo:block>
</fo:list-item-label>
<fo:list-item-body>
<fo:block>Volvo</fo:block>
</fo:list-item-body>
</fo:list-item>
<fo:list-item>
<fo:list-item-label>
<fo:block>*</fo:block>
</fo:list-item-label>
<fo:list-item-body>
<fo:block>Saab</fo:block>
</fo:list-item-body>
</fo:list-item>
</fo:list-block>

The output from this code would be:

* Volvo
* Saab

XSL-FO Tables:

XSL-FO uses the <fo:table-and-caption> element to define tables.

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XSL-FO Tables

The XSL-FO table model is not very different from the HTML table model.

There are nine XSL-FO objects used to create tables:

• fo:table-and-caption
• fo:table
• fo:table-caption
• fo:table-column
• fo:table-header
• fo:table-footer
• fo:table-body
• fo:table-row
• fo:table-cell

XSL-FO uses the <fo:table-and-caption> element to define a table. It contains a <fo:table> and
an optional <fo:caption> element.

The <fo:table> element contains optional <fo:table-column> elements, an optional <fo:table-


header> element, a <fo:table-body> element, and an optional <fo:table-footer> element.
Each of these elements has one or more <fo:table-row> elements, with one or more <fo:table-
cell> elements:

<fo:table-and-caption>
<fo:table>
<fo:table-column column-width="25mm"/>
<fo:table-column column-width="25mm"/>

<fo:table-header>
<fo:table-row>
<fo:table-cell>
<fo:block font-weight="bold">Car</fo:block>
</fo:table-cell>
<fo:table-cell>
<fo:block font-weight="bold">Price</fo:block>
</fo:table-cell>
</fo:table-row>
</fo:table-header>

<fo:table-body>
<fo:table-row>
<fo:table-cell>
<fo:block>Volvo</fo:block>
</fo:table-cell>
<fo:table-cell>
<fo:block>$50000</fo:block>
</fo:table-cell>
</fo:table-row>
<fo:table-row>
<fo:table-cell>
<fo:block>SAAB</fo:block>
</fo:table-cell>
<fo:table-cell>
<fo:block>$48000</fo:block>
</fo:table-cell>

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</fo:table-row>
</fo:table-body>

</fo:table>
</fo:table-and-caption>

The output from this code would something like this:

Car Price

Volvo $50000

SAAB $48000

XSL-FO and XSLT:

XSL-FO and XSLT can help each other.

Remember this Example?

<fo:block
font-size="14pt" font-family="verdana" color="red"
space-before="5mm" space-after="5mm">
W3Schools
</fo:block>
<fo:block
text-indent="5mm"
font-family="verdana" font-size="12pt"
space-before="5mm" space-after="5mm">
At W3Schools you will find all the Web-building tutorials you
need, from basic HTML and XHTML to advanced XML, XSL, Multimedia
and WAP.
</fo:block>

Result:

W3Schools
At W3Schools you will find all the Web-building
tutorials you need, from basic HTML and XHTML to
advanced XML, XSL, Multimedia and WAP.

The example above is from the chapter about XSL-FO Blocks.

With a Little Help from XSLT

Remove the XSL-FO information from the document:

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<header>
W3Schools
</header>
<paragraph>
At W3Schools you will find all the Web-building tutorials you
need, from basic HTML and XHTML to advanced XML, XSL, Multimedia
and WAP.
</paragraph>

Add an XSLT transformation:

<xsl:template match="header">
<fo:block
font-size="14pt" font-family="verdana" color="red"
space-before="5mm" space-after="5mm">
<xsl:apply-templates/>
</fo:block>
</xsl:template>

<xsl:template match="paragraph">
<fo:block
text-indent="5mm"
font-family="verdana" font-size="12pt"
space-before="5mm" space-after="5mm">
<xsl:apply-templates/>
</fo:block>
</xsl:template>

And the result will be the same:

XQuery Tutorial:

The best way to explain XQuery is to say that XQuery is to XML what SQL is to database
tables.

XQuery is designed to query XML data - not just XML files, but anything that can appear
as XML, including databases.

What You Should Already Know

Before you continue you should have a basic understanding of the following:

• HTML / XHTML
• XML / XML Namespaces
• XPath

If you want to study these subjects first, find the tutorials on our Home page.

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What is XQuery?

• XQuery is the language for querying XML data


• XQuery for XML is like SQL for databases
• XQuery is built on XPath expressions
• XQuery is supported by all the major database engines (IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.)
• XQuery is a W3C Recommendation

XQuery is About Querying XML

XQuery is a language for finding and extracting elements and attributes from XML documents.

Here is an example of a question that XQuery could solve:

"Select all CD records with a price less than $10 from the CD collection stored in the XML document
called cd_catalog.xml"

XQuery and XPath

XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 share the same data model and support the same functions and
operators. If you have already studied XPath you will have no problems with understanding XQuery.

You can read more about XPath in our XPath Tutorial.

XQuery - Examples of Use

XQuery can be used to:

• Extract information to use in a Web Service


• Generate summary reports
• Transform XML data to XHTML
• Search Web documents for relevant information

Let's try to learn some basic XQuery syntax by looking at an example.

The XML Example Document

We will use the following XML document in the examples below.

"books.xml":

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<bookstore>
<book category="COOKING">
<title lang="en">Everyday Italian</title>
<author>Giada De Laurentiis</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>30.00</price>
</book>

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<book category="CHILDREN">
<title lang="en">Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
<book category="WEB">
<title lang="en">XQuery Kick Start</title>
<author>James McGovern</author>
<author>Per Bothner</author>
<author>Kurt Cagle</author>
<author>James Linn</author>
<author>Vaidyanathan Nagarajan</author>
<year>2003</year>
<price>49.99</price>
</book>
<book category="WEB">
<title lang="en">Learning XML</title>
<author>Erik T. Ray</author>
<year>2003</year>
<price>39.95</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

View the "books.xml" file in your browser.

How to Select Nodes From "books.xml"?

Functions

XQuery uses functions to extract data from XML documents.

The doc() function is used to open the "books.xml" file:

doc("books.xml")

Path Expressions

XQuery uses path expressions to navigate through elements in an XML document.

The following path expression is used to select all the title elements in the "books.xml" file:

doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book/title

(/bookstore selects the bookstore element, /book selects all the book elements under the bookstore
element, and /title selects all the title elements under each book element)

The XQuery above will extract the following:

<title lang="en">Everyday Italian</title>


<title lang="en">Harry Potter</title>
<title lang="en">XQuery Kick Start</title>
<title lang="en">Learning XML</title>

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Predicates

XQuery uses predicates to limit the extracted data from XML documents.

The following predicate is used to select all the book elements under the bookstore element that
have a price element with a value that is less than 30:

doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book[price<30]

The XQuery above will extract the following:

<book category="CHILDREN">
<title lang="en">Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>

The XML Example Document

We will use the "books.xml" document in the examples below (same XML file as in the previous
chapter).

View the "books.xml" file in your browser.

How to Select Nodes From "books.xml" With FLWOR

Look at the following path expression:

doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book[price>30]/title

The expression above will select all the title elements under the book elements that are under the
bookstore element that have a price element with a value that is higher than 30.

The following FLWOR expression will select exactly the same as the path expression above:

for $x in doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book
where $x/price>30
return $x/title

The result will be:

<title lang="en">XQuery Kick Start</title>


<title lang="en">Learning XML</title>

With FLWOR you can sort the result:

for $x in doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book
where $x/price>30
order by $x/title

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return $x/title

FLWOR is an acronym for "For, Let, Where, Order by, Return".

The for clause selects all book elements under the bookstore element into a variable called $x.

The where clause selects only book elements with a price element with a value greater than 30.

The order by clause defines the sort-order. Will be sort by the title element.

The return clause specifies what should be returned. Here it returns the title elements.

The result of the XQuery expression above will be:

<title lang="en">Learning XML</title>


<title lang="en">XQuery Kick Start</title>

The XML Example Document

We will use the "books.xml" document in the examples below (same XML file as in the previous
chapters).

View the "books.xml" file in your browser.

Present the Result In an HTML List

Look at the following XQuery FLWOR expression:

for $x in doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book/title
order by $x
return $x

The expression above will select all the title elements under the book elements that are under the
bookstore element, and return the title elements in alphabetical order.

Now we want to list all the book-titles in our bookstore in an HTML list. We add <ul> and <li> tags
to the FLWOR expression:

<ul>
{
for $x in doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book/title
order by $x
return <li>{$x}</li>
}
</ul>

The result of the above will be:

<ul>
<li><title lang="en">Everyday Italian</title></li>

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<li><title lang="en">Harry Potter</title></li>
<li><title lang="en">Learning XML</title></li>
<li><title lang="en">XQuery Kick Start</title></li>
</ul>

Now we want to eliminate the title element, and show only the data inside the title element:

<ul>
{
for $x in doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book/title
order by $x
return <li>{data($x)}</li>
}
</ul>

The result will be (an HTML list):

<ul>
<li>Everyday Italian</li>
<li>Harry Potter</li>
<li>Learning XML</li>
<li>XQuery Kick Start</li>
</ul>

In XQuery, there are seven kinds of nodes: element, attribute, text, namespace,
processing-instruction, comment, and document (root) nodes.

XQuery Terminology

Nodes

In XQuery, there are seven kinds of nodes: element, attribute, text, namespace, processing-
instruction, comment, and document (root) nodes. XML documents are treated as trees of nodes.
The root of the tree is called the document node (or root node).

Look at the following XML document:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


<bookstore>
<book>
<title lang="en">Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

Example of nodes in the XML document above:

<bookstore> (document node)


<author>J K. Rowling</author> (element node)
lang="en" (attribute node)

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Atomic values

Atomic values are nodes with no children or parent.

Example of atomic values:

J K. Rowling
"en"

Items

Items are atomic values or nodes.

Relationship of Nodes

Parent

Each element and attribute has one parent.

In the following example; the book element is the parent of the title, author, year, and price:

<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>

Children

Element nodes may have zero, one or more children.

In the following example; the title, author, year, and price elements are all children of the book
element:

<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>

Siblings

Nodes that have the same parent.

In the following example; the title, author, year, and price elements are all siblings:

<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>

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</book>

Ancestors

A node's parent, parent's parent, etc.

In the following example; the ancestors of the title element are the book element and the bookstore
element:

<bookstore>
<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

Descendants

A node's children, children's children, etc.

In the following example; descendants of the bookstore element are the book, title, author, year,
and price elements:

<bookstore>
<book>
<title>Harry Potter</title>
<author>J K. Rowling</author>
<year>2005</year>
<price>29.99</price>
</book>
</bookstore>

XQuery is case-sensitive and XQuery elements, attributes, and variables must be valid
XML names.

XQuery Basic Syntax Rules

Some basic syntax rules:

• XQuery is case-sensitive
• XQuery elements, attributes, and variables must be valid XML names
• An XQuery string value can be in single or double quotes
• An XQuery variable is defined with a $ followed by a name, e.g. $bookstore
• XQuery comments are delimited by (: and :), e.g. (: XQuery Comment :)

XQuery Conditional Expressions

"If-Then-Else" expressions are allowed in XQuery.

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Look at the following example:

for $x in doc("books.xml")/bookstore/book
return if ($x/@category="CHILDREN")
then <child>{data($x/title)}</child>
else <adult>{data($x/title)}</adult>

Notes on the "if-then-else" syntax: parentheses around the if expression are required. else is
required, but it can be just else ().

The result of the example above will be:

<adult>Everyday Italian</adult>
<child>Harry Potter</child>
<adult>Learning XML</adult>
<adult>XQuery Kick Start</adult>

XQuery Comparisons

In XQuery there are two ways of comparing values.

1. General comparisons: =, !=, <, <=, >, >=

2. Value comparisons: eq, ne, lt, le, gt, ge

The difference between the two comparison methods are shown below.

Look at the following XQuery expressions:

$bookstore//book/@q > 10
The expression above returns true if any q attributes
have values greater than 10.
$bookstore//book/@q gt 10
The expression above returns true if there is only one
q attribute returned by the expression, and its value
is greater than 10. If more than one q is returned,
an error occurs.

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