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XML to JavaScript object converter.
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README.md

node-xml2js

Ever had the urge to parse XML? And wanted to access the data in some sane, easy way? Don't want to compile a C parser, for whatever reason? Then xml2js is what you're looking for!

Description

Simple XML to JavaScript object converter. Uses sax-js.

Note: If you're looking for a full DOM parser, you probably want JSDom.

Installation

Simplest way to install xml2js is to use npm, just npm install xml2js which will download xml2js and all dependencies.

Usage

No extensive tutorials required because you are a smart developer! The task of parsing XML should be an easy one, so let's make it so! Here's some examples.

Shoot-and-forget usage

You want to parse XML as simple and easy as possible? It's dangerous to go alone, take this:

var parseString = require('xml2js').parseString;
var xml = "<root>Hello xml2js!</root>"
parseString(xml, function (err, result) {
    console.dir(result);
});

Can't get easier than this, right? This works starting with xml2js 0.2.3. With CoffeeScript it looks like this:

parseString = require('xml2js').parseString
xml = "<root>Hello xml2js!</root>"
parseString xml, (err, result) ->
    console.dir result

If you need some special options, fear not, xml2js supports a number of options (see below), you can specify these as second argument:

parseString(xml, {trim: true}, function (err, result) {
});

Simple as pie usage

That's right, if you have been using xml-simple or a home-grown wrapper, this is was added in 0.1.11 just for you:

var fs = require('fs'),
    xml2js = require('xml2js');

var parser = new xml2js.Parser();
fs.readFile(__dirname + '/foo.xml', function(err, data) {
    parser.parseString(data, function (err, result) {
        console.dir(result);
        console.log('Done');
    });
});

Look ma, no event listeners!

You can also use xml2js from CoffeeScript, further reducing the clutter:

fs = require 'fs',
xml2js = require 'xml2js'

parser = new xml2js.Parser()
fs.readFile __dirname + '/foo.xml', (err, data) ->
  parser.parseString data, (err, result) ->
    console.dir result
    console.log 'Done.'

But what happens if you forget the new keyword to create a new Parser? In the middle of a nightly coding session, it might get lost, after all. Worry not, we got you covered! Starting with 0.2.8 you can also leave it out, in which case xml2js will helpfully add it for you, no bad surprises and inexplicable bugs!

"Traditional" usage

Alternatively you can still use the traditional addListener variant that was supported since forever:

var fs = require('fs'),
    xml2js = require('xml2js');

var parser = new xml2js.Parser();
parser.addListener('end', function(result) {
    console.dir(result);
    console.log('Done.');
});
fs.readFile(__dirname + '/foo.xml', function(err, data) {
    parser.parseString(data);
});

If you want to parse multiple files, you have multiple possibilites:

  • You can create one xml2js.Parser per file. That's the recommended one and is promised to always just work.
  • You can call reset() on your parser object.
  • You can hope everything goes well anyway. This behaviour is not guaranteed work always, if ever. Use option #1 if possible. Thanks!

So you wanna some JSON?

Just wrap the result object in a call to JSON.stringify like this JSON.stringify(result). You get a string containing the JSON representation of the parsed object that you can feed to JSON-hungry consumers.

Displaying results

You might wonder why, using console.dir or console.log the output at some level is only [Object]. Don't worry, this is not because xml2js got lazy. That's because Node uses util.inspect to convert the object into strings and that function stops after depth=2 which is a bit low for most XML.

To display the whole deal, you can use console.log(util.inspect(result, false, null)), which displays the whole result.

So much for that, but what if you use eyes for nice colored output and it truncates the output with ? Don't fear, there's also a solution for that, you just need to increase the maxLength limit by creating a custom inspector var inspect = require('eyes').inspector({maxLength: false}) and then you can easily inspect(result).

Options

Apart from the default settings, there is a number of options that can be specified for the parser. Options are specified by new Parser({optionName: value}). Possible options are:

  • attrkey (default: $): Prefix that is used to access the attributes. Version 0.1 default was @.
  • charkey (default: _): Prefix that is used to access the character content. Version 0.1 default was #.
  • explicitCharkey (default: false)
  • trim (default: false): Trim the whitespace at the beginning and end of text nodes.
  • normalizeTags (default: false): Normalize all tag names to lowercase.
  • normalize (default: false): Trim whitespaces inside text nodes.
  • explicitRoot (default: true): Set this if you want to get the root node in the resulting object.
  • emptyTag (default: undefined): what will the value of empty nodes be. Default is {}.
  • explicitArray (default: true): Always put child nodes in an array if true; otherwise an array is created only if there is more than one.
  • ignoreAttrs (default: false): Ignore all XML attributes and only create text nodes.
  • mergeAttrs (default: false): Merge attributes and child elements as properties of the parent, instead of keying attributes off a child attribute object. This option is ignored if ignoreAttrs is false.
  • validator (default null): You can specify a callable that validates the resulting structure somehow, however you want. See unit tests for an example.
  • xmlns (default false): Give each element a field usually called '$ns' (the first character is the same as attrkey) that contains its local name and namespace URI.
  • explicitChildren (default false): Put child elements to separate property. Doesn't work with mergeAttrs = true. If element has no children then "children" won't be created. Added in 0.2.5.
  • childkey (default $$): Prefix that is used to access child elements if explicitChildren is set to true. Added in 0.2.5.
  • charsAsChildren (default false): Determines whether chars should be considered children if explicitChildren is on. Added in 0.2.5.
  • async (default false): Should the callbacks be async? This might be an incompatible change if your code depends on sync execution of callbacks. xml2js 0.3 might change this default, so the recommendation is to not depend on sync execution anyway. Added in 0.2.6.
  • strict (default true): Set sax-js to strict or non-strict parsing mode. Defaults to true which is highly recommended, since parsing HTML which is not well-formed XML might yield just about anything. Added in 0.2.7.

Updating to new version

Version 0.2 changed the default parsing settings, but version 0.1.14 introduced the default settings for version 0.2, so these settings can be tried before the migration.

var xml2js = require('xml2js');
var parser = new xml2js.Parser(xml2js.defaults["0.2"]);

To get the 0.1 defaults in version 0.2 you can just use xml2js.defaults["0.1"] in the same place. This provides you with enough time to migrate to the saner way of parsing in xml2js 0.2. We try to make the migration as simple and gentle as possible, but some breakage cannot be avoided.

So, what exactly did change and why? In 0.2 we changed some defaults to parse the XML in a more universal and sane way. So we disabled normalize and trim so xml2js does not cut out any text content. You can reenable this at will of course. A more important change is that we return the root tag in the resulting JavaScript structure via the explicitRoot setting, so you need to access the first element. This is useful for anybody who wants to know what the root node is and preserves more information. The last major change was to enable explicitArray, so everytime it is possible that one might embed more than one sub-tag into a tag, xml2js >= 0.2 returns an array even if the array just includes one element. This is useful when dealing with APIs that return variable amounts of subtags.

Running tests, development

Build Status

The development requirements are handled by npm, you just need to install them. We also have a number of unit tests, they can be run using npm test directly from the project root. This runs zap to discover all the tests and execute them.

If you like to contribute, keep in mind that xml2js is written in CoffeeScript, so don't develop on the JavaScript files that are checked into the repository for convenience reasons. Also, please write some unit test to check your behaviour and if it is some user-facing thing, add some documentation to this README, so people will know it exists. Thanks in advance!

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