A Clojure library for the fast processing of XML with VTD-XML.
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A Clojure library for the fast processing of XML with VTD-XML, a Virtual Token Descriptor XML parser.

It provides a more Clojure-like abstraction over VTD while still exposing the power of its low-level interface.


As riveted is available on Clojars, add the following to your Leiningen dependencies:

[riveted "0.1.1"]


riveted is tested against Clojure 1.3, 1.4, 1.5.1, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8.

API Documentation

The latest riveted API documentation is automatically generated with Codox.

Quick Start

For more details, see Usage below.

(ns foo
  (:require [riveted.core :as vtd]))

(def nav (vtd/navigator (slurp "foo.xml")))

;; Navigating by direction and returning text content.
(-> nav vtd/first-child vtd/next-sibling vtd/text) ;=> "Foo"

;; Navigating by direction, restricted by element and returning attribute
;; value.
(-> nav (vtd/first-child :p) (attr :id)) ;=> "42"

;; Return the tag names of all children elements.
(->> nav vtd/children (map vtd/tag)) ;=> ("p" "a" "b")

;; Navigating by element name, regardless of location.
(-> nav (vtd/select :p) first vtd/text)

;; Navigating by XPath, returning all matches.
(map vtd/text (vtd/search nav "//author"))

;; Navigating by XPath, returning the first match.
(vtd/text (vtd/at nav "/article/title"))

;; Calling seq (or any function that uses seq such as first, second, nth,
;; last, etc.) on the navigator yields a sequence of all parsed tokens as
;; simple maps with a type and value entry.
(first nav) ;=> {:type :start-tag, :value "a"}


Once installed, you can include riveted into your desired namespace by requiring riveted.core like so:

(ns foo
  (:require [riveted.core :as vtd]))

The core data structure in riveted is the navigator: this represents both your XML document and your current location within it. It can be interrogated for the tag name, attributes and text value of any given element and also provides the ability to move around the document.

Let's say we have a file called foo.xml with the following content:

  <title>Foo bar</title>
  <author id="1">
    <name>Robert Paulson</name>
    <name>Joe Bloggs</name>
    A <i>great</i> article all about things.

Let's load this into an initial navigator with the navigator function, passing it a UTF-8 encoded string of XML and then storing the result in the var nav:

(def nav (vtd/navigator (slurp "foo.xml")))

navigator also takes an optional second argument to enable XML namespace support which is disabled by default. We'll look at this later but, for now, we can process this document without using namespaces.

Now that we have a navigator, we can navigate the document in several ways (c.f. VTD-XML's explanation of its different views):

There is also a mutable interface for more constrained memory usage.

Traversing by direction

After parsing a document, the navigator's cursor is always at the root element of our XML: for foo.xml, this means the article element. If we want to retrieve the title and we know it's the first child of the article we can simply use riveted's first-child function:

(vtd/first-child nav)

This returns a new navigator with its cursor set to the title element. We can check this by using the text and tag functions to return the text content and tag name of the current cursor respectively:

(vtd/text (vtd/first-child nav)) ;=> "Foo bar"
(vtd/tag (vtd/first-child nav))  ;=> "title"

If we then want to move to the author element, we can use the next-sibling function in a similar way:

(vtd/next-sibling (vtd/first-child nav))

It may be more readable to use Clojure's threading macro, -> when traversing in multiple directions:

(-> nav vtd/first-child vtd/next-sibling)

If we want to test an element for its attributes, we can use attr? like so:

(-> nav vtd/first-child vtd/next-sibling (vtd/attr? :id)) ;=> true

We can then fetch the value of the attribute with attr:

(-> nav vtd/first-child vtd/next-sibling (vtd/attr :id)) ;=> "1"

;; equivalent to:
(vtd/attr (vtd/next-sibling (vtd/first-child nav)) :id)

As well as first-child and next-sibling, you can move in one direction with the following functions:

(vtd/previous-sibling nav) ;=> move to the previous sibling element
(vtd/last-child nav)       ;=> move to the last child element
(vtd/parent nav)           ;=> move to the parent element
(vtd/root nav)             ;=> move to the root element

We can also test navigators to distinguish elements from the entire document:

(-> nav vtd/first-child vtd/element?)   ;=> true
(-> nav vtd/parent vtd/document?)       ;=> true
(-> nav vtd/first-child vtd/attribute?) ;=> false

As we are positioned on the author element, we might now want to collect the text values of the name elements within it. We could do this using the directional functions above but riveted provides a children function to do this for us:

(->> nav vtd/first-child vtd/next-sibling vtd/children (map vtd/text))
;=> ("Robert Paulson" "Joe Bloggs")

;; or if you prefer not to use the threading macro:
(map vtd/text (vtd/children (vtd/next-sibling (vtd/first-child nav))))

Note that children, along with next-siblings and previous-siblings, returns a lazy sequence of matching elements. They also take an optional second argument which allows you to specify an element name which will restrict results further.

For example, if you wanted to return the author element directly from the original navigator, you could ask for the first author child like so:

(-> nav (vtd/first-child :author))

Or ask the root for all child author elements:

(-> nav (vtd/children :author)) ;=> a sequence of all author child elements

You can also get the full text content of a mixed-content node with text which would be perfect for our abstract element:

(-> nav (vtd/first-child :abstract) vtd/text)
;=> "A great article all about things."

If you want to retrieve the raw XML contents of a node, you can use fragment to do so:

(-> nav (vtd/first-child :abstract) vtd/fragment)
;=> "A <i>great</i> article all about things."

Traversing by element name

If we'd rather not navigate a document in terms of directions, riveted also provides a way to traverse XML by element names with select.

To continue our example from above, if we wanted to pull the title text, we could ask the navigator for all title elements (regardless of location) like so:

(vtd/select nav :title)

As this is a lazy sequence, we can ask for the text of the first item like so:

(-> nav (vtd/select :title) first vtd/text) ;=> "Foo bar"

Similarly, we can ask for the text value of all name elements like so:

(map vtd/text (vtd/select nav :name)) ;=> ("Robert Paulson" "Joe Bloggs")

Note that this will return name elements anywhere in the document but we could restrict its search by moving the navigator, perhaps using some of the direction functions from above:

(map vtd/text (-> nav (vtd/first-child :author) (vtd/select :name)))
;=> ("Robert Paulson" "Joe Bloggs")

Or perhaps with select itself:

(map vtd/text (-> nav (vtd/select :author) first (vtd/select :name)))
;=> ("Robert Paulson" "Joe Bloggs")

Finally, we can return a lazy sequence of all elements by simply using a wildcard match:

(vtd/select nav "*")

Traversing by XPath

The last way to traverse a document is to use XPath 1.0 with the search function. Note that this is only used to navigate to elements (so it's not possible to directly return attribute values with an XPath expression).

For example, to select all name elements:

(vtd/search nav "//name")

If you are expecting only one match then you can use the at function to return only one result:

(vtd/at nav "/article/title")

If accessing attributes via XPath, you can use text to return the value of the attribute:

(text (vtd/at nav "/article/@id"))

Namespace support

If you wish to use namespace-aware features, you will need to enable namespace support when creating the initial navigator like so:

(def ns-nav (vtd/navigator (slurp "namespaced.xml") true))

You can then pass a prefix and URL when using search and at like so:

(vtd/search ns-nav "//ns1:name" "ns1" "http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/")

Flat view of tokens

If you need lower level access to the parsed document, you can exploit the fact that navigators implement Clojure's Seqable interface and can be traversed as a flat sequence much like a list or vector:

(first nav)  ;=> {:type :start-tag, :value "article"}
(second nav) ;=> {:type :start-tag, :value "title"}
(nth nav 2)  ;=> {:type :character-data, :value "Foo bar"}
(nth nav 4)  ;=> {:type :attribute-name, :value "id"}
(seq nav)    ;=> the full sequence of tokens

;; Return all comments from a document.
(filter (comp #{:comment} :type) nav)

This gives you access to all tokens in the document including XML declarations, doctypes, comments, processing instructions, etc. However, it is a very low level of abstraction and if you only care about navigating elements, it might be better to use a cursor-based view instead.

Mutable interface

riveted also provides a mutable interface to VTDNav (much like Clojure's transient data structures) for lower-memory usage (at the cost of immutability):

;; Create an initial navigator as per usual.
(def nav (navigator "<root><a>Foo</a><b>Bar</b></root>"))

;; Mutate nav to point to the a element.
(vtd/first-child! nav)

(vtd/text nav)
;=> "Foo"

;; Mutate nav to point to the b element.
(vtd/next-sibling! nav)

(vtd/text nav)
;=> "Bar"

;; Mutate nav to point to the a element again.
(vtd/previous-sibling! nav)

;; Mutate nav to point to the root element.
(vtd/parent! nav)

;; Mutate nav to point to the root of the document (regardless of location).
(vtd/root! nav)

In order to mitigate the problems with mutable state, it might be best to use the above functions much like you would transient; viz. within the confines of a function like so:

(defn title [nav]
  (-> (vtd/root nav)                    ; Create a new navigator to the root
      (vtd/first-child! :front)         ; for mutation.
      (vtd/first-child! :article-meta)
      (vtd/first-child! :title-group)
      (vtd/first-child! :article-title)

In this way, only one extra navigator is created.


Andrew Diamond's clj-vtd-xml and Tim Williams' gist are existing interfaces to VTD-XML from Clojure that were great sources of inspiration.

Dave Ray's seesaw set the standard for helpful docstrings.

Clojure's core.clj provided fascinating reading, particularly regarding the use of :inline metadata.

Thanks to Heikki Hämäläinen for contributing a character encoding fix for Windows users.


Copyright © 2013-2018 Paul Mucur.

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.