Java XML parser with XPath's ease-of-use and pull-parsing performance. Built for use on Android, web services, web applications or client-side Java.
Latest commit a4053c6 May 6, 2011 Riyad Kalla Added missing target=1.5 arg to javac build task.


Simple Java XML Parser (SJXP) for any Java Platform including Android.

	* Fixed potential performance issue where internal XMLParser.Location.clear()
	method wasn't clearing the Integer hashCodeCache instance between parse() 
	calls. This had the potential to degrade parsing performance if a lot of
	different kinds of XML were parsed, leading to many different unique paths
	and many different unique Integer hashCode's representing each path filling
	up the cache and never getting cleared.

	* Fixed bug where isStartTag was always true for TAG type rules
	* Removed use of enhanced for-loop in code base because it caused a large
	number of AbstractList$Itr classes to be created for no great reason.

	In previous versions of SJXP, the design to match the parser's current 
	location to any registered IRule's was done by comparing their String path
	values. It was a straight forward and simple design, unfortunately under the
	microscope of HPROF, it was revealed that running the "Benchmark" class in
	it's entirety, was leading to something like 85mb of garbage String and char[]
	objects being created as well as taking up 60% of CPU time.
	The internal mechanism used to compare locations to IRules was rewritten to
	use integer hash codes and the memory and CPU reduction has been unbelievable.
	Memory usage and performance are increased drastically in this release on all
	platforms (especially good for Android).

	* New IRule.Type.TAG type is defined which allows rules to be called when
	START and END tag events occur without the overhead of parsing data from the
	underlying XML stream. This is valuable when you want to examine (e.g. count
	elements) the XML content without actually parsing data out of it.
	* Support for passing through a user-object from XMLParser to the IRule 
	handlers was added. Given that in almost every parsing case *something* needs
	to be done with the parsed value (processed, stored, etc.) you almost always
	want to have access to some sort of DAO inside of your IRule handlers; that
	is exactly what the user-object can be now.
	A truncated but quick example looks like this:
	DBStore store = // some DAO creation
	XMLParser<DBStore> parser = new XMLParser<DBStore>();
	parser.parse(xmlInputStream, store);
	Then in the IRule handler code your "user object" object is the passed-through
	store object that you can use to store the parsed value. This is just an
	example, it can be anything.

	* Initial public release.

This library is released under the Apache 2 License. See LICENSE.

A very small (4 classes) abstraction layer that sits on top of the XML Pull 
Parser spec ( to provide a namespace-capable XML Parser with
the ease-of-use of XPath with the performance of a native pull parser.

SJXP was designed to work on any Java platform, including Android 1.5+.

This library supports parsing 2 types of data from an XML source:
* Character data (text between tags)
* Attribute values

Parsing rules (IRule instances) are defined as a series of XPath-esque 
"location paths" pointing at elements or attribute names, for example the 
following rule would point at the <title> tag inside the <item> tag of an RSS 

Additionally, the library supports parsing namespace-qualified entities using a
simple [] notation with the namespace's URI, for example:

Where the "creator" tag is defined as <dc:creator> inside of the RSS feed, and
the "dc" prefix is mapped to the "" namespace

Supporting the use of the 'prefix' in parse rules is too fragile as plenty of 
documents in the wild remap "well known" prefixes to their own custom names, 
like remapping the "dc" (Dublin Core) prefix to "core" or "dublin".

To ensure parsing correctness, this library opted for explicit namespace URI 

Below are a set of test cases I used to benchmark the parser. I have tried to
include a range of files so you can most closely predict the performance with
regards to your intended use.

You can run all these tests yourself, just look for the Benchmark suite inside
the /src/test folder. 

* Java 1.6.0_24 on Windows 7 64-bit 
* Dual Core Intel E6850 processor
* 8 GB of ram

[Benchmark Files]
1.	Hacker News Feed - 10 KB, 30 stories

2.	Bugzilla Bug Feed - 132 KB, 128 comments

3.	New York Craigslist Feed - 278 KB, 100 listings

4.	TechCrunch Feed - 300 KB, 25 stories

5.	Samsung News Feed - 500 KB, 100 stories

6.	Eclipse XML Editor Stress Test File - 1.63 MB, 1054 additionallineitem entries

7.	Example Dictionary XML - 10 MB, 41,427 <w> entries

1. Processed 11061 bytes, parsed 60 XML elements in 7ms
	ELEMENTS: <title> and <link>

2. Processed 132687 bytes, parsed 258 XML elements in 50ms
	ELEMENTS: <who name=""> and <thetext>

3. Processed 278771 bytes, parsed 200 XML elements in 61ms
	ELEMENTS: <item rdf:about=""> and <description>
4. Processed 303726 bytes, parsed 50 XML elements in 41ms
	ELEMENTS: <title> and <link>
5. Processed 724031 bytes, parsed 300 XML elements in 58ms
	ELEMENTS: <title>, <link> and <description>
6. Processed 1633334 bytes, parsed 2108 XML elements in 219ms
	ELEMENT: <quantityandweight> (from <additionalitem>)
7. Processed 10625983 bytes, parsed 41427 XML elements in 412ms
	ELEMENT: <w> (from the /dictionary/e/ss/s/qp/q path)

If all these tests are run back-to-back such that the running VM gets
"warmed up" (as would be the case in an Android or Web application), the 
performance is roughly 2x what it is from a cold-run.

I ran the tests above from a "cold start" to try and be fair, below is the 
entire benchmark suite run back-to-back with a warm VM, notice the greatly 
improved parse times:

1. Processed 11061 bytes, parsed 60 XML elements in 7ms
2. Processed 132687 bytes, parsed 258 XML elements in 33ms
3. Processed 278771 bytes, parsed 200 XML elements in 143ms
4. Processed 303726 bytes, parsed 50 XML elements in 9ms
5. Processed 724031 bytes, parsed 300 XML elements in 19ms
6. Processed 1633334 bytes, parsed 2108 XML elements in 120ms
7. Processed 10625983 bytes, parsed 41427 XML elements in 241ms

Defining a rule (instance of IRule) is as simple as using the DefaultRule class
and added an impl for either of the two handler methods (1 for ATTRIBUTES and 1

Here is an in-line example used to parse links from an RSS2 feed:

	new DefaultRule(Type.CHARACTER, "/rss/channel/item/link") {
		public void handleParsedCharacters(XMLParser parser, String text, Object userObject) {
			// Do something with the link
You pass that to the XMLParser constructor and you are off to the races parsing
links out of an RSS feed at the speed of light!

You are certainly welcome to extend IRule yourself, but DefaultRule was written
with the intent that it could easily be reused in all cases to define rules.

How it Works
As the underlying XML Pull Parser is parsing the stream of XML content you
gave it, it keeps track of where it is within the doc by pushing and popping
the element names (and namespace URIs if available) to a path representation of
the parser's current location.

NOTE: Individual String objects are not created during this process, it is a
very tight loop that avoids object creation.

As the parser runs through the file, at every START_TAG, END_TAG and TEXT event, 
it queries internal Maps of the IRule instances you gave it to see if any IRule's 
have locationPaths that match its current location. If it does, the List of 
matching rules are pulled out and processed.

Lookups are immediate, using hash codes of the locations to do the comparisons.

If no rules are matched, the parser moves on, having done no additional parsing
work at that currently location (e.g. it doesn't even bother to try and pull out
the values from the underlying stream unless you ask for them).

It is a really simple design, but makes for a much easier API with next to no
new overhead introduced into the parsing process.

Memory/CPU Overhead
The overhead added to the parsing process is microscopic, but I will outline it 
here for the performance-minded folks that like reading this stuff (like me):

1. Parser maintains an internal StringBuilder that it uses to represent its 
current location in the file. As tags are closed and "popped" off the path,
StringBuilder.setLength() is used to simply adjust the internal length int as
opposed to causing a System.arraycopy call by using StringBuilder.delete

2. At every START_TAG and TEXT even, an O(1) Map lookup is done for a matching
path using a hash code of the current location.

3. Memory overhead for the parser's path (typically 128 bytes) and every IRule
instance that defines a rule for the parser. You are looking at only a few K
of overhead if you want to include the ClassLoader holding the classes in memory,
but that is just being pedantic.

Runtime Requirements
If you are deploying this library inside of an app to Android (1.5+), you only 
need to include the sjxp JAR; it will utilize whatever underlying XML Pull 
Parser impl is provided by the platform.

If you are deploying this library inside of any other kind of app in a Java
runtime, be sure to include the xpp3-1.1.4c.jar file that contains the XPP3
XML Pull Parser implementation (one of the fastest parsers).

This project was born out of 6 months of working on RDF, Atom and RSS 1 & 2
parsing using XML pull parsing; hand-editing and writing test cases against
well over 400 test feed documents from around the web in every language.

Common themes arose and many eye-opening experiences of how broken some "valid"
feed markup can be in addition to how sloppy some specs are with regards to
required format.

Spending all that time, I saw a lot of common themes and simplifications that
boiled down to the same fundamental problems over and over again. At the time
I wrote a fairly complex layer that sat on top of Sun's XML Pull Parser, but
soon realized that the fundamental problem could be distilled, yet again, down
to something even simpler and faster.

This library is the final result of all that work.  

Here are some issues you might run into and what you can do to correct it.

* I get the following exception while parsing:
	org.xmlpull.v1.XmlPullParserException: processing instruction can not have 
	PITarget with reserveld xml name (position: START_DOCUMENT seen \r\n<?xml ... @2:7)
	This is a frustratingly vague exception; it is caused by your <?xml..?> 
	directive at the beginning of your XML file having whitespace before it
	(meaning it isn't the VERY FIRST thing in the document). If	you remove the 
	whitespace, you should be fine (apparently it is against the spec to have 
	any whitespace before it).
* I am getting no parsed values from an RDF feed doc (like's feed),

	This can be unexpected, especially if you haven't spent a lot of time with
	name spaces and XML docs. The RDF doc *probably* defines a default namespace,
	in the case of the feed example, it does. Up in the header, you
	see "xmlns=", that means every element reference you make to elements that 
	are not prefixed with another namespace prefix (e.g. <title>) needs to be 
	qualified with the default namespace URI; something like this:
	instead of what you were probably trying:
	This is because <channel> has an implied namespace of the value defined with
	"xmlns" up in the doc header. 

* I have my rule setup correctly but I never get a parse value from the parser!
I have double-checked everything, why?!

	This has hit me a few times while writing test-cases when I was getting
	copy-paste happy... what you've probably done is copied some IRule handler 
	code and changed the Type of the rule from ATTRIBUTE to CATEGORY (or visa 
	versa) and forgotten to implement the OTHER handleXXX method so the default 
	no-op method in DefaultRule is getting called every time the rule matches.
* I don't understand the "userObject", what is it suppose to do?

	The "userObject" is not black magic, it is just a brain-dead pass-through
	mechanism that makes accessing an important class from inside of custom
	handler code easier.
	You call XMLParser.parse, and in addition to the stream you want parsed, you
	pass another object that you want the parser to give back to you when it finds
	something interesting... maybe like a DAO or cache instance to store the values
	As soon as the XMLParser matches a rule, it calls the handler, and in addition
	to the parsed values, also hands you the "userObject" you gave IT way back
	when you started the parse operation.
	This way your handler code can stay simple without you needing to create
	custom IRule implementations that take your special class as a constructor
	argument or something like that.
	This "pass-through" design of the userObject was chosen because most of the
	time when you are parsing XML values, after you get the value, you typically
	want to do something with it, like store it or process it in some way.

* Since Version 2.0 of SJXP I have a lot of generic warnings around my code like
"XMLParser is a raw type. References to generic type XMLParser<T> should be 
parameterized" and "DefaultRule is a raw type. References to generic type 
DefaultRule<T> should be parameterized", why? How do I fix this?

	This is because a new generified type "T" was defined on the XMLParser and
	IRule class to allow generic typing of the optional userObject that can be
	passed-through from the parser to the IRule handler now.
	The userObject is a design paradigm used to make it easy for you to get 
	access to some custom object, like a DAO, inside of your handler code without
	needing to implement your own custom IRule that gets a reference to your
	object through it's constructor. This design allows you to use the 
	DefaultRule implementation and get all the functionality you need. 
	If your code doesn't need to make use of the userObject, that means your
	references to plain XMLParser and IRule will generate warnings about "raw 
	types". To suppress these, you can use the following annotation on the line, method
	or entire class that you want to quiet down:

	@SuppressWarnings({ "rawtypes", "unchecked" })
	If you don't like suppressing warnings, then you can just parameterize the
	classes with Object, like so:
	XMLParser<Object> parser = new XMLParser<Object>();

XML Pull Parsing -
XML Pull Parsing @ Indiana U -
XPP3 -
Android XML Pull Parsing -

If you have questions, comments or bug reports for this software please contact
us at: