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Java XQuery
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Welcome to Brackit!

Brackit is a flexible XQuery-based query engine developed during my time as PhD student at the TU Kaiserslautern in the context of our research in the field of query processing for semi-structured data. The system features a fast runtime and a flexible compiler backend, which is , e.g., able to rewrite queries for optimized join processing and efficient aggregation operations.


At the moment we support XQuery 1.0 including library module support, the XQuery Update Facility 1.0 and some features of XQuery 3.0 like the new FLWOR clauses group by and count.

As a speciality, Brackit comes with extensions to work natively with JSON-style arrays and records. Another extension allows you to use a special statement syntax for writing XQuery programs in a script-like style.


Compiling from source

To build and package change into the root directy of the project and run Maven:

mvn package

To skip running the unit tests run instead.

mvn -DskipTests package

That's all. You find the ready-to-use jar file in the subdirectory ./target

Step 3: Install (optional)

If you want to use brackit in your other Maven-based projects, you need to install brackit in your local maven repository.

mvn install

First Steps

Running from the command line

Brackit ships with a rudimentary command line interface to run ad-hoc queries. Invoke it with

java -jar brackit-x.y.z.jar

where x.y.z is the version number of brackit.

Simple queries

The simplest way to run a query is by passing it via stdin:

echo "1+1" | java -jar brackit-x.y.z.jar

=> 2

If the query is stored in a separate file, let's say test.xq, type:

java -jar brackit-x.y.z.jar -q test.xq

or use the file redirection of your shell:

java -jar brackit-x.y.z.jar < test.xq

Querying documents

Querying documents is as simple as running any other query.

The default "storage" module resolves any referred documents accessed by the XQuery functions fn:doc() and fn:collection() at query runtime.

To query a document in your local filesytem simply type use the path to this document in the fn:doc() function:

echo "doc('products.xml')//product[@prodno = '4711']" | java -jar brackit-x.y.z.jar

Of course, you can also directly query documents via http(s), or ftp. For example:

echo "count(doc('')//bar)" | java -jar brackit-x.y.z.jar

Coding with Brackit

Running XQuery embedded in a Java program requires only a few lines of code:

String query =
    "for $i in (1 to 4)"
  + "let $d := {$i}"
  + "return $d";

// initialize a query context
QueryContext ctx = new QueryContext();

// compile the query
XQuery xq = new XQuery(query);

// enable formatted output

// run the query and write the result to System.out
xq.serialize(ctx, System.out);

JSON Extension (Beta)

Brackit features a seamless integration of JSON-like objects and arrays directly at the language level.

You can easily mix arbitrary XML and JSON data in a single query or simply use brackit to convert data from one format into the other. This allows you to get the most out of your data.

The language extension allows you to construct and operate JSON data directly; additional utility functions help you to perform typical tasks.

Everything is designed to simplify joint processing of XDM and JSON and to maximize the freedom of developers. Thus, our extension effectively supports some sort of superset of XDM and JSON. That means, it is possible to create arrays and objects which do not strictly conform to the JSON RFC. It's up to you to decide how you want to have your data look like!


Arrays can be created using an extended version of the standard JSON array syntax:

(: statically create an array with 3 elements of different types: 1, 2.0, "3" :)
[ 1, 2.0, "3" ]

(: for compliance with the JSON syntax the tokens 'true', 'false', and 'null'
   are translated into the XML values xs:bool('true'), xs:bool('false') and empty-sequence()
[ true, false, null ]

(: is different to :)
[ (true), (false), (null) ]
(: where each field is initialized as the result of a path expression
   starting from the current context item, e,g., './true'

(: dynamically create an array by evaluating some expressions: :)
[ 1+1, substring("banana", 3, 5), () ] (: yields the array [ 2, "nana", () ] :)

(: arrays can be nested and fields can be arbitrary sequences :)
[ (1 to 5) ] (: yields an array of length 1: [(1,2,3,4,5)] :)
[ some text ] (: yields an array of length 1 with an XML fragment as field value :)
[ 'x', [ 'y' ], 'z' ] (: yields an array of length 3: [ 'x' , ['y'], 'z' ] :)

(: a preceding '=' distributes the items of a sequence to individual array positions :)
[ =(1 to 5) ] (: yields an array of length 5: [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ] :)

(: array fields can be accessed by the '[[ ]]' postfix operator: :)
let $a := [ "Jim", "John", "Joe" ] return $a[[1]] (: yields the string "John" :)

(: the function bit:len() returns the length of an array :)
bit:len([ 1, 2, ]) (: yields 2 :)


Records provide an alternative to XML to represent structured data. Like with arrays we support an extended version of the standard JSON object syntax:

(: statically create a record with three fields named 'a', 'b' and 'c' :)
{ "a": 1, "b" : 2, "c" : 3 }

(: for compliance with the JSON syntax the tokens 'true', 'false', and 'null'
   are translated into the XML values xs:bool('true'), xs:bool('false') and empty-sequence()
{ "a": true, "b" : false, "c" : null}

(: field names are modelled as xs:QName and may be set in double quotes,
   single quotes or completely without quotes.
{ a : 1, 'b' : 2, "c" : 3 }

(: field values may be arbitrary expressions:)
{ a : concat('f', 'oo') , 'b' : 1+1, c : [1,2,3] } (: yields {a : "foo", b : 2, c : [1,2,3]} :)

(: field values are defined by key-value pairs or by an expression
   that evaluates to a record
let $r := { x:1, y:2 } return { $r, z:3} (: yields {x : 1, y : 2, z : 3} :)

(: fields may be selectively projected into a new record :)
{x : 1, y : 2, z : 3}{z,y} (: yields {z : 3, y : 2} :)

(: values of record field can be accessed using the deref operator '=>' :)
{ a : "hello" , b : "world" }=>b (: yields the string "world" :)

(: the deref operator can be used to navigate into deeply nested record structures :)
let $n := yval let $r := {e : {m:'mvalue', n:$n}} return $r=>e=>n/y (: yields the XML fragment yval :)

(: the function bit:fields() returns the field names of a record :)
let $r := {x : 1, y : 2, z : 3} return bit:fields($r) (: yields the xs:QName array [ x, y, z ] :)

(: the function bit:values() returns the field values of a record :)
let $r := {x : 1, y : 2, z : (3, 4) } return bit:values($r) (: yields the array [ 1, 2, (2,4) ] :)

Parsing JSON

(: the utility function json:parse() can be used to parse JSON data dynamically
   from a given xs:string
let $s := io:read('/data/sample.json') return json:parse($s)

Statement Syntax Extension (Beta)


** This extension is only a syntax extension to simplify programmer's life when writing XQuery. It is neither a subset of nor an equivalent to the XQuery Scripting Extension 1.0. **

Almost any non-trivial data processing task consists of a series of consecutive steps. Unfortunately, the functional style of XQuery makes it a bit cumbersome to write code in a convenient, script-like fashion. Instead, the standard way to express a linear multi-step process (with access to intermediate results) is to write a FLWOR expression with a series of let-clauses.

As a shorthand, Brackit allows you to write such processes as a sequence of ';'-terminated statements, which most developers are familiar with:

(: declare external input :)
declare variable $file external;

(: read input data :)
$events := fn:collection('events');

(: join the two inputs :)
$incidents := for $e in $events
              where $e/@severity = 'critical'
              let $ip := x/system/@ip
              group by $ip
              order by count($e)
              return {$ip} count($e) ;

(: store report to file :)
$report := {$incidents};
$output := bit:serialize($report);
io:write($file, $output);

(: return a short message as result :)
Generated '{count($incidents)}' incident entries to report '{$file}'

Internally, the compiler treats this as a FLWOR expression with let-bindings. The result, i.e., the return expression, is the result of the last statement. Accordingly, the previous example is equivalent to:

(: declare external input :)
declare variable $file external;

(: read input data :)
let $events := fn:collection('events')

(: join the two inputs :)
let $incidents := for $e in $events
                  where $e/@severity = 'critical'
                  let $ip := x/system/@ip
                  group by $ip
                  order by count($e)
                  return {$ip} count($e)

(: store report to file :)
let $report := {$incidents}
let $output := bit:serialize($report)
let $written := io:write($file, $output)

(: return a short message as result :)
return Generated '{count($incidents)}' incident entries to report '{$file}'

The statement syntax is especially helpful to improve readability of user-defined functions.

The following example shows an - admittedly rather slow - implementation of the quicksort algorithm:

declare function local:qsort($values) {
    $len := count($values);
    if ($len <= 1) then (
    ) else (
        $pivot := $values[$len idiv 2];
        $less := $values[. < $pivot];
        $greater := $values[. > $pivot];
        (local:qsort($less), $pivot, local:qsort($greater))