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ROXML is a module for binding Ruby classes to XML. It supports custom mapping and bidirectional marshalling between Ruby and XML using annotation-style class methods, via Nokogiri or LibXML.
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ROXML Ruby Object to XML mapping library.

For more information visit:

Please submit bugs here:

Quick Start Guide

This is a short usage example. See ROXML::ClassMethods::Declarations and packaged test cases for more information.

Basic Mapping

Consider an XML document representing a Library containing a number of Books. You can map this structure to Ruby classes that provide addition useful behavior. With ROXML, you can annotate the Ruby classes as follows:

class Book
  include ROXML

  xml_accessor :isbn, :from => "@ISBN" # attribute with name 'ISBN'
  xml_accessor :title
  xml_accessor :description, :cdata => true  # text node with cdata protection
  xml_accessor :author

class Library
  include ROXML

  xml_accessor :name, :from => "NAME", :cdata => true
  xml_accessor :books, :as => [Book] # by default roxml searches for books for in <book> child nodes, then, if none are present, in ./books/book children

To create a library and put a number of books in it we could run the following code:

book =
book.isbn = "0201710897"
book.title = "The PickAxe"
book.description = "Best Ruby book out there!" = "David Thomas, Andrew Hunt, Dave Thomas"

lib = = "Favorite Books"
lib.books = [book]

To save this information to an XML file:

doc =
doc.root = lib.to_xml
open("library.xml", 'w') do |file|
  file << doc.serialize


doc =
doc.root = lib.to_xml"library.xml")

To later populate the library object from the XML file:

lib = Library.from_xml("library.xml"))

Similarly, to do a one-to-one mapping between XML objects, such as book and publisher, you would add a reference to another ROXML class. For example:

<book isbn="0974514055">
  <title>Programming Ruby - 2nd Edition</title>
  <description>Second edition of the great book.</description>
    <name>Pragmatic Bookshelf</name>

can be mapped using the following code:

class Publisher
  include ROXML

  xml_accessor :name

  # other important functionality

class BookWithPublisher
  include ROXML

  xml_name 'book'
  xml_reader :publisher, :as => Publisher

  #  or, alternatively, if no class is needed to hang functionality on:
  # xml_reader :publisher, :from => 'name', :in => 'publisher'

Note: In the above example, xml_name annotation tells ROXML to set the element name to “book” for mapping to XML. The default is XML element name is the class name in lowercase; “bookwithpublisher” in this case.

Namespace Support

Namespaced nodes are supported via the xml_namespace and xml_namespaces declarations and the :from and :namespace attr options. See spec/xml/namespace_spec.rb for usage.

Note that ROXML does not currently support outputting namespaced nodes. This is planned for a future version.


Extending the above examples, say you want to parse a book's page count and have it available as an Integer. In such a case, you can extend any object with a block to manipulate it's value at parse time. For example:

class Dog
  include ROXML

  xml_reader(:age, :from => '@human_years', :as => Integer) {|years| years * 7 }

The result of the block above is stored, rather than the actual value parsed from the document.


Object life-cycle is as follows: .from_xml is called with a first argument representing the xml in file, string, or path form, and with optional initialization_args following.

Firt .new and thus #initialize, is called with those same initialization_args, or no args if none are present. Then the object is populated with the attribute values from xml. Then the #after_parse callback is called, with no arguments.

In #after_parse you can ensure that your object initialization is complete, including initialization which requires more than one variable in concert.


class Measurement
  include ROXML

  xml_reader :units, :from => :attr
  xml_reader :value, :from => :content

  def initialize(value = 0, units = 'meters')

  def after_parse
    # xml attributes of self are already valid

  def to_metric
    # translate units & value into metric, for example

One important use of this approach is to make ROXML object which may or may not include an xml backing, which may be used via new construction as well as from_xml construction.

Selecting a parser

By default, ROXML will use Nokogiri if it is available, followed by LibXML. If you'd like to explicitly require one or the other, you may do the following:

module ROXML
  XML_PARSER = 'nokogiri' # or 'libxml'
require 'roxml'

For more information on available annotations, see ROXML::ClassMethods::Declarations

Note on Patches/Pull Requests

  • Fork the project.

  • Make your feature addition or bug fix.

  • Add specs for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.

  • Commit, do not mess with rakefile, version, or history. (if you want to have your own version, that is fine but

    bump version in a commit by itself I can ignore when I pull)
  • Send me a pull request. Bonus points for topic branches.


Copyright © 2004-2009 Ben Woosley, Zak Mandhro and Anders Engstrom. See LICENSE for details.

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