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XML and XPath


XPath (the XML Path language) is a language for finding information in an XML document.


What is XPath?

XPath
  • XPath is a syntax for defining parts of an XML document
  • XPath uses path expressions to navigate in XML documents
  • XPath contains a library of standard functions
  • XPath is a major element in XSLT
  • XPath is also used in XQuery, XPointer and XLink
  • XPath is a W3C recommendation


XPath Path Expressions

XPath uses path expressions to select nodes or node-sets in an XML document. These path expressions look very much like the expressions you see when you work with a traditional computer file system.

Today XPath expressions can also be used in JavaScript, Java, XML Schema, PHP, Python, C and C++, and lots of other languages.


XPath is Used in XSLT

XPath is a major element in the XSLT standard. Without XPath knowledge you will not be able to create XSLT documents.


XPath Example

We will use the following XML document:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<bookstore>

<book category="COOKING">
  <title lang="en">Everyday Italian</title>
  <author>Giada De Laurentiis</author>
  <year>2005</year>
  <price>30.00</price>
</book>

<book category="CHILDREN">
  <title lang="en">Harry Potter</title>
  <author>J K. Rowling</author>
  <year>2005</year>
  <price>29.99</price>
</book>

<book category="WEB">
  <title lang="en">XQuery Kick Start</title>
  <author>James McGovern</author>
  <author>Per Bothner</author>
  <author>Kurt Cagle</author>
  <author>James Linn</author>
  <author>Vaidyanathan Nagarajan</author>
  <year>2003</year>
  <price>49.99</price>
</book>

<book category="WEB">
  <title lang="en">Learning XML</title>
  <author>Erik T. Ray</author>
  <year>2003</year>
  <price>39.95</price>
</book>

</bookstore>

In the table below we have listed some XPath expressions and the result of the expressions:

XPath Expression Result
/bookstore/book[1] Selects the first book element that is the child of the bookstore element
/bookstore/book[last()] Selects the last book element that is the child of the bookstore element
/bookstore/book[last()-1] Selects the last but one book element that is the child of the bookstore element
/bookstore/book[position()<3] Selects the first two book elements that are children of the bookstore element
//title[@lang] Selects all the title elements that have an attribute named lang
//title[@lang='eng'] Selects all the title elements that have an attribute named lang with a value of 'eng'
/bookstore/book[price>35.00] Selects all the book elements of the bookstore element that have a price element with a value greater than 35.00
/bookstore/book[price>35.00]/title Selects all the title elements of the book elements of the bookstore element that have a price element with a value greater than 35.00

If you want to learn more about XPath, find our XPath tutorial on our homepage.



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