|Introduction||Comparing XSLT and the Wolfram Language|
|Visualizing the XML Tree||Converting a Notebook to HTML|
|Manipulating XML Data||Verifying Symbolic XML Syntax|
The Wolfram Language is uniquely suited for processing symbolic expressions because of its powerful pattern-matching abilities and large collection of built-in structural manipulation functions. This tutorial provides a few examples to illustrate the use of the Wolfram Language for processing XML data.
When you import an arbitrary XML document into the Wolfram Language, it is automatically converted into a symbolic XML expression. Symbolic XML is the format used for representing XML documents in Wolfram Language syntax. The conversion to symbolic XML translates the XML document into a Wolfram Language expression while preserving its structure. The advantage of converting XML data into symbolic XML is that you can directly manipulate symbolic XML using any of the Wolfram Language's built-in functions.
Many XML tools display an XML document as a collapsible tree, where the nodes correspond to the elements of the document. This example shows how to produce a similar visualization using cell grouping in a Wolfram Language notebook.
You will do this by recursively traversing the symbolic XML expression and creating a CellGroupData expression that contains cells for each of the XMLElement object's attributes and children. Each nested CellGroupData expression will be indented from the previous one. You start with the function to process an XMLElement object.
Use the integer m for indentation. When you map XMLNote onto the XMLElement object's children, you pass a larger value for m, increasing the indentation for the child elements.
A CellGroupData expression contains a list of cells. In the definition, you have only created a cell for the XMLElement x. However, you have then mapped XMLNote onto the attribute list. Since this returns a list, you need to use Apply[Sequence] for the result in order to merge that list into the CellGroupData expression's list of cells. You then do the same thing to the children of the XMLElement.
However, you have not yet defined XMLNote to work on attributes. The attributes of an XMLElement object are stored in symbolic XML as rules. In most cases, the rule contains two strings: the key and the value. However, when namespaces are involved, the first element of the rule may be a list containing two strings: the namespace and the key. You will need to make two definitions to handle the attributes.
We will need one more definition in order to process simple symbolic XML expressions. The text nodes in an XML document are stored simply as String objects in symbolic XML. Thus, you need a definition that handles String objects.
Since the default value of the option "IncludeEmbeddedObjects" is None, you did not alter comments, processing instructions, or anything else that would be stored in an XMLObject. Adding definitions for these is not difficult and would be a good exercise in processing symbolic XML.
XML applications are used for more than just document layout. XML is also an excellent format for storing structured data. Many commercial database vendors are now adding XML support to their products, allowing you to work with databases using XML as an intermediate format.
The Wolfram Language's symbolic pattern-matching capabilities make it an ideal tool for extracting and manipulating information from XML documents. To illustrate this, manipulate an XML file containing data on major league baseball players.
Symbolic XML is a general-purpose format for expressing arbitrary XML data. In some cases, you may find it more useful to convert symbolic XML into a different type of Wolfram Language expression. This type of conversion is easy to do using pattern matching.
In addition to transforming the data into a different expression syntax, you can also modify the data and leave the overall expression in symbolic XML. This way you can alter our data, but still export it to an XML file for use with other applications. As an example, you will work with the salaries of American League hitters.
In many situations, you need to transform a document from one XML format into another; one popular technique used for this purpose is XSLT transformations. The Wolfram Language's pattern-matching and transformation abilities allow you to do similar transformations by importing the original document and then manipulating the symbolic XML. This section gives examples of some basic XSLT transformations and shows how to do the equivalent transformations in the Wolfram Language.
In this example, XML dialect uses the code tag to enclose program code. Typically, this is displayed in a monospace font. If you were to convert such a document to XHTML, you would probably want to use the pre tag for code.
Now consider an XML application that uses the termdef element to indicate the definition of a new term. You might want to anchor the definition with an element named a so that you can link directly to that location in the document. Assuming you have templates to handle whatever string formatting is inside the termdef element, you can use the following XSLT.
Consider a more complicated example, which will use XPath predicates. Assume you would like to match a note element, but only if it either has a role attribute set to example or if it contains an eg element as a child. Look at an XSLT template and then explain what it does.
<xsl:template match="note[@role='example' or child::eg]"> <div class="exampleOuter"> <div class="exampleHeader">Example</div> <xsl:if test="*[self::p]"> <div class="exampleWrapper"> <xsl:apply-templates select="*"/> </div> </xsl:if> <div class="exampleInner"> <xsl:apply-templates select="eg"/> </div> <xsl:if test="*[position()>1 and self::p]"> <div class="exampleWrapper"> <xsl:apply-templates select="*[position>1 and self::p]"/> </div> </xsl:if> </div> </xsl:template>
The first xsl:if element checks to see if the first child element is a p element. If it is, then xsl:apply-templates is called on that child. This is similar to calling Map across the results of Cases. In the second xsl:if element, you check if there are p child elements beyond the first child. If so, xsl:apply-templates is called on those. Here is the corresponding Wolfram Language code.
To select an ancestor or sibling, you have to realize that an XML document is just a stream of characters that follows a grammar. Tools for manipulating XML documents treat XML according to some model. In the case of XSLT (and its path-selection language, XPath), this model is that of a tree. Since the Wolfram Language is a list-based language, it treats XML as nested expression lists.
While these two models are similar, they have important differences. Most notably, in nested lists you do not inherently have any concept of the containing list. Technically, any transformation that can be done with axis types like ancestor can also be done without them. However, it is often convenient to traverse up the XML document.
Suppose you need to export a notebook in a specific XML format (one not listed under the File ▶ Save As dialog's Save As Type: submenu). One option would be to export to ExpressionML and then use some external tool (e.g. XSLT rules) to transform to the desired form of XML. But often it is just as easy to perform the manipulation within the Wolfram Language, converting the notebook expression directly into symbolic XML and saving the latter. Anyone with a basic command of Wolfram Language patterns and programming should be able to do this. Users coming from an XSLT background may even feel a sense of deja vu; since Wolfram Language expressions are essentially trees, the techniques are much the same.
The definition uses Sequence since transform will be applied recursively. The best "null'' result is one that can be dropped in the midst of a list of arguments without disrupting the syntax.
- The argument pattern must be robust enough to accept all variants. (Even though the notebook options are discarded in this conversion, a BlankNullSequence (___) is included to allow for them.)
- The third argument is always a List. Forgetting this is a common pitfall.
- Since the recursion occurs implicitly via ReplaceRepeated, the latter implementation is cleaner in spots. In particular, contrast the handling of Text cells: the TextData rule can be separated from the Cell rule. The same could be accomplished for the recursive function, but at the cost of additional patterns for the various forms that contents might take (for example, _List versus _String and so on). ReplaceRepeated, by acting on all subexpressions, obviates this need.
- There is no default rule for the second method. Any unhandled parts of the original Wolfram Language expression will pass through unchanged, probably rendering invalid XML.
You can use XML`SymbolicXMLErrors to find errors in a symbolic XML expression. This function returns a part specification that you can use with functions like Part or Extract to access the problematic part of your symbolic XML expression.