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XML Module decision tree?

by John M. Dlugosz (Monsignor)
on Aug 06, 2001 at 22:47 UTC ( #102553=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

John M. Dlugosz has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

There are lots of XML-related modules available.

There's expat and DOM and SAX, which in addition to their inate features may or may not be Perl-friendly.

What I've not seen, but would love to hear input from those who have worked with whichever modules, is what module is good for what?

That is, of all the modules and methods for reading, writing, or manipulating XML data, which module is best suited for which purposes and problem set?


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: XML Module decision tree?
by mirod (Canon) on Aug 07, 2001 at 11:58 UTC

    It might be difficult but I'll try anyway ;--).

    At least here are a few hints:

    • document size: big documents excludes most tree-oriented modules, such as XML::Simple, XML::DOM and XML::XPath
      big depends on your RAM and on the expansion factor of the module, typically between 7 an 10
    • type of XML: document-oriented XML excludes modules such as XML::Simple and XML::SimpleObjects
      those modules don't deal with mixed content (<p>this is <b>mixed</b> content</p>),
    • ease of use: although this is higly subjective XML::Simple seems to be considered really easy to use as it completely masks the XML by loading it into a Perl data structure (a pretty convoluted data-structure IMHO, use Data::Dumper!), tree-based modules (XML::XPath, XML::DOM, XML::Twig) are generally easier to use than stream-based ones, although for simple data extraction XML::PYX is very convenient,
    • speed: at the moment XML::Parser is the fastest (all other modules are based on it) but modules based on libXML should be faster soon (XML::XPath 2.0 for example). Stream-based modules are usually faster than tree-based ones,
Re: XML Module decision tree?
by mirod (Canon) on Aug 07, 2001 at 00:40 UTC

    You can also have a look at the Module Reviews for XML modules and Ways to Rome, an article that solves the same problem using various XML modules.

    The problem is that there is a lot of overlap between the various modules. Some cannot be used in certain circumstances, but for any particular problem there are at least 2 or more modules that will work. Basically it boils down to how much you like the interface of any module.

    A quick overview would be:

    • XML::Parser: the basic, most of the other modules are built on top of it, fast, low-level (can be a pain to use),
    • XML::Simple: quite simple, robust, widely-used, tree-based (hence can be slow on big files and cannot deal with huge ones), does not work for document-oriented XML,
    • XML::DOM: ugly, tree-oriented, widely used, not actively maintained at the moment, follows a W3C standard, can be a pain to install (BTW, if you are interested by the DOM I have started writing a little helper module for it, named... XML::DOM::Twig),
    • XML::PYX: line-oriented, fast, not convenient for complex transformations,
    • XML::XPath: powerful, getting faster and faster, very well supported (by Matt Sergeant, the most prolific XML developper around),
    • XML::Twig: Perlish, DWIMy, can deal with huge documents, you know what I think of it ;--)

    There are others too: XML::RAX for record-oriented XML, XML::Dt, XML::SimpleObjects...

    In any case I think we're heading towards big changes in the XML module landscape. XML::Parser is not a SAX-based parser (it predates SAX actually), which is a pain, and it is quite a pain to install (based on expat, an external library). I think we will see new modules based either on a pure Perl SAX parser (there is one in SOAP::Lite) or on libXML, the Gnome XML library, plus existing modules being ported to interface with those 2 kinds of SAX parsers.

    So I guess it will always be very difficult to give a "decision-tree" to choose a module, and in any case it is too early...

Re: XML Module decision tree?
by mitd (Curate) on Aug 06, 2001 at 23:28 UTC

    All you seek is here and here

    Both are articles at ORA site. They are excellent!

    mitd-Made in the Dark
    'My favourite colour appears to be grey.'

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