Created: 2008-12-14 23:54
Updated: 2018-03-04 21:48



Functional Clojure wrapper for Michael Kay's Saxon XSLT and XQuery Processor (from Saxonica Limited).


A jar is available on Clojars. Use the following formula in your project.clj :dependencies:

[clojure-saxon "0.9.4"]

Clojure version

The library has been tested against Clojure 1.3, 1.4, & 1.6.



The top-level function is query; it takes an XQuery or XPath expression, an optional namespace map, and a node. Here's returning a sequence of the names of all elements in a document:

user=> (require '[saxon :as xml])
user=> (xml/query "distinct-values(//element()/local-name())" xmldoc)
("html" "head" "title" "style" "body" "p" "a")

Here's the same, limiting elements to those in the XHTML namespace:

user=> (xml/query "distinct-values(//xhtml:*/local-name())" {:xhtml ""} xmldoc)
("html" "head" "title" "style" "body" "p" "a")

Compiled XQuery expressions are cached:

user=> (def complex-exp "//element()[@type='text/css']//local-name(parent::element()) = 'head'")
user=> (time (xml/query complex-exp xmldoc))
"Elapsed time: 1.747 msecs"
user=> (time (xml/query complex-exp xmldoc))
"Elapsed time: 0.226 msecs"

but query accepts a compiled function (the result of compile-xquery or compile-xpath, below) as its first argument as well. (The results of the query are not cached.)

###Compile-xquery, Compile-xpath

compile-xquery and compile-xpath are the lower-level functions behind query. They take expressions and an optional namespace map, and return a function that applies the compiled expression to a node.

user=> (xml/compile-xquery "distinct-values(//element()/local-name())")
#<saxon$compile_xquery__302$fn__314 saxon$compile_xquery__302$fn__314@48c5186e>
user=> ((xml/compile-xquery "distinct-values(//element()/local-name())") xmldoc)
("html" "head" "title" "style" "body" "p" "a")

compile-xquery and compile-xpath cache their query arguments as well.

###Compiling XML

Use compile-xml to produce the Saxon in-memory representation, an "XdmNode."

user=> (def xmldoc (xml/compile-xml ( "")))

compile-xml takes a File, URL, InputStream, Reader, raw String, or an XdmNode.

user=> (xml/compile-xml "<root/>")
#<XdmNode <root/>>


compile-xslt takes the same arguments as compile-xml and returns a function that applies the compiled stylesheet to a node, with an optional map of parameters.


When the result of a query is a single item, the query functions return a singleton instead of a sequence of one item, e.g.

user=> (xml/query "count(//element())" xmldoc)

I find this inconsistency convenient, but it might be a bad design choice. User feedback appreciated.


Traversal of nodes is somewhat lazy, though not strictly so. The Clojure code realizes the first two items of the return sequence, and the Saxon Java processor seems to keep a few items ahead as well. E.g. in xmldoc, with 7 element nodes:

user=> (def returned (xml/query "for $e in //element() return trace(($e/local-name()), \"hit\")" xmldoc))
hit [1]: xs:string: html
hit [1]: xs:string: head
hit [1]: xs:string: title
user=> (nth returned 0)
user=> (nth returned 1)
user=> (nth returned 2)
hit [1]: xs:string: style
user=> (nth returned 3)
hit [1]: xs:string: body
user=> (nth returned 4)
hit [1]: xs:string: p
user=> (nth returned 5)
hit [1]: xs:string: a
user=> (nth returned 6)

As you can see, three items are realized when the function is first executed, and from when the third item is touched onward, realizing an item also realizes the next item in the background.

###Helper Functions

node-path returns an absolute XPath to a node:

user=> (map xml/node-path (xml/query "//element()" xmldoc))
("/html" "/html/head[1]" "/html/head[1]/title[1]" "/html/head[1]/style[1]" "/html/body[1]" "/html/body[1]/p[1]" "/html/body[1]/a[1]")

with-default-ns adds a default namespace to an XQuery expression:

user=> (xml/query (xml/with-default-ns "" "//*/local-name()") xmldoc)
("html" "head" "title" "style" "body" "p" "a")
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