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RE: [xml-dev] I have implemented SAX based XPath Engine

> I have implemented few years ago such a tool, the global 
> design is described here:
> http://reflex.gforge.inria.fr/saxPatterns.html

Thanks, I had seen this article before but it was worth rereading.

I'm puzzled by the concept of keeping exactly four counters. For an
expression like


you need a counter of how many nodes have satisfied the @a=17 predicate. I
would have thought it was better to generalize this so that a counter is
always relative to a predicate, for example p[17] is treated as
child::node()[self::p][17] and the counter is relative to the predicate

Doing this using threads does look like a recipe for adding performance
overheads. (Saxon's streaming sometimes uses two threads, but never more). I
would have thought the great advantage of using a push model is that you can
push the same events to multiple destinations without the use of multiple
threads. Saxon does this when validating instance documents against XML
Schema identity constraints, where any number of constraints can be active
at any time. I agree with your comment, however, that the ideal would be to
compile some kind of finite state machine. That would work, of course,
regardless of whether the evaluation is in push or pull mode.

The XSL WG has been doing work on streaming over the last year or so (hence
my interest). There's nothing available to publish yet, but we've made some
good progress and have built up quite a substantial collection of use cases.
We've been trying to define constructs that are amenable to "pure streaming"
without any buffering or lookahead, but it's difficult to draw the

Michael Kay

> It is designed to filter SAX streams with XPath-based 
> patterns, but has also useful filters to process text 
> (non-XML) inputs:
> http://reflex.gforge.inria.fr/tutorial-pipelinesAndFilters.html
> XPath is rather well supported: position() and last() are 
> supported but it doesn't support preceding:: and 
> preceding-sibling:: axis except in very few circumstances, 
> but I also propose a workaround when filtering a SAX stream 
> (juggling with a local DOM subtree when necessary).
> To answer to Michael about how predicates are evaluated when 
> reading forward is required, the engine uses a lookahead 
> buffer and goes on reading until the actual predicate becomes 
> evaluable; for that purpose, as explained in the article, the 
> engine uses coroutines that are implemented using threads 
> (one to evaluate the predicate, the other to hold the 
> position in the call stack of the current startElement() 
> event); I think that a finite state machine based on a pull 
> parser would be much more efficient: although the stuff works 
> somewhat well, I have noticed that it runs slowly when I use 
> lots of XPath patterns in a pipeline made of lots of filters, 
> and it can be an issue when reading GB of XML. I also know 
> that things here and there have to be optimized, for example 
> instead of evaluating the entire set of XPath patterns on 
> each event, I could recognize that a subset is irrelevant for 
> a given branch and I should discard them in that branch (but 
> currently it doesn't work like that); there are also things 
> to do better about partial evaluation specifically when 
> comparison operators are involved, for example [count(foo)>9] 
> should exit when 10 <foo>s are met rather than when the 
> 1000000 specimen are read. I have imagined a strategy where 
> the count() function should return something different than a 
> number, a numeric object evaluable several times by the 
> operator that could fetch more data on demand, until the 
> NumberThatIsAtLeast object reach (or not) the expected value. 
> Lots of work in sigth.
> Of course I will have a look at Santhosh's work :)
> --
> Cordialement,
>                ///
>               (. .)
>   --------ooO--(_)--Ooo--------
> |      Philippe Poulard       |
>   -----------------------------
>   http://reflex.gforge.inria.fr/
>         Have the RefleX !

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