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Introducing XMLStarlet, an XML star

Feb 01, 20062 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsProgramming Languages

* XMLStarlet to manipulate XML content

As we get progressively more used to XML in our Web applications we’re finding that what we need is a whole range of tools to manipulate XML content. Today, I have a really interesting tool to do just that: XMLStarlet, an open source freeware released under the MIT license, which means that the software can be used and distributed in both commercial and non-commercial projects. (More licensing facts.)

XMLStarlet is a command line utility that can:

* Check or validate XML files through a simple well-formedness check, DTD, XSD, or RelaxNG, a schema language for XML.XPath expressions on XML files.XSLT stylesheets to XML documents including EXSLT support and passing parameters to stylesheets.Xinclude.XML c14n canonicalization.PYX format and vice versa.

* Calculate values of

* Search XML files for matches to given XPath expressions.

* Apply

* Query XML documents.

* Modify or edit XML documents.

* Format or “beautify” XML documents.

* Fetch XML documents using http:// or ftp:// URLs

* Browse tree structure of XML documents (similar to the ‘ls’ command).

* Include one XML document into another using


* Escape or unescape special XML characters in input text.

* Print a directory as an XML document.

* Convert XML into

The XmlStarlet User’s Guide is available in a descriptive HTML version, as well as in PDF, and plain text. Between these documents, this is a thorough description of the syntax of XMLStarlet commands with enough examples to get you started. There’s also a helpful IBM article on the ins and outs of the program.

This is a powerful tool and even better, it is available for download onto Linux, SunOS and Windows.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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