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An Introduction to the Relaxer Schema Compiler

February 19, 2003

Michael Fitzgerald and ASAMI Tomoharu

Relaxer is a Java schema compiler for the XML schema languages RELAX NG and Relax Core. Using the Document Object Model, among other APIs, Relaxer generates Java classes based on schemas. It can also create classes based on XML document instances. The classes that Relaxer generates provide methods that allow you to access instances that are valid with regard to the compiled schemas, for use in your own programs that rely on the generated classes.

In addition to compiling schemas, Relaxer can also generate DTDs, RELAX NG schemas, Relax Core schemas, W3C XML Schema (WXS) schemas, and XSLT stylesheets. You can also create Java classes that support, among other things, SAX, Java Database Connectivity (JDBC), classic design patterns, such as composite and visitor, factories, and components for Enterprise JavaBeans, Remote Method Invocation (RMI), and the Java API for XML Messaging (JAXM). The generation of schemas, stylesheets, and Java classes will be covered in this article.

We will present a series of brief examples. In order to run these, you will need the SDK for Java 2 version 1.4 or higher (the latest SDKs are available for download from Sun's Java web site). Relaxer requires JAXP (Java API for XML Processing), which comes with version 1.4. You can run Relaxer with earlier versions of Java, such as 1.3.1, but it requires a separate download and installation of JAXP.

You will also need a copy of the latest version of Relaxer, available for download. The example documents discussed in this article are likewise available for download, and have all been tested on a Microsoft Windows XP Professional platform, running Java 2 version 1.4.1_01, and using a release candidate for Relaxer 1.0 (1.0RCb).

Installing Relaxer

Relaxer is easy to install. After you download the latest program archive file from the Relaxer site (called either setup.zip or beta.zip), and save it to a working directory, run the Relaxer setup utility program by typing the following command at a shell or command prompt:

java -jar setup.zip

The utility walks you through a few installation steps, such as choosing the directory where you want Relaxer installed. When you're done, you'll notice a couple files in the installation directory, one a shell script named relaxer and another a batch file named relaxer.bat. The scripts help to keep Relaxer easy to run, because it uses an absolute path to Relaxer.jar, Relaxer's Java archive

The install program determines the classpath for Relaxer.jar from the installation process, and adds the classpath to the script and batch files. Place the Relaxer installation directory in your PATH variable, and you'll be ready to try out the examples. As long as the Relaxer installation directory is in your path, you won't have to set the classpath separately to run the examples if you use the script or batch file.

Generating Schemas

First off, here is a simple XML document that you can run through Relaxer's paces. You'll find this file, as well as all other files mentioned in this article, in the downloadable example archive. Assuming that you are working in the directory where you unzipped the examples, you should see a file called album01.xml:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>



<album id="HANC-20241">

 <title>The Best of Patsy Cline</title>

 <manufacturer>MCA Records, Inc.</manufacturer>

 <release>1985</release>

 <format>cassette</format>

 <condition>good</condition>

</album>

Using the Relaxer script or batch file, you can generate a DTD with the -dtd option in this way:



relaxer -dtd album01.xml

You can use the optional -verbose option if you want to see a report on Relaxer's activities. This command with the -dtd option produce a single artifact, a file named album01.dtd in the current directory:

<!-- Generated by Relaxer 1.0RCb -->

<!-- Tue Feb 04 13:45:40 PST 2003 -->



<!ELEMENT manufacturer (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT title (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT release (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT album (title, manufacturer, release, format, condition)>

<!ATTLIST album id CDATA #REQUIRED>



<!ELEMENT artist (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT condition (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT format (#PCDATA)>

Relaxer constructs only a feasible content model in the DTD, based on some logical guesswork. For example, Relaxer assumes that the id attribute on <album> is a required attribute (#REQUIRED), and that each child of <album> must occur exactly once. Relaxer can take more than one instance as input, however, and as a result, can make more accurate guesses as to what the content model should be.

The following document, album02.xml, is similar to album01.xml, but it does not have an id attribute on the <album> element. It also tacks a <comments> element on after <condition>:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>



<album>

 <title>The Best of the Sons of the Pioneers</title>

 <artist>The Sons of the Pioneers</artist>

 <manufacturer>RCA</manufacturer>

 <release>no date</release>

 <format>cassette</format>

 <condition>fair</condition>

 <comments>hold for Hank Vale</comments>

</album>

Submit both album01.xml and album02.xml on the command line with Relaxer, like this:

relaxer -dtd album02.xml album01.xml

This command produces a different DTD, one that reflects and balances the content of both documents. Relaxer automatically assumes the name of the first argument as the file name for the DTD (album02.dtd):

<!-- Generated by Relaxer 1.0RCb -->

<!-- Tue Feb 04 16:32:37 PST 2003 -->



<!ELEMENT comments (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT manufacturer (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT title (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT release (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT album (title, artist, manufacturer, release, format, condition, comments?)>

<!ATTLIST album id CDATA #IMPLIED>



<!ELEMENT artist (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT condition (#PCDATA)>



<!ELEMENT format (#PCDATA)>

Relaxer now assumes that the id attribute is optional (#IMPLIED) and declares a <comments> element, allowing one or zero occurrences (?) of <comments> in the content model for <album>.

Similar command-line options allow you to build other kinds of schemas. For example, to create a RELAX NG schema from these instances, use the -rng switch:

relaxer -rng album01.xml album02.xml

This generates the RELAX NG schema album01.rng:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>

<grammar xmlns="http://relaxng.org/ns/structure/1.0" 

datatypeLibrary="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-datatypes">

  <start>

    <ref name="album"/>

  </start>

  <define name="album">

    <element name="album">

      <optional>

        <attribute name="id">

          <data type="token"/>

        </attribute>

      </optional>

      <element name="title">

        <data type="token"/>

      </element>

      <element name="artist">

        <data type="token"/>

      </element>

      <element name="manufacturer">

        <data type="token"/>

      </element>

      <element name="release">

        <data type="int"/>

      </element>

      <element name="format">

        <data type="token"/>

      </element>

      <element name="condition">

        <data type="token"/>

      </element>

      <optional>

        <element name="comments">

          <data type="token"/>

        </element>

      </optional>

    </element>

  </define>

</grammar>

Relaxer chooses the token type from XML Schema datatypes (XSD) for elements that could just as easily be string types (<artist>, for example). This is because the token type in XSD is a tokenized string that accepts single spaces between tokens.

Nonetheless, album01.rng is simply Relaxer's attempt to write a feasible schema. You are welcome, if not expected, to adjust this schema to suit your needs and preferences.

The next command creates a Relax Core schema, album01.rxm:

relaxer -rxm album01.xml album02.xml

Lastly, the following command creates the WXS schema album01.xsd by using the -xsd option:

relaxer -xsd album01.xml album02.xml

We won't show these last two schemas to you here, but you can look at them yourself with a text editor (they are in with the downloaded archive files). Creating XSLT stylesheets with Relaxer is just as easy as generating schemas.

Generating Stylesheets

With Relaxer's -xslt option, you can construct an XSLT stylesheet that is essentially an identity transform for the originating document or documents. The command

relaxer -xslt album01.xml album02.xml

produces the stylesheet album01.xsl:

<?xml version='1.0'?>

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">

  <xsl:output indent="yes" method="xml"/>

  <xsl:template 

  match="album[title and artist and manufacturer and release and format and condition]">

    <album>

      <xsl:attribute name="id">

        <xsl:value-of select="@id"/>

      </xsl:attribute>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </album>

  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="manufacturer">

    <manufacturer>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </manufacturer>

  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="format">

    <format>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </format>

  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="release">

    <release>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </release>

  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="artist">

    <artist>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </artist>

  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="condition">

    <condition>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </condition>

  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="title">

    <title>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </title>

  </xsl:template>

  <xsl:template match="comments">

    <comments>

      <xsl:apply-templates/>

    </comments>

  </xsl:template>

</xsl:stylesheet>

Each template contains literal result elements that mirror each node in the originating document. If you process album01.xml or album02.xml with album01.xsl, you will get a result tree that fairly resembles the source tree. It also gives you a good start for writing your own custom stylesheet.

You can also control the output of the XSLT generator by using the -xslt.template option in tandem with -xslt. The -xslt.template option takes as a parameter an XSLT stylesheet that may be annotated with Relaxer-specific attributes. When these attributes are processed by Relaxer, they will augment the location paths in a generated stylesheet, giving them a more precise context.

Consider the following stylesheet, album.xsl:

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"

 xmlns:label="http://www.relaxer.org/xmlns/relaxer/xslt/label"

 xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">

<xsl:output method="xml" indent="yes"/>



 <xsl:template label:match="album">

  <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

  <head><title><xsl:apply-templates select="title"/></title></head>

  <body>

   <p><b>Release Date</b>: <xsl:apply-templates label:select="release"/><</p>

  </body>

  </html>

 </xsl:template>



</xsl:stylesheet>

This stylesheet is intended to create a brief HTML document that contains an album's title and release date. The label namespace marks attributes for Relaxer to process specially. If you enter the command

relaxer -xslt -xslt.template:album.xsl album02.xml

Relaxer produces the following stylesheet (album02.xsl):

<?xml version='1.0'?>

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" 

xmlns:label="http://www.relaxer.org/xmlns/relaxer/xslt/label" 

xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">

  <xsl:output indent="yes" method="xml"/>

  <xsl:template label:match="album" 

  match="album[title and artist and manufacturer and release and format and condition and comments]">

    <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

      <head>

        <title>

          <xsl:apply-templates select="title"/>

        </title>

      </head>

      <body>

        <p>

          <b>Release Date</b>: 

		  <xsl:apply-templates label:select="release" select="release"/>

        </p>

      </body>

    </html>

  </xsl:template>

</xsl:stylesheet>

Notice the value of the match attribute in the template element. The location path now contains a predicate that is highly specific to documents that have the <album> data model.

Generating Java Classes with Relaxer

Now let's generate some Java code with Relaxer. You can use an XML instance, a Relax Core schema, or a RELAX NG schema for code generation, but not WXS or DTDs. We'll use the RELAX NG schema produced earlier, album01.rng. To generate Java source code from this schema, enter this line at a command or shell prompt:

relaxer -java album01.rng

Note the -java switch. Relaxer produces the following four Java files as a result of this command:

  • Album.java
  • RStack.java
  • UJAXP.java
  • URelaxer.java

Album.java is based on album01.rng, and provides several constructors for creating objects based on album01.rng's data model. Among others, Album.java provides a default constructor with no arguments, another that accepts a file as an argument (java.io.File), and another that accepts a SAX InputSource argument (org.xml.sax.InputSource).

Album.java also provides a number of methods that you can use to access or manipulate the content of a document that has the same content model. For example, you can use the getArtist() and setArtist() methods in Album.java to retrieve or change the content of the <artist> element in instances that are valid with regard to album01.rng.

Other methods in Album.java include makeDocument(), which creates a DOM representation of the object modeled after the schema, and makeTextDocument(), which outputs a representation of the object as an XML document.

The other three Java files that Relaxer produced -- RStack.java, UJAXP.java, and URelaxer.java -- were generated automatically and support underlying functionality of Album.java. The fields and methods in these files are not user-accessible.

To easily examine the Java source that Relaxer produces, you can apply Javadoc to the source files with this line:

javadoc -d doc Album.java RStack.java UJAXP.java URelaxer.java

This command will place Javadoc's output files in the subdirectory doc. If you open the file doc/index.html in a browser, you will be able to navigate through the documentation of the classes to get a feel for all the fields, constructors, and methods that Relaxer created.

Compiling and Running Relaxer's Java Code

If you have a Java SDK installed, you can compile these Java files with javac, as follows:

javac Album.java

This command compiles Album.java, RStack.java, UJAXP.java, and URelaxer.java. In the example archive, you will also find a Java file that Relaxer did not create. It is called TestAlbum.java. Here is the source code for the program:

import java.io.File;

import java.io.IOException;

import javax.xml.parsers.ParserConfigurationException;

import org.xml.sax.SAXException;



/**

 * A small application that changes the content of

 * valid album type documents.

 *

 */

public class TestAlbum {



    public static void main(String[] args)

	throws IOException, SAXException, ParserConfigurationException {



        if (args.length == 0) {

             System.out.println("Usage: java TestAlbum file.xml");

             System.exit(1);

        }



        // Instantiate an Album object with a file

	Album album = new Album(new File(args[0]));

 

        // Print the XML representation of the document

	System.out.println("\nOriginal document:\n");

	System.out.println(album.makeTextDocument());

 

        // Change the content   

        album.setId("ID-8406-4-R");

	album.setTitle("Cool Water");

	album.setArtist("The Sons of the Pioneers");

	album.setManufacturer("RCA/BMG");

	album.setRelease("no date");

	album.setComments("none");



        // Again, print the XML representation of the document

	System.out.println("\nUpdated document:\n");

	System.out.println(album.makeTextDocument());



    }



}

Now compile and run this program.

javac TestAlbum.java

java TestAlbum

The output for this program will look something like this:

Original document:



<album id="HANC-20241"><title>The Best of Patsy Cline

</title><artist>Patsy Cline</artist>

<manufacturer>MCA Records, Inc.</manufacturer>

<release>1985</release><format>cassette

</format><condition>good</condition></album>



Updated document:



<album id="ID-8406-4-R"><title>Cool Water</title>

<artist>The Sons of the Pioneers</artist>

<manufacturer>RCA/BMG</manufacturer><release>

no date</release><format>cassette</format>

<condition>good</condition><comments>none

</comments></album>

As you can see, the document content can be changed programmatically by calls to the set methods.

Conclusion

Relaxer has many other features which we cannot cover here. This article only deals with a few of its fundamental features, including schema, stylesheet, and Java generation. To continue exploring Relaxer, visit the Relaxer site, where you will (soon) find a tutorial and reference manual. A book on Relaxer is also available in Japanese. In addition, you will find many code examples in the sample subdirectory of the Relaxer distribution.