Reading XML

Let's start with the following XML document, and read it via SAX.

  <?xml version="1.0"?>

There are two ways to read in an XML document, SAX or through the DOM. I personally prefer SAX as it reads it line by line, element by element. The DOM is reading in the entire document and parsing it from there. I suppose if it is a small document, the DOM is fine. But what if you get several thousand elements in an xml document? What do you do then? Yep, that's why I prefer SAX.

Here's a simple way to read it using SAX.

    import javax.xml.parsers.SAXParser;
    import javax.xml.parsers.SAXParserFactory;
    import org.xml.sax.Attributes;
    import org.xml.sax.SAXException;
    import org.xml.sax.helpers.DefaultHandler;

    public class Test {

      public static void main(String[] args) {
        try {
          SAXParserFactory factory = SAXParserFactory.newInstance();
          SAXParser saxParser = factory.newSAXParser();

          DefaultHandler handler = new DefaultHandler() {

          boolean bFirstName = false;
          boolean bLastName = false;
          boolean bPhone = false;

          public void startElement(String uri, String localName, String qName,
            Attributes attributes) throws SAXException {

            if (qName.equalsIgnoreCase("firstname")) {
              bFirstName = true;

            if (qName.equalsIgnoreCase("lastname")) {
              bLastName = true;

            if (qName.equalsIgnoreCase("phone")) {
              bPhone = true;

          public void endElement(String uri, String localName, String qName)
            throws SAXException {

            System.out.println("End Element: " + qName);

          public void characters(char ch[], int start, int length)
            throws SAXException {

            if (bFirstName) {
              System.out.println("First Name: " + new String(ch, start, length));
              bFirstName = false;

            if (bLastName) {
              System.out.println("Last Name: " + new String(ch, start, length));
              bLastName = false;

            if (bPhone) {
              System.out.println("Phone: " + new String(ch, start, length));
              bPhone = false;

        saxParser.parse("file.xml", handler);

        } catch (Exception e) {

Here's the result that we get:

  First Name: John
  End Element: firstName
  Last Name: Smith
  End Element: lastName
  Phone: 916-555-4418
  End Element: phone

Kyle Eggleston
Copyright © 2003 - 2020