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Ganesh Tiwari

XML parsing using SaxParser with complete code

SAX parser use callback function (org.xml.sax.helpers.DefaultHandler) to informs clients of the XML document structure. You should extend DefaultHandler and override few methods to achieve xml parsing.

The methods to override are

  • startDocument() and endDocument() – Method called at the start and end of an XML document. 
  • startElement() and endElement() – Method called at the start and end of a document element.  
  • characters() – Method called with the text contents in between the start and end tags of an XML document element.

The following example demonstrates the uses of DefaultHandler to parse and XML document. It performs mapping of xml to model class and generate list of objects.

Sample XML Document :

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <book id="001" lang="ENG">
        <title>Operating Systems</title>
        <publisher country="USA">Pearson</publisher>
            <author>Ganesh Tiwari</author>
    <book id="002">
        <title>Distributed Systems</title>
        <publisher country="Nepal">Ekata</publisher>
            <author>Mahesh Poudel</author>
            <author>Bikram Adhikari</author>
            <author>Ramesh Poudel</author>

Model Class for Book Object for Mapping xml to object

 * Book class stores book information, after parsing the xml
 * @author Ganesh Tiwari
public class Book {
    String lang;
    String title;
    String id;
    String isbn;
    Date regDate;
    String publisher;
    int price;
    List<String> authors;
    public Book(){
        authors=new ArrayList<String>();
    //getters and setters

Java Code for XML Parsing (Sax) :

import java.io.IOException;
import java.text.ParseException;
import java.text.SimpleDateFormat;
import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.List;

import javax.xml.parsers.ParserConfigurationException;
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 MySaxParser extends DefaultHandler {
    List<Book> bookL;
    String bookXmlFileName;
    String tmpValue;
    Book bookTmp;
    SimpleDateFormat sdf= new SimpleDateFormat("yy-MM-dd");
    public MySaxParser(String bookXmlFileName) {
        this.bookXmlFileName = bookXmlFileName;
        bookL = new ArrayList<Book>();
    private void parseDocument() {
        // parse
        SAXParserFactory factory = SAXParserFactory.newInstance();
        try {
            SAXParser parser = factory.newSAXParser();
            parser.parse(bookXmlFileName, this);
        } catch (ParserConfigurationException e) {
            System.out.println("ParserConfig error");
        } catch (SAXException e) {
            System.out.println("SAXException : xml not well formed");
        } catch (IOException e) {
            System.out.println("IO error");
    private void printDatas() {
       // System.out.println(bookL.size());
        for (Book tmpB : bookL) {
    public void startElement(String s, String s1, String elementName, Attributes attributes) throws SAXException {
        // if current element is book , create new book
        // clear tmpValue on start of element

        if (elementName.equalsIgnoreCase("book")) {
            bookTmp = new Book();
        // if current element is publisher
        if (elementName.equalsIgnoreCase("publisher")) {
    public void endElement(String s, String s1, String element) throws SAXException {
        // if end of book element add to list
        if (element.equals("book")) {
        if (element.equalsIgnoreCase("isbn")) {
        if (element.equalsIgnoreCase("title")) {
            try {
            } catch (ParseException e) {
                System.out.println("date parsing error");
    public void characters(char[] ac, int i, int j) throws SAXException {
        tmpValue = new String(ac, i, j);
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        new MySaxParser("catalog.xml");

Output of Parsing :

Book [lang=ENG, title=Operating Systems, id=001, isbn=23-34-42-3, regDate=Thu May 24 00:00:00 NPT 1990, publisher=USA, price=400, authors=[Ganesh Tiwari]]
Book [lang=null, title=Distributed Systems, id=002, isbn=24-300-042-3, regDate=Fri May 12 00:00:00 NPT 1995, publisher=Nepal, price=500, authors=[Mahesh Poudel, Bikram Adhikari, Ramesh Poudel]]

Reference: XML parsing using SaxParser with complete code from our JCG partner Ganesh Tiwari at the GT’s Blog .

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  1. A very nice example for SAX starter.

  2. I got a problem while trying this code.
    It said : “Exception in thread “main” java.lang.NullPointerException”.

    What does it mean?


  3. You have excellent work dude. XML parsing is bit tricky so trying various approach will help your knowledge. I would recommend this XML Parsing with Another fine approach with step to step explanation

  4. and how do you get the authors??

  5. Nice writing. It would be better if the toString() method were not missing in the Book class.

  6. What if I have 2 elements with same name?

  7. Thank you for your great post. Only one thing i want to use SAX to read only part of the file at first, then when user scrolls down i want to use the next part and so on… How can i achieve this?

  8. @Fernando

    You might take the below approach:

    1. Add the following in the Book Class:
    private List authors;
    and generate the getter and setter for this field
    public List getAuthors() {
    return authors;

    public void setAuthors(List authors) {
    this.authors = authors;
    2. Declare a tempAuthor as list in the Parser class , like– List tempAuthor;
    3.Inside startElement method have the below lines of code
    tempAuthor = new ArrayList();
    4.Inside the endElement method add the following lines


    This will suffice for getting the author.

    • Hi Folks,

      If I have author node like this,

      Mahesh Poudel
      Bikram Adhikari
      Ramesh Poudel

      Then how to get list of authors like this [{Rupali: Mahesh Poudel}, {xyz: Bikram Adhikari}].. so on..


  9. I want to know how we save this parsed data into database means how can we pass this setter value we is generated by XML parsing in the bean file..

    Please Someone find the solution to save this parsed data into database by creating table in database.

    • okay, from what i can tell, we have only objects, in this scenario a book object. You can first parse all the elements in the xml, then do a for each statement to insert every data you have saved in a list to a database.
      // create a database table here defining your values es name, author etc.
      for (Book b : bookL){
      // get attributes from b
      // insert attributes into database using sql statement


      CAnt go into details but i think this approach might work

  10. Thanks
    it’s good example !!!.

  11. Hi Folks,

    If I have author node like this,

    >author name=”rupali” < Mahesh>/author<
    >author name=”xyz” <Bikram >/author<

    Then how to get list of authors like this [{rupali: Mahesh, xyz: Bikram} .. {….}] so on..


  12. Thanks for your usefoul example.
    In your example, how can I obtain value “Ekata” from tag and save it in the Book class?
    String publisher contains the attribute of tag publisher, but how can save also the value “Ekata” and store it on Book class?

    Thankls in advance

  13. how i can parse the comments in XML file with Saxparser

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