Author image Michael Koehne


XML::Filter::Hekeln - a SAX stream editor


  use XML::Filter::Hekeln;

  my $hander = new SAXHandler( ... );
  my $hekeln = new XML::Filter::Hekeln(
        'Handler' => $handler,
        'Script'  => $script
  my $driver = new SAXDriver( ..., 'Handler' => $hekeln );


XML::Filter::Hekeln is a sophisticated SAX stream editor.

Hekeln is a SAX filter. This means that you can use a Hekeln object as a Handler to act on events, and to produce SAX events as a driver for the next handler in the chain. The name Hekeln sounds like the german word for crocheting, whats the best to describe, what Hekeln can do on markup language translation.

The main design goal was to make it as easy for Perl as possible, while preserving a human readable form for the translation script.

Hekeln scripts are event based. Hekeln objects stream events to the next in chain. They are therefore useable to handle XML documents larger than physical memory, as they do not need to store the entire document in a DOM or Grove structure. They will also be faster than any XSL in most circumstances.

To tell you straight, how Hekeln works, I'll start with an example.

I want to translate XML::Edifact repositories into html. Those repositories start with something like this:

                desc="based on UN/EDIFACT D422.TXT"
                name="Service Segment Directory"

Here is a sniplet from :

        !       $self->handle('start_document',{});
        <       html    >
        <       body    >
        <       h1      >
                XML-Edifact Repository
        </      h1      >
        <       h2      >
        </      h2      >
        <       p       >
                Agency: ~agency~
        <       br      >
                Code: ~code~
        <       br      >
                Version: ~version~
        <       br      >
                Description: ~desc~
        </      p       >
        <       hr      >

        </      body    >
        </      html    >
        !       $self->handle('end_document',{});

This part is handling start_element and end_element events, that have a target called repository. The translation done by Hekeln is done into subroutines that are stored in a hash.

So anything is possible, if you understand the trick. To understand the trick, uncomment the "'Debug' => 1" parameter of Hekeln invocation in the script and redirect STDERR to some file.

This will produce a file starting like :

    $hash->{start_element:repository}=eval "sub {
        my ($self,$param) = @_;
        my ($hash) = {};
        $hash->{Name}="html"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="body"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="h1"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Data}="XML-Edifact Repository"; $self->handle("characters", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="h1"; $self->handle("end_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="h2"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Data}="$param->{name}"; $self->handle("characters", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="h2"; $self->handle("end_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="p"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Data}="Agency: $param->{agency}"; $self->handle("characters", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="br"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Data}="Code: $param->{code}"; $self->handle("characters", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="br"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Data}="Version: $param->{version}"; $self->handle("characters", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="br"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Data}="Description: $param->{desc}"; $self->handle("characters", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="p"; $self->handle("end_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="hr"; $self->handle("start_element", $hash);

    $hash->{end_element:repository}=eval "sub {
        my ($self,$param) = @_;
        my ($hash) = {};
        $hash->{Name}="body"; $self->handle("end_element", $hash);
        $hash->{Name}="html"; $self->handle("end_element", $hash);

As you can imagine ~foobaa~ parts within a script will become expanded with the the attributes given in the XML start_element event. Syntax itself is a bit tricky as translation of the script into a sub is stupid and fast.

Any event that has to be handled by Hekeln starts with an event_name event_target pair and ends with a blank line.


Valid as left_indicator are "<", "</", "", "!", "+", "-", "++, "--", "?{" and "?}", while the right indicator may be optional execpt for "<".

The first produce start_element, end_element and character events, to make Hekeln scripts look similar to the markup you want to produce.

The "!" indicator is something special as it will be copied into the sub as it is, to be evaluted in the complete context of a script. So its possible to code conditionals or even loops with a constructions like those :

        !       $self->{Flag}{FooBaa}=1;
        !       unshift @{$self->{Stack}}, "FooBaa";


        !       $self->{Flag}{FooBaa}=undef;
        !       shift @{$self->{Stack}} if $self->{Stack}[0] eq "FooBaa";


        !       if ($self->{Flag}{FooBaa}) {
        <       h1      >
                flag FooBaa raised
        </      h1      >
        !       }

It wont be necessary to code exactly this, as this is done by "++", "--", "?{" and "?}". "+" and "-" will raise or lower some flag, while "++" and "--" not only manage the flags, but also a stack that is needed to process character events.

The default behavior is to throw away any event that does not have a subroutine matching the event, target pair. Events that do not have a target, will use the top flag on the stack as a target. So if you want to process character events, use "++" and "--" when handling the surounding start_element and end_element events.

As a last word: Hekeln is not yet well tested, and badly needs some better documentation. I would aplaude anybody for naming bug, or improving the POD.


Michael Koehne,


perl(1), XML::Parser, XML::Parser::PerlSAX