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XML::Simple(3pm)      User Contributed Perl Documentation     XML::Simple(3pm)

       XML::Simple - Easy API to maintain XML (esp config files)

           use XML::Simple;

           my $ref = XMLin([<xml file or string>] [, <options>]);

           my $xml = XMLout($hashref [, <options>]);

       Or the object oriented way:

           require XML::Simple;

           my $xs = XML::Simple->new(options);

           my $ref = $xs->XMLin([<xml file or string>] [, <options>]);

           my $xml = $xs->XMLout($hashref [, <options>]);

       (or see "SAX SUPPORT" for 'the SAX way').

       To catch common errors:

           use XML::Simple qw(:strict);

       (see "STRICT MODE" for more details).

       Say you have a script called foo and a file of configuration options
       called foo.xml containing this:

         <config logdir="/var/log/foo/" debugfile="/tmp/foo.debug">
           <server name="sahara" osname="solaris" osversion="2.6">
           <server name="gobi" osname="irix" osversion="6.5">
           <server name="kalahari" osname="linux" osversion="2.0.34">

       The following lines of code in foo:

         use XML::Simple;

         my $config = XMLin();

       will 'slurp' the configuration options into the hashref $config
       (because no arguments are passed to "XMLin()" the name and location of
       the XML file will be inferred from name and location of the script).
       You can dump out the contents of the hashref using Data::Dumper:

         use Data::Dumper;

         print Dumper($config);

       which will produce something like this (formatting has been adjusted
       for brevity):

             'logdir'        => '/var/log/foo/',
             'debugfile'     => '/tmp/foo.debug',
             'server'        => {
                 'sahara'        => {
                     'osversion'     => '2.6',
                     'osname'        => 'solaris',
                     'address'       => [ '', '' ]
                 'gobi'          => {
                     'osversion'     => '6.5',
                     'osname'        => 'irix',
                     'address'       => ''
                 'kalahari'      => {
                     'osversion'     => '2.0.34',
                     'osname'        => 'linux',
                     'address'       => [ '', '' ]

       Your script could then access the name of the log directory like this:

         print $config->{logdir};

       similarly, the second address on the server 'kalahari' could be refer-
       enced as:

         print $config->{server}->{kalahari}->{address}->[1];

       What could be simpler?  (Rhetorical).

       For simple requirements, that's really all there is to it.  If you want
       to store your XML in a different directory or file, or pass it in as a
       string or even pass it in via some derivative of an IO::Handle, you'll
       need to check out "OPTIONS".  If you want to turn off or tweak the
       array folding feature (that neat little transformation that produced
       $config->{server}) you'll find options for that as well.

       If you want to generate XML (for example to write a modified version of
       $config back out as XML), check out "XMLout()".

       If your needs are not so simple, this may not be the module for you.
       In that case, you might want to read "WHERE TO FROM HERE?".

       The XML::Simple module provides a simple API layer on top of an under-
       lying XML parsing module (either XML::Parser or one of the SAX2 parser
       modules).  Two functions are exported: "XMLin()" and "XMLout()".  Note:
       you can explicity request the lower case versions of the function
       names: "xml_in()" and "xml_out()".

       The simplest approach is to call these two functions directly, but an
       optional object oriented interface (see "OPTIONAL OO INTERFACE" below)
       allows them to be called as methods of an XML::Simple object.  The
       object interface can also be used at either end of a SAX pipeline.


       Parses XML formatted data and returns a reference to a data structure
       which contains the same information in a more readily accessible form.
       (Skip down to "EXAMPLES" below, for more sample code).

       "XMLin()" accepts an optional XML specifier followed by zero or more
       'name => value' option pairs.  The XML specifier can be one of the fol-

       A filename
           If the filename contains no directory components "XMLin()" will
           look for the file in each directory in the SearchPath (see
           "OPTIONS" below) or in the current directory if the SearchPath
           option is not defined.  eg:

             $ref = XMLin('/etc/params.xml');

           Note, the filename '-' can be used to parse from STDIN.

           If there is no XML specifier, "XMLin()" will check the script
           directory and each of the SearchPath directories for a file with
           the same name as the script but with the extension '.xml'.  Note:
           if you wish to specify options, you must specify the value 'undef'.

             $ref = XMLin(undef, ForceArray => 1);

       A string of XML
           A string containing XML (recognised by the presence of '<' and '>'
           characters) will be parsed directly.  eg:

             $ref = XMLin('<opt username="bob" password="flurp" />');

       An IO::Handle object
           An IO::Handle object will be read to EOF and its contents parsed.

             $fh = IO::File->new('/etc/params.xml');
             $ref = XMLin($fh);


       Takes a data structure (generally a hashref) and returns an XML encod-
       ing of that structure.  If the resulting XML is parsed using "XMLin()",
       it should return a data structure equivalent to the original (see
       caveats below).

       The "XMLout()" function can also be used to output the XML as SAX
       events see the "Handler" option and "SAX SUPPORT" for more details).

       When translating hashes to XML, hash keys which have a leading '-' will
       be silently skipped.  This is the approved method for marking elements
       of a data structure which should be ignored by "XMLout".  (Note: If
       these items were not skipped the key names would be emitted as element
       or attribute names with a leading '-' which would not be valid XML).


       Some care is required in creating data structures which will be passed
       to "XMLout()".  Hash keys from the data structure will be encoded as
       either XML element names or attribute names.  Therefore, you should use
       hash key names which conform to the relatively strict XML naming rules:

       Names in XML must begin with a letter.  The remaining characters may be
       letters, digits, hyphens (-), underscores (_) or full stops (.).  It is
       also allowable to include one colon (:) in an element name but this
       should only be used when working with namespaces (XML::Simple can only
       usefully work with namespaces when teamed with a SAX Parser).

       You can use other punctuation characters in hash values (just not in
       hash keys) however XML::Simple does not support dumping binary data.

       If you break these rules, the current implementation of "XMLout()" will
       simply emit non-compliant XML which will be rejected if you try to read
       it back in.  (A later version of XML::Simple might take a more proac-
       tive approach).

       Note also that although you can nest hashes and arrays to arbitrary
       levels, circular data structures are not supported and will cause
       "XMLout()" to die.

       If you wish to 'round-trip' arbitrary data structures from Perl to XML
       and back to Perl, then you should probably disable array folding (using
       the KeyAttr option) both with "XMLout()" and with "XMLin()".  If you
       still don't get the expected results, you may prefer to use XML::Dumper
       which is designed for exactly that purpose.

       Refer to "WHERE TO FROM HERE?" if "XMLout()" is too simple for your

       XML::Simple supports a number of options (in fact as each release of
       XML::Simple adds more options, the module's claim to the name 'Simple'
       becomes increasingly tenuous).  If you find yourself repeatedly having
       to specify the same options, you might like to investigate "OPTIONAL OO
       INTERFACE" below.

       If you can't be bothered reading the documentation, refer to "STRICT
       MODE" to automatically catch common mistakes.

       Because there are so many options, it's hard for new users to know
       which ones are important, so here are the two you really need to know

       o   check out "ForceArray" because you'll almost certainly want to turn
           it on

       o   make sure you know what the "KeyAttr" option does and what its
           default value is because it may surprise you otherwise (note in
           particular that 'KeyAttr' affects both "XMLin" and "XMLout")

       The option name headings below have a trailing 'comment' - a hash fol-
       lowed by two pieces of metadata:

       o   Options are marked with 'in' if they are recognised by "XMLin()"
           and 'out' if they are recognised by "XMLout()".

       o   Each option is also flagged to indicate whether it is:

            'important'   - don't use the module until you understand this one
            'handy'       - you can skip this on the first time through
            'advanced'    - you can skip this on the second time through
            'SAX only'    - don't worry about this unless you're using SAX (or
                            alternatively if you need this, you also need SAX)
            'seldom used' - you'll probably never use this unless you were the
                            person that requested the feature

       The options are listed alphabetically:

       Note: option names are no longer case sensitive so you can use the
       mixed case versions shown here; all lower case as required by versions
       2.03 and earlier; or you can add underscores between the words (eg:

       AttrIndent =>&gt; 1 # out - handy

       When you are using "XMLout()", enable this option to have attributes
       printed one-per-line with sensible indentation rather than all on one

       Cache =>&gt; [ cache schemes ] # in - advanced

       Because loading the XML::Parser module and parsing an XML file can con-
       sume a significant number of CPU cycles, it is often desirable to cache
       the output of "XMLin()" for later reuse.

       When parsing from a named file, XML::Simple supports a number of
       caching schemes.  The 'Cache' option may be used to specify one or more
       schemes (using an anonymous array).  Each scheme will be tried in turn
       in the hope of finding a cached pre-parsed representation of the XML
       file.  If no cached copy is found, the file will be parsed and the
       first cache scheme in the list will be used to save a copy of the
       results.  The following cache schemes have been implemented:

           Utilises Storable.pm to read/write a cache file with the same name
           as the XML file but with the extension .stor

           When a file is first parsed, a copy of the resulting data structure
           is retained in memory in the XML::Simple module's namespace.  Sub-
           sequent calls to parse the same file will return a reference to
           this structure.  This cached version will persist only for the life
           of the Perl interpreter (which in the case of mod_perl for example,
           may be some significant time).

           Because each caller receives a reference to the same data struc-
           ture, a change made by one caller will be visible to all.  For this
           reason, the reference returned should be treated as read-only.

           This scheme works identically to 'memshare' (above) except that
           each caller receives a reference to a new data structure which is a
           copy of the cached version.  Copying the data structure will add a
           little processing overhead, therefore this scheme should only be
           used where the caller intends to modify the data structure (or
           wishes to protect itself from others who might).  This scheme uses
           Storable.pm to perform the copy.

       Warning! The memory-based caching schemes compare the timestamp on the
       file to the time when it was last parsed.  If the file is stored on an
       NFS filesystem (or other network share) and the clock on the file
       server is not exactly synchronised with the clock where your script is
       run, updates to the source XML file may appear to be ignored.

       ContentKey =>&gt; 'keyname' # in+out - seldom used

       When text content is parsed to a hash value, this option let's you
       specify a name for the hash key to override the default 'content'.  So
       for example:

         XMLin('<opt one="1">Text</opt>', ContentKey => 'text')

       will parse to:

         { 'one' => 1, 'text' => 'Text' }

       instead of:

         { 'one' => 1, 'content' => 'Text' }

       "XMLout()" will also honour the value of this option when converting a
       hashref to XML.

       You can also prefix your selected key name with a '-' character to have
       "XMLin()" try a little harder to eliminate unnecessary 'content' keys
       after array folding.  For example:

           '<opt><item name="one">First</item><item name="two">Second</item></opt>',
           KeyAttr => {item => 'name'},
           ForceArray => [ 'item' ],
           ContentKey => '-content'

       will parse to:

           'item' => {
             'one' =>  'First'
             'two' =>  'Second'

       rather than this (without the '-'):

           'item' => {
             'one' => { 'content' => 'First' }
             'two' => { 'content' => 'Second' }

       DataHandler =>&gt; code_ref # in - SAX only

       When you use an XML::Simple object as a SAX handler, it will return a
       'simple tree' data structure in the same format as "XMLin()" would
       return.  If this option is set (to a subroutine reference), then when
       the tree is built the subroutine will be called and passed two argu-
       ments: a reference to the XML::Simple object and a reference to the
       data tree.  The return value from the subroutine will be returned to
       the SAX driver.  (See "SAX SUPPORT" for more details).

       ForceArray =>&gt; 1 # in - important

       This option should be set to '1' to force nested elements to be repre-
       sented as arrays even when there is only one.  Eg, with ForceArray
       enabled, this XML:


       would parse to this:

             'name' => [

       instead of this (the default):

             'name' => 'value'

       This option is especially useful if the data structure is likely to be
       written back out as XML and the default behaviour of rolling single
       nested elements up into attributes is not desirable.

       If you are using the array folding feature, you should almost certainly
       enable this option.  If you do not, single nested elements will not be
       parsed to arrays and therefore will not be candidates for folding to a
       hash.  (Given that the default value of 'KeyAttr' enables array fold-
       ing, the default value of this option should probably also have been
       enabled too - sorry).

       ForceArray =>&gt; [ names ] # in - important

       This alternative (and preferred) form of the 'ForceArray' option allows
       you to specify a list of element names which should always be forced
       into an array representation, rather than the 'all or nothing' approach

       It is also possible (since version 2.05) to include compiled regular
       expressions in the list - any element names which match the pattern
       will be forced to arrays.  If the list contains only a single regex,
       then it is not necessary to enclose it in an arrayref.  Eg:

         ForceArray => qr/_list$/

       ForceContent =>&gt; 1 # in - seldom used

       When "XMLin()" parses elements which have text content as well as
       attributes, the text content must be represented as a hash value rather
       than a simple scalar.  This option allows you to force text content to
       always parse to a hash value even when there are no attributes.  So for

         XMLin('<opt><x>text1</x><y a="2">text2</y></opt>', ForceContent => 1)

       will parse to:

           'x' => {           'content' => 'text1' },
           'y' => { 'a' => 2, 'content' => 'text2' }

       instead of:

           'x' => 'text1',
           'y' => { 'a' => 2, 'content' => 'text2' }

       GroupTags =>&gt; { grouping tag =>&gt; grouped tag } # in+out - handy

       You can use this option to eliminate extra levels of indirection in
       your Perl data structure.  For example this XML:


       Would normally be read into a structure like this:

           searchpath => {
                           dir => [ '/usr/bin', '/usr/local/bin', '/usr/X11/bin' ]

       But when read in with the appropriate value for 'GroupTags':

         my $opt = XMLin($xml, GroupTags => { searchpath => 'dir' });

       It will return this simpler structure:

           searchpath => [ '/usr/bin', '/usr/local/bin', '/usr/X11/bin' ]

       The grouping element ("<searchpath>" in the example) must not contain
       any attributes or elements other than the grouped element.

       You can specify multiple 'grouping element' to 'grouped element' map-
       pings in the same hashref.  If this option is combined with "KeyAttr",
       the array folding will occur first and then the grouped element names
       will be eliminated.

       "XMLout" will also use the grouptag mappings to re-introduce the tags
       around the grouped elements.  Beware though that this will occur in all
       places that the 'grouping tag' name occurs - you probably don't want to
       use the same name for elements as well as attributes.

       Handler =>&gt; object_ref # out - SAX only

       Use the 'Handler' option to have "XMLout()" generate SAX events rather
       than returning a string of XML.  For more details see "SAX SUPPORT"

       Note: the current implementation of this option generates a string of
       XML and uses a SAX parser to translate it into SAX events.  The normal
       encoding rules apply here - your data must be UTF8 encoded unless you
       specify an alternative encoding via the 'XMLDecl' option; and by the
       time the data reaches the handler object, it will be in UTF8 form
       regardless of the encoding you supply.  A future implementation of this
       option may generate the events directly.

       KeepRoot =>&gt; 1 # in+out - handy

       In its attempt to return a data structure free of superfluous detail
       and unnecessary levels of indirection, "XMLin()" normally discards the
       root element name.  Setting the 'KeepRoot' option to '1' will cause the
       root element name to be retained.  So after executing this code:

         $config = XMLin('<config tempdir="/tmp" />', KeepRoot => 1)

       You'll be able to reference the tempdir as "$config->{config}->{tem-
       pdir}" instead of the default "$config->{tempdir}".

       Similarly, setting the 'KeepRoot' option to '1' will tell "XMLout()"
       that the data structure already contains a root element name and it is
       not necessary to add another.

       KeyAttr =>&gt; [ list ] # in+out - important

       This option controls the 'array folding' feature which translates
       nested elements from an array to a hash.  It also controls the 'unfold-
       ing' of hashes to arrays.

       For example, this XML:

             <user login="grep" fullname="Gary R Epstein" />
             <user login="stty" fullname="Simon T Tyson" />

       would, by default, parse to this:

             'user' => [
                           'login' => 'grep',
                           'fullname' => 'Gary R Epstein'
                           'login' => 'stty',
                           'fullname' => 'Simon T Tyson'

       If the option 'KeyAttr => "login"' were used to specify that the
       'login' attribute is a key, the same XML would parse to:

             'user' => {
                         'stty' => {
                                     'fullname' => 'Simon T Tyson'
                         'grep' => {
                                     'fullname' => 'Gary R Epstein'

       The key attribute names should be supplied in an arrayref if there is
       more than one.  "XMLin()" will attempt to match attribute names in the
       order supplied.  "XMLout()" will use the first attribute name supplied
       when 'unfolding' a hash into an array.

       Note 1: The default value for 'KeyAttr' is ['name', 'key', 'id'].  If
       you do not want folding on input or unfolding on output you must set-
       ting this option to an empty list to disable the feature.

       Note 2: If you wish to use this option, you should also enable the
       "ForceArray" option.  Without 'ForceArray', a single nested element
       will be rolled up into a scalar rather than an array and therefore will
       not be folded (since only arrays get folded).

       KeyAttr =>&gt; { list } # in+out - important

       This alternative (and preferred) method of specifiying the key
       attributes allows more fine grained control over which elements are
       folded and on which attributes.  For example the option 'KeyAttr => {
       package => 'id' } will cause any package elements to be folded on the
       'id' attribute.  No other elements which have an 'id' attribute will be
       folded at all.

       Note: "XMLin()" will generate a warning (or a fatal error in "STRICT
       MODE") if this syntax is used and an element which does not have the
       specified key attribute is encountered (eg: a 'package' element without
       an 'id' attribute, to use the example above).  Warnings will only be
       generated if -w is in force.

       Two further variations are made possible by prefixing a '+' or a '-'
       character to the attribute name:

       The option 'KeyAttr => { user => "+login" }' will cause this XML:

             <user login="grep" fullname="Gary R Epstein" />
             <user login="stty" fullname="Simon T Tyson" />

       to parse to this data structure:

             'user' => {
                         'stty' => {
                                     'fullname' => 'Simon T Tyson',
                                     'login'    => 'stty'
                         'grep' => {
                                     'fullname' => 'Gary R Epstein',
                                     'login'    => 'grep'

       The '+' indicates that the value of the key attribute should be copied
       rather than moved to the folded hash key.

       A '-' prefix would produce this result:

             'user' => {
                         'stty' => {
                                     'fullname' => 'Simon T Tyson',
                                     '-login'    => 'stty'
                         'grep' => {
                                     'fullname' => 'Gary R Epstein',
                                     '-login'    => 'grep'

       As described earlier, "XMLout" will ignore hash keys starting with a

       NoAttr =>&gt; 1 # in+out - handy

       When used with "XMLout()", the generated XML will contain no
       attributes.  All hash key/values will be represented as nested elements

       When used with "XMLin()", any attributes in the XML will be ignored.

       NoEscape =>&gt; 1 # out - seldom used

       By default, "XMLout()" will translate the characters '<', '>', '&' and
       '"' to '&lt;', '&gt;', '&amp;' and '&quot' respectively.  Use this
       option to suppress escaping (presumably because you've already escaped
       the data in some more sophisticated manner).

       NoIndent =>&gt; 1 # out - seldom used

       Set this option to 1 to disable "XMLout()"'s default 'pretty printing'
       mode.  With this option enabled, the XML output will all be on one line
       (unless there are newlines in the data) - this may be easier for down-
       stream processing.

       NoSort =>&gt; 1 # out - seldom used

       Newer versions of XML::Simple sort elements and attributes alphabeti-
       cally (*), by default.  Enable this option to suppress the sorting -
       possibly for backwards compatibility.

       * Actually, sorting is alphabetical but 'key' attribute or element
       names (as in 'KeyAttr') sort first.  Also, when a hash of hashes is
       'unfolded', the elements are sorted alphabetically by the value of the
       key field.

       NormaliseSpace =>&gt; 0 | 1 | 2 # in - handy

       This option controls how whitespace in text content is handled.  Recog-
       nised values for the option are:

       o   0 = (default) whitespace is passed through unaltered (except of
           course for the normalisation of whitespace in attribute values
           which is mandated by the XML recommendation)

       o   1 = whitespace is normalised in any value used as a hash key (nor-
           malising means removing leading and trailing whitespace and col-
           lapsing sequences of whitespace characters to a single space)

       o   2 = whitespace is normalised in all text content

       Note: you can spell this option with a 'z' if that is more natural for

       NSExpand =>&gt; 1 # in+out handy - SAX only

       This option controls namespace expansion - the translation of element
       and attribute names of the form 'prefix:name' to '{uri}name'.  For
       example the element name 'xsl:template' might be expanded to:

       By default, "XMLin()" will return element names and attribute names
       exactly as they appear in the XML.  Setting this option to 1 will cause
       all element and attribute names to be expanded to include their names-
       pace prefix.

       Note: You must be using a SAX parser for this option to work (ie: it
       does not work with XML::Parser).

       This option also controls whether "XMLout()" performs the reverse
       translation from '{uri}name' back to 'prefix:name'.  The default is no
       translation.  If your data contains expanded names, you should set this
       option to 1 otherwise "XMLout" will emit XML which is not well formed.

       Note: You must have the XML::NamespaceSupport module installed if you
       want "XMLout()" to translate URIs back to prefixes.

       NumericEscape =>&gt; 0 | 1 | 2 # out - handy

       Use this option to have 'high' (non-ASCII) characters in your Perl data
       structure converted to numeric entities (eg: &#8364;) in the XML out-
       put.  Three levels are possible:

       0 - default: no numeric escaping (OK if you're writing out UTF8)

       1 - only characters above 0xFF are escaped (ie: characters in the
       0x80-FF range are not escaped), possibly useful with ISO8859-1 output

       2 - all characters above 0x7F are escaped (good for plain ASCII output)

       OutputFile =>&gt; <&lt;file specifier>&gt; # out - handy

       The default behaviour of "XMLout()" is to return the XML as a string.
       If you wish to write the XML to a file, simply supply the filename
       using the 'OutputFile' option.

       This option also accepts an IO handle object - especially useful in
       Perl 5.8.0 and later for output using an encoding other than UTF-8, eg:

         open my $fh, '>:encoding(iso-8859-1)', $path or die "open($path): $!";
         XMLout($ref, OutputFile => $fh);

       Note, XML::Simple does not require that the object you pass in to the
       OutputFile option inherits from IO::Handle - it simply assumes the
       object supports a "print" method.

       ParserOpts =>&gt; [ XML::Parser Options ] # in - don't use this

       Note: This option is now officially deprecated.  If you find it useful,
       email the author with an example of what you use it for.  Do not use
       this option to set the ProtocolEncoding, that's just plain wrong - fix
       the XML.

       This option allows you to pass parameters to the constructor of the
       underlying XML::Parser object (which of course assumes you're not using

       RootName =>&gt; 'string' # out - handy

       By default, when "XMLout()" generates XML, the root element will be
       named 'opt'.  This option allows you to specify an alternative name.

       Specifying either undef or the empty string for the RootName option
       will produce XML with no root elements.  In most cases the resulting
       XML fragment will not be 'well formed' and therefore could not be read
       back in by "XMLin()".  Nevertheless, the option has been found to be
       useful in certain circumstances.

       SearchPath =>&gt; [ list ] # in - handy

       If you pass "XMLin()" a filename, but the filename include no directory
       component, you can use this option to specify which directories should
       be searched to locate the file.  You might use this option to search
       first in the user's home directory, then in a global directory such as

       If a filename is provided to "XMLin()" but SearchPath is not defined,
       the file is assumed to be in the current directory.

       If the first parameter to "XMLin()" is undefined, the default Search-
       Path will contain only the directory in which the script itself is
       located.  Otherwise the default SearchPath will be empty.

       SuppressEmpty =>&gt; 1 | '' | undef # in+out - handy

       This option controls what "XMLin()" should do with empty elements (no
       attributes and no content).  The default behaviour is to represent them
       as empty hashes.  Setting this option to a true value (eg: 1) will
       cause empty elements to be skipped altogether.  Setting the option to
       'undef' or the empty string will cause empty elements to be represented
       as the undefined value or the empty string respectively.  The latter
       two alternatives are a little easier to test for in your code than a
       hash with no keys.

       The option also controls what "XMLout()" does with undefined values.
       Setting the option to undef causes undefined values to be output as
       empty elements (rather than empty attributes), it also suppresses the
       generation of warnings about undefined values.  Setting the option to a
       true value (eg: 1) causes undefined values to be skipped altogether on

       ValueAttr =>&gt; [ names ] # in - handy

       Use this option to deal elements which always have a single attribute
       and no content.  Eg:

           <colour value="red" />
           <size   value="XXL" />

       Setting "ValueAttr => [ 'value' ]" will cause the above XML to parse

           colour => 'red',
           size   => 'XXL'

       instead of this (the default):

           colour => { value => 'red' },
           size   => { value => 'XXL' }

       Note: This form of the ValueAttr option is not compatible with
       "XMLout()" - since the attribute name is discarded at parse time, the
       original XML cannot be reconstructed.

       ValueAttr =>&gt; { element =>&gt; attribute, ... } # in+out - handy

       This (preferred) form of the ValueAttr option requires you to specify
       both the element and the attribute names.  This is not only safer, it
       also allows the original XML to be reconstructed by "XMLout()".

       Note: You probably don't want to use this option and the NoAttr option
       at the same time.

       Variables =>&gt; { name =>&gt; value } # in - handy

       This option allows variables in the XML to be expanded when the file is
       read.  (there is no facility for putting the variable names back if you
       regenerate XML using "XMLout").

       A 'variable' is any text of the form "${name}" which occurs in an
       attribute value or in the text content of an element.  If 'name'
       matches a key in the supplied hashref, "${name}" will be replaced with
       the corresponding value from the hashref.  If no matching key is found,
       the variable will not be replaced.  Names must match the regex:
       "[\w.]+" (ie: only 'word' characters and dots are allowed).

       VarAttr =>&gt; 'attr_name' # in - handy

       In addition to the variables defined using "Variables", this option
       allows variables to be defined in the XML.  A variable definition con-
       sists of an element with an attribute called 'attr_name' (the value of
       the "VarAttr" option).  The value of the attribute will be used as the
       variable name and the text content of the element will be used as the
       value.  A variable defined in this way will override a variable defined
       using the "Variables" option.  For example:

         XMLin( '<opt>
                   <dir name="prefix">/usr/local/apache</dir>
                   <dir name="exec_prefix">${prefix}</dir>
                   <dir name="bindir">${exec_prefix}/bin</dir>
                VarAttr => 'name', ContentKey => '-content'

       produces the following data structure:

           dir => {
                    prefix      => '/usr/local/apache',
                    exec_prefix => '/usr/local/apache',
                    bindir      => '/usr/local/apache/bin',

       XMLDecl =>&gt; 1  or  XMLDecl =>&gt; 'string'  # out - handy

       If you want the output from "XMLout()" to start with the optional XML
       declaration, simply set the option to '1'.  The default XML declaration

               <?xml version='1.0' standalone='yes'?>

       If you want some other string (for example to declare an encoding
       value), set the value of this option to the complete string you

       The procedural interface is both simple and convenient however there
       are a couple of reasons why you might prefer to use the object oriented
       (OO) interface:

       o   to define a set of default values which should be used on all sub-
           sequent calls to "XMLin()" or "XMLout()"

       o   to override methods in XML::Simple to provide customised behaviour

       The default values for the options described above are unlikely to suit
       everyone.  The OO interface allows you to effectively override
       XML::Simple's defaults with your preferred values.  It works like this:

       First create an XML::Simple parser object with your preferred defaults:

         my $xs = XML::Simple->new(ForceArray => 1, KeepRoot => 1);

       then call "XMLin()" or "XMLout()" as a method of that object:

         my $ref = $xs->XMLin($xml);
         my $xml = $xs->XMLout($ref);

       You can also specify options when you make the method calls and these
       values will be merged with the values specified when the object was
       created.  Values specified in a method call take precedence.

       Note: when called as methods, the "XMLin()" and "XMLout()" routines may
       be called as "xml_in()" or "xml_out()".  The method names are aliased
       so the only difference is the aesthetics.

       Parsing Methods

       You can explicitly call one of the following methods rather than rely
       on the "xml_in()" method automatically determining whether the target
       to be parsed is a string, a file or a filehandle:

           Works exactly like the "xml_in()" method but assumes the first
           argument is a string of XML (or a reference to a scalar containing
           a string of XML).

           Works exactly like the "xml_in()" method but assumes the first
           argument is the name of a file containing XML.

           Works exactly like the "xml_in()" method but assumes the first
           argument is a filehandle which can be read to get XML.

       Hook Methods

       You can make your own class which inherits from XML::Simple and over-
       rides certain behaviours.  The following methods may provide useful
       'hooks' upon which to hang your modified behaviour.  You may find other
       undocumented methods by examining the source, but those may be subject
       to change in future releases.

       handle_options(direction, name => value ...)
           This method will be called when one of the parsing methods or the
           "XMLout()" method is called.  The initial argument will be a string
           (either 'in' or 'out') and the remaining arguments will be name
           value pairs.

           Calculates and returns the name of the file which should be parsed
           if no filename is passed to "XMLin()" (default: "$0.xml").

       build_simple_tree(filename, string)
           Called from "XMLin()" or any of the parsing methods.  Takes either
           a file name as the first argument or "undef" followed by a 'string'
           as the second argument.  Returns a simple tree data structure.  You
           could override this method to apply your own transformations before
           the data structure is returned to the caller.

           When the 'simple tree' data structure is being built, this method
           will be called to create any required anonymous hashrefs.

       sorted_keys(name, hashref)
           Called when "XMLout()" is translating a hashref to XML.  This rou-
           tine returns a list of hash keys in the order that the correspond-
           ing attributes/elements should appear in the output.

           Called from "XMLout()", takes a string and returns a copy of the
           string with XML character escaping rules applied.

           Called from "escape_value()", to handle non-ASCII characters
           (depending on the value of the NumericEscape option).

       copy_hash(hashref, extra_key => value, ...)
           Called from "XMLout()", when 'unfolding' a hash of hashes into an
           array of hashes.  You might wish to override this method if you're
           using tied hashes and don't want them to get untied.

       Cache Methods

       XML::Simple implements three caching schemes ('storable', 'memshare'
       and 'memcopy').  You can implement a custom caching scheme by imple-
       menting two methods - one for reading from the cache and one for writ-
       ing to it.

       For example, you might implement a new 'dbm' scheme that stores cached
       data structures using the MLDBM module.  First, you would add a
       "cache_read_dbm()" method which accepted a filename for use as a lookup
       key and returned a data structure on success, or undef on failure.
       Then, you would implement a "cache_read_dbm()" method which accepted a
       data structure and a filename.

       You would use this caching scheme by specifying the option:

         Cache => [ 'dbm' ]

       If you import the XML::Simple routines like this:

         use XML::Simple qw(:strict);

       the following common mistakes will be detected and treated as fatal

       o   Failing to explicitly set the "KeyAttr" option - if you can't be
           bothered reading about this option, turn it off with: KeyAttr => [

       o   Failing to explicitly set the "ForceArray" option - if you can't be
           bothered reading about this option, set it to the safest mode with:
           ForceArray => 1

       o   Setting ForceArray to an array, but failing to list all the ele-
           ments from the KeyAttr hash.

       o   Data error - KeyAttr is set to say { part => 'partnum' } but the
           XML contains one or more <part> elements without a 'partnum'
           attribute (or nested element).  Note: if strict mode is not set but
           -w is, this condition triggers a warning.

       o   Data error - as above, but non-unique values are present in the key
           attribute (eg: more than one <part> element with the same partnum).
           This will also trigger a warning if strict mode is not enabled.

       o   Data error - as above, but value of key attribute (eg: partnum) is
           not a scalar string (due to nested elements etc).  This will also
           trigger a warning if strict mode is not enabled.

       From version 1.08_01, XML::Simple includes support for SAX (the Simple
       API for XML) - specifically SAX2.

       In a typical SAX application, an XML parser (or SAX 'driver') module
       generates SAX events (start of element, character data, end of element,
       etc) as it parses an XML document and a 'handler' module processes the
       events to extract the required data.  This simple model allows for some
       interesting and powerful possibilities:

       o   Applications written to the SAX API can extract data from huge XML
           documents without the memory overheads of a DOM or tree API.

       o   The SAX API allows for plug and play interchange of parser modules
           without having to change your code to fit a new module's API.  A
           number of SAX parsers are available with capabilities ranging from
           extreme portability to blazing performance.

       o   A SAX 'filter' module can implement both a handler interface for
           receiving data and a generator interface for passing modified data
           on to a downstream handler.  Filters can be chained together in

       o   One filter module might split a data stream to direct data to two
           or more downstream handlers.

       o   Generating SAX events is not the exclusive preserve of XML parsing
           modules.  For example, a module might extract data from a rela-
           tional database using DBI and pass it on to a SAX pipeline for fil-
           tering and formatting.

       XML::Simple can operate at either end of a SAX pipeline.  For example,
       you can take a data structure in the form of a hashref and pass it into
       a SAX pipeline using the 'Handler' option on "XMLout()":

         use XML::Simple;
         use Some::SAX::Filter;
         use XML::SAX::Writer;

         my $ref = {
                      ....   # your data here

         my $writer = XML::SAX::Writer->new();
         my $filter = Some::SAX::Filter->new(Handler => $writer);
         my $simple = XML::Simple->new(Handler => $filter);

       You can also put XML::Simple at the opposite end of the pipeline to
       take advantage of the simple 'tree' data structure once the relevant
       data has been isolated through filtering:

         use XML::SAX;
         use Some::SAX::Filter;
         use XML::Simple;

         my $simple = XML::Simple->new(ForceArray => 1, KeyAttr => ['partnum']);
         my $filter = Some::SAX::Filter->new(Handler => $simple);
         my $parser = XML::SAX::ParserFactory->parser(Handler => $filter);

         my $ref = $parser->parse_uri('some_huge_file.xml');

         print $ref->{part}->{'555-1234'};

       You can build a filter by using an XML::Simple object as a handler and
       setting its DataHandler option to point to a routine which takes the
       resulting tree, modifies it and sends it off as SAX events to a down-
       stream handler:

         my $writer = XML::SAX::Writer->new();
         my $filter = XML::Simple->new(
                        DataHandler => sub {
                                         my $simple = shift;
                                         my $data = shift;

                                         # Modify $data here

                                         $simple->XMLout($data, Handler => $writer);
         my $parser = XML::SAX::ParserFactory->parser(Handler => $filter);


       Note: In this last example, the 'Handler' option was specified in the
       call to "XMLout()" but it could also have been specified in the con-

       If you don't care which parser module XML::Simple uses then skip this
       section entirely (it looks more complicated than it really is).

       XML::Simple will default to using a SAX parser if one is available or
       XML::Parser if SAX is not available.

       You can dictate which parser module is used by setting either the envi-
       ronment variable 'XML_SIMPLE_PREFERRED_PARSER' or the package variable
       $XML::Simple::PREFERRED_PARSER to contain the module name.  The follow-
       ing rules are used:

       o   The package variable takes precedence over the environment variable
           if both are defined.  To force XML::Simple to ignore the environ-
           ment settings and use its default rules, you can set the package
           variable to an empty string.

       o   If the 'preferred parser' is set to the string 'XML::Parser', then
           XML::Parser will be used (or "XMLin()" will die if XML::Parser is
           not installed).

       o   If the 'preferred parser' is set to some other value, then it is
           assumed to be the name of a SAX parser module and is passed to
           XML::SAX::ParserFactory.  If XML::SAX is not installed, or the
           requested parser module is not installed, then "XMLin()" will die.

       o   If the 'preferred parser' is not defined at all (the normal default
           state), an attempt will be made to load XML::SAX.  If XML::SAX is
           installed, then a parser module will be selected according to
           XML::SAX::ParserFactory's normal rules (which typically means the
           last SAX parser installed).

       o   if the 'preferred parser' is not defined and XML::SAX is not
           installed, then XML::Parser will be used.  "XMLin()" will die if
           XML::Parser is not installed.

       Note: The XML::SAX distribution includes an XML parser written entirely
       in Perl.  It is very portable but it is not very fast.  You should con-
       sider installing XML::LibXML or XML::SAX::Expat if they are available
       for your platform.

       The XML standard is very clear on the issue of non-compliant documents.
       An error in parsing any single element (for example a missing end tag)
       must cause the whole document to be rejected.  XML::Simple will die
       with an appropriate message if it encounters a parsing error.

       If dying is not appropriate for your application, you should arrange to
       call "XMLin()" in an eval block and look for errors in $@.  eg:

           my $config = eval { XMLin() };
           PopUpMessage($@) if($@);

       Note, there is a common misconception that use of eval will signifi-
       cantly slow down a script.  While that may be true when the code being
       eval'd is in a string, it is not true of code like the sample above.

       When "XMLin()" reads the following very simple piece of XML:

           <opt username="testuser" password="frodo"></opt>

       it returns the following data structure:

             'username' => 'testuser',
             'password' => 'frodo'

       The identical result could have been produced with this alternative

           <opt username="testuser" password="frodo" />

       Or this (although see 'ForceArray' option for variations):


       Repeated nested elements are represented as anonymous arrays:

             <person firstname="Joe" lastname="Smith">
             <person firstname="Bob" lastname="Smith">

             'person' => [
                             'email' => [
                             'firstname' => 'Joe',
                             'lastname' => 'Smith'
                             'email' => 'bobATsmith.com',
                             'firstname' => 'Bob',
                             'lastname' => 'Smith'

       Nested elements with a recognised key attribute are transformed
       (folded) from an array into a hash keyed on the value of that attribute
       (see the "KeyAttr" option):

             <person key="jsmith" firstname="Joe" lastname="Smith" />
             <person key="tsmith" firstname="Tom" lastname="Smith" />
             <person key="jbloggs" firstname="Joe" lastname="Bloggs" />

             'person' => {
                           'jbloggs' => {
                                          'firstname' => 'Joe',
                                          'lastname' => 'Bloggs'
                           'tsmith' => {
                                         'firstname' => 'Tom',
                                         'lastname' => 'Smith'
                           'jsmith' => {
                                         'firstname' => 'Joe',
                                         'lastname' => 'Smith'

       The <anon> tag can be used to form anonymous arrays:

             <head><anon>Col 1</anon><anon>Col 2</anon><anon>Col 3</anon></head>

             'head' => [
                         [ 'Col 1', 'Col 2', 'Col 3' ]
             'data' => [
                         [ 'R1C1', 'R1C2', 'R1C3' ],
                         [ 'R2C1', 'R2C2', 'R2C3' ],
                         [ 'R3C1', 'R3C2', 'R3C3' ]

       Anonymous arrays can be nested to arbirtrary levels and as a special
       case, if the surrounding tags for an XML document contain only an
       anonymous array the arrayref will be returned directly rather than the
       usual hashref:

             <anon><anon>Col 1</anon><anon>Col 2</anon></anon>

             [ 'Col 1', 'Col 2' ],
             [ 'R1C1', 'R1C2' ],
             [ 'R2C1', 'R2C2' ]

       Elements which only contain text content will simply be represented as
       a scalar.  Where an element has both attributes and text content, the
       element will be represented as a hashref with the text content in the
       'content' key (see the "ContentKey" option):

           <two attr="value">second</two>

           'one' => 'first',
           'two' => { 'attr' => 'value', 'content' => 'second' }

       Mixed content (elements which contain both text content and nested ele-
       ments) will be not be represented in a useful way - element order and
       significant whitespace will be lost.  If you need to work with mixed
       content, then XML::Simple is not the right tool for your job - check
       out the next section.

       XML::Simple is able to present a simple API because it makes some
       assumptions on your behalf.  These include:

       o   You're not interested in text content consisting only of whitespace

       o   You don't mind that when things get slurped into a hash the order
           is lost

       o   You don't want fine-grained control of the formatting of generated

       o   You would never use a hash key that was not a legal XML element

       o   You don't need help converting between different encodings

       In a serious XML project, you'll probably outgrow these assumptions
       fairly quickly.  This section of the document used to offer some advice
       on chosing a more powerful option.  That advice has now grown into the
       'Perl-XML FAQ' document which you can find at: <http://perl-xml.source-

       The advice in the FAQ boils down to a quick explanation of tree versus
       event based parsers and then recommends:

       For event based parsing, use SAX (do not set out to write any new code
       for XML::Parser's handler API - it is obselete).

       For tree-based parsing, you could choose between the 'Perlish' approach
       of XML::Twig and more standards based DOM implementations - preferably
       one with XPath support.

       XML::Simple requires either XML::Parser or XML::SAX.

       To generate documents with namespaces, XML::NamespaceSupport is

       The optional caching functions require Storable.

       Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about XML::Simple are bundled
       with this distribution as: XML::Simple::FAQ

       Copyright 1999-2004 Grant McLean <grantmATcpan.org>

       This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
       under the same terms as Perl itself.

perl v5.8.8                       2007-08-19                  XML::Simple(3pm)