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XPath Examples 

This topic reviews the syntax examples that appear throughout the XPath Reference. All are based on the Sample XML File for XPath Syntax (inventory.xml). For an example of using an XPath expression in a test file, see "Example of Unions ( | )", at the bottom of this topic.

Expression Refers to

./author

All <author> elements within the current context. Note that this is equivalent to the expression in the next row.

author

All <author> elements within the current context.

first.name

All <first.name> elements within the current context.

/bookstore

The document element (<bookstore>) of this document.

//author

All <author> elements in the document.

book[/bookstore/@specialty=@style]

All <book> elements whose style attribute value is equal to the specialty attribute value of the <bookstore> element at the root of the document.

author/first-name

All <first-name> elements that are children of an <author> element.

bookstore//title

All <title> elements one or more levels deep in the <bookstore> element (arbitrary descendants). Note that this is different from the expression in the next row.

bookstore/*/title

All <title> elements that are grandchildren of <bookstore> elements.

bookstore//book/excerpt//emph

All <emph> elements anywhere inside <excerpt> children of <book> elements, anywhere inside the <bookstore> element.

.//title

All <title> elements one or more levels deep in the current context. Note that this situation is essentially the only one in which the period notation is required.

author/*

All elements that are the children of <author> elements.

book/*/last-name

All <last-name> elements that are grandchildren of <book> elements.

*/*

All grandchildren elements of the current context.

*[@specialty]

All elements with the specialty attribute.

@style

The style attribute of the current context.

price/@exchange

The exchange attribute on <price> elements within the current context.

price/@exchange/total

Returns an empty node set, because attributes do not contain element children. This expression is allowed by the XML Path Language (XPath) grammar, but is not strictly valid.

book[@style]

All <book> elements with style attributes, of the current context.

book/@style

The style attribute for all <book> elements of the current context.

@*

All attributes of the current element context.

./first-name

All <first-name> elements in the current context node. Note that this is equivalent to the expression in the next row.

first-name

All <first-name> elements in the current context node.

author[1]

The first <author> element in the current context node.

author[first-name][3]

The third <author> element that has a <first-name> child.

my:book

The <book> element from the my namespace.

my:*

All elements from the my namespace.

@my:*

All attributes from the my namespace (this does not include unqualified attributes on elements from the my namespace).

Note that indexes are relative to the parent. Consider the following data:

<x>
  <y/>
  <y/>
</x>
<x>
  <y/>
  <y/>
</x>
Expression Refers to

x/y[1]

The first <y> child of each <x>. This is equivalent to the expression in the next row.

x/y[position() = 1]

The first <y> child of each <x>.

(x/y)[1]

The first <y> from the entire set of <y> children of <x> elements.

x[1]/y[2]

The second <y> child of the first <x>.

The remaining examples refer to the Sample XML file for XPath.

Expression Refers to

book[last()]

The last <book> element of the current context node.

book/author[last()]

The last <author> child of each <book> element of the current context node.

(book/author)[last()]

The last <author> element from the entire set of <author> children of <book> elements of the current context node.

book[excerpt]

All <book> elements that contain at least one <excerpt> element child.

book[excerpt]/title

All <title> elements that are children of <book> elements that also contain at least one <excerpt> element child.

book[excerpt]/author[degree]

All <author> elements that contain at least one <degree> element child, and that are children of <book> elements that also contain at least one <excerpt> element.

book[author/degree]

All <book> elements that contain <author> children that in turn contain at least one <degree> child.

author[degree][award]

All <author> elements that contain at least one <degree> element child and at least one <award> element child.

author[degree and award]

All <author> elements that contain at least one <degree> element child and at least one <award> element child.

author[(degree or award) and publication]

All <author> elements that contain at least one <degree> or <award> and at least one <publication> as the children

author[degree and not(publication)]

All <author> elements that contain at least one <degree> element child and that contain no <publication> element children.

author[not(degree or award) and publication]

All <author> elements that contain at least one <publication> element child and contain neither <degree> nor <award> element children.

author[last-name = "Bob"]

All <author> elements that contain at least one <last-name> element child with the value Bob.

author[last-name[1] = "Bob"]

All <author> elements where the first <last-name> child element has the value Bob. Note that this is equivalent to the expression in the next row.

author[last-name [position()=1]= "Bob"]

All <author> elements where the first <last-name> child element has the value Bob.

degree[@from != "Harvard"]

All <degree> elements where the from attribute is not equal to "Harvard".

author[. = "Matthew Bob"]

All <author> elements whose value is Matthew Bob.

author[last-name = "Bob" and ../price &gt; 50]

All <author> elements that contain a <last-name> child element whose value is Bob, and a <price> sibling element whose value is greater than 50.

book[position() &lt;= 3]

The first three books (1, 2, 3).

author[not(last-name = "Bob")]

All <author> elements that do no contain <last-name> child elements with the value Bob.

author[first-name = "Bob"]

All <author> elements that have at least one <first-name> child with the value Bob.

author[* = "Bob"]

all author elements containing any child element whose value is Bob.

author[last-name = "Bob" and first-name = "Joe"]

All <author> elements that has a <last-name> child element with the value Bob and a <first-name> child element with the value Joe.

price[@intl = "Canada"]

All <price> elements in the context node which have an intl attribute equal to "Canada".

degree[position() &lt; 3]

The first two <degree> elements that are children of the context node.

p/text()[2]

The second text node in each <p> element in the context node.

ancestor::book[1]

The nearest <book> ancestor of the context node.

ancestor::book[author][1]

The nearest <book> ancestor of the context node and this <book> element has an <author> element as its child.

ancestor::author[parent::book][1]

The nearest <author> ancestor in the current context and this <author> element is a child of a <book> element.

To demonstrate the union operation, we use the following XPath expression:

x | y/x

selects all the <x> elements whose values are green or blue in the following XML file:

XML File (data1.xml)

<?xml version='1.0'?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="union.xsl"?>
<root>
   <x>green</x>
   <y>
      <x>blue</x>
      <x>blue</x>
   </y>
   <z>
      <x>red</x>
      <x>red</x>
   </z>
   <x>green</x>
</root>

XSLT File (union.xsl)

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

<xsl:template match="root">
   <xsl:for-each select="x | y/x">
      <xsl:value-of select="."/>,
      <xsl:if test="not(position()=last())">,</xsl:if>
   </xsl:for-each>
</xsl:template>

</xsl:stylesheet>

Formatted Output

green,blue,blue,green

Processor Output

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-16"?>green,blue,blue,green

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