Proposed SAX Revisions [March 20, 1998]

From Fri Mar 20 10:01:41 1998
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1998 10:41:22 -0500
Message-Id: <>
From: David Megginson <>
To: xml-dev Mailing List <>
Subject: ANNOUNCEMENT: Proposed SAX Revisions

The draft version of the Simple API for XML (SAX) came out just over two months ago, and it has proven far more successful than I expected -- hundreds of developers have downloaded the Java interface, four of the six Java-based XML parsers now contain native SAX drivers (I have written temporary drivers for the other two), and many people are designing applications built around SAX.

After two months' experience with the draft interface, however, users have discovered four serious omissions in the original design:

  1. there is no standard way to read an XML document from an input stream;
  2. there is no way to obtain contextual information (system id, line number, etc.) for reporting application errors;
  3. there is no way to obtain external identifiers for an attribute of type NOTATIONS or ENTITIES when more than one notation or entity name is provided; and
  4. there is no way to distinguish between recoverable and unrecoverable errors, as required by the XML REC.

People have also rightly complained that the AttributeMap interface is too complicated. I have put together a web page containing my suggestions for revisions to fix these problems and generally to clean up the SAX interface; you will find the proposed revisions at the following URL:

If you are interested in SAX, either as a parser writer or as an application writer, please take a few minutes to read through this web page. I will look forward to receiving your comments, corrections, and suggestions.

All the best,


David Megginson       
Microstar Software Ltd.

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