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Parser and converter for an alternate compact XML syntax.

Project Description


Compact XML is an alternative syntax for representing XML files. It uses indentation to indicate nesting to give a python like feel, XPath based prefixes to identify nodes, and has a macro system to shorten common XML constructs. It is intended for writing element based XML files, especially those where the XML elements share a common structure such as XSLT files.

This package includes a parser and bidirectional converter for converting from this compact XML syntax to XML, and from XML to this compact XML syntax.

Why Do I Want This?

Unlike most projects to create a shorter XML, compact XML is not designed for compressing XML on the wire. Instead, this syntax is designed to make editing XML easier with common editors, and to provide a convenient, configurable shorthand when authoring XML documents with a common syntax.

If you spend all day writing XSLT files or something similar, this will let you work with source files that look like this:

        xsl:output xml no

        xsl:template "@* | node( )"
                        xsl:apply-templates "@* | node( )"

Instead of like this:

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="">
<xsl:output method="xml" indent="no"/>

<xsl:template match="@* | node( )">
                <xsl:apply-templates select="@* | node( )"/>


If you’re integrating with a python based program, the parser can be built in and parse compact XML files to XML directly. Otherwise a simple command line utility is included that can be used inside make or equivalent to convert to XML as part of your build process.


compactxml is a pure python library, and should be platform independent. It has been developed and tested on python 2.6 on linux, however. As dependencies, it requires that lxml and pyparsing be installed to function.

A normal python install command should work to install the library.


There is a compactxml.expand function for converting from compact XML syntax to XML, and a compactxml.compact function for converting from XML to compact XML syntax, with variations on both depending on the output format desired. help( compactxml ) will give better usage instructions, and the included documentation in compactxml.rst provides a comprehensive overview of the compact xml syntax.

Any errors in expansion or compaction are raised as compactxml.ParsingError.

There is also a command line utility in the source distribution which can be used for converting from/to compact xml syntax. See --help for usage information after installation.


Detailed documentation of the compact XML format is available through the python package index, including a tutorial for new users.

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