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Industrial IoT: Article

Index XML Documents with VTD-XML

How to turn the indexing capability on in your application

  • Superior Indexing Performance - The performance of generating an VTD+XML index is identical to the parsing performance of VTD-XML, since both are essentially the same operation viewed from two different angles. On a 1.7GHz Pentium machine, it's reasonable to expect a sustained indexing performance of 50 MB/s-70 MB/s.
    •  Easy To Use - Usually adding a couple of lines (loadIndex(...) and writeIndex(...) as seen in the previous example) to your existing VTD-XML code is all that's needed to enable VTD+XML in your applications.
    •  Compact - The size of VTD+XML is usually about 30%-50% bigger than the size of the corresponding XML document. This is again consistent with the memory use of the VTD-XML processing model.
    •  Platform Neutral - Just like XML, VTD+XML is designed to be platform-neutral in that it explicitly includes information about the byte endian-ness of the platform on which the index is generated. Users of the C or C# version VTD-XML code can automatically recognize and make use of the index generated by the Java version.

    At the same time, users of VTD+XML need to be aware of the following limitations:
    •  Upper Limit on Document Size - The maximum XML document size supported by VTD+XML is 2GB without name space support. With name space, VTD+XML supports a maximum of 1GB.
    •  Lack of Support for External Entities - VTD-XML currently supports five built-in entity references (<, >, &, ', and ") as defined in XML 1.0.

    The Case Involving XML Content Update
    Some of you may wonder: What if the subsequent XML operations involve content updates that shift the offset value? In general, those use cases often require the updated XML document to be re-indexed. And for large XML documents, you may argue that the cost of re-indexing can be quite significant. However, there are actually several workarounds, all aimed at reducing, even eliminating, the cost of re-indexing.

    The first workaround: Instead of creating the VTD+XML index for a single big XML document, split the XML document into multiple smaller ones, each of which is then indexed using VTD+XML. From this point on, you only need to regenerate a VTD+XML index for those "updated" XML fragments that are usually a lot smaller and therefore cheaper to re-index.

    VTD-XML 2.0 also introduced the "overwrite" feature that lets you modify XML content without needing to regenerate the index. The code below makes use of the VTDNav class's new "overWrite(...)" to change the text node of "<root>good</root>" from "good" or "bad." If the new content is shorter or equal in length to that of the old content, the method "overWrite(...)" fills up the non-overlapping portion of the text with white spaces and returns true. Otherwise, no change to the original content and "overWrite(...)" returns false.

    import com.ximpleware.*;
    class Overwrite{
       public static void main(String s[]) throws Exception{
         VTDGen vg = new VTDGen();
         VTDNav vn = vg.getNav();
         int i=vn.getText();
         //print "good"
         System.out.println("text ---> "+vn.toString(i));
         if (vn.overWrite(i,"bad".getBytes())){
           //overwrite, if successful, returns true
           //print "bad" here
           System.out.println("text ---> "+vn.toString(i));

    The "overWrite" feature may look simple, but it actually has unexpected implications for the performance of XML. Consider the database table design in which you specify the column width. You can now borrow the same technique for XML composition: By pre-serializing some extra spaces into text nodes or attribute values, you can make "in situ" updates to those nodes and do so without regenerating the index. You can even pre-serialize, in an XML document, dummy elements containing text nodes or attribute values whose initial values are entirely white spaces. Those dummy elements serve as templates in anticipation of a future content update, as shown in the example below.

    The template

      <purchaseOrder orderDate="     ">
       <item partNum="     " >
         <productName>     </productName>
         <quantity>     </quantity>
         <USPrice>     </USPrice>

    After "stamping" in the data

       <purchaseOrder orderDate="1999-10-21">
         <item partNum="872-AA" >
           <productName>Lawnmower </productName>
           <quantity>1 </quantity>
           <USPrice> 100 </USPrice>

    And, by the same token, the concept of XML content deletion deserves a bit of rethinking as well. Instead of physically deleting an XML element, you can disable the XML elements by making them "invisible" to your applications to achieve the same goal. The benefit: you again avoid the need to re-index. Notice that this plays favorably to XML's strength as a loose encoding data format. Below is an example of setting the value of the attribute "enable" of an element to make it "invisible."


      <purchaseOrder orderDate="1999-10-21">
       <item partNum="872-AA" enable="1">


      <purchaseOrder orderDate="1999-10-21">
       <item partNum="872-AA" enable='0'>

  • More Stories By Jimmy Zhang

    Jimmy Zhang is a cofounder of XimpleWare, a provider of high performance XML processing solutions. He has working experience in the fields of electronic design automation and Voice over IP for a number of Silicon Valley high-tech companies. He holds both a BS and MS from the department of EECS from U.C. Berkeley.

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