Benefits of XPath

XPath is designed for XML documents. It provides a single syntax that you can use for queries, addressing, and patterns. XPath is concise, simple, and powerful. XPath has many benefits, as follows:

  • Queries are compact.
  • Queries are easy to type and read.
  • Syntax is simple for the simple and common cases.
  • Query strings are easily embedded in programs, scripts, and XML or HTML attributes.
  • Queries are easily parsed.
  • You can specify any path that can occur in an XML document and any set of conditions for the nodes in the path.
  • You can uniquely identify any node in an XML document.
  • Queries return any number of results, including zero.
  • Query conditions can be evaluated at any level of a document and are not expected to navigate from the top node of a document.
  • Queries do not return repeated nodes.
  • For programmers, queries are declarative, not procedural. They say what should be found, not how it should be found. This is important because a query optimizer must be free to use indexes or other structures to find results efficiently.
  • XPath is designed to be used in many contexts. It is applicable to providing links to nodes, for searching repositories, and for many other applications.

When you define a query, keep in mind that XML data can be represented as a tree. A tree is a hierarchical representation of XML data. The root node is the top of the tree. Each element, attribute, text string, comment, and processing instruction corresponds to one node in the tree. A tree also shows the relationships among the nodes. For more information on tree structure, see Tree Representation of a Sample XML Document.

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