Converters for XML data

XML data decoding and encoding is handled using an intermediate converter class instance that takes charge of composing inner data and mapping of namespaces and prefixes.

Because XML is a structured format that includes data and metadata information, as attributes and namespace declarations, is necessary to define conventions for naming the different data objects in a distinguishable way. For example a wide-used convention is to prefixing attribute names with an ‘@’ character. With this convention the attribute name=’John’ is decoded to ‘@name’: ‘John’, or ‘level=’10’ is decoded to ‘@level’: 10.

A related topic is the mapping of namespaces. The expanded namespace representation is used within XML objects of the ElementTree library. For example {}string is the fully qualified name of the XSD string type, usually referred as xs:string or xsd:string with a namespace declaration. With string serialization of XML data the names are remapped to prefixed format. This mapping is generally useful also if you serialize XML data to another format like JSON, because prefixed name is more manageable and readable than expanded format.

Available converters

The library includes some converters. The default converter xmlschema.XMLSchemaConverter is the base class of other converter types. Each derived converter type implements a well know convention, related to the conversion from XML to JSON data format:

A summary of these and other conventions can be found on the wiki page JSON and XML Conversion.

The base class, that not implements any particular convention, has several options that can be used to variate the converting process. Some of these options are not used by other predefined converter types (eg. force_list and force_dict) or are used with a fixed value (eg. text_key or attr_prefix). See Converters API for details about base class options and attributes.

Moreover there are also other two converters useful for specific cases:

Create a custom converter

To create a new customized converter you have to subclass the xmlschema.XMLSchemaConverter and redefine the two methods element_decode and element_encode. These methods are based on the namedtuple ElementData, an Element-like data structure that stores the decoded Element parts. This namedtuple is used by decoding and encoding methods as an intermediate data structure.

The namedtuple ElementData has four attributes:

  • tag: the element’s tag string;
  • text: the element’s text, that can be a string or None for empty elements;
  • content: the element’s children, can be a list or None;
  • attributes: the element’s attributes, can be a dictionary or None.

The method element_decode receives as first argument an ElementData instance with decoded data. The other arguments are the XSD element to use for decoding and the level of the XML decoding process, used to add indent spaces for a readable string serialization. This method uses the input data element to compose a decoded data, typically a dictionary or a list or a value for simple type elements.

On the opposite the method element_encode receives the decoded object and decompose it in order to get and returns an ElementData instance. This instance has to contain the parts of the element that will be then encoded an used to build an XML Element instance.

These two methods have also the responsibility to map and unmap object names, but don’t have to decode or encode data, a task that is delegated to the methods of the XSD components.

Depending on the format defined by your new converter class you may provide a different value for properties lossless and losslessly. The lossless has to be True if your new converter class preserves all XML data information (eg. as the BadgerFish convention). Your new converter can be also losslessly if it’s lossless and the element model structure and order is maintained (like the JsonML convention).

Furthermore your new converter class can has a more specific __init__ method in order to avoid the usage of unused options or to set the value of some other options. Finally refer also to the code of predefined derived converters to see how you can build your own one.