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<html>
<head>
<title>FAQ for the XML package in R/S-Plus</title>
</head>

<body>
<h1>FAQ for the XML package in R/S-Plus</h1>

<dl>

    <dt>
    <li>  I have compiled the package from source and everything goes
    fine, but when I try to load it, I get an error about an
    "undefined symbol xmlOutputBufferCreateBuffer". What's the problem?
    <dd>
	The most obvious explanation is that you are <i>compiling</i> against
    one version of libxml2 but <i>loading</i> another.
	Here is the explanation I gave to several people.
<div style="border: solid 1px; background-color: lightgrey; padding: 2pt">
That particular routine is either "borrowed"
from libxml2.so or if not available from that, a compiled
copy I added to the XML source is used.
So it looks like the configuration is smart enough not
to compile the one we provide because xmlOutputBufferCreateBuffer()
is available  in libxml2-2.6.32, but then it fails to find it
at load time.
<p/>
So the first thing that comes to mind is that there is some inconsistency
between your compile/link configuration and your run-time load configuration.
Is it possible that you have an older version of libxml2...so somewhere
on your system that is being loaded at run time
Try the shell command
<pre>
R CMD ldd <wherever XML is installed>/libs/XML.so
</pre>
and see where it thinks libxml2 is. Hopefully it will
list it and we might see that it is /usr/lib/libxml2.so
and that you are compiling against a version in
/usr/local/lib/.
If that is the case, you would need to change your personal setting for
<b>LD_LIBRARY_PATH</b>
or add /usr/local/lib to  /etc/ld.so.conf file at a system level.
</div>

  <dt>
  <li> How do I create my own XML content from within R
      and not just parse other people's XML documents?
  <dd>
      There are several facilities for doing this in the XML package.
      Basically you will be creating a tree, a hierarchical collection
      of XML nodes.
      So you need to be able to create the nodes and then arrange them
      into this hierarachical structure.
      You can create all the nodes and then do the tree construction
      but it is typically easier to create the nodes and specify
      its parent during the creation.
      The XML package provides low-level functions
      for creating the nodes and
      several functions which provide a higher level interface
      that try to facilitate adding nodes to a 'current' point
      in the tree. These manage the notion of 'current' for you.
      These functions share a very similar interface and so
      it is easy to switch from one to the other. They differ
      in how they represent the tree which can be complicated
      in R since there are no references/pointers.
      <p/>
      The approach I prefer is the <code>xmlTree()</code>
      function.
      This uses the low-level node creation functions
      (e.g. newXMLNode, newXMLComment, newXMLPINode, etc.)
      but also allows us to manage a stack of "open" nodes
      and a default namespace prefix.
      New nodes are by default added to the most recent
      "open" node, i.e. that node acts as the parent for new nodes.
      <p/>

<dt>
<li> Doesn't the use  of internal nodes such as with <code
    class="rfunc">xmlTree()</code> mean that we cannot store the
    tree across R sessions since they are external pointers to C data
    structures in memory.
    
<dd>  Well, yes and no. We cannot use R's regular serialization
    to RDA files of the variables holding the tree or the individual
    nodes.  But we can easily create a text representation from the
    internal nodes by dumping the tree, either to a file or a
    character vector of length 1, and then we can restore
    that XML tree by parsing it again:
<pre>
   tt = xmlTree("top")
   tt$addTag("b", "Some text")
   save(saveXML(tt), file = "tt.rda")
   load("tt.rda")
   tt = xmlTreeParse(tt, asText = TRUE, useInternal = TRUE)
</pre>    
    We don't get back the XMLInternalDOM with information about open
    nodes, etc. from which we could continue to add nodes.
    But we do get back the exact tree.

    <p/>
     We can also convert the nodes from internal nodes to
    regular R base nodes.
    And from that 
      


  
  <dt>
  <li> My XML document has attributes that have a namespace
      prefix (e.g.
<code>
<b>&lt;node mine:foo="abc" /&gt;</b>
</code>
      )
      When I parse this document into S, the namespace prefix
      on the attribute is dropped. Why and how can I fix it?
      
  <dd>
     The first thing to do is
     use a value of <code>TRUE</code> for the <code>addAttributeNamespaces</code>
     argument in the call to <code>xmlTreeParse</code>.
     <br>
     The next thing is to ensure that the namespace
      (<code>mine</code>, in our example)
     is defined in the document.
      In other words, there must be be an
       <code>xmlns:mine="<i>some url</i>"</code>
      attribute in some node before or in the node
      that is being processed.
      If no definition for the namespace is in the document,
      the libxml parser drops the prefix on the attribute.
      <br>
     The same applies to namespaces for node names, and not just
      attributes.
  
  
  <dt>
  <li> <font class="question">I define a method in the closure, but it
      never gets called.</font>
  <dd> The most likely cause is that you omitted to add it to the list
      of functions returned by the closure. Another possibility is
      that you have mis-spelled the name of the method. The matching
      is case-sensitive and exact.
      If the function corresponds to a particular XML element name,
      check whether the value of the argument <code>useTagName</code> is T,
      and also that there really is a  tag with this name in the
      document.
       Again, the case is important.

  <dt>
  <li><font class="question">When I compile the source code, I get
      lots of warning messages such as 
<pre>
"RSDTD.c", line 110: warning: argument #2 is incompatible with prototype:
        prototype: pointer to const uchar : "unknown", line 0
        argument : pointer to const char   
      </pre>
      </font>
  <dd> This is because the XML libraries work on unsigned characters
      for UniCode. The R and S facilities do not.
      I am not yet certain which direction to adapt things for this
      package. The warnings are typically harmless.

  <dt>
  <li> <font class="question">When I compile the chapter for
      Splus5/S4, I get warning messages about SET_CLASS being redefined.</font>
  <dd> This is ok, in this situation. The warning is left there to
      remind people that there are some games being played and that
      if there are problems, to consider these warnings.
       The SET_CLASS macro being redefined is a local version for S3/R
      style classes. The one in the Splus5/S4 header files is for the
      S4 style classes.

  <dt>
  <li> <font class="question">On which platfforms does it compile?</font>
  <dd> I have used gcc on both Linux (RedHat 6.1) (egcs-2.91.66)
       and Solaris (gcc-2.7.2.3), and the Sun compilers, cc 4.2 on
       Solaris 2.6/SunOS 5.6 and cc 5.0 on Solaris 2.7/SunOS 5.7.
</dl>


<dl>


  <dt>
  <li><font class="question">I can't seem to use conditional DTD
      segments via the IGNORE/INCLUDE mechanism.</font>
  <dd> Libxml doesn't support this. Perhaps we will add code for this.
<p>
  Daneil Veillard might add this.      


  <dt>
  <li> <font class="question">When I read a relatively simple tree in
      Splus5 and print it to the terminal/console, I get an error
      about nested expressions exceeding the limit of 256.
      </font>
  <dd> The simple fix is to set the value of the
      <code>expressions</code>
      option to a value larger than 256.
<pre>
 options(expressions=1000)
</pre>
      
     The main cause of this is that 
      S and R are programming languages not specialized for handling
      trees.
       (They are functional languages and have no facilities for
      pointers or references as in C or Java.)



  <dt>
  <li> <font class="question">I get errors when using parameter
      entities in DTDs?</font>
  <dd>
This was true in version 1.7.3 and 1.8.2 of
libxml. Thanks to Daneil Veillard for fixing
      this quickly when I pointed it out.

<p>

      Parameters are allowed, but the libxml parsing library is fussy
      about white-space, etc.
      The following is is ok
<pre>
&lt;!ELEMENT legend  (%PlotPrimitives;)* &gt;
</pre>
      but 
<pre>
&lt;!ELEMENT legend  (%PlotPrimitives; )* &gt;
</pre>
      is not. The extra space preceeding the <code>)</code>
causes an error in the parser something like
<pre>
1: XML Parsing Error: ../Histogram.dtd:80: xmlParseElementChildrenContentDecl : ',' '|' or ')' expected 
2: XML Parsing Error: ../Histogram.dtd:80: xmlParseElementChildrenContentDecl : ',' expected 
3: XML Parsing Error: ../Histogram.dtd:80: xmlParseElementDecl: expected '>' at the end 
4: XML Parsing Error: ../Histogram.dtd:80: Extra content at the end of the document 
</pre>

       This can be fixed by adding a call to SKIP_BLANKS at the end of
      the loop <code>while(CUR!= ')' { ... } </code> in  the routine
      <code>xmlParseElementChildrenContentDecl()</code> in parser.c
      The problem lies in the transition between the different input
      buffers introduced by the entity expansion.      


  <dt>
  <li> I am trying to use XPath and getNodeSet(). But I am not
      matching any nodes.
      
  <dd>
    If you are certain that the XPath  expression should match what you
    want, then it is probably a matter of namespaces.
    If the document in which you are trying to find the nodes has a
    default   namespace  (at the top-level node or a sub-node
    involved in your match), then you have to explicitly identify
    the namespace. Unfortunately, XPath doesn't use the default
    namespace of the target document, but requires the namespace
    to be explicitly mentioned in the XPath expression.
      <p/>
    For example, suppose we have a document that looks like
<pre>
<![CDATA[
 <doc xmlns="http://www.omegahat.net">
     <topic><title>My Title</title></topic>
 </doc>      
]]>
</pre>      
 and we want to use an XPath expression to find the title node.
 We might think that   <code>"/doc/topic/title"</code>
      would do the trick. But in fact, we need
<pre>
  /ns:doc/ns:topci/ns:title    
</pre>
  And then we need to map ns to the URI "http://www.omegahat.net".
  We do this in a call to getNodeSet() as
<pre>
  getNodeSet(doc, "/ns:doc/ns:topci/ns:title", c(ns = "http://www.omegahat.net"))
</pre>

<p/>
      As a simplification, getNodeSet() will create the map between
      the prefix and the URI of the default namespace of the XML
      document if you specify a single string with no name as the
      value
      of the <code>namespaces</code> argument, e.g.
<pre>
  getNodeSet(doc, "/ns:doc/ns:topci/ns:title", "ns")
</pre>
      
      <p/>
      
    There are some additional comments <a
      href="http://plasmasturm.org/log/259/">here</a>.

  <dt>
  <li> There is an table of data in HTML  that I want to read into R
      as a data frame. How can I do it?
  <dd>
      Well, it is relatively easy, although the technology underlying
      it is quite powerful and somewhat complex in the general case.
      There is a <a href="htmlTables.xml">document describing the approach(es)</a>


   <dt>
   <li> I have a "large" XML file. Can I use DOM parsing or do I have
   to use SAX style parsing via the more complex xmlEventParse().
   <dd>  Well, I was given a 70 Mb XML file (which when compressed is
   6MB)   and after uncompressing the file, I can read it into R
      via <code class="r">xmlTreeParse(, useInternalTrue =
   TRUE)</code>
       This file contained 2,895,409 nodes
       (<code class="r">length(getNodeSet(z, "//*"))</code>)
      This took 9.4 seconds on Intel MacBook Pro with a 2.33Ghz Dual
   processor and 3G of RAM, and on a machine with dual core 64bit AMD,
       it took 20 seconds.
       To find the nodes of interest took 8.9 seconds on the Mac, and
        (apparently) 1.1 seconds on the AMD.


   <dt>
   <li> I want to include one document inside another. How can I do this?
       
   <dd> Firstly, you want to look into XInclude.
       When processing the document in R, use <code>xinclude = TRUE</code>,  which
       is the default, in calls to xmlTreeParse().

   <dt>
   <li>  I want to use XInclude to include part of the same
       document. I can't figure out how to do it. Any ideas?

   <dd>
       Yes. Use
<pre>
 &lt;xi:include xpointer="xpointer(//mynode)"/&gt;
</pre>
 adapting that to what you want.
       Note that the attribute is named xpointer.
       There is no href so the XInclude  defaults to this document
       and the expression for the xpointer attribute
       uses the function xpointer. This is not element.



   <dt>
   <li>  When I parse HTML content, what does the &amp;nbsp; entity turn into?
   <dd>
       This turns into the Unicode character U+00A0, or in R "\u00A0".
 </dl>

<hr>
<address><a href="http://www.stat.ucdavis.edu/~duncan">Duncan Temple Lang</a>
<a href=mailto:duncan@wald.ucdavis.edu>&lt;duncan@wald.ucdavis.edu&gt;</a></address>
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Last modified: Fri Dec 14 04:29:02 PST 2012
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</body> </html>