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XPath Basics: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Using It

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Posted on 12/08/2015

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XMLWe often see issues come in where template builders don’t know how to make changes to query their XML. Well, there’s good news. Making changes is fairly simple. It’s all a matter of understanding a few XPath basics.

This blog post and video will help you understand how XPath works and how you can use Windward’s XPath tools to retrieve XML data.

What is XPath?

XPath stands for XML Path. It is a query language that enables you to select specific data in an XML document. In other cheesy words, it’s that pathway to your data.

Okay, so what is XML? XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. It’s a markup language much like HTML, but instead of creating pretty web pages, XML focuses only on the data. XML allows you to define and format your data in an .XML document in a way that is readable for both people and computers. At a quick glance, you’re able to read the data in an XML file without having to worry about complex data tables or rigorous data structures.

Now that I’ve explained XML, let’s get back to our topic. XPath is the language you would use to grab the data from the .XML file you want to see or use.

Querying your XML via XPath is really not hard at all. If you know the basics of XPath, you can be as creative as you want when it comes to collecting and visualizing your data.

So How Do I Use XPath?

Before I go on and on telling you how to use XPath, it’s probably better that I show you. I’ve created a short video that goes over the basics and gives examples on how to query data from a sample XML file. Once you follow the easy steps in the video, you’ll be able to do just about anything with your XML data.

Note: This video focuses only on XPath 1.0. Learning from the first version of XPath is a great way to get started using the query language. Also, in case you’re curious, here’s the XPath evaluator I used

Still Have Questions?

The Windward XPath Wizard does a lot, and this tutorial only touches upon some of the things it can do.  If you still have questions about how this works or thoughts to share on anything presented here, please let me know in the comments below.

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Author: Dathan Ellis

Dathan used to be a software engineer but found that he loves working with people too. Now he uses his technical expertise to help clients build powerful custom applications in complex environments.

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