Using the XML Data Source Object

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The XML Data Source Object (DSO) is a Microsoft ActiveX control that’s built into Microsoft Internet Explorer 4+. Using this object, it is possible to extract content from an external XML file, or XML data embedded in an HTML file, into an HTML page.

In this article, I’ll explain how to include the XML DSO, extract content from an external XML file, extract XML data that’s embedded in a Web page and manipulate that data using JavaScript.

To work through these examples, you’ll need this zip, which contains the sample code.

Implementation

We can initialize an XML-DSO object using the <OBJECT> tag. The CLASSID for the XML-DSO is:

CLSID:550dda30-0541-11d2-9ca9-0060b0ec3d39

The above ID uniquely identifies the XML-DSO. And we initialize this control in a Web page as follows:

<OBJECT ID="SomeID" CLASSID="CLSID:550dda30-0541- 
11d2-9ca9-0060b0ec3d39"></OBJECT>

Most OBJECTs have a number of parameters associated with them, but the XML-DSO does not require any such parameters.

Now, we can either extract the data from an external XML file, or, we can use XML Data Islands, where we embed XML code in the HTML page itself. Let’s take a look at both these solutions.

Examples

First, we’ll take a look at how to extract data from XML data islands (XML data that’s included in the HTML page itself). Take a look at the following code:

<!-- example1.htm --> 
<html>
<head>
<title>XML DSO-example1.htm</title>
</head>
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">

<xml id="xmldb">
 <db>
   <member>
     <name>Premshree Pillai<name>
     <sex>male</sex>
   </member>
   <member>
     <name>Vinod</name>
     <sex>male</sex>
   </member>
 </db>
</xml>

<span datasrc="#xmldb" datafld="name"<</span>
<br>
<span datasrc="#xmldb" datafld="sex"></span>

</body>
</html>

The output of the above is:

Premshree Pillai 
male

Note that, in the code for example1.htm, we have not initialised an XML-DSO object. Thus, when you use a XML data island, the object is implicitly created.

In the above code, we’ve included an XML data island using the <XML> tag. We have assigned it an ID, xmldb, for use later. Now, we can extract data from the XML data island using HTML tags like <A>, <SPAN>, <DIV> etc. As you can see, we have extracted data here using the <SPAN> tag. Note the attributes datasrc and datafld in the <SPAN> tag. datasrc is used to specify the ID of the data island you want to extract data from. datafld is used to specify the XML tag you want to extract the data from (here, name in first <SPAN> and sex in second <SPAN>).

Note that we have two <name> and <sex> tags in our XML data island, but that, using the above method, we can extract only the first instances of these tags. To extract all instances, we have to use the <TABLE> tag. Take a look at the following example:

<!-- example2.htm --> 
<html>
<head>
<title>XML DSO-example2.htm</title>
</head>
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">

<xml id="xmldb">
 <db>
   <member>
     <name>Premshree Pillai<name>
     <sex>male</sex>
   </member>
   <member>
     <name>Vinod</name>
     <sex>male</sex>
   </member>
 </db>
</xml>

<table datasrc="#xmldb" border="1">
 <thead>
   <th>Name</th>
   <th>Sex</th>
 </thead>
 <tr>
   <td><div datafld="name"></div></td>
   <td><div datafld="sex"></div></td>
 </tr>
</table>

</body>
</html>

The output of the above is:

1121_image1

Here, we’ve used the <TABLE> tag and extracted the contents using the HTML tag, <DIV>, within the HTML column tag, <TD>. The table will automatically iterate through each instance of <member> (the parent of <name> and <sex>), thus, we can display all the names and ages in a formatted way.

Now, we’ll take a look at how to extract contents from an external XML file using XML-DSO. Consider the following XML file:

<!-- example3.xml -->  
<?xml version="1.0" ?>  
<ticker>  
 <item>  
   <message>JavaScript Ticker using XML DSO</message>  
     <URL>http://someURL.com</URL>  
 </item>  
</ticker>

Now, consider the following HTML page:

<!-- example3.htm -->  
<html>  
<head>  
<title>XML DSO-example3.htm</title>  
<script language="JavaScript">  
function load() {  
 var xmlDso=myXML.XMLDocument;  
 xmlDso.load("example3.xml");  
}  
</script>  
</head>  
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF" onLoad="load()">  
 
<object id="myXML" CLASSID="clsid:550dda30-0541-11d2-9ca9-  
0060b0ec3d39" width="0" height="0">  
</object>  
 
<table datasrc="#myXML" border="1">  
 <thead>  
   <th>Message</th>  
   <th>URL</th>  
 </thead>  
 <tr>  
   <td><div datafld="message"></div></td>  
   <td><div datafld="URL"></div></td>  
 </tr>  
</table>  
 
</body>  
</html>

The output of the above is:

1121_image2

Observe the code of example3.htm. First, we’ve created a XML-DSO object with id as myXML. Note that we have added the width and height attributes to the <OBJECT> tag and set their values to 0. This is because we want to create an XML-DSO object, but we don’t want it to occupy any space in the Web page

Next, we have created a table with datasrc as myXML, similar to example 2. We have extracted the content using <DIV> tags (within TD tags) with datafld as message for the first column and URL for the second column. The additional code here is the <SCRIPT> we’ve added. As you can see in the script, we’ve set the variable xmlDso to myXML.XMLDocument, which refers to the object we have created. Next, we load example3.xml using the XML-DSO’s load()method. Now the file example3.xml is bound to the object, myXML. Everything else is similar to the previous examples.

Thus, when we want to load an external XML file using XML-DSO, we have to explicitly include the object, as well as a small bit of JavaScript to load the external XML file. The above script is very specific and cannot be used to load just any XML file. A more generic script is as follows:

<script language="JavaScript">  
var xmlDso;  
function load(xmlFile, objName) {  
 eval('xmlDso='+objName+'.XMLDocument');  
 xmlDso.load(xmlFile);  
}  
</script>

And, to load any XML file, use:

load("SomeXMLFile.xml","anyXmlDsoObject");  
XML DSO and JavaScript

It’s also possible to manipulate the XML DSO object using JavaScript. Consider the following XML file:

<!-- example4.xml -->  
<?xml version="1.0" ?>  
<myDB>  
 <member>  
   <name>Premshree Pillai</name>  
     <sex>male</sex>  
 </member>  
 <member>  
   <name>Vinod</name>  
   <sex>male</sex>  
 </member>  
 <member>  
   <name>Santhosh</name>  
   <sex>male</sex>  
 </member>  
</myDB>

Now, consider the following HTML file:

<!-- example4.htm -->  
<html>  
<head>  
<title>XML DSO-example4.htm</title>  
<script language="JavaScript">  
function load() {  
 var xmlDso=myDB.XMLDocument;  
 xmlDso.load("example4.xml");  
 
 /* Get the complete record set */  
 var memberSet=myDB.recordset;  
 
 /* Go to next data */  
 memberSet.moveNext();  
}  
</script>  
</head>  
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF" onLoad="load()">  
 
<object id="myDB" CLASSID="clsid:550dda30-0541-11d2-9ca9-  
0060b0ec3d39" width="0" height="0">  
</object>  
 
<span datasrc="#myDB" datafld="name"></span>  
 
</body>  
</html>

Now, the output of the above will be:

Vinod

The above script is fairly self explanatory. Initially, we store the entire data of the data file into a variable memberSet using the recordset method. The moveNext() method points to the next data item (next row). Some of other methods that can be used here are:

  • movePrevious(): Point to the previous data item.
  • moveFirst(): Point to the first data item.
  • moveLast(): Point to the last data item.
  • EOF: This property is used to check whether we’ve reached the end of the data.

Note that, in the above methods, the data is pointed relative to parent of the nodes being displayed.

XML Ticker Using XML-DSO

So far we’ve considered simple examples. Now, we’ll look at a more dynamic example: "XML Ticker using XML-DSO". In this example, the ticker reads its messages and URLs from an external example file, and ticks the messages with a specified delay.

<!-- ticker.xml -->   
<?xml version="1.0" ?>  
<ticker>  
 </item>  
 <item>  
   <message>JavaScripts by Premshree Pillai</message>  
     <URL>http://premshree.resource-locator.com/  
javascripts.htm</URL>  
 </item>  
 <item>  
   <message>The Scripting Newsletter</message>  
     <URL>http://premshree.resource-locator.com/cgi-bin/  
newsletter.pl</URL>  
 </item>  
</ticker>  
 
<!-- ticker.css -->  
.tickerStyle {  
 font-family:verdana,arial,helvetica; font-size:10pt;    
color:#666666;    
border:#666666 solid 1px; width:400px; height:20px;    
text-decoration:none; text-align:center;  
background:#FFFFFF  
}  
.tickerStyle:hover {  
 font-family:verdana,arial,helvetica; font-size:10pt;    
color:#FF6600;    
border:#666666 solid 1px; width:400px; height:20px;    
text-decoration:none; text-align:center;  
background:#FFFFFF  
}  
<!-- ticker.htm -->  
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">  
<html>  
<head>  
<title>XML Ticker using XML DSO</title>  
<link rel="stylesheet" href="ticker.css">  
 
<!-- begin script -->  
<script language="JavaScript">  
//////////////////////////////////////////////////  
//  XML Ticker using XML DSO    //  
//////////////////////////////////////////////////  
 
var xmlDso, tickerSet;  
function initTicker(xmlFile, objName, counter, maxMsgs, timeOut) {  
 /* Check for IE4+ */  
 if(document.all&&navigator.userAgent.indexOf("Opera")==-1) {  
   eval('xmlDso='+objName+'.XMLDocument');  
   xmlDso.load(xmlFile);  
   setTimeout("xmlDsoTicker('"+objName+"','"+counter+"',  
'"+maxMsgs+"',  
'"+timeOut+"')", timeOut);  
 }  
 else {  
   alert('This Ticker works with IE4+ only!');  
   return false;  
 }  
}  
 
function xmlDsoTicker(objName, counter, maxMsgs, timeOut) {  
 /* Get all the data as a record set */  
 eval('tickerSet=' + objName + '.recordset');  
 if(!tickerSet.EOF && counter<maxMsgs-1) {  
   tickerSet.MoveNext();  
   counter++;  
 }  
 else {  
   counter=0;  
   tickerSet.MoveFirst();  
 }  
 setTimeout("xmlDsoTicker('"+objName+"','"+counter+"',  
'"+maxMsgs+"',  
'"+timeOut+"')", timeOut);  
}  
</script>  
<!-- end script -->  
</head>  
 
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">  
 
 <!-- begin ticker placement -->  
 <center>  
 <object id="ticker" CLASSID="clsid:550dda30-0541-11d2-9ca9-  
0060b0ec3d39" width="0"  
height="0"></object>  
 <a href="" datasrc="#ticker" datafld="URL"  
class="tickerStyle">  
   <span datasrc="#ticker" datafld="message"></span>  
 </a>  
 <script language="JavaScript">  
 var tickerMaxMsgs=2; // Maximum Messages in the XML Data file  
 var tickerCount=tickerMaxMsgs;  
 new initTicker("ticker.xml","ticker",tickerCount,tickerMaxMsgs,2000);  
 </script>  
 </center>  
 <!-- end ticker placement -->  
 
</body>  
</html>

Here’s how the output appears:

1121_image3

Before you go, don’t forget to download all the examples we covered in this article!

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