Camel supports XPath to allow an Expression or Predicate to be used in the DSL or Xml Configuration. For example you could use XPath to create an Predicate in a Message Filter or as an Expression for a Recipient List.



In 1.3 onwards you can easily use namespaces with XPath expressions using the Namespaces helper class.

                Namespaces ns = new Namespaces("c", "http://acme.com/cheese");

                        xpath("/c:person[@name='James']", ns).


Variables in XPath is defined in different namespaces. The default namespace is http://camel.apache.org/schema/spring.

Namespace URI Local part Type Description
http://camel.apache.org/xml/in/ in Message the exchange.in message
http://camel.apache.org/xml/out/ out Message the exchange.out message
http://camel.apache.org/xml/function/ functions Object Camel 2.5: Additional functions
http://camel.apache.org/xml/variables/environment-variables env Object OS environment variables
http://camel.apache.org/xml/variables/system-properties system Object Java System properties
http://camel.apache.org/xml/variables/exchange-property Object the exchange property

Camel will resolve variables according to either:

Namespace given

If the namespace is given then Camel is instructed exactly what to return. However when resolving either in or out Camel will try to resolve a header with the given local part first, and return it. If the local part has the value body then the body is returned instead.

No namespace given

If there is no namespace given then Camel resolves only based on the local part. Camel will try to resolve a variable in the following steps:


Camel adds the following XPath functions that can be used to access the exchange:

Function Argument Type Description
in:body none Object Will return the in message body.
in:header the header name Object Will return the in message header.
out:body none Object Will return the out message body.
out:header the header name Object Will return the out message header.
function:properties key for property String Camel 2.5: To lookup a property using the Properties component (property placeholders).
function:simple simple expression Object Camel 2.5: To evaluate a Simple expression.

Notice: function:properties and function:simple is not supported when the return type is a NodeSet, such as when using with a Splitter EIP.

Here's an example showing some of these functions in use.

                  .when().xpath("in:header('foo') = 'bar'").to("mock:x")
                  .when().xpath("in:body() = '<two/>'").to("mock:y")

And the new functions introduced in Camel 2.5:

                // setup properties component
                PropertiesComponent properties = new PropertiesComponent();
                context.addComponent("properties", properties);

                // myprop.properties contains the following properties
                // foo=Camel
                // bar=Kong

                    // $type is a variable for the header with key type
                    // here we use the properties function to lookup foo from the properties files
                    // which at runtime will be evaluted to 'Camel'
                    .when().xpath("$type = function:properties('foo')")
                    // here we use the simple language to evaluate the expression
                    // which at runtime will be evaluated to 'Donkey Kong'
                    .when().xpath("//name = function:simple('Donkey ${properties:bar}')")

Using XML configuration

If you prefer to configure your routes in your Spring XML file then you can use XPath expressions as follows

<beans xmlns="http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans"
       http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans http://www.springframework.org/schema/beans/spring-beans-2.0.xsd
       http://camel.apache.org/schema/spring http://camel.apache.org/schema/spring/camel-spring.xsd">

  <camelContext id="camel" xmlns="http://activemq.apache.org/camel/schema/spring" xmlns:foo="http://example.com/person">
      <from uri="activemq:MyQueue"/>
        <to uri="mqseries:SomeOtherQueue"/>

Notice how we can reuse the namespace prefixes, foo in this case, in the XPath expression for easier namespace based XPath expressions!

See also this discussion on the mailinglist about using your own namespaces with xpath

Setting result type

The XPath expression will return a result type using native XML objects such as org.w3c.dom.NodeList. But many times you want a result type to be a String. To do this you have to instruct the XPath which result type to use.

In Java DSL:

xpath("/foo:person/@id", String.class)

In Spring DSL you use the resultType attribute to provide a fully qualified classname:

<xpath resultType="java.lang.String">/foo:person/@id</xpath>

In @XPath:
Available as of Camel 2.1

@XPath(value = "concat('foo-',//order/name/)", resultType = String.class) String name)

Where we use the xpath function concat to prefix the order name with foo-. In this case we have to specify that we want a String as result type so the concat function works.


Here is a simple example using an XPath expression as a predicate in a Message Filter


If you have a standard set of namespaces you wish to work with and wish to share them across many different XPath expressions you can use the NamespaceBuilder as shown in this example

                // lets define the namespaces we'll need in our filters
                Namespaces ns = new Namespaces("c", "http://acme.com/cheese")
                        .add("xsd", "http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema");

                // now lets create an xpath based Message Filter

In this sample we have a choice construct. The first choice evaulates if the message has a header key type that has the value Camel.
The 2nd choice evaluates if the message body has a name tag <ame> which values is Kong.
If neither is true the message is routed in the otherwise block:

                    // using $headerName is special notation in Camel to get the header key
                    .when().xpath("$type = 'Camel'")
                    // here we test for the body name tag
                    .when().xpath("//name = 'Kong'")

And the spring XML equivalent of the route:

    <camelContext xmlns="http://camel.apache.org/schema/spring">
            <from uri="direct:in"/>
                    <xpath>$type = 'Camel'</xpath>
                    <to uri="mock:camel"/>
                    <xpath>//name = 'Kong'</xpath>
                    <to uri="mock:donkey"/>
                    <to uri="mock:other"/>

XPath injection

You can use Bean Integration to invoke a method on a bean and use various languages such as XPath to extract a value from the message and bind it to a method parameter.

The default XPath annotation has SOAP and XML namespaces available. If you want to use your own namespace URIs in an XPath expression you can use your own copy of the XPath annotation to create whatever namespace prefixes you want to use.

import java.lang.annotation.ElementType;
import java.lang.annotation.Retention;
import java.lang.annotation.RetentionPolicy;
import java.lang.annotation.Target;

import org.w3c.dom.NodeList;

import org.apache.camel.component.bean.XPathAnnotationExpressionFactory;
import org.apache.camel.language.LanguageAnnotation;
import org.apache.camel.language.NamespacePrefix;

@Target({ElementType.FIELD, ElementType.METHOD, ElementType.PARAMETER})
@LanguageAnnotation(language = "xpath", factory = XPathAnnotationExpressionFactory.class)
public @interface MyXPath {
    String value();

    // You can add the namespaces as the default value of the annotation
    NamespacePrefix[] namespaces() default {
    @NamespacePrefix(prefix = "n1", uri = "http://example.org/ns1"),
    @NamespacePrefix(prefix = "n2", uri = "http://example.org/ns2")};

    Class<?> resultType() default NodeList.class;

i.e. cut and paste upper code to your own project in a different package and/or annotation name then add whatever namespace prefix/uris you want in scope when you use your annotation on a method parameter. Then when you use your annotation on a method parameter all the namespaces you want will be available for use in your XPath expression.

NOTE this feature is supported from Camel 1.6.1.

For example

public class Foo {
    @MessageDriven(uri = "activemq:my.queue")
    public void doSomething(@MyXPath("/ns1:foo/ns2:bar/text()") String correlationID, @Body String body) {
		// process the inbound message here

Using XPathBuilder without an Exchange

Available as of Camel 2.3

You can now use the org.apache.camel.builder.XPathBuilder without the need for an Exchange. This comes handy if you want to use it as a helper to do custom xpath evaluations.

It requires that you pass in a CamelContext since a lot of the moving parts inside the XPathBuilder requires access to the Camel Type Converter and hence why CamelContext is needed.

For example you can do something like this:

boolean matches = XPathBuilder.xpath("/foo/bar/@xyz").matches(context, "<foo><bar xyz='cheese'/></foo>"));

This will match the given predicate.

You can also evaluate for example as shown in the following three examples:

    String name = XPathBuilder.xpath("foo/bar").evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>cheese</bar></foo>", String.class);
    Integer number = XPathBuilder.xpath("foo/bar").evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>123</bar></foo>", Integer.class);
    Boolean bool = XPathBuilder.xpath("foo/bar").evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>true</bar></foo>", Boolean.class);

Evaluating with a String result is a common requirement and thus you can do it a bit simpler:

    String name = XPathBuilder.xpath("foo/bar").evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>cheese</bar></foo>");

Using Saxon with XPathBuilder

Available as of Camel 2.3

You need to add camel-saxon as dependency to your project.

Its now easier to use Saxon with the XPathBuilder which can be done in several ways as shown below.
Where as the latter ones are the easiest ones.

Using a factory

        // create a Saxon factory
        XPathFactory fac = new net.sf.saxon.xpath.XPathFactoryImpl();

        // create a builder to evaluate the xpath using the saxon factory
        XPathBuilder builder = XPathBuilder.xpath("tokenize(/foo/bar, '_')[2]").factory(fac);

        // evaluate as a String result
        String result = builder.evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>abc_def_ghi</bar></foo>");
        assertEquals("def", result);

Using ObjectModel

        // create a builder to evaluate the xpath using saxon based on its object model uri
        XPathBuilder builder = XPathBuilder.xpath("tokenize(/foo/bar, '_')[2]").objectModel("http://saxon.sf.net/jaxp/xpath/om");

        // evaluate as a String result
        String result = builder.evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>abc_def_ghi</bar></foo>");
        assertEquals("def", result);

The easy one

        // create a builder to evaluate the xpath using saxon
        XPathBuilder builder = XPathBuilder.xpath("tokenize(/foo/bar, '_')[2]").saxon();

        // evaluate as a String result
        String result = builder.evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>abc_def_ghi</bar></foo>");
        assertEquals("def", result);

Setting a custom XPathFactory using System Property

Available as of Camel 2.3

Camel now supports reading the JVM system property javax.xml.xpath.XPathFactory that can be used to set a custom XPathFactory to use.

This unit test shows how this can be done to use Saxon instead:

        // set system property with the XPath factory to use which is Saxon 
        System.setProperty(XPathFactory.DEFAULT_PROPERTY_NAME + ":" + "http://saxon.sf.net/jaxp/xpath/om", "net.sf.saxon.xpath.XPathFactoryImpl");

        // create a builder to evaluate the xpath using saxon
        XPathBuilder builder = XPathBuilder.xpath("tokenize(/foo/bar, '_')[2]");

        // evaluate as a String result
        String result = builder.evaluate(context, "<foo><bar>abc_def_ghi</bar></foo>");
        assertEquals("def", result);

Camel will log at INFO level if it uses a non default XPathFactory such as:

XPathBuilder  INFO  Using system property javax.xml.xpath.XPathFactory:http://saxon.sf.net/jaxp/xpath/om with value:
                    net.sf.saxon.xpath.XPathFactoryImpl when creating XPathFactory

To use Apache Xerces you can configure the system property


Enabling Saxon from Spring DSL

Available as of Camel 2.10

Similarly to Java DSL, to enable Saxon from Spring DSL you have three options:

Specifying the factory

<xpath factoryRef="saxonFactory" resultType="java.lang.String">current-dateTime()</xpath>

Specifying the object model

<xpath objectModel="http://saxon.sf.net/jaxp/xpath/om" resultType="java.lang.String">current-dateTime()</xpath>


<xpath saxon="true" resultType="java.lang.String">current-dateTime()</xpath>

Namespace auditing to aid debugging

Available as of Camel 2.10

A large number of XPath-related issues that users frequently face are linked to the usage of namespaces. You may have some misalignment between the namespaces present in your message and those that your XPath expression is aware of or referencing. XPath predicates or expressions that are unable to locate the XML elements and attributes due to namespaces issues may simply look like "they are not working", when in reality all there is to it is a lack of namespace definition.

Namespaces in XML are completely necessary, and while we would love to simplify their usage by implementing some magic or voodoo to wire namespaces automatically, truth is that any action down this path would disagree with the standards and would greatly hinder interoperability.

Therefore, the utmost we can do is assist you in debugging such issues by adding two new features to the XPath Expression Language and are thus accesible from both predicates and expressions.

Logging the Namespace Context of your XPath expression/predicate

Every time a new XPath expression is created in the internal pool, Camel will log the namespace context of the expression under the org.apache.camel.builder.xml.XPathBuilder logger. Since Camel represents Namespace Contexts in a hierarchical fashion (parent-child relationships), the entire tree is output in a recursive manner with the following format:

[me: {prefix -> namespace}, {prefix -> namespace}], [parent: [me: {prefix -> namespace}, {prefix -> namespace}], [parent: [me: {prefix -> namespace}]]]

Any of these options can be used to activate this logging:

  1. Enable TRACE logging on the org.apache.camel.builder.xml.XPathBuilder logger, or some parent logger such as org.apache.camel or the root logger

  2. Enable the logNamespaces option as indicated in Auditing Namespaces, in which case the logging will occur on the INFO level

Auditing namespaces

Camel is able to discover and dump all namespaces present on every incoming message before evaluating an XPath expression, providing all the richness of information you need to help you analyse and pinpoint possible namespace issues.

To achieve this, it in turn internally uses another specially tailored XPath expression to extract all namespace mappings that appear in the message, displaying the prefix and the full namespace URI(s) for each individual mapping.

Some points to take into account:

You can enable this option in Java DSL and Spring DSL.

Java DSL:

XPathBuilder.xpath("/foo:person/@id", String.class).logNamespaces()

Spring DSL:

<xpath logNamespaces="true" resultType="String">/foo:person/@id</xpath>

The result of the auditing will be appear at the INFO level under the org.apache.camel.builder.xml.XPathBuilder logger and will look like the following:

2012-01-16 13:23:45,878 [stSaxonWithFlag] INFO  XPathBuilder  - Namespaces discovered in message: {xmlns:a=[http://apache.org/camel], DEFAULT=[http://apache.org/default], 
xmlns:b=[http://apache.org/camelA, http://apache.org/camelB]}


The XPath language is part of camel-core.