Instant SAXON

version 6.4.3


What is Instant SAXON?
Writing a stylesheet
Running a stylesheet
Conditions of Use
Technical support
For comprehensive information about using XSLT
see my book
XSLT Programmers Reference
published by Wrox Press

Version 6.4.3 clears a number of bugs; you will find these listed on the project page at

What is Instant SAXON?

Instant SAXON is a cut-down version of the full SAXON package. It provides an XSLT processor that can be executed directly on Windows 95/98/NT/2000 platforms. It includes the same executable code as full Saxon, but omits source code, API documentation, and sample applications.

Note: the name "Instant" was originally chosen for two reasons: ease of download and installation, and execution speed. The advantage in execution speed arose because a packaged executable was much faster to load than a conventional Java archive. This is no longer true; in fact, Saxon runs up to three times faster using Sun's JDK 1.3 Java VM than it does with the Microsoft Java VM. For high performance, the full Saxon product, run under JDK 1.3, is therefore recommended.

The XSLT processor is a complete implementation of the W3C XSLT 1.0 specification from the World Wide Web Consortium, found at (including the associated XPath syntax) with a number of powerful extensions



You need a machine running Windows (95, 98, NT, or 2000), with the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine. The Java VM will already be installed if you use Internet Explorer 4 or later; if it is not, you can download it free from Microsoft.

Some problems have been reported running previous versions of Saxon with older versions of the Microsoft Java VM. The typical symptom is that your transformation produces a blank output file, or sometimes that sections are missing from the output. If this happens, try upgrading to a later version of the Java VM: you can do this simply by clicking Tools / Update Windows from the IE5 menu bar.

You will need an unzip utility such as WinZIP.

Because the product is run from the command line, you might find it useful to have a text editor with better command-line support than the standard DOS window. I use Programmer's File Editor (PFE), a free product available from a number of download sites, for example Another suitable product (available as shareware) is UltraEdit.

No other software is required. Instant SAXON comes with a bundled XML parser, the AElfred parser from Microstar. This version of Aelfred has been modified to support the SAX2 interface and to fix known errors.


Download the file (400 Kb) to a convenient directory. You will find an index of the available versions of this file on the Saxon home page.

Unzip the file into the directory from which you intend to execute it, e.g. c:\saxon

It contains two files: saxon.exe, which is the XSLT processor, and instant.html, which is a copy of the HTML page you are reading.

Writing a stylesheet

The syntax for stylesheets is exactly the same as for the full SAXON product. It is described in the following pages:

For more advanced functionality, such as writing your own extension functions, or embedding Saxon within an application, please see the documentation that comes with the full SAXON package.

Running a stylesheet

The SAXON XSLT interpreter is designed to be run from the command line: