JavaScript Editor Javascript debugger     Website design 

DOM XML Functions


The DOM XML extension has been overhauled in PHP 4.3.0 to better comply with the DOM standard. The extension still contains many old functions, but they should no longer be used. In particular, functions that are not object-oriented should be avoided.

The extension allows you to operate on an XML document with the DOM API. It also provides a function domxml_xmltree() to turn the complete XML document into a tree of PHP objects. Currently, this tree should be considered read-only - you can modify it, but this would not make any sense since DomDocument_dump_mem() cannot be applied to it. Therefore, if you want to read an XML file and write a modified version, use DomDocument_create_element(), DomDocument_create_text_node(), set_attribute(), etc. and finally the DomDocument_dump_mem() function.


This extension has been moved to the » PECL repository and is no longer bundled with PHP as of PHP 5.0.0.


This extension is no longer marked experimental. It will, however, never be released with PHP 5, and will only be distributed with PHP 4. If you need DOM XML support with PHP 5 you can use the DOM extension. This domxml extension is not compatible with the DOM extension.


This extension makes use of the » GNOME XML library. Download and install this library. You will need at least libxml-2.4.14. To use DOM XSLT features you can use the » libxslt library and EXSLT enhancements from » Download and install these libraries if you plan to use (enhanced) XSLT features. You will need at least libxslt-1.0.18.


This » PECL extension is not bundled with PHP. Information for installing this PECL extension may be found in the manual chapter titled Installation of PECL extensions. Additional information such as new releases, downloads, source files, maintainer information, and a CHANGELOG, can be located here: »

In PHP 4 this PECL extensions source can be found in the ext/ directory within the PHP source or at the PECL link above. This extension is only available if PHP was configured with --with-dom[=DIR]. Add --with-dom-xslt[=DIR] to include DOM XSLT support. DIR is the libxslt install directory. Add --with-dom-exslt[=DIR] to include DOM EXSLT support, where DIR is the libexslt install directory.

Windows users will enable php_domxml.dll inside of php.ini in order to use these functions. In PHP 4 this DLL resides in the extensions/ directory within the PHP Windows binaries download. The DLL for this PECL extension may be downloaded from either the » PHP Downloads page or from » Also, there is one additional DLL that must be made available to your system's PATH in order for this extension to work. In PHP 4 this is in the dlls/ directory. It's name: For PHP <= 4.2.0, it's libxml2.dll. For PHP >= 4.3.0, it's iconv.dll. And as of PHP 5.0.0, iconv is compiled into your Windows PHP binaries by default so no extra DLL is needed.

Deprecated functions

There are quite a few functions that do not fit into the DOM standard and should no longer be used. These functions are listed in the following table. The function DomNode_append_child() has changed its behaviour. It now adds a child and not a sibling. If this breaks your application, use the non-DOM function DomNode_append_sibling().

Table 67. Deprecated functions and their replacements

Old functionNew function
DomDocument_add_rootDomDocument_create_element() followed by DomNode_append_child()
DomDocument_imported_nodeNo replacement.
DomNode_add_childCreate a new node with e.g. DomDocument_create_element() and add it with DomNode_append_child().
DomNode_new_childCreate a new node with e.g. DomDocument_create_element() and add it with DomNode_append_child().
DomNode_set_contentCreate a new node with e.g. DomDocument_create_text_node() and add it with DomNode_append_child().
DomNode_get_contentContent is just a text node and can be accessed with DomNode_child_nodes().
DomNode_set_contentContent is just a text node and can be added with DomNode_append_child().

Predefined Constants

The constants below are defined by this extension, and will only be available when the extension has either been compiled into PHP or dynamically loaded at runtime.

Table 68. XML constants

XML_ELEMENT_NODE (integer) 1Node is an element
XML_ATTRIBUTE_NODE (integer) 2Node is an attribute
XML_TEXT_NODE (integer) 3Node is a piece of text
XML_ENTITY_REF_NODE (integer) 5 
XML_ENTITY_NODE (integer) 6Node is an entity like &nbsp;
XML_PI_NODE (integer) 7Node is a processing instruction
XML_COMMENT_NODE (integer) 8Node is a comment
XML_DOCUMENT_NODE (integer) 9Node is a document
XML_NOTATION_NODE (integer) 12 
XML_DTD_NODE (integer)   
XML_ATTRIBUTE_ID (integer)   
XPATH_UNDEFINED (integer)   
XPATH_NODESET (integer)   
XPATH_BOOLEAN (integer)   
XPATH_NUMBER (integer)   
XPATH_STRING (integer)   
XPATH_POINT (integer)   
XPATH_RANGE (integer)   
XPATH_USERS (integer)   
XPATH_NUMBER (integer)   


The API of the module follows the DOM Level 2 standard as closely as possible. Consequently, the API is fully object-oriented. It is a good idea to have the DOM standard available when using this module. Though the API is object-oriented, there are many functions which can be called in a non-object-oriented way by passing the object to operate on as the first argument. These functions are mainly to retain compatibility to older versions of the extension, and should not be used when creating new scripts.

This API differs from the official DOM API in two ways. First, all class attributes are implemented as functions with the same name. Secondly, the function names follow the PHP naming convention. This means that a DOM function lastChild() will be written as last_child().

This module defines a number of classes, which are listed - including their method - in the following tables. Classes with an equivalent in the DOM standard are named DOMxxx.

Table 69. List of classes

Class nameParent classes
DomCommentDomCData : DomNode
DomTextDomCData : DomNode
ParserCurrently still called DomParser

Table 70. DomDocument class (DomDocument : DomNode)

Method nameFunction nameRemark
dump_memDomDocument_dump_mem()not DOM standard
dump_fileDomDocument_dump_file()not DOM standard
html_dump_memDomDocument_html_dump_mem()not DOM standard
xpath_initxpath_initnot DOM standard
xpath_new_contextxpath_new_contextnot DOM standard
xptr_new_contextxptr_new_contextnot DOM standard

Table 71. DomElement class (DomElement : DomNode)

Method nameFunction nameRemark

Table 73. DomAttribute class (DomAttribute : DomNode)

Method name Remark

Table 74. DomProcessingInstruction class (DomProcessingInstruction : DomNode)

Method nameFunction nameRemark

Table 75. Parser class

Method nameFunction nameRemark

Table 76. XPathContext class

Method nameFunction nameRemark

Table 77. DomDocumentType class (DomDocumentType : DomNode)

The classes DomDtd is derived from DomNode. DomComment is derived from DomCData.


Many examples in this reference require an XML string. Instead of repeating this string in every example, it will be put into a file which will be included by each example. This include file is shown in the following example section. Alternatively, you could create an XML document and read it with DomDocument_open_file().

Example 547. Include file with XML string

= "<?xml version='1.0' standalone='yes'?>
<!DOCTYPE chapter SYSTEM '/share/sgml/Norman_Walsh/db3xml10/db3xml10.dtd'
[ <!ENTITY sp \"spanish\">
<!-- lsfj  -->
<chapter language='en'><title language='en'>Title</title>
<para language='ge'>
 <!-- comment -->
 <informaltable ID='findme' language='&sp;'>
  <tgroup cols='3'>

Table of Contents

DomAttribute->name — Returns the name of attribute
DomAttribute->set_value — Sets the value of an attribute
DomAttribute->specified — Checks if attribute is specified
DomAttribute->value — Returns value of attribute
DomDocument->add_root — Adds a root node [deprecated]
DomDocument->create_attribute — Create new attribute
DomDocument->create_cdata_section — Create new cdata node
DomDocument->create_comment — Create new comment node
DomDocument->create_element_ns — Create new element node with an associated namespace
DomDocument->create_element — Create new element node
DomDocument->create_entity_reference — Create an entity reference
DomDocument->create_processing_instruction — Creates new PI node
DomDocument->create_text_node — Create new text node
DomDocument->doctype — Returns the document type
DomDocument->document_element — Returns root element node
DomDocument->dump_file — Dumps the internal XML tree back into a file
DomDocument->dump_mem — Dumps the internal XML tree back into a string
DomDocument->get_element_by_id — Searches for an element with a certain id
DomDocument->get_elements_by_tagname — Returns array with nodes with given tagname in document or empty array, if not found
DomDocument->html_dump_mem — Dumps the internal XML tree back into a string as HTML
DomDocument->xinclude — Substitutes XIncludes in a DomDocument Object
DomDocumentType->entities() — Returns list of entities
DomDocumentType->internal_subset() — Returns internal subset
DomDocumentType->name() — Returns name of document type
DomDocumentType->notations() — Returns list of notations
DomDocumentType->public_id() — Returns public id of document type
DomDocumentType->system_id() — Returns the system id of document type
DomElement->get_attribute_node() — Returns the node of the given attribute
DomElement->get_attribute() — Returns the value of the given attribute
DomElement->get_elements_by_tagname() — Gets elements by tagname
DomElement->has_attribute() — Checks to see if an attribute exists in the current node
DomElement->remove_attribute() — Removes attribute
DomElement->set_attribute_node() — Adds new attribute
DomElement->set_attribute() — Sets the value of an attribute
DomElement->tagname() — Returns the name of the current element
DomNode->add_namespace — Adds a namespace declaration to a node
DomNode->append_child — Adds a new child at the end of the children
DomNode->append_sibling — Adds new sibling to a node
DomNode->attributes — Returns list of attributes
DomNode->child_nodes — Returns children of node
DomNode->clone_node — Clones a node
DomNode->dump_node — Dumps a single node
DomNode->first_child — Returns first child of node
DomNode->get_content — Gets content of node
DomNode->has_attributes — Checks if node has attributes
DomNode->has_child_nodes — Checks if node has children
DomNode->insert_before — Inserts new node as child
DomNode->is_blank_node — Checks if node is blank
DomNode->last_child — Returns last child of node
DomNode->next_sibling — Returns the next sibling of node
DomNode->node_name — Returns name of node
DomNode->node_type — Returns type of node
DomNode->node_value — Returns value of a node
DomNode->owner_document — Returns the document this node belongs to
DomNode->parent_node — Returns the parent of the node
DomNode->prefix — Returns name space prefix of node
DomNode->previous_sibling — Returns the previous sibling of node
DomNode->remove_child — Removes child from list of children
DomNode->replace_child — Replaces a child
DomNode->replace_node — Replaces node
DomNode->set_content — Sets content of node
DomNode->set_name — Sets name of node
DomNode->set_namespace — Sets namespace of a node
DomNode->unlink_node — Deletes node
DomProcessingInstruction->data — Returns the data of ProcessingInstruction node
DomProcessingInstruction->target — Returns the target of a ProcessingInstruction node
DomXsltStylesheet->process() — Applies the XSLT-Transformation on a DomDocument Object
DomXsltStylesheet->result_dump_file() — Dumps the result from a XSLT-Transformation into a file
DomXsltStylesheet->result_dump_mem() — Dumps the result from a XSLT-Transformation back into a string
domxml_new_doc — Creates new empty XML document
domxml_open_file — Creates a DOM object from an XML file
domxml_open_mem — Creates a DOM object of an XML document
domxml_version — Gets the XML library version
domxml_xmltree — Creates a tree of PHP objects from an XML document
domxml_xslt_stylesheet_doc — Creates a DomXsltStylesheet Object from a DomDocument Object
domxml_xslt_stylesheet_file — Creates a DomXsltStylesheet Object from an XSL document in a file
domxml_xslt_stylesheet — Creates a DomXsltStylesheet object from an XSL document in a string
domxml_xslt_version — Gets the XSLT library version
xpath_eval_expression — Evaluates the XPath Location Path in the given string
xpath_eval — Evaluates the XPath Location Path in the given string
xpath_new_context — Creates new xpath context
xpath_register_ns_auto — Register the given namespace in the passed XPath context
xpath_register_ns — Register the given namespace in the passed XPath context
xptr_eval — Evaluate the XPtr Location Path in the given string
xptr_new_context — Create new XPath Context