XML Tutorial for iOS: How To Choose The Best XML Parser for Your iPhone Project

An XML tutorial for iOS to help you choose the best xml parser for your iPhone project, complete with benchmarking and a sample project. By Ray Wenderlich.

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Which To Choose?

Which XML parser to choose really depends on what you want to do with the parser.

  • If you just want to read small XML documents, performance doesn’t matter as much with small documents. You probably want to pick something with XPath support and something that is written in Objective-C to make your job easier. So I’d recommend either TouchXML, KissXML, or GDataXML for this case.
  • If you want to both read and write small XML documents, again performance doesn’t matter as much as functionality and ease of use. You probably want to pick something with XPath support, written in Objective-C, with read/write capability. So I’d recommend KissXML or GDataXML for this case.
  • If you want to read extremely large XML documents, performance is the critical issue here. You’ll want to consider libxml2 SAX, TBXML, or libxml DOM for this, depending on what your exact situation is.

What about the ones I didn’t mention?

  • NSXML is a decent choice if you’re dealing with relatively small documents, and you don’t feel like adding a third party library to the SDK.
  • TinyXML could be an OK choice for medium sized documents if you already have experience with the API and are comfortable with C as it ports quite easily over to the iPhone.

I took a look at two other XML libraries during the course of this investigation (VTD-XML and Objective-XML), but I couldn’t get them working. If someone else has had more luck with these, feel free to extend the sample project to include them!

Where To Go From Here?

If you’re looking for some help using one of these libraries, check out my post on How to Read and Write XML Documents with GDataXML.

And if anyone has any additional feedback about these libraries or tips that may help other developers, please chime in below!


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