Jena RDF/XML Output How-To

Legacy Documentation : may not be up-to-date

Original RDF/XML HowTo.

Advanced RDF/XML Output

Two forms for output are provided: pretty printed RDF/XML (“RDF/XML-ABBREV”) or plain RDF/XML

While some of the code is shared, these two writers are really very different, resulting in different but equivalent output. “RDF/XML-ABBREV” is slower, but should produce more readable XML.

Properties to Control RDF/XML Output

Property NameDescriptionValue classLegal Values
xmlbase The value to be included for an xml:base attribute on the root element in the file. String A URI string, or null (default)
longId Whether to use long or short id's for anon resources. Short id's are easier to read and are the default, but can run out of memory on very large models. String or Boolean "true", "false" (default)
allowBadURIs URIs in the graph are, by default, checked prior to serialization. String or Boolean "true", "false" (default)
relativeURIs What sort of relative URIs should be used. A comma separated list of options:
  • same-document
    same-document references (e.g. "" or “#foo”)
  • network
    network paths e.g. "//" omitting the URI scheme
  • absolute
    absolute paths e.g. "/foo" omitting the scheme and authority
  • relative
    relative path not beginning in "../"
  • parent
    relative path beginning in "../"
  • grandparent
    relative path beginning in "../../"

The default value is “same-document, absolute, relative, parent”. To switch off relative URIs use the value “”. Relative URIs of any of these types are output where possible if and only if the option has been specified.

showXmlDeclaration If true, an XML Declaration is included in the output, if false no XML declaration is included. The default behaviour only gives an XML Declaration when asked to write to an `OutputStreamWriter` that uses some encoding other than UTF-8 or UTF-16. In this case the encoding is shown in the XML declaration. To ensure that the encoding attribute is shown in the XML declaration either:
  • Set this option to true and use the write(Model,Writer,String) variant with an appropriate OutputStreamWriter.
  • Or set this option to false, and write the declaration to an OutputStream before calling write(Model,OutputStream,String).
true, "true", false, "false" or "default" can be true, false or "default" (null)
showDoctypeDeclaration If true, an XML Doctype declaration is included in the output. This declaration includes a `!ENTITY` declaration for each prefix mapping in the model, and any attribute value that starts with the URI of that mapping is written as starting with the corresponding entity invocation. String or Boolean true, false, "true", "false"
tab The number of spaces with which to indent XML child elements. String or Integer positive integer "2" is the default
attributeQuoteChar How to write XML attributes. String "\"" or "'"
blockRules A list of `Resource` or a `String` being a comma separated list of fragment IDs from []( indicating grammar rules that will not be used. Rules that can be blocked are:

In addition "daml:collection" (DAML_OIL.collection) can be blocked. Blocking idAttr also blocks section-Reification. By default, rule propertyAttr is blocked. For the basic writer (RDF/XML) only parseTypeLiteralPropertyElt has any effect, since none of the other rules are implemented by that writer.

Resource[] or String
prettyTypes Only for the RDF/XML-ABBREV writer. This is a list of the types of the principal objects in the model. The writer will tend to create RDF/XML with resources of these types at the top level. Resource[]

To set properties on the RDF/XML writer:

    // Properties to be set.
    Map<String, Object> properties = new HashMap<>() ;
    properties.put("showXmlDeclaration", "true");

        .set(SysRIOT.sysRdfWriterProperties, properties)


Legacy example

As an example,

RDFWriter w = m.getWriter("RDF/XML-ABBREV");

creates a writer that does not use rdf:parseType (preferring rdf:datatype for rdf:XMLLiteral), indents only a little, and produces the XMLDeclaration. Attributes are used, and are quoted with "'".

Note that property attributes are not used at all, by default. However, the RDF/XML-ABBREV writer includes a rule to produce property attributes when the value does not contain any spaces. This rule is normally switched off. This rule can be turned on selectively by using the blockRules property as detailed above.


The RDF/XML I/O endeavours to conform with the RDF Syntax Recommendation.

The parser must be set to strict mode. (Note that, the conformant behaviour for rdf:parseType="daml:collection" is to silently turn "daml:collection" into "Literal").

The RDF/XML writer is conformant, but does not exercise much of the grammar.

The RDF/XML-ABBREV writer exercises all of the grammar and is conformant except that it uses the daml:collection construct for DAML ontologies. This non-conformant behaviour can be switched off using the blockRules property.

Faster RDF/XML I/O

To optimise the speed of writing RDF/XML it is suggested that all URI processing is turned off. Also do not use RDF/XML-ABBREV. It is unclear whether the longId attribute is faster or slower; the short IDs have to be generated on the fly and a table maintained during writing. The longer IDs are long, and hence take longer to write. The following creates a faster writer:

Model m;
RDFWriter fasterWriter = m.getWriter("RDF/XML");

When reading RDF/XML the check for reuse of rdf:ID has a memory overhead, which can be significant for very large files. In this case, this check can be suppressed by telling ARP to ignore this error.

Model m;
RDFReader bigFileReader = m.getReader("RDF/XML");