The current version, as of May 2020, is 10.1.
The original development line of Saxon ended with the version 6 series. This is a series of XSLT 1.0 processors. The current version, 6.5.5, is not undergoing further development aside from maintenance. The 6 series is only available for the Java programming language.
The current development line, Saxon 10, implements the XSLT 3.0 and XQuery 3.1 specifications. Saxon 10 is capable of processing XSLT 1.0 files as well. (XSLT 2.0 is highly backwards compatible with XSLT 1.0. )
From 2004 until 2009, Saxon was available into two separate forms: Saxon-B and Saxon-SA. Both of these were built on similar codebases. Saxon-B was open-source software released under the Mozilla Public License, while Saxon-SA was a closed-source commercial product.
The difference between Saxon-B and Saxon-SA was that B was "basic" while SA was "schema-aware". These terms are references to terms in the XSLT 2.0 and XQuery 1.0 specification. A processor that is "schema-aware" is able to use a W3C XML Schema to define the data types of the various elements in the source XML document(s). These data types can then be used in XPath 2.0 and XSLT 2.0 commands. A "basic" XSLT 2.0 processor is unable to use data typing information.
With the release of version 9.2 in August 2009, the packaging changed to create three versions: home edition (HE), professional edition (PE), and enterprise edition (EE). The home edition is open source and free, the other versions are available under commercial licenses. The renaming from SA to EE was done to emphasize that the commercial product by now included many additional features beyond schema awareness, including a more advanced optimizer and the capability for streamed processing of XSLT and XQuery, enabling very large source documents to be processed without correspondingly large amounts of memory.
Saxon offers strict conformance to the XSLT 2.0, XPath 2.0 and 3.0, and XQuery 1.0 and 3.0 W3C Recommendations, and also implements XML Schema 1.0 and 1.1. As of 2021 the current version (10.6) conforms with the W3C Recommendations for XSLT 3.0, XPath 3.1, and XQuery 3.1.
The Saxon source code is written in Java. During 2005-6 M., David Peterson and others demonstrated that Saxon could be cross-compiled to run on .NET using the IKVM.NET cross-compiler, launching Saxon.NET as a separate product independent of the original developer. With the release of Saxon 8.7, Saxonica adopted this technology and from that release onwards, all versions have been released simultaneously for Java and .NET. The .NET version of the product omits features that are specific to the Java platform (such as integration with JDOM, Dom4j, and XOM) and instead provides features that integrate with the XML processing capabilities of the .NET platform.
Michael Kay, the author of Saxon, was the editor of the XSLT 2.0 specification and is also editor of the XSLT 3.0 draft.
This table shows which features are available in the current versions of Saxon. The Java and .NET versions are built from a single codebase, so they share the same features. The suffixes *HE*, *PE*, *EE*, and *CE* refer to the Home, Professional, Enterprise, and Client Editions respectively: Saxon-HE and -CE are open source, while the -PE and -EE versions are available under a commercial license.
A more detailed and up-to-date feature matrix can be found on the Saxonica web site.
|XSLT 1.0 support||Yes||Via backward-compatible behavior||Via backward-compatible behavior||Via backward-compatible behavior||Via backward-compatible behavior|
|XSLT 2.0 support||--||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|XSLT 3.0 support||--||--||Yes||Yes||--|
|XPath 1.0 support||Yes||Via XPath 1.0 compatibility mode||Via XPath 1.0 compatibility mode||Via XPath 1.0 compatibility mode||Only in XSLT|
|XPath 2.0 support||--||Yes||Yes||Yes||Only in XSLT|
|XPath 3.0 support||--||--||Yes||Yes||--|
|XQuery 1.0 support||--||Yes||Yes||Yes||--|
|XQuery 3.0 support||--||--||Yes||Yes||--|
|XQuery Updates 1.0 support||--||--||Yes||Yes||--|
|XQuery/XPath Full Text support||--||--||--||--||--|
|XML Schema 1.0 support||--||--||--||Yes||--|
|XML Schema 1.1 support||--||--||--||Yes||--|
|Serialization feature support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||--|
|Static Typing feature support||--||--||--||--||--|
|xml:id 1.0 support||--||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|XML stylesheet Processing Instruction support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||via XSLT 1.0 bootstrap stylesheet|
|Advanced extension functions||--||--||Yes||Yes||--|
- "Saxon Client Edition 1.0". Saxonica. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Saxon XSLT official website
- This Recommendation builds on the success of [XSLT 1.0], which was published on 16 November 1999. Many new features have been added to the language (see J.2 New Functionality) while retaining a high level of backwards compatibility. XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 2.0
- "Introducing Saxon-JS".