The current version, as of January 2023, is 12.0.
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 12, implements the XSLT 3.0 and XQuery 3.1 specifications. Saxon 12 can process XSLT 1.0 and XSLT 2.0 stylesheets. (XSLT 2.0 and 3.0 are highly backwards compatible with XSLT 1.0.) and also includes selective support for the proposed XSLT 4.0 specification.
The Java-built versions come in three levels: Home Edition offers the minimal level of standards conformance defined in the specifications, as an open-source product. Professional Edition adds vendor-specific functionality not required by the standards, for example a range of extension functions and serialisation options. Enterprise Edition adds advanced features (defined in the W3C standards as optional) including schema-awareness and streaming, as well as performance-related features such as multi-threaded execution and bytecode generation.
The SaxonCS product is built from the Java source base by means of a custom Java-to-C# transpiler written in XSLT (see https://markupuk.org/webhelp/index.html#ar04.html). As of April 2022, only the Enterprise Edition is offered on this platform.
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.
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.
The Saxon versions that are available for the Java, C (including PHP and Python), and .NET platforms are built from a single codebase. The latter version is built using a transpiler. All technology platform versions share the same capabilities, and they are made available with three different feature sets under two different licensing conditions. For each of these technology platforms, there is an open-source product, Saxon-HE, that is licensed under MPL-2.0. It provides basic XSLT 3.0, XPath 3.1, and XQuery 3.1 functionality, as defined by the respective specifications. In addition, Saxon-HE implements certain features that the XSLT 3.0 specification declares as optional and that were previously reserved for the commercial versions, such as dynamic XPath 3.1 evaluation and higher-order functions in XSLT 3.0. The commercial versions are called Saxon-PE and Saxon-EE. A detailed and up-to-date feature matrix can be found on the Saxonica web site.
- ^ "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
- ^ XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 4.0.
- ^ "Introducing Saxon-JS".
- ^ https://www.saxonica.com/papers/markupuk-2021mhk.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- ^ "SaxonJS Documentation".
- Saxon-B homepage
- Saxonica homepage, for Saxon-SA
- Saxon XQuery Tools
- AntillesXML (GUI for Saxon)
- description of Saxon (German)