Wednesday, December 14, 2011

XML Data Binding for Java on Android using JiBX

JiBX is an excellent tool for binding XML data to Java objects on the Android platform.

- JiBX is fast!
- JiBX has a small footprint (it will add only 60KB to your .apk)
- JiBX uses the Android XMLPull parser by default
- It's easy to use!

We all appreciate the advantages of being able to use java classes to do data manipulation. person.setFirstName("Don"); is much easier then messy DOM manipulation: document.getElementsByTagName("first").item(0).appendChild(document.createTextNode("Don"));

Let's create a sample project.

First, create java bindings for your XML schema using JiBX, or select a pre-build schema library.

For this example, we'll use a pre-built binding from the JiBX schema library. Our sample xsd file is an XML definition which includes a person's first and last name.

Click here to see our sample schema in the JiBX library. You may want to take a look at the schema and the JiBX generated java source code.

Download the java jar file by right-clicking this
link and select 'save as'.

Next, download the jibx runtime jar file by right-clicking this link and select 'save as'. We'll need these jars shortly.

Now we're ready to create our Android application. First you need to install eclipse and the Android SDK.

From Eclipse, select New -> Project -> Android Project.

I'm calling this project 'jibxapp'.

On the next screen, select your target api.

Finally, enter your java package name.

You project should appear in your workspace.

Navigate to jibxapp -> res -> layout and double-click main.xml to bring up the form editor.

Add a button, two medium static text fields, two data text boxes, and a multi-line text box so your screen looks something like this:

You may want to test your Android emulator here by right clicking the project name and selecting 'Debug as' -> 'Android Application'.

To add your java binding and the JiBX runtime, right-click your project name and select properties. Click 'java build path' -> Libraries -> 'Add external jars' and add the two jars that we downloaded earlier.

Navigate and open your Android source code file.

Add this test code to your java source file:



import org.jibx.runtime.BindingDirectory;
import org.jibx.runtime.IBindingFactory;
import org.jibx.runtime.IMarshallingContext;
import org.jibx.runtime.IUnmarshallingContext;
import org.jibx.runtime.JiBXException;

import android.os.Bundle;
import android.view.View;
import android.widget.Button;
import android.widget.EditText;

public class JibxappActivity extends Activity {
/** Called when the activity is first created. */
public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

mPickDate = (Button) findViewById(;
mFirstName = (EditText) findViewById(;
mLastName = (EditText) findViewById(;
mTextBox = (EditText) findViewById(;
// add a click listener to the button
mPickDate.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
public void onClick(android.view.View v) {

Button mPickDate = null;
EditText mFirstName = null;
EditText mLastName = null;
EditText mTextBox = null;

* Add the test table records.
public void doJibxTest() {
Person person = new Person();

String xml = marshalMessage(person);

Person personOut = (Person) unmarshalMessage(xml);

mPickDate.setText(personOut.getFirstName() + ' ' + personOut.getLastName());

* Marshal this message to xml .
* @param message
* @param system
* @return
public final static String STRING_ENCODING = "UTF8";
public final static String URL_ENCODING = "UTF-8";
String bindingName = "binding";

public String marshalMessage(Object message) {
try {
IBindingFactory jc = BindingDirectory.getFactory(bindingName, Person.class);
IMarshallingContext marshaller = jc.createMarshallingContext();
ByteArrayOutputStream out = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
marshaller.marshalDocument(message, URL_ENCODING, null, out);
return out.toString(STRING_ENCODING);
} catch (UnsupportedEncodingException e) {
} catch (JiBXException e) {
return null;

* Unmarshal this xml Message to an object.
* @param xml
* @param system
* @return
public Object unmarshalMessage(String xml) {
try {
IBindingFactory jc = BindingDirectory.getFactory(bindingName, Person.class);
IUnmarshallingContext unmarshaller = jc.createUnmarshallingContext();
return unmarshaller.unmarshalDocument(new StringReader(xml), bindingName);
} catch (JiBXException e) {
return null;

This program takes the First and Last Name entered, plugs them into a java data object, marshals the object to xml, and unmarshals the xml back to a data object and extracts the data from it. I made this program very simple, of course you would not do this kind of processing in the main thread.

Run your application by right clicking the project name and selecting 'Debug as' -> 'Android Application'. Enter your first and last name and click the button on the top.



Unknown said...

You can find this project in the JiBX source repository at:

Maris Boyd said...

In Android Development,it doesn't perform bytecodes. Android's java runtime uses a register based virtual machine that completes .dex information instead of class information. Theoretically you could generate those instead of java bytecode.

william said...

First, I think the author did a great job to make JiBX work on Android, however, JiBX was originally designed for desktop and server side development, hence it's too heavy-weight for resource limited mobile device like Android. I would recommend a light-weight xml binding framework tailed for Android platfrom, the library is called Nano, the jar is less than 70K, performance comparable to Android native parser like SAX and Xml Pull, it supports both XML and Json binding, it uses annotation driven binding, similar to JAXB, also it provides a binding compiler to auto-generate bindable class from xml schema, you may have a try if you are interested in it.

Unknown said...

Actually JiBX was designed to be small and fast. It uses the xmlpull parser which is built into Android. It is perfect for the Android platform.

Gal Levinsky said...

Thanks for the detailed article!

After failing with some Java XML projects, JiBX did the work.

Thank you.

Gal Levinsky said...

Just as a side note, for anyone who with to have a generic (un)marshal methods:

public static String marshalMessage(T message, Context ctx) {
try {
IBindingFactory jc = BindingDirectory.getFactory(bindingName, message.getClass());
IMarshallingContext marshaller = jc.createMarshallingContext();
ByteArrayOutputStream out = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
marshaller.marshalDocument(message, URL_ENCODING, null, out);
return out.toString(STRING_ENCODING);
}catch (Exception e){
return null;

public static T unmarshalMessage(String xml, Class T) {
try {
IBindingFactory jc = BindingDirectory.getFactory(bindingName, T);
IUnmarshallingContext unmarshaller = jc.createUnmarshallingContext();
return (T) unmarshaller.unmarshalDocument(new StringReader(xml), bindingName);
} catch (JiBXException e) {
return null;

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