StAX vs SAX Parser in Java

Both StAX and SAX are a type of XML parser APIs. Here, API stands for Application Programming Interface and Parser is used to read and extract content from an XML document in desired format. From this line, it is clear that StAX and SAX are used to read XML documents.

APIs are a modern way to migrate real time information on the Web. In this article, we will discuss the difference between StAX and SAX Parser in Java.

StAX vs SAX Parser


Its full form is eXtensible Markup Language and it is said to be a data description language. In it, the user can define its own tag depending on the need. It stores information in tree based structure that makes it simple and easily understandable.

This is the sample XML document −

<?xml version="1.0"?>
   <cart id = "c101">
     <item> Milk </item>
     <price> 65 </price>
     <quantity> 15 </quantity>
   <cart id = "c102">
     <item> Bread </item>
     <price> 30 </price>
     <quantity> 10 </quantity>
   <cart id = "c103">
     <item> Butter </item>
     <price> 40 </price>
     <quantity> 5 </quantity>

Transferring data from one source to another source requires a transformation of the data format. By parsing methods like StAX and SAX, we can read and transform XML data into required format.

SAX Parser

It is an abbreviation of Simple API for XML. It reads the XML document line by line from start to finish. Whenever it encounters any tag during parsing, it calls the method and retrieves the information for the user.

For example, suppose we want to access the address from an XML document and there is a tag name ‘address’ in that document. In that case, when SAX parser reached that tag, it will call the method to retrieve the address.

Interfaces of SAX Parser −

  • SAXParserFactory − It is the object of Parser, it is the first task of parsing.

  • SAXParser − It defines a method named ‘parse()’ that is used for parsing.

  • SAXReader − It handles communication with SAX event handlers.

StAX Parser

It is an abbreviation of Streaming API for XML. It was developed to eliminate the limitation of SAX parser. It contains two APIs, one is cursor API and another one is event iterator API. The cursor API handles the reading and writing and the event iterator API handles the events.

Interfaces of StAX Parser

  • XMLStreamReader

  • XMLStreamWriter

  • XMLEventReader

  • XMLEventWriter

Now let’s discuss the differences between StAX and SAX Parser. Consider the following table below −

SAX Parser

StAX Parser

It is Simple API for XML documents.

It is a Streaming API for XML documents.

It is a push type API means it pushes the required data.

It is a pull type API means it pulls the desired data.

SAX works on event based model.

StAX works do not work on event based model, rather it works on tree based model.

It can only perform reading operations on the XML document.

It is bidirectional and can perform both reading and writing operations on the XML document.

There is no or less control over the parsing process. It parses all the information even if we don't need them.

StAX provides full control over parsing. We can extract the required data and discard the unwanted data.

It does not have any additional API.

It provides two additional APIs cursor API and event iterator API.

SAX reads XML files in top down approach and can’t provide random access.

StAX also reads in top down approach but provides random access to the information.


In this article, we have differentiated StAX from the SAX parser. During this, we discovered XML which is a data description language. It provides various parsers like StAX and SAX to read and write an XML file. Both parsers are similar in many ways but differences lie in their features and working.

Updated on: 15-May-2023


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