SAXON XSLT Processor

Product Fact Sheet

Product Overview

SAXON is an XSLT Processor

There are two versions of SAXON:

  1. SAXON-B: An open source version that implements the basic (non-schema-aware) part of XSLT 2.0
  2. SAXON-SA: A commercial version that implements the full (schema-aware) capabilities of XSLT 2.0

"The distinction is that a Basic XSLT Processor does not allow schemas to be imported and does not support validation of source or result documents or reference to user-defined types. These correspond to the two conformance levels defined in the XSLT 2.0 specification." [Quote from the Saxonica homepage]

SAXON version 6.5.5 and earlier implements the XSLT 1.0 Recommendation. SAXON version 8.9 and later implements the XSLT 2.0 Recommendation. The versions between 6.5.5 and 8.9 implements the XSLT Working Drafts, as the specification evolved from 1.0 to 2.0. Note: SAXON 7.x and 8.x run XSLT 1.0 stylesheets in backward compatibility mode.

There is a Java version of SAXON as well as a .NET version.


Michael Kay is the sole developer of SAXON. "SAXON is essentially a one-man project: I have done almost all the development myself, except for a small number of routines which I borrowed from other open source products, and a few add-ons contributed by users." [Historical Note]

Developer Credentials

Michael Kay has written three books on XSLT and XPath:

  1. XSLT Programmer's Reference 2nd Edition (939 pages, describes both XSLT 1.0 and XPath 1.0)
  2. XSLT 2.0 Programmer's Reference (Programmer to Programmer) (960 pages)
  3. XPath 2.0 Programmer's Reference (Programmer to Programmer) (552 pages)

Michael Kay is the editor of the XSLT 2.0 Specification and is one of the editors of the XPath 2.0 Specification

Product Maturity

The first version became available on 12 May 1998. [Announcement of SAXON]

Version 5.0 claimed full conformance with XSLT 1.0 and XPath 1.0 on 3 Dec 1999. [Announcement of conformance to XSLT 1.0]

6.4.2 was the first version to be released on SourceForge, on 7 July 2001, and is the earliest that is still publicly available.

The versions up to 5.0 include: 2.0, 3.0, 3.01, 3.03, 3.1, 4.0, 4.01, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4.71, 5.0. [SAXON: History up to 5.0]

The versions between 5.0 and 6.0 include: 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.3.1, 5.3.2, 5.4, 5.4.1, 5.5, 5.5.1, 5.5.2. [SAXON: History up to 6.0]

The versions 6.4 include: 6.0, 6.0.1, 6.0.2, 6.1, 6.2, 6.2.1, 6.2.2, 6.3, 6.4. [SAXON: History up to 6.4]

The current version (as of 1 November 2007) is In the nine years since its initial release there have been 72 releases. Here are the releases that are available on SourceForge: 6.4.2 6.4.3 6.5 6.5.1 6.5.2 6.5.3 6.5.4 6.5.5 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.3.1 7.4 7.5 7.5.1 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 7.9.1 8.0 8.1 8.1.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.5.1 8.6 8.6.1 8.7 8.7.1 8.7.3 8.8

Standards Conformance

The version release of Saxon is a complete implementation of the XSLT 2.0 Recommendation of 23 January 2007. [Announcement of Conformance to the XSLT 2.0 Recommendation] [SAXON XSLT 2.0 Conformance Statement]


Michael Kay submitted test results for the W3C XSLT Test Suite. At present this test suite, and the submitted results, are available to W3C members only. Here are the SAXON published test results.

Implementation-Defined Features

The XSLT 2.0 specification leaves certain features as implementation-defined. This webpage describes the way in which Saxon implements the features that the specification leaves implementation-defined.


Use of SAXON is subject to the Mozilla Public License Version 1.0 with additional commercial licensing restrictions described by the SAXON License


There is no formal technical support. "Questions relating to the open source Saxon-B product can be raised on the Saxon mailing list or forum at However, SourceForge is a resource for open source software only, so it should not be used for questions specific to Saxon-SA. Instead, please contact us at Saxonica Support." [SAXON Technical Support]

A history of the questions and problems that people have raised with each SAXON version may be obtained by reading the SAXON mailing list archives

Other Functionality

As well as XSLT 1.0 and XSLT 2.0, SAXON implements XQuery 1.0, XML Schema 1.0, XPath 1.0, and XPath 2.0


Last Updated: November 1, 2007