When an XML document is stored as either text, long xml, xmltype or in the persistent XML format it can contain references to external parsed entities with the <!entity ...> declaration and the &xx; syntax. These are stored as references and not expanded at storage time if the entity is external.

Such references are transparently followed by XPATH and XSLT. A run time error occurs if the referenced resource cannot be accessed when needed. The reference is only followed if the actual subtree is selected by XPATH or XSLT. The resource is retrieved at most once for each XPATH or XSLT operation referencing it, regardless of the number of times the link is traversed. This is transparent, so that the document node of the referenced entity appears as if it were in the place of the reference.

External entity references have an associated URI, which is either absolute with protocol identifier and full path or relative. Relative references must be resolved with respect to the base URI of the referencing document. If the document is stored as a column value in a table it does not have a natural base URI, hence the application must supply one if relative references are to be supported. This is done by specifying an extra column of the same table to contain a path, in the form of collections delimited by slashes, just as the path of a DAV resource or a Unix file system path.

This base URI is associated with an XML column with the IDENTIFIED BY declaration:

create table XML_TEXT (
        XT_ID integer,
        XT_FILE varchar,
        XT_TEXT long varchar identified by xt_file,
                primary key (XT_ID)
        );

create index XT_FILE on XML_TEXT (XT_FILE);

Thus, each time the value of xt_text is retrieved for XML processing by XPATH_CONTAINS or XCONTAINS the base URI is taken from xt_file.

The complete URI for the xt_text of a column of the sample table will be:

virt://<qualified table name>.<uri column>.<text column>:<uri column value>

An example would be:

"virt://DB.DBA.XML_TEXT.XT_FILE.XT_TEXT:sqlreference.xml"

The .. and . in relative paths are treated as with file names when combining relative references to base URI's. A relative reference without a path just replaces the last part of the path in the base URI.

[Tip] See

xml_uri_get and xml_uri_merge for more details.