Getting started with Saxon on the .NET platform
Download the software (you will typically start with the open-source version) from
It is designed to be used with .NET version 1.1 from Microsoft and has also been used successfully
with .NET version 2.0. It has not been tested with the Mono platform.
The software comes as a zip file. Unzip it into a suitable directory, for example
As a first-time user, you will probably want to install the sample applications.
These are packaged together with a copy of this documentation and Saxon-B source code
in the file
saxon-resources8-n.zip. This can be downloaded from either the
SourceForge or Saxonica sites. (It is the same file in both cases). Unzip the contents
of this file into the same directory.
Make sure that .NET version 1.1 is installed on your machine. This is available as
a free download from Microsoft. See
If you are using Saxon-SA, the commercial schema-aware version of Saxon, you will need
to obtain a file containing a licence key.
Apply for a free 30-day license key by going to
www.saxonica.com and clicking on "Evaluation Copy".
Be sure to specify that you want a license key for the .NET platform.
key file will be sent by email within 24 hours. This file, called
should be placed in the directory containing the Saxon .dll files: for example
Create an environment variable named
SAXON_HOME whose value is set
to the name of this directory. You can do this within any command script used to run Saxon
set SAXON_HOME=c:\saxon\bin), or you can set the environment variable permanently
Control Panel / System / Advanced / Environment Variables. (It can be either
a user variable or a system variable).
Saxon doesn't come with a graphical user interface: it's designed to be integrated into
other tools and applications. You will therefore start by using it from the operating system
command line. On Windows, you may want to install a text editor such as UltraEdit
that offers a more friendly command line than the standard DOS console provided by Microsoft.
You can now run one of the sample stylesheets or queries that comes with the
Assuming you installed into
c:\saxon, make this your current directory, and type:
for XSLT (all on one line):
bin\Transform -t samples\data\books.xml
for XQuery (all on one line):
bin\Query -t -s
samples\data\books.xml samples\query\books-to-html.xq >c:\temp.html
c:\temp.html in your browser to check that it worked.
For more complete details on installing Saxon on the .NET platform,
see Installing (.NET)