SPARQL Query Results XML Format

W3C Proposed Edited Recommendation 15 January 200808 November 2012

This version:
Latest version:
Previous version:
Previous Recommendation:
Second Edition Editor:
Sandro Hawke
Dave Beckett, Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT), University of Bristol
Jeen Broekstra ,Broekstra, Information Systems Group, Eindhoven University of Technology

Please refer to the errata for this document, which may include some normative corrections.

See also translations.


RDF is a flexible, extensible way to represent information about World Wide Web resources. It is used to represent, among other things, personal information, social networks, metadata about digital artifacts like music and images, as well as provide a means of integration over disparate sources of information. A standardized query language for RDF data with multiple implementations offers developers and end users a way to write and to consume the results of queries across this wide range of information.

This document describes an XML format for the variable binding and boolean results formats provided by the SPARQL query language for RDF, developed by the W3C RDF Data Access Working Group (DAWG), part of the Semantic Web Activity as described in the activity statement .

Status of This Document

May Be Superseded

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

This document is being published as one of a W3C Recommendation . This document hasset of 11 documents:

  1. SPARQL 1.1 Overview
  2. SPARQL 1.1 Query Language
  3. SPARQL 1.1 Update
  4. SPARQL1.1 Service Description
  5. SPARQL 1.1 Federated Query
  6. SPARQL 1.1 Query Results JSON Format
  7. SPARQL 1.1 Query Results CSV and TSV Formats
  8. SPARQL Query Results XML Format
  9. SPARQL 1.1 Entailment Regimes
  10. SPARQL 1.1 Protocol
  11. SPARQL 1.1 Graph Store HTTP Protocol

Summary of Changes

There have been reviewed by W3C Members, by software developers,no substantive changes since the previous version. For details on any editorial changes see the change log and color-coded diff.

W3C Members Please Review By other6 December 2012

The W3C groups and interested parties,Director seeks review and is endorsedfeedback from W3C Advisory Committee representatives, via their review form by 6 December 2012. This will allow the Director to assess consensus and determine whether to issue this document as a W3C Recommendation.

It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited from another document. W3C's role in makingOthers are encouraged by the Recommendation is to draw attentionSPARQL Working Group to the specification andcontinue to promote its widespread deployment. This enhances the functionality and interoperabilitysend reports of the Web. Comments on this document should be sentimplementation experience, and other feedback, to public-rdf-dawg-comments@w3.org , a mailing list with a(public archive . Questions and comments about SPARQL that are not related to this specification, including extensions and features, can be discussed on). Reports of any success or difficulty with the mailing listtest cases are encouraged. Open discussion among developers is welcome at public-sparql-dev@w3.org ,(public archive).


The advancement of this document was producedProposed Edited Recommendation is supported by the RDF Data Access Working Group , which is partdisposition of comments on the W3C Semantic Web Activity .previous drafts, the first release of this document as a Working Draft was 21 Dec 2004Test Suite, and the Working Group has addressed a numberlist of comments received and issues since then. The media type application/sparql-results+xml has been approved since theimplementations (with test results).

No Endorsement

Publication of the November 2007as a Proposed Edited Recommendation . The Working Group's SPARQL Query Results XML Format Implementation Report demonstrates that the goals for interoperable implementations, set in the September 2007 Candidate Recommendation , were achieved.does not imply endorsement by the Data Access Working Group has postponed 12 issues, including aggregate functions ,W3C Membership. This is a draft document and an update language .may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.


This document was produced by a group operating under the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The SPARQL Query Language for RDF [SPARQL-QUERY] defines several Query Result Forms (SPARQL Query section 10). This document defines a SPARQL Results Document that encodes the variable binding query results from SELECT queries (SPARQL Query section 10.2) and boolean query results from ASK queries (SPARQL Query section 10.5) in XML [XML].

There are two other results formats which follow a similar design but do not use XML: SPARQL 1.1 Query Results JSON Format [SRJ] and SPARQL 1.1 Query Results CSV and TSV Formats [SRC].

2. Definition

Definition: SPARQL Results Document

A SPARQL Results Document is an XML document that is valid with respect to either the RELAX NG XML Schema or the W3C XML Schema in Section 4.

2.1. Document Element

The SPARQL Results Document begins with sparql document element in the http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results# namespace, written as follows:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#">

Inside the sparql element are two sub-elements, head and a results element (either results or boolean) which must appear in that order.

2.2. Header

The head element is the first child element of the sparql element.

For a variable binding query result, head must contain a sequence of elements describing the set of Query Variable names in the Solution Sequence (here called query results).

The order of the variable names in the sequence is the order of the variable names given to the argument of the SELECT statement in the SPARQL query. If SELECT * is used, the order of the names is undefined.

Inside the head element, the ordered sequence of variable names chosen are used to create empty child elements variable with the variable name as the value of an attribute name giving a document like this:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#">

    <variable name="x"/>
    <variable name="hpage"/>
    <variable name="name"/>
    <variable name="mbox"/>
    <variable name="blurb"/>

For a boolean query result, no elements are required inside head and variable must not be present.

For any query result, head may also contain link child elements with an href attribute containing a relative URI that provides a link to some additional metadata about the query results. The relative URI is resolved against the in-scope base URI which is usually the query results format document URI. link elements must appear after any variable elements that are present.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#">

    <link href="metadata.rdf"/>

2.3. Results

The second child-element of sparql must appear after head and is either results or boolean. It is written even if the query results are empty.

2.3.1. Variable Binding Results

The results element contains the complete sequence of query results.

For each Query Solution in the query results, a result child-element of results is added giving a document like:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#">
  ...  head ...



Each result element corresponds to one Query Solution in a result and contains child elements (in no particular order) for each Query Variable that appears in the solution. It is used to record how the query variables bind to RDF Terms.

Each binding inside a solution is written as an element binding as a child of result with the query variable name as the value of the name attribute. So for a result binding two variables x and hpage it would look like:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#">
    <variable name="x"/>
    <variable name="hpage"/>

      <binding name="x"> ... </binding>
      <binding name="hpage"> ... </binding>

      <binding name="x"> ... </binding>
      <binding name="hpage"> ... </binding>


The value of a query variable binding, which is an RDF Term, is included as the content of the binding as follows:

RDF URI Reference U
RDF Literal S
RDF Literal S with language L
<binding><literal xml:lang="L">S</literal></binding>
RDF Typed Literal S with datatype URI D
<binding><literal datatype="D">S</literal></binding>
Blank Node label I

If, for a particular solution, a variable is unbound, no binding element for that variable is included in the result element.

Note: The blank node label I is scoped to the result set XML document and need not have any association to the blank node label for that RDF Term in the query graph.

An example of a query solution encoded in this format is as follows:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#">

    <variable name="x"/>
    <variable name="hpage"/>
    <variable name="name"/>
    <variable name="age"/>
    <variable name="mbox"/>
    <variable name="friend"/>


      <binding name="x">
      <binding name="hpage">
      <binding name="name">
	<literal xml:lang="en">Bob</literal>
      <binding name="age">
	<literal datatype="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema#integer">30</literal>
      <binding name="mbox">



2.3.2. Boolean Results

A boolean result is written as the element content of a boolean child-element of the sparql element directly after a head, containing either true or false as follows:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#">
  ...  head ...



3. Examples

3.1. Variable Binding Results Examples

An example SELECT SPARQL Query in example.rq operating on query graph Turtle/N3 data in data.n3 providing ordered variable binding query results written in XML in output.srx.

This XML can be transformed into XHTML using the sample XML Query script result-to-html.xq giving output-xquery.html or with XSLT sheet result-to-html.xsl giving output-xslt.html

3.2. Boolean Results Examples

An example ASK SPARQL Query in example2.rq operating on query graph Turtle/N3 data in data.n3 provides a boolean query result written in XML in output2.srx.

This XML can be transformed into XHTML using the sample XML Query script result-to-html.xq giving output-xquery2.html or with XSLT sheet result-to-html.xsl giving output-xslt2.html

4. XML Schemas

There are normative XML schemas provided in the following formats:

  1. RELAX NG[RELAXNG] Compact[RELAXNG-COMPACT] in result.rnc
  2. RELAX NG XML in result.rng
  3. W3C XML Schema[XMLSCHEMA-1] in result.xsd
    Note: this schema is machine-generated from the RELAX NG XML schema.

If W3C XML Schema is used, an xsi:schemaLocation attribute can be used pointing to the schema as follows:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<sparql xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/sparql-results#"



5. Internet Media Type, File Extension and Macintosh File Type

The Internet Media Type / MIME Type for the SPARQL Query Results XML Format is "application/sparql-results+xml".

It is recommended that result files have the extension ".srx" (all lowercase) on all platforms.

It is recommended that result files stored on Macintosh HFS file systems be given a file type of "TEXT".

This information that follows has been submitted to the IESG for review, approval, and registration with IANA. The IESG has not responded as of the publication date of this document.

Internet Media Type Registration Form

To: ietf-types@iana.org
Subject: Registration of media type application/sparql-results+xml

Type name:
Subtype name:
Required parameters:
Optional parameters:
"charset": This parameter has identical semantics to the charset parameter of the "application/xml" media type as specified in [RFC3023], section 3.2.
Encoding considerations:
Identical to those of "application/xml" as specified in [RFC3023], section 3.2.
Security considerations:

SPARQL query results uses URIs. See Section 7 of [RFC3986].

SPARQL query results uses IRIs. See Section 8 of [RFC3987].

As this media type uses the "+xml" convention, it shares the same security considerations as described in [RFC3023], section 10.

Interoperability considerations:
There are no known interoperability issues.
Published specification:
This specification.
Applications which use this media type:
No known applications currently use this media type.
Additional information:
Magic number(s):
As specified for "application/xml" in [RFC3023], section 3.2.
File extension(s):
Fragment identifiers:
Identical to that of "application/xml" as described in RFC 3023 [RFC3023], section 5.
Base URI:
As specified in [RFC3023], section 6.
Macintosh file type code(s):
Person & email address to contact for further information:
Dave Beckett, Eric Prud'hommeaux <public-rdf-dawg-comments@w3.org>
Intended usage:
Restrictions on usage:
Author/Change controller:
The SPARQL specification is a work product of the World Wide Web Consortium's RDF Data Access Working Group. The W3C has change control over these specifications.


[RFC3023] Murata, M., St. Laurent, S., and D. Kohn, "XML Media Types", RFC 3023, January 2001.

[RFC3986] Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R., and L. Masinter, "Uniform Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax", STD 66, RFC 3986, January 2005.

[RFC3987] Duerst, M. and M. Suignard, "Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs)", RFC 3987, January 2005.

6. References

Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0, Third Edition, T. Bray, J. Paoli, C.M. Sperberg-McQueen, E. Maler, F. Yergeau, Editors, W3C Recommendation, 4 February 2004. This document is http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/REC-xml-20040204 . The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml .
SPARQL 1.1 Query Language for RDF, E. Prud'hommeaux,S. Harris, A. Seaborne, Editors, W3C Proposed Recommendation, 15 January 2008. This document is http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-rdf-sparql-query-20080115/ . The8 November 2012, http://www.w3.org/TR/2012/PR-sparql11-query-20121108. Latest version isavailable at http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-sparql-query/ .http://www.w3.org/TR/sparql11-query.
RELAX NG Specification, James Clark and MURATA Makoto, Editors, OASIS Committee Specification, 3 December 2001. This document is http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/relax-ng/spec-20011203.html . The latest version is available at http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/relax-ng/spec.html .
RELAX NG Compact Syntax, James Clark, Editor. OASIS Committee Specification, 21 November 2002. This document is http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/relax-ng/compact-20021121.html .
XML Schema Part 1: Structures Second Edition, D. Beech, N. Mendelsohn, M. Maloney, H. S. Thompson, Editors, W3C Recommendation, 28 October 2004. This document is http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/REC-xmlschema-1-20041028/ . The latest version is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/xmlschema-1/ .
SPARQL 1.1 Query Results JSON Format, A. Seaborne, Editor, W3C Proposed Recommendation, 8 November 2012, http://www.w3.org/TR/2012/PR-sparql11-results-json-20121108. Latest version available at http://www.w3.org/TR/sparql11-results-json.
SPARQL 1.1 Query Results CSV and TSV Formats, A. Seaborne, Editor, W3C Proposed Recommendation, 8 November 2012, http://www.w3.org/TR/2012/PR-sparql11-results-csv-tsv-20121108. Latest version available at http://www.w3.org/TR/sparql11-results-csv-tsv.

Change Log

Changes since 2008 Recommendation