How can I use Blast XML output in my program?

This page describes how to get Java objects from Blast results XML file in a few simple steps.

Steps similar to those described below could also be applied to use output from any other bioinformatics related services, capable of returning results in XML format.

Acquire Blast output in XML format

It can be done in various ways, including saving manual Blast search results in XML format or by using biojava’s NCBIQBlastService.

Blast output XML file should look like this (note the root element BlastOutput):

<?xml version=”1.0”?> <!DOCTYPE BlastOutput PUBLIC “-//NCBI//NCBI BlastOutput/EN” “NCBI_BlastOutput.dtd”>



Acquire referenced schema files

You might need referenced schema files: NCBI_BlastOutput.dtd, NCBI_BlastOutput.mod.dtd and NCBI_Entity.mod.dtd (they can be downloaded from 1).

Generate necessary Java classes

It can be done using xjc tool (part of Java Architecture for XML Binding (JAXB)), which accepts an XML schema and generates Java classes. The generated classes contain properties, which map to the XML elements defined in the schema.

xjc can be used from command line 2 or as a Maven plugin 3. Command line usage example:


xjc -d -p -dtd</nowiki> ` Maven plugin config example: ```xml >groupId>org.jvnet.jaxb2.maven2>/groupId> >artifactId>maven-jaxb2-plugin>/artifactId> >version>`0.8.0>/version> >executions>   >execution>     >goals>       >goal>`generate>/goal>     >/goals>     >configuration>       >generatePackage>ncbi.blast.result.generated>/generatePackage>       >generateDirectory>${basedir}/src/main/java>/generateDirectory>       >schemaLanguage>dtd>/schemaLanguage>       >schemaIncludes>                  >value>schemaFolder/NCBI_BlastOutput.dtd>/value>       >/schemaIncludes>     >/configuration>   >/execution> >/executions> >dependencies>   >dependency>     >groupId>org.jvnet.jaxb2-commons>/groupId>     >artifactId>property-listener-injector>/artifactId>     >version>1.0>/version>   >/dependency> >/dependencies> ``` ### Create Java objects from Blast results XML In this step an object (instance of generated BlastOutput class) representing root XML element will be created. The most simple way to do it as follows, however you'll need to copy the 3 aforementioned XML schema files to every directory in which you want to process Blast output XML files. ```java JAXBContext jc = JAXBContext.newInstance(BlastOutput.class); Unmarshaller u = jc.createUnmarshaller(); return (BlastOutput) u.unmarshal(new File("blast-xml-output.xml")); ``` As a workaround, place the 3 schema files in the same folder where the generated classes are located and use the following code, which will then use those files: ```java JAXBContext jc = JAXBContext.newInstance(BlastOutput.class); Unmarshaller u = jc.createUnmarshaller(); XMLReader xmlreader = XMLReaderFactory.createXMLReader(); xmlreader.setFeature("<>", true); xmlreader.setFeature("<>", true); xmlreader.setEntityResolver(new EntityResolver() {    public InputSource resolveEntity(String publicId, String systemId) throws SAXException, IOException {         String file = null`         if (systemId.contains("NCBI_BlastOutput.dtd")) {              file = "NCBI_BlastOutput.dtd"`                  if (systemId.contains("NCBI_Entity.mod.dtd")) {              file = "NCBI_Entity.mod.dtd"`                  if (systemId.contains("NCBI_BlastOutput.mod.dtd")) {              file = "NCBI_BlastOutput.mod.dtd"`                  return new InputSource(BlastOutput.class.getResourceAsStream(file));    }); InputSource input = new InputSource(new FileReader(new File("blast-xml-output.xml"))); Source source = new SAXSource(xmlreader, input); return (BlastOutput) u.unmarshal(source); ``` ### Use the created BlastOutput object Finally, BlastOutput object, created in the previous step, can be used like any other Java object. For example, you can get the matrix used for given Blast search like this: ```java BlastOutput blastOutput; // assign BlastOutput object, returned by Unmarshaller (see previous step) String matrix = blastOutput.getBlastOutputParam().getParameters().getParametersMatrix(); ``` Note that this corresponds to the XML structure: ```xml ... >BlastOutput_param>   >Parameters>     >Parameters_matrix>`BLOSUM62>/Parameters_matrix>     ...   >/Parameters> >/BlastOutput_param> ... ```