User Documentation


Browser Selector

Host Selector
Request Parameter Selector
Request Attribute Selector



This document lists all of the available selectors of Apache Cocoon and describes their purpose. You may also wish to read Using and Implementing Matchers and Selectors.


Selectors in Apache Cocoon have a role similar to matchers with additional flexibility. If you haven't learned about matchers yet, read about them here before continuing. Selectors are designed to evaluate a generally simple boolean expression regarding some part of the environment (request URI, headers, or cookies, for example). The result of this evaluation determines which pipeline fragments should be combined within a given pipeline. Unlike matchers, selectors can be active decision-driving components. For example, a matcher makes only simple "yes/no" decisions. If a match is successful, a pipeline is executed. If not, it is ignored. Selectors go further by allowing more complex, multiple-choice use cases. In short, consider matchers to be simple "if" statements. By extension, consider selectors to have all the power of an "if-else if-else" or "switch-case" constructs. The selector syntax should be familiar to anyone who uses XSLT's <xsl:test> statement.

As an example, consider the typical scenario in which a page should be rendered differently based on the client browser. Given the large number and diversity of available browsers, it would be awkward and counterintuitive to address this need with a set of matchers. The BrowserSelector tests a given parameter against the user-agent request header. Using this single selector, we can deploy a consistent and readable setup.

<map:match pattern="docs/*.html">
  <map:generate src="xdocs/{1}.xml"/>
  <map:select type="browser">
    <map:when test="netscape">
      <map:transform src="stylesheets/netscape.xsl" />
    <map:when test="explorer">
      <map:transform src="stylesheets/ie.xsl" />
    <map:when test="lynx">
      <map:transform src="stylesheets/text-based.xsl" />
      <map:transform src="stylesheets/html.xsl" />


The Selectors in Cocoon

Available Selectors in Cocoon include the following:

  • BrowserSelector: matches the value of the "test" parameter against the HTTP User-Agent header, allowing it to recognize the browser issuing the request;
  • CodeSelector: matches a snippet of Java code given as the "test" parameter against the environment;
  • HostSelector: matches the "test" parameter value against the Host request header
  • ParameterSelector: matches the string specified in the "test" parameter against a specified Cocoon internal (e.g. sitemap) parameter;
  • HeaderSelector: same as the Parameter selector, but matches against the request headers;
  • RequestSelector: again, same as the Parameter selector, but matches against the Request parameters;
  • SessionSelector: finally, this selector is used as the Parameter selector to match against an arbitrary session attribute;
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