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Used to declare a variable and give it a value. If it appears at the top level (immediately within xsl:stylesheet) it declares a global variable, otherwise it declares a local variable that is visible only within the stylesheet element containing the xsl:variable declaration. The value of a variable can be referenced within an expression using the syntax $name.

Available in XSLT 1.0 and later versions. Available in all Saxon editions.


Defines the name of the variable.
The value of the variable may be defined either by an expression within the optional select attribute, or by the contents of the xsl:variable element. In the latter case the result is a temporary tree. A temporary tree can be used like a source document, for example it can be accessed using path expressions and processed using template rules.
Defines the required type of the variable. The supplied value of the variable will be converted to this type if required.
The value yes may be specified only for global variables (not local variables), and indicates that the variable is a static variable (that is, its value is known during static analysis of the stylesheet). The default is no.
"public" | "private" | "final" | "abstract"
New in XSLT 3.0. Allowed only for global variables (not local variables). Determines the potential visibility of the component corresponding to this variable; the default is private.
Allows additional type information to be supplied using Saxon extension syntax.
May be set on global variables. Setting the value to yes ensures that the variable is actually evaluated, which is useful if the select expression calls extension functions with side-effects; without this, a variable that is never referenced may never be evaluated.

Notes on the Saxon implementation

In standard XSLT, variables once declared cannot be updated. Saxon however provides a saxon:assign extension element to circumvent this restriction. The extension attribute saxon:assignable must be set to yes on the xsl:variable in order to use this feature.


<xsl:variable name="title">A really exciting document</xsl:variable>
<xsl:variable name="backcolor" expr="'#FFFFCC'" />
<xsl:template match="/*">
    <HTML><TITLE><xsl:value-of select="$title"/></TITLE>
    <BODY BGCOLOR='{$backcolor}'>
        <!-- ... -->

See also