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JavaTM XML Digital Signature API Specification (JSR 105)

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This document describes the JavaTM XML Digital Signature API Specification (JSR 105). The purpose of this JSR is to define a standard JavaTM API for generating and validating XML signatures.

When this specification is final, there will be a Reference Implementation which will demonstrate the capabilities of this API and will provide an operational definition of this specification. A Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) will also be available that will verify whether an implementation of the specification is compliant. These are required as per the Java Community Process SM 2.1.

The JSR 105 API is intended to target the following two types of users:


The JSR 105 Expert Group: Also, special thanks to: Valerie Peng, Vincent Ryan, Sharon Liu, Chok Poh, K. Venugopal Rao., Paul Rank, Alexey Gavrilov, Bill Situ, Eric Jendrock, Andrew Fan, Manveen Kaur, Tom Amiro, Michael Mi, Dmitri Silaev, Roman Makarchuk, Vanitha Venkatraman, Arkadiy Sutchilin, and Scott Fordin from Sun Microsystems, Vishal Mahajan from Apache, and Martin Centner from IAIK.


The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.
  1. W3C Recommendation, XML-Signature Syntax and Processing.
  2. An implementation SHOULD support the W3C Recommendation, XML-Signature XPath Filter Transform 2.0.
  3. An implementation SHOULD support the W3C Recommendation, Exclusive XML Canonicalization Version 1.0.
  4. DOM-independent API. The API MUST NOT have dependencies on a specific XML representation, such as DOM. It MUST be possible to create implementations of the API for different XML processing and mechanism representations, such as DOM, JDOM or dom4j.
  5. Extensible, provider-based API. It MUST be possible for a third-party to create and plug in an implementation responsible for managing and creating cryptographic and transform algorithms, dereferencing URIs, and marshalling objects to/from XML.
  6. Support for a default XML mechanism type: DOM. An implementation MUST minimally support the default mechanism type: DOM. This ensures that all implementations of JSR 105 are guaranteed a minimal level of functionality. Implementations MAY support other mechanism types.
  7. Interoperability for the default XML mechanism type: DOM. The API SHOULD ensure that applications using a DOM implementation are portable and interoperable.
  8. J2SE requirements. Implementations of this technology MAY support J2SE 1.2 or later but MUST at a minimum support version 1.4 or later of J2SE.

API Dependencies


  1. Support for non-DOM implementations. While the API SHOULD allow non-DOM implementations to be created, it is beyond the scope of the first version to ensure interoperability between implementations other than DOM. Additional standard service provider types MAY be added in the future and necessary API enhancements MAY be considered for a maintenance revision of JSR 105.
  2. Support for a higher-level API. We expect that programmers MAY design high-level APIs which will be built on the JSR 105 API to hide low-level details, address common use-cases or apply profiling constraints. However, it is beyond the scope of the first version to support these requirements. A high-level API MAY be considered for a maintenance release of JSR 105.
  3. Support for user-pluggable algorithms (other than transform and canonicalization algorithms which is supported by the javax.xml.crypto.dsig.TransformService class): Allowing developers to plug in their own implementations of XML Signature algorithms without requiring them to create a complete JSR 105 implementation seems like a worthy goal but SHALL NOT be REQUIRED for this release of JSR 105. A solution we are investigating for a subsequent release of Java SE is to enhance the underlying JCA/JCE to add better support for registering, parsing and processing XML security algorithms, parameters, and key information.

Package Overview

The JSR 105 API consists of 6 packages: The javax.xml.crypto package contains common classes that are used to perform XML cryptographic operations, such as generating an XML signature or encrypting XML data. Two notable classes in this package are the KeySelector class, the purpose of which is to allow developers to supply implementations which locate and optionally validate keys using the information contained in a KeyInfo object, and the URIDereferencer class which allows developers to create and specify their own URI dereferencing implementations.

The javax.xml.crypto.dsig package includes interfaces that represent the core elements defined in the W3C XML digital signature specification. Of primary significance is the XMLSignature class, which allows you to sign and validate an XML digital signature. Most of the XML signature structures or elements are represented by a corresponding interface (except for the KeyInfo structures, which are included in their own package, and discussed in the next paragraph). These interfaces include: SignedInfo, CanonicalizationMethod, SignatureMethod, Reference, Transform, DigestMethod, XMLObject, Manifest, SignatureProperty, and SignatureProperties. The XMLSignatureFactory class is an abstract factory that is used to create objects that implement these interfaces.

The javax.xml.crypto.dsig.keyinfo package contains interfaces that represent most of the KeyInfo structures defined in the W3C XML digital signature recommendation, including KeyInfo, KeyName, KeyValue, X509Data, X509IssuerSerial, RetrievalMethod, and PGPData. The KeyInfoFactory class is an abstract factory that is used to create objects that implement these interfaces.

The javax.xml.crypto.dsig.spec package contains interfaces and classes representing input parameters for the digest, signature, transform, or canonicalization algorithms used in the processing of XML signatures.

Finally, the javax.xml.crypto.dom and javax.xml.crypto.dsig.dom packages contains DOM-specific classes for the javax.xml.crypto and javax.xml.crypto.dsig packages, respectively. Only developers and users who are creating or using a DOM-based XMLSignatureFactory or KeyInfoFactory implementation should need to make direct use of these packages.

Service Providers

A JSR 105 cryptographic service is a concrete implementation of the abstract XMLSignatureFactory and KeyInfoFactory classes and is responsible for creating objects and algorithms that parse, generate and validate XML Signatures and KeyInfo structures. A concrete implementation of XMLSignatureFactory MUST provide support for each of the REQUIRED algorithms as specified by the W3C recommendation for XML Signatures. It MAY support other algorithms as defined by the W3C recommendation or other specifications.

JSR 105 leverages the JCA provider model for registering and loading XMLSignatureFactory and KeyInfoFactory implementations.

Each concrete XMLSignatureFactory or KeyInfoFactory implementation supports a specific XML mechanism type that identifies the XML processing mechanism that an implementation uses internally to parse and generate XML signature and KeyInfo structures. This JSR supports one standard type: DOM. Support for new standard types (such as JDOM) MAY be added in the future.

A JSR 105 implementation SHOULD use underlying JCA engine classes, such as and to perform cryptographic operations.

In addition to the XMLSignatureFactory and KeyInfoFactory classes, JSR 105 supports a service provider interface for transform and canonicalization algorithms. The TransformService class allows you to develop and plug in an implementation of a specific transform or canonicalization algorithm for a particular XML mechanism type. The TransformService class uses the standard JCA provider model for registering and loading implementations. Each JSR 105 implementation SHOULD use the TransformService class to find a provider that supports transform and canonicalization algorithms in XML Signatures that it is generating or validating.

DOM Mechanism Requirements

The following requirements MUST be abided by when implementing a DOM-based XMLSignatureFactory, KeyInfoFactory or TransformService in order to minimize interoperability problems:
  1. The unmarshalXMLSignature method of XMLSignatureFactory MUST support DOMValidateContext types. If the type is DOMValidateContext, it SHOULD contain an Element of type Signature. Additionally, the unmarshalXMLSignature method MAY populate the Id/Element mappings of the passed-in DOMValidateContext.
  2. The sign method of XMLSignatures produced by XMLSignatureFactory MUST support DOMSignContext types and the validate method MUST support DOMValidateContext types. This requirement also applies to the validate method of SignatureValue and the validate method of Reference.
  3. The implementation MUST support DOMStructures as the mechanism for the application to specify extensible content (any elements or mixed content).
  4. If the dereference method of user-specified URIDereferencers returns NodeSetData objects, the iterator method MUST return an iteration over objects of type org.w3c.dom.Node.
  5. URIReference objects passed to the dereference method of user-specified URIDereferencers MUST be of type DOMURIReference and XMLCryptoContext objects MUST implement DOMCryptoContext.
  6. The previous 2 requirements also apply to URIDereferencers returned by the getURIDereferencer method of XMLSignatureFactory and KeyInfoFactory.
  7. The unmarshalKeyInfo method of KeyInfoFactory MUST support DOMStructure types. If the type is DOMStructure, it SHOULD contain an Element of type KeyInfo.
  8. The transform method of Transform MUST support DOMCryptoContext context parameter types.
  9. The newtransform and newCanonicalizationMethod methods of XMLSignatureFactory MUST support DOMStructure parameter types.
  10. The init, and marshalParams methods of TransformService MUST support DOMStructure and DOMCryptoContext types.
  11. The unmarshalXMLSignature method of XMLSignatureFactory MUST support DOMStructure types. If the type is DOMStructure, it SHOULD contain an Element of type Signature.
  12. The marshal method of KeyInfo MUST support DOMStructure and DOMCryptoContext parameter types.
Note that a DOM implementation MAY internally use other XML parsing APIs other than DOM as long as it doesn't affect interoperability. For example, a DOM implementation of XMLSignatureFactory might use a SAX parser internally to canonicalize data.

Open API Issues

The following is a list of open API issues.
  1. ID attribute registration of external XML document references is not supported.
    Consider the following reference:
      <Reference URI="document.xml">
          <Transform Algorithm="">
    Dereferencing the external document results in an octet stream which is subsequently converted to a NodeSet by the JSR 105 implementation. But the API does not provide a mechanism for registering ID attributes of external documents and therefore the XPath Transform implementation may be unable to identify the "foo" ID.

Programming Examples

Examples 1-3 below demonstrate how to generate different types of simple XML Digital Signature using the JSR 105 API. Example 1 describes how to generate a detached signature using the DSA signature algorithm. Example 2 describes how to generate an enveloped signature. Example 3 decribes how to generate an enveloping signature. Example 4 describes how to validate an XML Signature.
  1. Generating a detached XML Digital Signature
  2. Generating an enveloped XML Digital Signature
  3. Generating an enveloping XML Digital Signature
  4. Validating an XML Digital Signature

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