Roxen (web server)

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Roxen is a free software web server produced by Roxen Internet Software, a company based in Linköping, Sweden and named after the nearby lake Roxen. It is released under the GNU General Public License.

Roxen originally appeared as Spinner in the mid-1990s and was written in a C-like language called uLPC or Pike.

During its heyday Roxen was used by some major players such as RealNetworks[1], Granada Media[2], Xmission[3] and MCI[4].



Roxen was often ahead of its time featuring a web-based GUI administration interface, loadable modules that could be written in several languages including Pike and later Java, dynamic content generation with a comprehensive caching system, replication systems for multi-headed servers, an embedded SQL server for data-heavy server operations (as well as broad support for other databases).

Roxen was built to meet the needs of content creators, so its features and facilities were superb, its performance was good and continually improved until 2001. It failed to get itself taken seriously by a large enough base of mainstream sites.

Roxen's largest obstacle was probably that English was only a second language to the people documenting it. Roxen uses an auto-doc style system that means it is heavily and well documented. But the wording can sometimes take a number of passes to understand.


Much of Roxen's power is in an innocuous feature that was borne in Roxen's early history: a server-side markup/scripting language called RXML (RoXen Macro Language[5]). This language provides much of the richness of a scripting language like Java or Perl but did so in a language meaningful and familiar to content creators. And because it was extensible, many Roxen sites were developed using the MVC pattern.

Roxen modules typically provide their functionality by extending RXML, but the suite provided off-the-shelf was pretty comprehensive:

Notable tags include:

  • <if>[6] for conditional content (as well as tags for else, case, for, etc)
  • <tablify>[7] for automatically transforming data into pretty tables
  • <cache>[8] for controlling the caching of dynamic content to reduce page fetch times/server loading
  • <gbutton>[9] and <gtext>[10] image generation tags
  • <diagram>[11] for converting data into graphical charts/graphs
  • <emit>[12] for generating content based on LDAP, SQL or filesystem queries (its trivial to build your own photo gallery with thumbnails using Roxen)

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