How to deal with XML in C#


What is the best way to deal with XML documents, XSD etc in C# 2.0?

Which classes to use etc. What are the best practices of parsing and making XML documents etc.

EDIT: .Net 3.5 suggestions are also welcome.

1/12/2016 10:22:10 AM

Accepted Answer

The primary means of reading and writing in C# 2.0 is done through the XmlDocument class. You can load most of your settings directly into the XmlDocument through the XmlReader it accepts.

Loading XML Directly

XmlDocument document = new XmlDocument();
document.LoadXml("<People><Person Name='Nick' /><Person Name='Joe' /></People>");

Loading XML From a File

XmlDocument document = new XmlDocument();
// Or using an XmlReader/XmlTextReader
XmlReader reader = XmlReader.Create(@"C:\Path\To\xmldoc.xml");

I find the easiest/fastest way to read an XML document is by using XPath.

Reading an XML Document using XPath (Using XmlDocument which allows us to edit)

XmlDocument document = new XmlDocument();
document.LoadXml("<People><Person Name='Nick' /><Person Name='Joe' /></People>");

// Select a single node
XmlNode node = document.SelectSingleNode("/People/Person[@Name = 'Nick']");

// Select a list of nodes
XmlNodeList nodes = document.SelectNodes("/People/Person");

If you need to work with XSD documents to validate an XML document you can use this.

Validating XML Documents against XSD Schemas

XmlReaderSettings settings = new XmlReaderSettings();
settings.ValidateType = ValidationType.Schema;
settings.Schemas.Add("", pathToXsd); // targetNamespace, pathToXsd

XmlReader reader = XmlReader.Create(pathToXml, settings);
XmlDocument document = new XmlDocument();

try {
} catch (XmlSchemaValidationException ex) { Trace.WriteLine(ex.Message); }

Validating XML against XSD at each Node (UPDATE 1)

XmlReaderSettings settings = new XmlReaderSettings();
settings.ValidateType = ValidationType.Schema;
settings.Schemas.Add("", pathToXsd); // targetNamespace, pathToXsd
settings.ValidationEventHandler += new ValidationEventHandler(settings_ValidationEventHandler);

XmlReader reader = XmlReader.Create(pathToXml, settings);
while (reader.Read()) { }

private void settings_ValidationEventHandler(object sender, ValidationEventArgs args)
    // e.Message, e.Severity (warning, error), e.Error
    // or you can access the reader if you have access to it
    // reader.LineNumber, reader.LinePosition.. etc

Writing an XML Document (manually)

XmlWriter writer = XmlWriter.Create(pathToOutput);

writer.WriteAttributeString("Name", "Nick");





In .NET 3.5, you use XDocument to perform similar tasks. The difference however is you have the advantage of performing Linq Queries to select the exact data you need. With the addition of object initializers you can create a query that even returns objects of your own definition right in the query itself.

    XDocument doc = XDocument.Load(pathToXml);
    List<Person> people = (from xnode in doc.Element("People").Elements("Person")
                       select new Person
                           Name = xnode.Attribute("Name").Value


A nice way in .NET 3.5 is to use XDocument to create XML is below. This makes the code appear in a similar pattern to the desired output.

XDocument doc =
        new XDocument(
              new XDeclaration("1.0", Encoding.UTF8.HeaderName, String.Empty),
              new XComment("Xml Document"),
              new XElement("catalog",
                    new XElement("book", new XAttribute("id", "bk001"),
                          new XElement("title", "Book Title")


<!--Xml Document-->
  <book id="bk001">
    <title>Book Title</title>

All else fails, you can check out this MSDN article that has many examples that I've discussed here and more.

12/15/2014 12:10:30 PM

Exper Answer

It depends on the size; for small to mid size xml, a DOM such as XmlDocument (any C#/.NET versions) or XDocument (.NET 3.5/C# 3.0) is the obvious winner. For using xsd, You can load xml using an XmlReader, and an XmlReader accepts (to Create) an XmlReaderSettings. The XmlReaderSettings objects has a Schemas property that can be used to perform xsd (or dtd) validation.

For writing xml, the same things apply, noting that it is a little easier to lay out content with LINQ-to-XML (XDocument) than the older XmlDocument.

However, for huge xml, a DOM may chomp too much memory, in which case you might need to use XmlReader/XmlWriter directly.

Finally, for manipulating xml you may wish to use XslCompiledTransform (an xslt layer).

The alternative to working with xml is to work with an object model; you can use xsd.exe to create classes that represent an xsd-compliant model, and simply load the xml as objects, manipulate it with OO, and then serialize those objects again; you do this with XmlSerializer.

10/21/2008 5:48:22 AM

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