Ok. You may laugh. I’ve just today used LINQ for the first time to parse an XML file, and I’m seriously blown away at how easy it was. I’m a little embarrassed, since LINQ has been available since .NET 3.5 was released around November 2007.
If you are like I was, (LINQ-less!!), I’ll give a brief introduction here. LINQ (Language INtegrated Query), is a component that adds native data querying capabilities to .NET languages. It can be used to read, parse and write XML files (and also SQL, which I may cover in a future post). Take a look at the example below to see how easy it is to use this technique to read data from an XML file.
Reading data from an XML file is a very common scenario. I always used .ini file as configuration files for any applications I wrote, but .NET doesn’t provide any built in support for .ini, and hence wants you to use XML.
Consider the following XML file:
In order to read this using LINQ to XML, you need to ensure you have specifed the correct header files:
Now for the easy part, here’s the code to read data from the XML file, and print out the values to the console:
XDocument xmlDoc = XDocument.Load(@"example.xml");
var servers = from server in xmlDoc.Descendants("server")
Name = server.Element("name").Value,
IP = server.Element("ip").Value,
Owner = server.Element("owner").Value,
foreach (var server in servers)
Console.WriteLine("Server Name: " + server.Name);
Console.WriteLine("Server IP: " + server.IP);
Console.WriteLine("Server Owner: " + server.Owner);
Easy huh? The line beginning with ‘var servers=…‘ may look strange to you if you’ve never seen it before, (it did to me). This is an anonymous type declaration. If you’ve never heard of anonymous types in C#, MSDN has some great documentation here.