How to read XML from a file by using Visual Basic .NET

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Article ID: 301225 - View products that this article applies to.
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Summary

This article demonstrates how to use the XmlTextReader class to read Extensible Markup Language (XML) from a file. XmlTextReader provides direct parsing and tokenizing of XML and implements the XML 1.0 specification as well as the namespaces in XML specification from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This article provides fast, tokenized stream access to XML rather than using an object model such as the XML Document Object Model (DOM).

Requirements

The following list outlines the recommended hardware, software, network infrastructure, and service packs that you need:
  • Microsoft Visual Studio .NET
This article assumes that you are familiar with the following topics:
  • XML terminology
  • Creating and reading an XML file

How to read XML from a file

This example uses a file named Books.xml. You can create your own Books.xml file. You must copy Books.xml to the \Bin\Debug folder that is located under the folder in which you create this project. Books.xml is also available for download; refer to the References section for the download location.
  1. Open Visual Studio .NET
  2. Create a new Visual Basic .NET Console Application. You can proceed directly to the Complete Code Listing section or continue through these steps to build the application.
  3. Make sure that the project contains a reference to the System.Xml.dll assembly.
  4. Use the Imports statement on the Xml namespace so that you are not required to qualify XmlTextReader declarations later in your code. You must use the Imports statement prior to any other declarations.
    Imports System.Xml
    					
  5. Construct an XmlTextReader class with the XML file. Typically, XmlTextReader is used if you need to access the XML as raw data without the overhead of a DOM; thus, XmlTextReader provides a faster mechanism for reading XML. XmlTextReader has different constructors to specify the location of the XML data. The following code loads XmlTextReader from the Books.xml file. Add the following code to construct XmlTextReader in the Main procedure of Module1:
    Dim reader As XmlTextReader = New XmlTextReader ("books.xml")
    					
  6. Read through the XML. Note that this step shows an outer "while" loop, and the next two steps show how to use that loop and read XML. After it is loaded, XmlTextReader performs sequential reads to move across the XML data and uses the Read method to get the next record. The Read method returns false if there are no more records.
    Do While (reader.Read())
        ' Do some work here on the data.
        Console.WriteLine(reader.Name)
    Loop
    
    ' Reading of the XML file has finished.
    Console.ReadLine() 'Pause
    					
  7. Inspect the nodes. To process the XML data, each record has a node type, which can be determined from the NodeType property. The Name and Value properties return the node name (the element and attribute names) and the node value (the node text) of the current node (or record). The NodeType enumeration determines the node type. The following sample code displays the name of the elements and the document type. Note that this sample ignores element attributes.
    Do While (reader.Read())
    Select Case reader.NodeType
    Case XmlNodeType.Element 'Display beginning of element.
    Console.Write("<" + reader.Name)
    Console.WriteLine(">")
    Case XmlNodeType.Text 'Display the text in each element.
    Console.WriteLine(reader.Value)
    Case XmlNodeType.EndElement 'Display end of element.
    Console.Write("</" + reader.Name)
    Console.WriteLine(">")
    End Select
    Loop
    					
  8. Inspect the attributes. Element node types can include a list of attribute nodes that are associated with them. The MovetoNextAttribute method moves sequentially through each attribute in the element. Use the HasAttributes property to test whether the node has any attributes. The AttributeCount property returns the number of attributes for the current node.
    Do While (reader.Read())
    Select Case reader.NodeType
    Case XmlNodeType.Element 'Display beginning of element.
    Console.Write("<" + reader.Name)
             If reader.HasAttributes Then 'If attributes exist
             	While reader.MoveToNextAttribute() 
    					'Display attribute name and value.
    Console.Write(" {0}='{1}'", reader.Name, reader.Value)
    End While
    End If
    Console.WriteLine(">")
    Case XmlNodeType.Text 'Display the text in each element.
    Console.WriteLine(reader.Value)
    Case XmlNodeType.EndElement 'Display end of element.
    Console.Write("</" + reader.Name)
    Console.WriteLine(">")
    End Select
    Loop
    					
  9. Save and close your project.

Complete code listing

Imports System.Xml
Module Module1

    Sub Main()
        Dim reader As XmlTextReader = New XmlTextReader("books.xml")

        Do While (reader.Read())
            Select Case reader.NodeType
                Case XmlNodeType.Element 'Display beginning of element.
                    Console.Write("<" + reader.Name)
                    If reader.HasAttributes Then 'If attributes exist
                        While reader.MoveToNextAttribute()
                            'Display attribute name and value.
                            Console.Write(" {0}='{1}'", reader.Name, reader.Value)
                        End While
                    End If
                    Console.WriteLine(">")
                Case XmlNodeType.Text 'Display the text in each element.
                    Console.WriteLine(reader.Value)
                Case XmlNodeType.EndElement 'Display end of element.
                    Console.Write("</" + reader.Name)
                    Console.WriteLine(">")
            End Select
        Loop
        Console.ReadLine()

    End Sub

End Module
				

Output

<bookstore>
<book>
<title>
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
</title>
<author>
<first-name>
Benjamin
</first-name>
<last-name>
Franklin
</last-name>
</author>
<price>
8.99
</price>
</book>
<book>
<title>
The Confidence Man
</title>
<author>
<first-name>
Herman
</first-name>
<last-name>
Melville
</last-name>
</author>
<price>
11.99
</price>
</book>
<book>
<title>
The Gorgias
</title>
<author>
<name>
Plato
</name>
</author>
<price>
9.99
</price>
</book>
</bookstore>
				

References

The following file is available for download from the Microsoft Download Center:
Collapse this imageExpand this image
Download
Download Books.xml now
For more information, see the "XML in .NET: .NET Framework XML Classes and C# Offer Simple, Scalable Data Manipulation" article from MSDN Magazine at the following Microsoft Web site:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/01/01/xml/default.aspx
For more information about the XmlReader class, see the following Microsoft .NET Framework Class Library Web site:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.xml.xmlreader(vs.71).aspx
For more information about how to use XmlReader to read XML data, see the following Microsoft .NET Framework Developer's Guide documentation:
http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa720470(VS.71).aspx
 

Properties

Article ID: 301225 - Last Review: October 15, 2012 - Revision: 5.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 2002 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 2003 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
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