Reading XML Files Sequentially - Page 1
       by kirupa  |  18 January 2007

XML, or Extensible Markup Language, is a very popular format used to store and share data. In a nutshell, XML stores information in a tree-based text format that allows both you and I as well as computers to easily read the data. I'm sure you have used XML-like languages directly or indirectly, to borrow two popular examples, if you have ever used RSS feeds or have written XHTML pages.

In this tutorial, I will explain how to read data from an XML file in C#. The .NET Framework provides built-in functionality for reading and writing XML, but knowing how to use those classes can be important. Before diving into the code, I want to provide a brief overview of XML and cover some terminology because it will help you to better understand why the code does something of the things it does.

The following image shows how a simple XML file looks like:

There are some basic things to notice about the structure of the XML file. The text menu, parent, child, title, and link are known as elements, and each element consists of a start tag <foo> and a end tag </foo>. Notice that the elements are designated with brackets < and >, and the end tag also starts off with the backslash / character.

Elements can be nested, and the nested content can either be attributes or other elements. With that said, let's revisit the above image and look at two examples of nested content. First, let's look at an example of nested elements:

The title and link elements are nested inside the child element, and the child element itself is nested under the parent and menu elements. How is that for nesting?

Our example file also contains an example of another type of nested content - attributes. Take a look at the the parent element:

Notice that the parent element contains the title attribute title with the value kirupaPicks. There are really the two big XML details that you need to know. In the next page, I will present some C# code and explain how it works to help your computer to read XML data.

Onwards to the next page!

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