C# – How to build XML in C#


How can I generate valid XML in C#?

Best Solution

It depends on the scenario. XmlSerializer is certainly one way and has the advantage of mapping directly to an object model. In .NET 3.5, XDocument, etc. are also very friendly. If the size is very large, then XmlWriter is your friend.

For an XDocument example:

    new XElement("Foo",
        new XAttribute("Bar", "some & value"),
        new XElement("Nested", "data")));

Or the same with XmlDocument:

XmlDocument doc = new XmlDocument();
XmlElement el = (XmlElement)doc.AppendChild(doc.CreateElement("Foo"));
el.SetAttribute("Bar", "some & value");
el.AppendChild(doc.CreateElement("Nested")).InnerText = "data";

If you are writing a large stream of data, then any of the DOM approaches (such as XmlDocument/XDocument, etc.) will quickly take a lot of memory. So if you are writing a 100 MB XML file from CSV, you might consider XmlWriter; this is more primitive (a write-once firehose), but very efficient (imagine a big loop here):

XmlWriter writer = XmlWriter.Create(Console.Out);
writer.WriteAttributeString("Bar", "Some & value");
writer.WriteElementString("Nested", "data");

Finally, via XmlSerializer:

public class Foo
    public string Bar { get; set; }
    public string Nested { get; set; }
Foo foo = new Foo
    Bar = "some & value",
    Nested = "data"
new XmlSerializer(typeof(Foo)).Serialize(Console.Out, foo);

This is a nice model for mapping to classes, etc.; however, it might be overkill if you are doing something simple (or if the desired XML doesn't really have a direct correlation to the object model). Another issue with XmlSerializer is that it doesn't like to serialize immutable types : everything must have a public getter and setter (unless you do it all yourself by implementing IXmlSerializable, in which case you haven't gained much by using XmlSerializer).