FOR XML PATH

Remarks

There are also several other FOR XML modes:

  • FOR XML RAW - Creates one <row> element per row.
  • FOR XML AUTO - Attempts to heuristically autogenerate a hierarchy.
  • FOR XML EXPLICIT - Provides more control over the shape of the XML, but is more cumbersome than FOR XML PATH.

Hello World XML

SELECT 'Hello World' FOR XML PATH('example')
<example>Hello World</example>

Specifying namespaces

SQL Server 2008
WITH XMLNAMESPACES (
    DEFAULT 'http://www.w3.org/2000/svg',
    'http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink' AS xlink
)
SELECT 
    'example.jpg' AS 'image/@xlink:href',
    '50px' AS 'image/@width',
    '50px' AS 'image/@height'
FOR XML PATH('svg')
<svg xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg">
    <image xlink:href="firefox.jpg" width="50px" height="50px"/>
</svg>

Specifying structure using XPath expressions

SELECT
    'XPath example' AS 'head/title',
    'This example demonstrates ' AS 'body/p',
    'https://www.w3.org/TR/xpath/' AS 'body/p/a/@href',
    'XPath expressions' AS 'body/p/a'
FOR XML PATH('html')
<html>
    <head>
        <title>XPath example</title>
    </head>
    <body>
        <p>This example demonstrates <a href="https://www.w3.org/TR/xpath/">XPath expressions</a></p>
    </body>
</html>

In FOR XML PATH, columns without a name become text nodes. NULL or '' therefore become empty text nodes. Note: you can convert a named column to an unnamed one by using AS *

DECLARE @tempTable TABLE (Ref INT, Des NVARCHAR(100), Qty INT)
INSERT INTO @tempTable VALUES (100001, 'Normal', 1), (100002, 'Foobar', 1), (100003, 'Hello World', 2)

SELECT ROW_NUMBER() OVER (ORDER BY Ref) AS '@NUM',
     'REF' AS 'FLD/@NAME', REF AS 'FLD', '',
     'DES' AS 'FLD/@NAME', DES AS 'FLD', '',
     'QTY' AS 'FLD/@NAME', QTY AS 'FLD'
FROM @tempTable 
FOR XML PATH('LIN'), ROOT('row')
<row>
  <LIN NUM="1">
    <FLD NAME="REF">100001</FLD>
    <FLD NAME="DES">Normal</FLD>
    <FLD NAME="QTY">1</FLD>
  </LIN>
  <LIN NUM="2">
    <FLD NAME="REF">100002</FLD>
    <FLD NAME="DES">Foobar</FLD>
    <FLD NAME="QTY">1</FLD>
  </LIN>
  <LIN NUM="3">
    <FLD NAME="REF">100003</FLD>
    <FLD NAME="DES">Hello World</FLD>
    <FLD NAME="QTY">2</FLD>
  </LIN>
</row>

Using (empty) text nodes helps to separate the previously output node from the next one, so that SQL Server knows to start a new element for the next column. Otherwise, it gets confused when the attribute already exists on what it thinks is the "current" element.

For example, without the the empty strings between the element and the attribute in the SELECT statement, SQL Server gives an error:

Attribute-centric column 'FLD/@NAME' must not come after a non-attribute-centric sibling in XML hierarchy in FOR XML PATH.

Also note that this example also wrapped the XML in a root element named row, specified by ROOT('row')

Using FOR XML PATH to concatenate values

The FOR XML PATH can be used for concatenating values into string. The example below concatenates values into a CSV string:

DECLARE @DataSource TABLE
(
    [rowID] TINYINT
   ,[FirstName] NVARCHAR(32)
);

INSERT INTO @DataSource ([rowID], [FirstName])
VALUES (1, 'Alex')
      ,(2, 'Peter')
      ,(3, 'Alexsandyr')
      ,(4, 'George');

SELECT STUFF
(
    (
        SELECT ',' + [FirstName]
        FROM @DataSource
        ORDER BY [rowID] DESC
        FOR XML PATH(''), TYPE
    ).value('.', 'NVARCHAR(MAX)')
    ,1
    ,1
    ,''
);

Few important notes:

  • the ORDER BY clause can be used to order the values in a preferred way
  • if a longer value is used as the concatenation separator, the STUFF function parameter must be changed too;
SELECT STUFF
(
    (
        SELECT '---' + [FirstName]
        FROM @DataSource
        ORDER BY [rowID] DESC
        FOR XML PATH(''), TYPE
    ).value('.', 'NVARCHAR(MAX)')
    ,1
    ,3 -- the "3" could also be represented as: LEN('---') for clarity
    ,''
);
  • as the TYPE option and .value function are used, the concatenation works with NVARCHAR(MAX) string


2016-07-18
2016-07-27
Microsoft SQL Server Pedia
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