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How to: Perform Streaming Transform of Large XML Documents

Sometimes you have to transform large XML files, and write your application so that the memory footprint of the application is predictable. If you try to populate an XML tree with a very large XML file, your memory usage will be proportional to the size of the file (that is, excessive). Therefore, you should use a streaming technique instead.

Streaming techniques are best applied in situations where you need to process the source document only once, and you can process the elements in document order. Certain standard query operators, such as OrderBy, iterate their source, collect all of the data, sort it, and then finally yield the first item in the sequence. Note that if you use a query operator that materializes its source before yielding the first item, you will not retain a small memory footprint for your application.

Even if you use the technique described in How to: Stream XML Fragments with Access to Header Info, if you try to assemble an XML tree that contains the transformed document, memory usage will be too great.

There are two main approaches. One approach is to use the deferred processing characteristics of XStreamingElement. Another approach is to create an XmlWriter, and use the capabilities of LINQ to XML to write elements to an XmlWriter. This topic demonstrates both approaches.

The following example builds on the example in How to: Stream XML Fragments with Access to Header Information.

This example uses the deferred execution capabilities of XStreamingElement to stream the output. This example can transform a very large document while maintaining a small memory footprint.

Note that the custom axis (StreamCustomerItem) is specifically written so that it expects a document that has Customer, Name, and Item elements, and that those elements will be arranged as in the following Source.xml document. A more robust implementation, however, would be prepared to parse an invalid document.

Note Note

The following example uses the yield return construct of C#. Equivalent code is provided in Visual Basic using a class that implements the IEnumerable(Of XElement) interface. For an example of implement IEnumerable(Of T) in Visual Basic, see Walkthrough: Implementing IEnumerable(Of T) in Visual Basic.

The following is the source document, Source.xml:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> 
<Root>
  <Customer>
    <Name>A. Datum Corporation</Name>
    <Item>
      <Key>0001</Key>
    </Item>
    <Item>
      <Key>0002</Key>
    </Item>
    <Item>
      <Key>0003</Key>
    </Item>
    <Item>
      <Key>0004</Key>
    </Item>
  </Customer>
  <Customer>
    <Name>Fabrikam, Inc.</Name>
    <Item>
      <Key>0005</Key>
    </Item>
    <Item>
      <Key>0006</Key>
    </Item>
    <Item>
      <Key>0007</Key>
    </Item>
    <Item>
      <Key>0008</Key>
    </Item>
  </Customer>
  <Customer>
    <Name>Southridge Video</Name>
    <Item>
      <Key>0009</Key>
    </Item>
    <Item>
      <Key>0010</Key>
    </Item>
  </Customer>
</Root>
Module Module1
    Sub Main()
        Dim root = New XStreamingElement("Root",
            From el In New StreamCustomerItem("Source.xml")
            Select <Item>
                       <Customer><%= el.Parent.<Name>.Value %></Customer>
                       <%= el.<Key> %>
                   </Item>
            )
        root.Save("Test.xml")
        Console.WriteLine(My.Computer.FileSystem.ReadAllText("Test.xml"))
    End Sub
End Module



Public Class StreamCustomerItem
    Implements IEnumerable(Of XElement)

    Private _uri As String

    Public Sub New(ByVal uri As String)
        _uri = uri
    End Sub

    Public Function GetEnumerator() As IEnumerator(Of XElement) Implements IEnumerable(Of XElement).GetEnumerator
        Return New StreamCustomerItemEnumerator(_uri)
    End Function

    Public Function GetEnumerator1() As IEnumerator Implements IEnumerable.GetEnumerator
        Return Me.GetEnumerator()
    End Function
End Class

Public Class StreamCustomerItemEnumerator
    Implements IEnumerator(Of XElement)

    Private _current As XElement
    Private _customerName As String
    Private _reader As Xml.XmlReader
    Private _uri As String

    Public Sub New(ByVal uri As String)
        _uri = uri
        _reader = Xml.XmlReader.Create(_uri)
        _reader.MoveToContent()
    End Sub

    Public ReadOnly Property Current As XElement Implements IEnumerator(Of XElement).Current
        Get
            Return _current
        End Get
    End Property

    Public ReadOnly Property Current1 As Object Implements IEnumerator.Current
        Get
            Return Me.Current
        End Get
    End Property

    Public Function MoveNext() As Boolean Implements IEnumerator.MoveNext
        Dim item As XElement
        Dim name As XElement

        ' Parse the file, save header information when encountered, and return the
        ' current Item XElement.

        ' loop through Customer elements
        While _reader.Read()
            If _reader.NodeType = Xml.XmlNodeType.Element Then
                Select Case _reader.Name
                    Case "Customer"
                        ' move to Name element
                        While _reader.Read()

                            If _reader.NodeType = Xml.XmlNodeType.Element AndAlso
                                _reader.Name = "Name" Then

                                name = TryCast(XElement.ReadFrom(_reader), XElement)
                                _customerName = If(name IsNot Nothing, name.Value, "")
                                Exit While
                            End If

                        End While
                    Case "Item"
                        item = TryCast(XElement.ReadFrom(_reader), XElement)
                        Dim tempRoot = <Root>
                                           <Name><%= _customerName %></Name>
                                           <%= item %>
                                       </Root>
                        _current = item
                        Return True
                End Select
            End If
        End While

        Return False
    End Function

    Public Sub Reset() Implements IEnumerator.Reset
        _reader = Xml.XmlReader.Create(_uri)
        _reader.MoveToContent()
    End Sub

#Region "IDisposable Support"
    Private disposedValue As Boolean ' To detect redundant calls

    ' IDisposable
    Protected Overridable Sub Dispose(ByVal disposing As Boolean)
        If Not Me.disposedValue Then
            If disposing Then
                _reader.Close()
            End If
        End If
        Me.disposedValue = True
    End Sub

    Public Sub Dispose() Implements IDisposable.Dispose
        Dispose(True)
        GC.SuppressFinalize(Me)
    End Sub
#End Region

End Class

This code produces the following output:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Root>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0001</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0002</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0003</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0004</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0005</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0006</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0007</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0008</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Southridge Video</Customer>
    <Key>0009</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Southridge Video</Customer>
    <Key>0010</Key>
  </Item>
</Root>

The following example also builds on the example in How to: Stream XML Fragments with Access to Header Information.

This example uses the capability of LINQ to XML to write elements to an XmlWriter. This example can transform a very large document while maintaining a small memory footprint.

Note that the custom axis (StreamCustomerItem) is specifically written so that it expects a document that has Customer, Name, and Item elements, and that those elements will be arranged as in the following Source.xml document. A more robust implementation, however, would either validate the source document with an XSD, or would be prepared to parse an invalid document.

This example uses the same source document, Source.xml, as the previous example in this topic. It also produces exactly the same output.

Using XStreamingElement for streaming the output XML is preferred over writing to an XmlWriter.

NoteNote

The following example uses the yield return construct of C#. Equivalent code is provided in Visual Basic using a class that implements the IEnumerable(Of XElement) interface. For an example of implement IEnumerable(Of T) in Visual Basic, see Walkthrough: Implementing IEnumerable(Of T) in Visual Basic.

Module Module1
    Sub Main()
        Dim srcTree =
            From el In New StreamCustomerItem("Source.xml")
            Select <Item>
                       <Customer><%= el.Parent.<Name>.Value %></Customer>
                       <%= el.<Key> %>
                   </Item>

        Dim xws = New Xml.XmlWriterSettings()
        xws.OmitXmlDeclaration = True
        xws.Indent = True
        Using xw = Xml.XmlWriter.Create("Output.xml", xws)
            xw.WriteStartElement("Root")
            For Each el In srcTree
                el.WriteTo(xw)
            Next
            xw.WriteEndElement()
        End Using

        Dim s = My.Computer.FileSystem.ReadAllText("Output.xml")
        Console.WriteLine(s)
    End Sub
End Module



Public Class StreamCustomerItem
    Implements IEnumerable(Of XElement)

    Private _uri As String

    Public Sub New(ByVal uri As String)
        _uri = uri
    End Sub

    Public Function GetEnumerator() As IEnumerator(Of XElement) Implements IEnumerable(Of XElement).GetEnumerator
        Return New StreamCustomerItemEnumerator(_uri)
    End Function

    Public Function GetEnumerator1() As IEnumerator Implements IEnumerable.GetEnumerator
        Return Me.GetEnumerator()
    End Function
End Class

Public Class StreamCustomerItemEnumerator
    Implements IEnumerator(Of XElement)

    Private _current As XElement
    Private _customerName As String
    Private _reader As Xml.XmlReader
    Private _uri As String

    Public Sub New(ByVal uri As String)
        _uri = uri
        _reader = Xml.XmlReader.Create(_uri)
        _reader.MoveToContent()
    End Sub

    Public ReadOnly Property Current As XElement Implements IEnumerator(Of XElement).Current
        Get
            Return _current
        End Get
    End Property

    Public ReadOnly Property Current1 As Object Implements IEnumerator.Current
        Get
            Return Me.Current
        End Get
    End Property

    Public Function MoveNext() As Boolean Implements IEnumerator.MoveNext
        Dim item As XElement
        Dim name As XElement

        ' Parse the file, save header information when encountered, and return the
        ' current Item XElement.

        ' loop through Customer elements
        While _reader.Read()
            If _reader.NodeType = Xml.XmlNodeType.Element Then
                Select Case _reader.Name
                    Case "Customer"
                        ' move to Name element
                        While _reader.Read()

                            If _reader.NodeType = Xml.XmlNodeType.Element AndAlso
                                _reader.Name = "Name" Then

                                name = TryCast(XElement.ReadFrom(_reader), XElement)
                                _customerName = If(name IsNot Nothing, name.Value, "")
                                Exit While
                            End If

                        End While
                    Case "Item"
                        item = TryCast(XElement.ReadFrom(_reader), XElement)
                        Dim tempRoot = <Root>
                                           <Name><%= _customerName %></Name>
                                           <%= item %>
                                       </Root>
                        _current = item
                        Return True
                End Select
            End If
        End While

        Return False
    End Function

    Public Sub Reset() Implements IEnumerator.Reset
        _reader = Xml.XmlReader.Create(_uri)
        _reader.MoveToContent()
    End Sub

#Region "IDisposable Support"
    Private disposedValue As Boolean ' To detect redundant calls

    ' IDisposable
    Protected Overridable Sub Dispose(ByVal disposing As Boolean)
        If Not Me.disposedValue Then
            If disposing Then
                _reader.Close()
            End If
        End If
        Me.disposedValue = True
    End Sub

    Public Sub Dispose() Implements IDisposable.Dispose
        Dispose(True)
        GC.SuppressFinalize(Me)
    End Sub
#End Region

End Class

This code produces the following output:

<Root>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0001</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0002</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0003</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>A. Datum Corporation</Customer>
    <Key>0004</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0005</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0006</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0007</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Fabrikam, Inc.</Customer>
    <Key>0008</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Southridge Video</Customer>
    <Key>0009</Key>
  </Item>
  <Item>
    <Customer>Southridge Video</Customer>
    <Key>0010</Key>
  </Item>
</Root>
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