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Choice Element Binding Support 

The .NET Framework provides binding support for the <choice> element.

If individual choice elements' types differ along with their names, Xsd.exe applies only XmlElementAttribute attributes to a public member. If they differ only by name, Xsd.exe applies an XmlChoiceIdentifierAttribute in addition, and adds extra logic for making the choice.

The <choice> element contains two or more child elements, each representing an element or group of elements. It indicates that, in a given instance document, only one of those entities can appear in the specified position. The choices must differ by element name. They can also differ by element type and, if the choice is a grouping (such as a <group> element), number of elements

Ambiguous combinations of groups produce unpredictable results.

The simplest case arises when the individual elements' types differ along with their names. Consider the following <choice> definition:

<xsd:choice>
    <xsd:element name="numberA" type="xsd:int"/>
    <xsd:element name="numberB" type="xsd:decimal"/>
</xsd:choice>

In C#, Xsd.exe would translate this XML Schema content into the following code:

[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("numberA", typeof(int))]
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("numberB", typeof(System.Decimal))]
public object Item;

In the generated code, the field is given the object type, but it also carries two XmlElementAttribute attributes. One attribute says to serialize the type as an int instance; the other says to serialize the type as a System.Decimal instance. In this case, the XmlSerializer class uses the type assigned to the object at the time. With the following assignment to an int object, the <numberA> element is used:

Item = 1;

Whenever the choices have different XML Schema data types, Xsd.exe binds each data type to a different class. Since System.Object is the root type of the .NET Framework type hierarchy, the generated field always belongs to a common base type. The Object class is the most generic common base type.

When the choices are all derived from a common XML Schema–defined data type, such as through the <extension> construct, the field type is a binding of that data type. For example, suppose a <choice> element offers a choice between element <a> of DerivedTypeA and element <b> of DerivedTypeB, and suppose that both types extend the type BaseType. In C#, the following source is produced:

[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("a", typeof(DerivedTypeA))]
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("b", typeof(DerivedTypeB))]
public BaseType Item;

If the choice types do not differ, the choice of element name at instance document creation is made by using the XmlChoiceIdentifierAttribute attribute. Consider the following <choice> definition:

<xsd:choice>
    <xsd:element name="stringA" type="xsd:string"/>
    <xsd:element name="stringB" type="xsd:string"/>
</xsd:choice>

Xsd.exe would translate this XML Schema content into the following code:

[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("stringA", typeof(string))]
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("stringB", typeof(string))]
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlChoiceIdentifierAttribute("ItemElementName")]
public string Item;

[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlIgnoreAttribute()]
public ItemChoiceType ItemElementName;
...
public enum ItemChoiceType {
        
    stringA,
        
    stringB,
}

The Item field has an XmlChoiceIdentifier attribute, in addition to the two XmlElement attributes. The parameter to the XmlChoiceIdentifier attribute is the name of an enumeration instance. The corresponding enumeration type contains the element choices. The enumeration instance appears with an XmlIgnore attribute so that its value cannot be serialized.

The developer must then write code to assign a value to the enumeration instance. The following line does that for an object named i:

i.ItemElementName = ItemChoiceType.stringA;

For more details, see the XmlChoiceIdentifierAttribute class.

Example

The following input XML Schema document demonstrates various uses of the <choice>grouping:

<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" 
            targetNamespace="http://example.org/" xmlns="http://example.org/" elementFormDefault="qualified">
    <xsd:element name="choicesInstance" type="MyChoicesType"/>

    <xsd:complexType name="MyComplexType">
        <xsd:sequence>
            <xsd:element name="field1" type="xsd:string"/>
            <xsd:element name="field2" type="xsd:string"/>
        </xsd:sequence>
    </xsd:complexType>

    <xsd:complexType name="DerivedTypeA">
        <xsd:complexContent>
            <xsd:extension base="MyComplexType">
                 <xsd:attribute name="extraInfoForA" type="xsd:string"/>
            </xsd:extension>
        </xsd:complexContent>
    </xsd:complexType>

    <xsd:complexType name="DerivedTypeB">
        <xsd:complexContent>
            <xsd:extension base="MyComplexType">
                 <xsd:attribute name="extraInfoForB" type="xsd:string"/>
            </xsd:extension>
        </xsd:complexContent>
    </xsd:complexType>

    <xsd:complexType name="MyChoicesType">
        <xsd:sequence>
            <xsd:element name="name" type="xsd:string"/>
            <xsd:choice>
                <xsd:element name="stringA" type="xsd:string"/>
                <xsd:element name="stringB" type="xsd:string"/>
            </xsd:choice>
            <xsd:choice>
                <xsd:element name="numberA" type="xsd:int"/>
                <xsd:element name="numberB" type="xsd:decimal"/>
            </xsd:choice>
            <xsd:choice>
                <xsd:element name="complexA" type="MyComplexType"/>
                <xsd:element name="complexB" type="MyComplexType"/>
                <xsd:element name="simpleC"  type="xsd:string"/>
            </xsd:choice>
            <xsd:choice>
                <xsd:element name="derivedA" type="DerivedTypeA"/>
                <xsd:element name="derivedB" type="DerivedTypeB"/>
            </xsd:choice>
        </xsd:sequence>
    </xsd:complexType>
</xsd:schema>

C# classes generated from the preceding XML Schema document:

[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlTypeAttribute(Namespace="http://example.org/")]
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlRootAttribute("choicesInstance", Namespace="http://example.org/", IsNullable=false)]
 public class MyChoicesType {
        
     public string name;
        
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("stringA", typeof(string))]
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("stringB", typeof(string))]
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlChoiceIdentifierAttribute("ItemElementName")]
    public string Item;
        
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlIgnoreAttribute()]
    public ItemChoiceType ItemElementName;
        
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("numberA", typeof(int))]
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("numberB", typeof(System.Decimal))]
    public object Item1;
        
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("complexA", typeof(MyComplexType))]
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("complexB", typeof(MyComplexType))]
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("simpleC", typeof(string))]
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlChoiceIdentifierAttribute("Item2ElementName")]
    public object Item2;
        
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlIgnoreAttribute()]
    public Item2ChoiceType Item2ElementName;
        
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("derivedA", typeof(DerivedTypeA))]
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlElementAttribute("derivedB", typeof(DerivedTypeB))]
    public MyComplexType Item3;
}
    
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlTypeAttribute(Namespace="http://example.org/", IncludeInSchema=false)]
public enum ItemChoiceType {
        
    stringA,
        
    stringB,
}
    
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlTypeAttribute(Namespace="http://example.org/")]
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlIncludeAttribute(typeof(DerivedTypeB))]
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlIncludeAttribute(typeof(DerivedTypeA))]
public class MyComplexType {
        
    public string field1;
        
    public string field2;
}
    
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlTypeAttribute(Namespace="http://example.org/")]
    public class DerivedTypeA : MyComplexType {
        
        [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlAttributeAttribute()]
        public string extraInfoForA;
    }
    
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlTypeAttribute(Namespace="http://example.org/")]
public class DerivedTypeB : MyComplexType {
        
    [System.Xml.Serialization.XmlAttributeAttribute()]
    public string extraInfoForB;
}
    
[System.Xml.Serialization.XmlTypeAttribute(Namespace="http://example.org/", IncludeInSchema=false)]
public enum Item2ChoiceType {
        
    complexA,
        
    complexB,
        
    simpleC,
}

Primary XML Schema document generated from an assembly compiled from the preceding C# source. (Not shown is a second .xsd file that is generated to define arbitrary global elements for complex types.)

<xs:schema xmlns:tns="http://example.org/" elementFormDefault="qualified" targetNamespace="http://example.org/" xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
  <xs:element name="choicesInstance" type="tns:MyChoicesType" />
  <xs:complexType name="MyChoicesType">
    <xs:sequence>
      <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="name" type="xs:string" />
      <xs:choice minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1">
        <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="stringA" type="xs:string" />
        <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="stringB" type="xs:string" />
      </xs:choice>
      <xs:choice minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1">
        <xs:element minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1" name="numberA" type="xs:int" />
        <xs:element minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1" name="numberB" type="xs:decimal" />
      </xs:choice>
      <xs:choice minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1">
        <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="complexA" type="tns:MyComplexType" />
        <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="simpleC" type="xs:string" />
        <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="complexB" type="tns:MyComplexType" />
      </xs:choice>
      <xs:choice minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="1">
        <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="derivedB" type="tns:DerivedTypeB" />
        <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="derivedA" type="tns:DerivedTypeA" />
      </xs:choice>
    </xs:sequence>
  </xs:complexType>
  <xs:complexType name="MyComplexType">
    <xs:sequence>
      <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="field1" type="xs:string" />
      <xs:element minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="1" name="field2" type="xs:string" />
    </xs:sequence>
  </xs:complexType>
  <xs:complexType name="DerivedTypeA">
    <xs:complexContent mixed="false">
      <xs:extension base="tns:MyComplexType">
        <xs:attribute name="extraInfoForA" type="xs:string" />
      </xs:extension>
    </xs:complexContent>
  </xs:complexType>
  <xs:complexType name="DerivedTypeB">
    <xs:complexContent mixed="false">
      <xs:extension base="tns:MyComplexType">
        <xs:attribute name="extraInfoForB" type="xs:string" />
      </xs:extension>
    </xs:complexContent>
  </xs:complexType>
</xs:schema>
Possible Attributes Binding Support

id

The Xsd.exe utility ignores the id attribute, which is intended to provide a unique identifier.

maxOccurs

For the <choice> element, a maxOccurs value of 0 is interpreted by Xsd.exe as 1, and a maxOccurs value greater than 1 is interpreted as unbounded.

For a value of 1, Xsd.exe produces code as explained in Differentiating by Type and Differentiating by Name.

For a value of unbounded, Xsd.exe performs the same binding, except the generated field for the choice is an array of an appropriate type. If all the choices have the same type, the second field (identified by the XmlChoiceIdentifier attribute) is an array of the generated enumeration type. Each element in the second array chooses the element name for the corresponding element in the first array.

See the MaxOccurs Attribute Binding Support attribute.

minOccurs

When generating source code from an XML Schema document, Xsd.exe ignores the minOccurs attribute applied to the <choice> element.

When generating an XML Schema document from classes, Xsd.exe produces a <choice> element with a minOccurs value of 1 if the choice represents a single object, or 0 if the choice represents an array.

See the MinOccurs Attribute Binding Support attribute.

Possible parent elements: <choice>, <complexType>, <extension>, <group>, <restriction>, <sequence>

Possible child elements: <annotation>, <any>, <element>, <group>, <sequence>, <choice>

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