DataSet.Merge Method (DataTable, Boolean, MissingSchemaAction)

Merges a specified DataTable and its schema into the current DataSet, preserving or discarding changes in the DataSet and handling an incompatible schema according to the given arguments.

Namespace: System.Data
Assembly: System.Data (in

public void Merge (
	DataTable table,
	bool preserveChanges,
	MissingSchemaAction missingSchemaAction
public void Merge (
	DataTable table, 
	boolean preserveChanges, 
	MissingSchemaAction missingSchemaAction
public function Merge (
	table : DataTable, 
	preserveChanges : boolean, 
	missingSchemaAction : MissingSchemaAction
Not applicable.



The DataTable whose data and schema will be merged.


One of the MissingSchemaAction values.


true to preserve changes in the DataSet; otherwise false.

Exception typeCondition


The dataSet is a null reference (Nothing in Visual Basic).

The Merge method is used to merge two DataSet objects that have largely similar schemas. A merge is typically used on a client application to incorporate the latest changes from a data source into an existing DataSet. This allows the client application to have a refreshed DataSet with the latest data from the data source.

The Merge method is typically called at the end of a series of procedures that involve validating changes, reconciling errors, updating the data source with the changes, and finally refreshing the existing DataSet.

iOn a client application, it is common to have a single button that the user can click that gathers the changed data and validates it before sending it back to a middle-tier component. In this scenario, the GetChanges method is first invoked. That method returns a second DataSet optimized for validating and merging. This second DataSet object contains only the DataTable and DataRow objects that were changed, resulting in a subset of the original DataSet. This subset is generally smaller, and thus more efficiently passed back to a middle-tier component. The middle-tier component then updates the original data source with the changes through stored procedures. The middle tier can then send back either a new DataSet that includes original data and the latest data from the data source (by running the original query again), or it can send back the subset with any changes that have been made to it from the data source. (For example, if the data source automatically creates unique primary key values, these values can be propagated back to the client application.) In either case, the returned DataSet can be merged back into the client application's original DataSet with the Merge method.

When the Merge method is called, the schemas of the two DataSet objects are compared because it is possible that the schemas may have been changed. For example, in a business-to-business scenario, new columns may have been added to an XML schema by an automated process. If the source DataSet contains schema elements (added DataColumn objects) that are missing in the target, the schema elements can be added to the target by setting the missingSchemaAction argument to MissingSchemaAction.Add. In that case, the merged DataSet contains the added schema and data.

After merging schemas, the data is merged.

When merging a new source DataSet into the target, any source rows with a DataRowState value of Unchanged, Modified, or Deleted are matched to target rows with the same primary key values. Source rows with a DataRowState value of Added are matched to new target rows with the same primary key values as the new source rows.

During a merge, constraints are disabled. If any constraints cannot be enabled at the end of merge, a ConstraintException is generated and the merged data is retained while the constraints are disabled. In this case, the EnforceConstraints property is set to false, and all rows that are invalid are marked in error. The errors must be resolved before attempting to reset the EnforceConstraints property to true.

The following example creates a simple DataSet with one table, two columns, and ten rows. A second DataTable is created that is nearly identical to the first except that a new DataColumn is added to the table. Two rows are added to the second table, which is then merged into the DataSet with the preserveChanges argument set to false, and the missingSchemaAction argument set to MissingSchemaAction.Add.

private void DemonstrateMergeTableAddSchema()
    // Create a DataSet with one table, two columns, and ten rows.
    DataSet dataSet = new DataSet("dataSet");
    DataTable table = new DataTable("Items");

    // Add table to the DataSet

    // Create and add two columns to the DataTable
    DataColumn idColumn = new DataColumn("id", 
    DataColumn itemColumn = new DataColumn("Item", 

    // Set the primary key to the first column.
    table.PrimaryKey = new DataColumn[1]{ idColumn };

    // Add RowChanged event handler for the table.
    table.RowChanged+= new DataRowChangeEventHandler(Row_Changed);

    // Add ten rows.
    for(int i = 0; i <10;i++)
        DataRow row=table.NewRow();
        row["Item"]= i;

    // Accept changes.
    PrintValues(dataSet, "Original values");

    // Create a second DataTable identical to the first, with
    // one extra column using the Clone method.
    DataTable cloneTable = table.Clone();
    cloneTable.Columns.Add("extra", typeof(string));

    // Add two rows. Note that the id column can'table be the 
    // same as existing rows in the DataSet table.
    DataRow newRow;
    newRow["id"]= 12;
    newRow["extra"]= "extra Column 1";
    newRow["id"]= 13;
    newRow["extra"]= "extra Column 2";

    // Merge the table into the DataSet.
    PrintValues(dataSet, "Merged With Table, Schema Added");
private void Row_Changed(object sender, 
    DataRowChangeEventArgs e)
    Console.WriteLine("Row Changed " + e.Action.ToString() 
        + "\table" + e.Row.ItemArray[0]);
private void PrintValues(DataSet dataSet, string label)
    Console.WriteLine("\n" + label);
    foreach(DataTable table in dataSet.Tables)
        Console.WriteLine("TableName: " + table.TableName);
        foreach(DataRow row in table.Rows)
            foreach(DataColumn column in table.Columns)
                Console.Write("\table " + row[column] );

Windows 98, Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows CE, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Starter Edition

The Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 is supported on Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP SP2, and Windows Server 2003 SP1.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 2.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: 1.0