DataTable.Merge Method (DataTable, Boolean)


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Merge the specified DataTable with the current DataTable, indicating whether to preserve changes in the current DataTable.

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

public void Merge(
	DataTable table,
	bool preserveChanges


Type: System.Data.DataTable

The DataTable to be merged with the current DataTable.

Type: System.Boolean

true, to preserve changes in the current DataTable; otherwise false.

The Merge method is used to merge two DataTable 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 DataTable. This allows the client application to have a refreshed DataTable with the latest data from the data source.

The merge operation takes into account only the original table, and the table to be merged. Child tables are not affected or included. If a table has one or more child tables, defined as part of a relationship, each child table must be merged individually.

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 DataTable.

When performing a merge, changes made to the existing data before the merge are preserved during the merge operation unless the developer specifies false for the preserveChanges parameter. If the preserveChanges parameter is set to true, incoming values do not overwrite existing values in the Current row version of the existing row. If the preserveChanges parameter is set to false, incoming values do overwrite the existing values in the Current row version of the existing row. For more information about row versions, see Row States and Row Versions.

In a client application, it is usual 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 DataTable optimized for validating and merging. This second DataTable object contains only the DataTable and DataRow objects that were changed, resulting in a subset of the original DataTable. This subset is generally smaller, and thus this subset is 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 DataTable 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 DataTable can be merged back into the client application's original DataTable with the M:System.Data.DataTable.Merge method.

When merging a new source DataTable 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.

The following console application creates a DataTable containing rows, modifies some of the data in those rows, and attempts to merge data from a different DataTable. The example demonstrates the different behaviors for the preserveChanges parameter.

private static void DemonstrateMergeTable()
    // Demonstrate merging, within and without
    // preserving changes.

    // In this example, take these actions:
    // 1. Create a DataTable (table1) and fill the table with data.
    // 2. Create a copy of table1, and modify its data (modifiedTable).
    // 3. Modify data in table1.
    // 4. Make a copy of table1 (table1Copy).
    // 5. Merge the data from modifiedTable into table1 and table1Copy, 
    //    showing the difference between setting the preserveChanges 
    //    parameter to true and false.

    // Create a new DataTable.
    DataTable table1 = new DataTable("Items");

    // Add two columns to the table:
    DataColumn column = new DataColumn("id", typeof(System.Int32));
    column.AutoIncrement = true;

    column = new DataColumn("item", typeof(System.String));

    // Set primary key column.
    table1.PrimaryKey = new DataColumn[] { table1.Columns[0] };

    // Add some rows.
    DataRow row;
    for (int i = 0; i <= 3; i++)
        row = table1.NewRow();
        row["item"] = "Item " + i;

    // Accept changes.
    PrintValues(table1, "Original values");

    // Using the same schema as the original table, 
    // modify the data for later merge.
    DataTable modifiedTable = table1.Copy();
    foreach (DataRow rowModified in modifiedTable.Rows)
        rowModified["item"] = rowModified["item"].ToString() 
            + " modified";

    // Change row values, and add a new row:
    table1.Rows[0]["item"] = "new Item 0";
    table1.Rows[1]["item"] = "new Item 1";

    row = table1.NewRow();
    row["id"] = 4;
    row["item"] = "Item 4";

    // Get a copy of the modified data:
    DataTable table1Copy = table1.Copy();
    PrintValues(table1, "Modified and new Values");
    PrintValues(modifiedTable, "Data to be merged into table1");

    // Merge new data into the modified data.
    table1.Merge(modifiedTable, true);
    PrintValues(table1, "Merged data (preserve changes)");

    table1Copy.Merge(modifiedTable, false);
    PrintValues(modifiedTable, "Merged data (don't preserve changes)");

private static void PrintValues(DataTable table, string label)
    // Display the values in the supplied DataTable:
    foreach (DataRow row in table.Rows)
        foreach (DataColumn column in table.Columns)
            Console.Write("\t{0}", row[column, DataRowVersion.Current]);

.NET Framework
Available since 2.0
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