Saturday, October 18, 2008


For them of you which do not know what XPath is; it is a very powerful query language for XML data. But it can also more than querying data; it can also compute values, find the max or min of an attribute and even produce a different output format. For example it is possible to write HTML code with XML data. C# provides different classes to execute XPath queries on XML files which are located in the "System.Xml.Xpath" namespace.
The problem, at least for me, is that I do not use XPath so often as that I always remember the sometimes tricky XPath-Syntax. Here I found it very helpful to have a graphical tool where I can type in my query and see the results of the query. I found such a tool which is freeware; Sketch Path. It is a very powerful tool which not only shows you the result of a query but also assists you when writing a query by providing common operations and selectors.

I can only encourage you to try XPath when working with XML data because it really makes it easier to get the data you want. Especially if you use XML files instead of a database. XPath can be seen as the SQL for XML files.

Here there is a screenshot of Sketch Path where I searched in a list of customers for all customers which are older than 50. The query is quite simple:

Another nice thing which is very helpful is that if you select a node then it shows you the path to this node which can help you creating your query:

Here you can find a tutorial on XPath Syntax.

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