Zé Carlos Zé Carlos - 6 months ago 78
C# Question

Deserialize Xml with empty elements

Consider the following XML:

<a>
<b>2</b>
<c></c>
</a>


I need to deserialize this xml to an object. So, i wrote the following class.

public class A
{
[XmlElement("b", Namespace = "")]
public int? B { get; set; }

[XmlElement("c", Namespace = "")]
public int? C { get; set; }

}


Since i'm using nullables, i was expecting that, when deserialing the above xml, i would get an object A with a null C property.

Instead of this, i get an exception telling the document has an error.

Answer Source

There's a difference between a missing element and a null element.

A missing element, <a><b>2</b></a>. Here C would take whatever default value you specify, using the DefaultValue attribute, or null if there's no explicit default.

A null element <a><b>2</b><c xs:Nil='true'/></a>. Here you will get null.

When you do <a><b>2</b><c></c><a/> the xml serializer will try to parse string.Empty as an integer an will correctly fail.

Since your provider is generating invalid xml you will need to do this, if using the XmlSerializer:

[XmlRoot(ElementName = "a")]
public class A
{
    [XmlElement(ElementName = "b")]
    public int? B { get; set; }

    [XmlElement(ElementName = "c")]
    public string _c { get; set; }

    public int? C
    {
        get
        {
            int retval;

            return !string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(_c) && int.TryParse(_c, out retval) ? (int?) retval : null;
        }
    }
}

or slightly better using the DataContractSerializer

[DataContract(Name="a")]
public class A1
{
    [DataMember(Name = "b")]
    public int? B { get; set; }

    [DataMember(Name = "c")]
    private string _c { get; set; }

    public int? C
    {
        get
        {
            int retval;

            return !string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(_c) && int.TryParse(_c, out retval) ? (int?)retval : null;
        }
    }
}

although the DataContractSerializer doesn't support attributes if that's a problem.