StampedeXV StampedeXV - 1 year ago 144
C# Question

Using StringWriter for XML Serialization

I'm currently searching for an easy way to serialize objects (in C# 3).

I googled some examples and came up with something like:

MemoryStream memoryStream = new MemoryStream ( );
XmlSerializer xs = new XmlSerializer ( typeof ( MyObject) );
XmlTextWriter xmlTextWriter = new XmlTextWriter ( memoryStream, Encoding.UTF8 );
xs.Serialize ( xmlTextWriter, myObject);
string result = Encoding.UTF8.GetString(memoryStream .ToArray());

After reading this question I asked myself, why not using StringWriter? It seems much easier.

XmlSerializer ser = new XmlSerializer(typeof(MyObject));
StringWriter writer = new StringWriter();
ser.Serialize(writer, myObject);
serializedValue = writer.ToString();

Another Problem was, that the first example generated XML I could not just write into an XML column of SQL Server 2005 DB.

The first question is: Is there a reason why I shouldn't use StringWriter to serialize an Object when I need it as a string afterwards? I never found a result using StringWriter when googling.

The second is, of course: If you should not do it with StringWriter (for whatever reasons), which would be a good and correct way?


As it was already mentioned by both answers, I'll further go into the XML to DB problem.

When writing to the Database I got the following exception:

XML parsing: line 1, character 38,
unable to switch the encoding

For string

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><test/>

I took the string created from the XmlTextWriter and just put as xml there. This one did not work (neither with manual insertion into the DB).

Afterwards I tried manual insertion (just writing INSERT INTO ... ) with encoding="utf-16" which also failed.
Removing the encoding totally worked then. After that result I switched back to the StringWriter code and viola - it worked.

Problem: I don't really understand why.

at Christian Hayter: With those tests I'm not sure that I have to use utf-16 to write to the DB. Wouldn't setting the encoding to UTF-16 (in the xml tag) work then?

Answer Source

When serialising an XML document to a .NET string, the encoding must be set to UTF-16. Strings are stored as UTF-16 internally, so this is the only encoding that makes sense. If you want to store data in a different encoding, you use a byte array instead.

SQL Server works on a similar principle; any string passed into an xml column must be encoded as UTF-16. SQL Server will reject any string where the XML declaration does not specify UTF-16. If the XML declaration is not present, then the XML standard requires that it default to UTF-8, so SQL Server will reject that as well.

Bearing this in mind, here are some utility methods for doing the conversion.

public static string Serialize<T>(T value) {

    if(value == null) {
        return null;

    XmlSerializer serializer = new XmlSerializer(typeof(T));

    XmlWriterSettings settings = new XmlWriterSettings();
    settings.Encoding = new UnicodeEncoding(false, false); // no BOM in a .NET string
    settings.Indent = false;
    settings.OmitXmlDeclaration = false;

    using(StringWriter textWriter = new StringWriter()) {
        using(XmlWriter xmlWriter = XmlWriter.Create(textWriter, settings)) {
            serializer.Serialize(xmlWriter, value);
        return textWriter.ToString();

public static T Deserialize<T>(string xml) {

    if(string.IsNullOrEmpty(xml)) {
        return default(T);

    XmlSerializer serializer = new XmlSerializer(typeof(T));

    XmlReaderSettings settings = new XmlReaderSettings();
    // No settings need modifying here

    using(StringReader textReader = new StringReader(xml)) {
        using(XmlReader xmlReader = XmlReader.Create(textReader, settings)) {
            return (T) serializer.Deserialize(xmlReader);
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