XML IN 20 MINUTES!
This article will quickly dive head first right into XML. I will take an
everyday object and attempt to describe it using XML. Then I will load the
XML file into a XML document object model (DOM). Next, I will demonstrate
how to query the XML document using XPath and perform some minor manipulation of the DOM.
All of this functionality will be preformed using a simple Visual basic application and
the Microsoft parser
version 3.0. The final objective of this article will be to produce an
ActiveX control which will query the pubs SQL Server database and return a list
of book titles in XML format.
LETS GET STARTED !
If any of you have ever picked up a book and tried to learn XML on your own you were probably confronted with the same confusing bombardment of information that I was. DTDs, XML
Schema, name spaces,
XPath, XPointers, XSL , XSLT, DOMs, SAX, SOAP, YIKES I GIVE UP. To make matters worse, most of this material is based on proposed implementations and much of the
sample software is buggy and unpredictable. There must be a million ways to implement and use
XML, this can all be very complicated. But guess what; XML can be simple too. If we ignore
DTDs, XML Schemas, namespaces, etc.
In my quest to get you up and running with XML quickly, I am going to ignore a good portion of the information you will find in many books on the subject. The first
items I will ignore are namespaces and schemas. You may think this is strange
since most books start with these subjects, but think of XML as a tool to get a job done, just like a hammer is a tool. To use a hammer,
do I need to understand how to build a house? What if all I want to do is hang a picture? XML is the same way, it can be
really complex and full of confusing specifications making it
versatile enough to use in hundreds if not thousands of applications, but it can also be very simple
if some things are ignored. In this article, I will concentrate on the
XML necessary to solve a specific problem.
So what exactly is the problem? Well lets suppose I want to describe a simple object such as a cup using
XML. Why would I want to use XML to do this? Well, first of all, that's what XML does. XML describes data. In
my example; the cup is the data. In real life, the data could be a word document, a spreadsheet, an image, a book, a record from a database, or maybe even a
VB or C++ class. Secondly, XML is extensible. XML lets me create as many tags as
I want to describe our data and the tags can be defined however I want, as long as
I follow some simple rules. Lastly, because it is quickly becoming a universal standard. If there is life on mars, you can bet they will understand
my XML file.
What are some of the properties that allow me to describe a cup?
The material its made of If the material is transparent or not the height in inches the number of ounces it will hold its contents description of any solid objects and the quantity description of any liquid substance and the volume description of any other substance and the quantity whether or not it has a lid
So what would this look like in XML?
<?xml version="1.0"?> <CUP> <MATERIAL transparent="yes">glass</MATERIAL> <HEIGHT units="inches">6</HEIGHT> <VOLUME units="ounces">16</VOLUME> <CONTENTS> <SOLID qty="2">ice cube</SOLID> <SOLID qty="1">straw</SOLID> <LIQUID qty="3" units="ounces">water</LIQUID> <OTHER qty="0"/> </CONTENTS> <LID>yes</LID> </CUP>
Note, the first line of the XML file (<?xml version="1.0"?>) is known as a processing command. For now, just know that it needs to be there. The neat thing about the XML file, is that
anyone can get a very good idea of what its purpose is just by looking at it.
Understand that this is not the only valid XML representation for a cup. If I asked ten people to create
a XML file for a cup; given the same properties, they may all very well each
produce something different but correct. This could be a problem. Maybe not for us humans, but if a computer is reading the file
it would probably be a good idea to give it a file that it knows something about.
That's where namespaces and schemas come in to the equation. To put things simple, schemas are used to specify a valid structure for
a XML file.
This would be a good time to talk about a few simple XML
rules that need to be followed:
XML RULE #1: a valid XML file will conform exactly to its specified schema. However, to make things simple, none of my examples will use schemas. Thus, none of
my XML files will be "valid" as far as a parser is concerned. But, guess what,
I don't care. I'm not building a house, I'm only hanging a picture. I'll explain more about this later when
I get into using the XML DOM.
XML RULE #2: If you are a VB programmer; XML is case sensitive. XML is case sensitive. XML is case sensitive. Write this sentence 1000 times and don't forget it.
XML RULE #3: Tag names are called Elements, and every beginning tag must have an ending tag. This is known as well-formed
XML. This is very important because a XML file will not parse and will not load into the DOM unless it is well-formed. Note: if elements do not contain a value and do not contain other elements then the short hand version of the end tag <Element /> may be used instead of the long version <Element></Element>. This can be seen in my example above for the element <OTHER qty="0"/> in the contents section of the
cup XML file.
XML RULE #4: Elements can contain attributes and the values of the attributes must be contained in quotes (either single or double).
XML RULE #5: It is ok to re-use attribute names, but make sure your element names are unique throughout the entire
file. In the example above, the attribute qty has a different meaning depending on whether it is used in the element <SOLID>,<LIQUID>, or <OTHER>. The meaning of an attribute depends on the context in which it is being
used. Whereas, the meaning of an element always means the same thing no matter where it is found in the
file. In our example above the elements <SOLID> and <HEIGHT> always have the same meaning in our document. <SOLID> is always used to describe a solid that is present as part of the cups contents, and <HEIGHT> always describes the height of
XML RULE #6: There are some special characters in xml that can not be used directly
as data because they would interfere with the syntax of tags and attributes. Thus, these characters must be escaped out using the & character and a
special code. (& must be replaced with &) (" must be replaced with ") (< must be replaced with <) (> must be replaced with >) and ( ' must be replaced with ') To get around this a special xml processing instruction <![[CDATA[...]]>
can be used, where the "...." portion can be any character string that does not include the "]]>" string literal. CDATA sections are a method of including
data that contains characters which would otherwise be recognized as markup. CDATA sections may occur anywhere that character data may occur, but they cannot be nested.
Ok, SO WHAT IS THE XML DOM & WHY IS IT NEEDED?
The XML DOM allows programmers to load into memory a representation of the entire XML
file. Once the XML file is loaded into memory, it can then be manipulated using the properties, methods and events of the DOM. This is where the usefulness of
XML really shines. The DOM makes it very easy to
retrieve and manipulate information in the XML file. I am not going to go over everything that can
be done with the DOM, but I will cover some basic items which will help accomplish
the goals of this article.
I will take the XML file for a cup that was just created, load the XML file into
a DOM so that it can be
examined, then do some minor manipulation of the data by querying the DOM. I will save the
major manipulation methods of the DOM for my next article dealing with client-side
XML. Note: although the DOM is great for programmers it does have the
drawback of consuming massive amounts of memory and system resources. It
is precisely this reason that you will see references to another method of
parsing XML files know as SAX. My articles will not get into the concepts
behind SAX but there is plenty of information available in the XML SDK for those who wish to
XML DOM – LOADING THE XML FILE
Lets look at an example using Microsoft’s XML parser version 3.0 (msxml3.dll) to see how this works.
If you do not have version 3.0 of the parser it can be downloaded from Microsoft.
. The msxml 3.0 release installs the Microsoft XML Parser in side-by-side
mode, which means that when you download and install msxml 3.0, it does not
replace any previously installed version of the parser, You can also run msxml 3.0 in Replace mode, using xmlinst.exe, which
means that application references to previous versions of msxml are
remapped to point to the new msxml 3.0 dll. Note, however, that running msxml 3.0 in Replace
mode can leave your computer in an unstable state. For more information about
running msxml 3.0 in Replace mode, see the Knowledge Base article Application
Errors Occur After You Run Xmlinst.exe on Production Servers.
Suppose I have saved the sample XML cup file as “http://web_server/xml/cup.xml” (local path
and now I want to load this file up
into a XML DOM. The code below assumes the parser was loaded in default
side-by-side mode and uses version-dependent progIDs to specifically specify version 3.0 of
the parser. Click
for a further explanation of side-by-side mode and
Visual Basic 6.0 code: (need to set a reference to Microsoft XML, v3.0) Dim xmlDoc as MSXML2.DOMDocument30 Set xmlDoc = New DOMDocument30 xmlDoc.async = False xmlDoc.validateOnParse = False xmlDoc.load ("c:\inetpub\wwwroot\xml\cup.xml") msgBox xmlDoc.xml
ASP Server-Side VB script code: Dim xmlDoc Set xmlDoc = Server.CreateObject("Msxml2.DOMDocument.3.0") xmlDoc.async = False xmlDoc.validateOnParse = False xmlDoc.load "/xml/cup.xml"
ASP Server-Side Java Script code: var xmlDoc = Server.CreateObject("Msxml2.DOMDocument.3.0"); xmlDoc.async = false; xmlDoc.validateOnParse = false; xmlDoc.load ("/xml/cup.xml");
EXPLANATION OF THE CODE - Lets walk through the VB6 code
Line 1: Dim xmlDoc as MSXML2.DOMDocument30
This first statement requires a reference set to "Microsoft
XML, v3.0". In this line, I am declaring the variable xmlDoc to be a XML
document (DOM). MSXML2 is the library and this is always MSXML2 (you may
see older code that
uses the library msxml) (also do not be tempted to put MSXML3 for
version 3, this has nothing to do with the parser version and it will not
work). DOMDocument30 specifies a XML document object (DOM) conforming
to version 3.0. You may also see code samples where the line may be
dim xmlDoc as MSXML2.DOMDocument. Notice there is no 30 after DOMDocument,
this is the version independent way to set up a XML document. The version
independent method will use the currently registered parser, whatever version it may
be. The problem with the independent method is that the default registered version
of the parser will vary
from machine to machine. If you want to use the independent method, you
better make sure your code is generic enough to work with any version of the parser
or it may break. You can not assume that every user will
have the version parser you are expecting. The advantage to using the
independent method is that when a new version of the parser comes out the
application will support it automatically without recompiling.
Line 2: Set xmlDoc = new DOMDocument30
This line actually initializes the variable xmlDoc to a new XML document
(DOM) version 3.0.
Line 3: xmlDoc.async = False
XML files can be loaded either synchronously or asynchronously. If xmlDoc.async=False then the entire XML file will be loaded before control is
given back to the calling program. If xmlDoc.async=True then the load function
will immediately return control to the calling program even though the XML file
may not be entirely loaded.
Line 4: xmlDoc.validateOnParse = False
When loaded the parser can be instructed to validate the XML file against a
schema (validateOnParse=True) or we can ignore schemas and validation entirely
by setting (validateOnParse = False).
This line calls the load method of the DOMDocument. There are two
versions of the load method. The one I am calling here loads a file into
the DOM and it must be passed a valid path and filename. The second
version of the load method is used to load a xml string into a DOM and it must
be passed a well-formed xml string. The string version of the load method would
be called using xmlDoc.loadXML("well-formed xml string"). I will
demonstrate this later.
This line will display the xml for the entire document. The results
should be the same as the original xml file.
EXAMINING THE XML DOM
Create a new standard.exe project in visual basic. Insert the sample
code into the forms load method. Make sure you create a reference to
"Microsoft XML v3.0". To do this click Project-->References,
then scroll through the list until you find it. Note: the version 3 of the
parser must be installed or you will not find the reference in your list.
Set a breakpoint on the last line of the code. The line that reads
msgbox(xmlDoc.xml). Run the application in debug
mode. When the breakpoint is hit and the application stops; bring up the
locals window and examine the DOM. You can learn a lot about the DOM by
walking through it in the locals window. The locals window should look
similar to the figure on the next page. Some interesting properties of the DOM
The XML DOM always contains two top level nodes:
Item1 is the root element of the
document ( ignore this node )
Item2 is actually the first
element of the document (remember this)
nodeName or baseName - this can be used to find the name of an Element or Attribute
nodeType - use this to retrieve the type of the current node.
nodeValue - use this to get the data value of the node
childNodes - is a collection of children nodes that exist in the tree at a
level directly bellow the current node. Child nodes can be element nodes,
text nodes or CDATA nodes. There are also other types of nodes that I will
not discuss, but you can find a good description of them in the XML SDK.
attributes - is a collection of attribute nodes for the current
length - use this to find the number of nodes in the tree at a level directly
bellow the current node.
xml - this property exists on all nodes and can be used to get the xml string
representing the current position in the document. The xml string starts
with the current node and traverses down the rest of the tree. This is a
very useful property. Play around with it and see what you get.
EXAMINING THE XML DOM - A successful load
EXAMINING THE XML DOM - Element nodes
Element nodes can contain other element child nodes, attribute child nodes,
text child nodes, or CDATA child nodes. From the figure bellow the following information
can be obtained about the current node "SOLID" :
nodeType - The current nodes type = NODE_ELEMENT - the current node is
nodeName or baseName or
tagName - The current nodes (Elements) name is
It's parent element is CONTENTS which has 4 children
You can't see it from the figure bellow but SOLID has one childNode, which is
of type text. (see text nodes on a following page)
text - "ice cube" this is a short cut method of obtaining the
current nodes value without actually navigating to the child text node.
EXAMINING THE XML DOM - Attribute nodes
Attribute nodes can contain only text child nodes or CDATA child nodes.
From the figure bellow the following information can be obtained about the
current node "qty" :
nodeType - The current nodes type = NODE_ATTRIBUTE - the current node
is an attribute.
nodeName or baseName - The current nodes (Attributes) name is = qty
You can't see it from the figure bellow, but qty has one childNode, which is
of type text. (see text nodes on a following page)
text or value - "2" this is a short cut method of obtaining
the current nodes value without actually navigating to the child text node.
EXAMINING THE XML DOM - Text nodes and CDATA nodes
Text and CDATA nodes do not contain child nodes. Text nodes contain parsed
text data for its parent node. CDATA nodes contain unparsed text data for
its parent node. CDATA nodes are created when the CDATA processing instruction
is wrapped around data in the xml file. This is useful for cases when the
data contains special characters. The CDATA processing tag tells the
parser not to parse the data and to accept all characters within the tag as
data. CDATA sections are especially useful when trying to embed code in an
xml file. From the figure bellow the following information can be obtained
about the current text node.
NodeType - The current nodes type = NODE_TEXT - the current node is an
nodeName - The current nodes (text) name is = #text - all text nodes
are named #text
data or text or value - "2" - this is the current nodes data
EXAMINING THE XML DOM - Errors loading the document
The parseError section of the DOM can be beneficial to tracking down problems
with loading the xml document. If I remove the ending tag from OTHER in
our sample file and run the program again I get the following results. The
first piece of helpful information is that our nextSibling is Nothing.
Also, if you looked at childNodes you would find the length equal to zero.
Both these things indicate that the xml document did not load. To find out
why it did not load I open up the parseError node to retrieve all the specific error
XML DOM – QUERYING THE XML DOCUMENT
Ok, so I have shown how to get an xml file into the DOM, but what do I do with
it now? Well, one of the most common things you will want to do is query
the xml document. To accomplish this you could traverse the document until
you find what you are looking for, but most likely you will use one of two
methods of the DOMDocument or current node (context node). The two methods used
to query for nodes in our previous example would be xmlDoc.SelectSingleNode(patternString) to return one node and
xmlDoc.SelectNodes(patternString) to return a list of nodes. The
patternString parameter that is passed into these methods consists of a query. This patterString can be formatted in one of two ways. Either
as a XSL query or as a XPath query. The XPath version is the newer and
more preferred method of querying xml documents. The format of the patternString must be set before any queries are run using the
two indicated methods,
otherwise the default XSL format will be used. To set the format of the
patternString you will use the setProperty("SelectionLanguage",
"format"). To change the queries in our example to use a XPath
patternString, I will issue the following command:
setProperty("SelectionLanguage","XPath"). In my
opinion, XPath is probably one of the most important XML technologies to learn. I will introduce
some simple XPath queries, but I highly recommend doing some independent research in this
area. A good starting place would be the Microsoft XML SDK. I have
also come across some pretty good tutorials on various web sites. Another
avenue of exploration would be to write a simple VB application to allow you to
enter XPath queries and have the results displayed. You can probably find a freeware application to do this but
XPath is still fairly new and may not be
entirely supported by every application that you find.
USING XPATH TO QUERY THE DOM
Lets add some additional code to the end of our previous example to return
us just the contents of our cup:
Dim objNode As IXMLDOMNode Dim objListOfNodes As IXMLDOMNodeList xmlDoc.setProperty "SelectionLanguage", "XPath" MsgBox "Your cup contains the following items" Set objListOfNodes = xmlDoc.selectNodes("//CONTENTS/*") For Each objNode In objListOfNodes MsgBox objNode.Text Next
Run the program and and see what you get. Notice that you should get four
message boxes telling indicating what is in the cup. The last message box should
be blank because the Element "OTHER" does not contain text. Lets
fix the query to return all the contents of the cup where the qty>0.
Change the line of code that does the query to the following:
Set objListOfNodes = xmlDoc.selectNodes("//CONTENTS/*[@qty>0]")
COOL! Now lets add one more query to find out if our cup has a lid or
not. Add the following code to the end of the previous code:
Set objNode = xmlDoc.selectSingleNode("/CUP/LID") if objNode.text="yes" then MsgBox "We have a lid" else MsgBox "No lid on this cup" end if
Lets go over the code line by line:
Line 1: Dim objNode As IXMLDOMNode
This line defines the variable objNode as a variable of type xml document
node. It is important to realize that a XML document node is an
object. It is not a value. It consists of itself as well as all of
its attributes and childNodes. In this manner you can prune a entire branch
off of a tree by selecting the correct node.
Line 2: Dim objListOfNodes As IXMLDOMNodeList
This line defines the variable objListOfNodes as a variable of type xml
document node list (a group of nodes).
Line 3: xmlDoc.setProperty "SelectionLanguage", "XPath"
This line sets our patternString format to XPath.
Line 4: MsgBox "Your cup contains the following items:"
Line 5: Set objListOfNodes = xmlDoc.selectNodes("//CONTENTS/*[@qty>0]")
This line runs a XPath query that will return a group of nodes and store them
in the variable objListOfNodes. The query breaks down like this:
//CONTENTS - get all the CONTENTS elements in the xml
document. This retrieves one element node from our sample XML file
(<CONTENTS>). Note: // is short for in the entire xml
/* - from the list of CONTENTS element nodes, get all ( * - short for
all ) the child elements. This narrows our results down to four element
nodes (<SOLID><SOLID><LIQUID><OTHER>). These four
nodes fall directly under the CONTENTS node.
[@qty>0] - for each child element test its qty attribute (@ - short
for attribute) to see if it is greater than 0. If it is keep the element
node otherwise discard it. Anything inside of [ ] in an XPath query gets
resolved to true or false. If the results are true then the node remains. If the results are false, then
the node is discarded. This
narrows the query results down to three element nodes
Line 6-8: For Each objNode In objListOfNodes / MsgBox objNode.Text / Next
These lines will display the value of each element node that matched the query.
( "ice cube" , "straw" , "water" )
Line 9: Set objNode = xmlDoc.selectSingleNode("/CUP/LID")
This line queries for all the LID elements that exist directly under CUP
elements that exist directly under the ROOT (when a query starts with / it means
start at the root). This works just like a directory path, thus the name
XPath. In the sample XML file the query will return the LID element which
contains a value of "yes". The important thing to note here is that
I am forcing the query to begin at the ROOT of the XML document. Queries will
not always start with the ROOT, normally queries will start at the current node
(context node). In the example this is irrelevant because my context node (xmlDoc) is the
ROOT of the XML document (this is not always the case).
Line 10-15: if objNode.text="yes" then / MsgBox "We have a lid" / else / MsgBox "No lid on this cup" /end if
This line will display the message "We have a lid" because the text
property of the LID element is "yes".
CONVERTING ADO TO XML
Now that you understand the basics of XML, lets create an activeX control
that will convert an ADO record set to XML. My goal is to run a query
against the titles table in the pubs database and return the titles in XML
format. I will use the results from the activeX control in my next
article "client-side xml". Simple you say, ADO has a method to save
as XML, right? Well yes, but if I let ADO create the XML I will get a
version of XML that is nasty to work with. ADO will produce a XML file with
namespaces and I am trying to ignore these for now. Secondly, ADO will
produce a XML file that is in attribute form. In other words each record
is an element (z:row) and each field is an attribute:
<xml xmlns:s='uuid:BDC6E3F0-6DA3-11d1-A2A3-00AA00C14882' xmlns:dt='uuid:C2F41010-65B3-11d1-A29F-00AA00C14882' xmlns:rs='urn:schemas-microsoft-com:rowset' xmlns:z='#RowsetSchema'> <s:Schema id='RowsetSchema'> <s:ElementType name='row' content='eltOnly'> <s:AttributeType name='title_id' rs:number='1' rs:writeunknown='true'> <s:datatype dt:type='string' rs:dbtype='str' dt:maxLength='6' rs:maybenull='false'/> </s:AttributeType> <s:AttributeType name='title' rs:number='2' rs:writeunknown='true'> <s:datatype dt:type='string' rs:dbtype='str' dt:maxLength='80' rs:maybenull='false'/> </s:AttributeType> <s:AttributeType name='type' rs:number='3' rs:writeunknown='true'> <s:datatype dt:type='string' rs:dbtype='str' dt:maxLength='12' rs:fixedlength='true' rs:maybenull='false'/> </s:AttributeType> <s:AttributeType name='price' rs:number='4' rs:nullable='true' rs:writeunknown='true'> <s:datatype dt:type='number' rs:dbtype='currency' dt:maxLength='8' rs:precision='19' rs:fixedlength='true'/> </s:AttributeType> <s:AttributeType name='ytd_sales' rs:number='5' rs:nullable='true' rs:writeunknown='true'> <s:datatype dt:type='int' dt:maxLength='4' rs:precision='10' rs:fixedlength='true'/> </s:AttributeType> <s:AttributeType name='notes' rs:number='6' rs:nullable='true' rs:writeunknown='true'> <s:datatype dt:type='string' rs:dbtype='str' dt:maxLength='200'/> </s:AttributeType> <s:AttributeType name='pubdate' rs:number='7' rs:writeunknown='true'> <s:datatype dt:type='dateTime' rs:dbtype='timestamp' dt:maxLength='16' rs:scale='3' rs:precision='23' rs:fixedlength='true' rs:maybenull='false'/> </s:AttributeType> <s:extends type='rs:rowbase'/> </s:ElementType> </s:Schema> <rs:data> <z:row title_id='BU1032' title='The Busy Executive's Database Guide' type='business ' price='19.99' ytd_sales='4095' notes='An overview of available database systems with emphasis on common business applications. Illustrated.' pubdate='1991-06-12T00:00:00'/> <z:row title_id='BU1111' title='Cooking with Computers: Surreptitious Balance Sheets' type='business ' price='11.95' ytd_sales='3876' notes='Helpful hints on how to use your electronic resources to the best advantage.' pubdate='1991-06-09T00:00:00'/> </rs:data> </xml>
I would like to produce a XML file that is in element
form, where each record will be wrapped in a <BOOK> tag and each
field will be an element
under the <BOOK> tag. The syntax of my xml string will be
<TITLES> <BOOK>data from table <FIELD prettyname="Book identification number" tablename="titles" columnname="title_id" datatype="number" filter="">data from table</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Title of the book" tablename="titles" columnname="title" datatype="text" filter="">data from table</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Type of book" tablename="titles" columnname="type" datatype="text" filter="">data from table</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Price of the book" tablename="titles" columnname="price" datatype="number" filter="">data from table</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Year todate sales" tablename="titles" columnname="ytd_sales" datatype= "number" filter= "">datafrom table</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Datepublished" tablename= "titles" columnname="pubdate" datatype="date" filter= "">datafromtable</FIELD> </BOOK> </TITLES>
By the way, what I have just accomplished is to create a
schema for my xml string. Now if I wanted to validate the structure
of XML against the schema, all I would need to do is convert the schema
into a valid format. Either DTD or XDR syntax. Notice that I have
added several attributes to each <FIELD> element. One reason
for this is that this information may be useful on the client. The prettyname can be used as labels
for the data. The datatype attribute could be used for client side data validation. But to be honest, the real reason these attributes exist is
that they have a very special purpose in a XSL
template file that I regularly use for building "SQL where
clauses". Maybe I will publish a short article demonstrating this soon. The template is very usefull
and pretty cool. When the xml structure is applied to the actual data from the
titles table the results will look like the sample
<TITLES> <BOOK>The Busy Executive's Database Guide <FIELD prettyname="Title Identification Number" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="title_id" datatype="number" gfilter="">BU1032</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Title of the Book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="title" datatype="text" gfilter="">The Busy Executive's Database Guide</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Type of Book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="type" datatype="text" gfilter="">business </FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Price of the Book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="price" datatype="number" gfilter="">19.99</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Year to date sales" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="ytd_sales" datatype="number" gfilter="">4095</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Notes about the book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="notes" datatype="memo" gfilter="">An overview of available database systems with emphasis on common business applications. Illustrated.</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Date Published" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="pubdate" datatype="date" gfilter="">6/12/1991</FIELD> </BOOK> <BOOK>Cooking with Computers: Surreptitious Balance Sheets <FIELD prettyname="Title Identification Number" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="title_id" datatype="number" gfilter="">BU1111</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Title of the Book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="title" datatype="text" gfilter="">Cooking with Computers: Surreptitious Balance Sheets</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Type of Book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="type" datatype="text" gfilter="">business </FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Price of the Book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="price" datatype="number" gfilter="">11.95</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Year to date sales" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="ytd_sales" datatype="number" gfilter="">3876</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Notes about the book" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="notes" datatype="memo" gfilter="">Helpful hints on how to use your electronic resources to the best advantage.</FIELD> <FIELD prettyname="Date Published" tablename="titles" gcolumnname="pubdate" datatype="date" gfilter="">6/9/1991</FIELD> </BOOK> </TITLES>
Now I have something that I can work with! The XML
is very basic and straight forward. Please come back for Article 2 in
this series where I will demonstrate how easy it is to use this XML on
the client ...
Listing 1 - CUP.XML
<?xml version="1.0"?> <CUP> <MATERIAL transparent="yes">glass</MATERIAL> <HEIGHT units="inches">6</HEIGHT> <VOLUME units="ounces">16</VOLUME> <CONTENTS> <SOLID qty="2">ice cube</SOLID> <SOLID qty="1">straw</SOLID> <LIQUID qty="3" units="ounces">water</LIQUID> <OTHER qty="0"/> </CONTENTS> <LID>yes</LID> </CUP>
Listing 2 - Load Cup.xml into a DOM
Dim xmlDoc As MSXML2.DOMDocument30 Set xmlDoc = New DOMDocument30 xmlDoc.async = False xmlDoc.validateOnParse = False xmlDoc.Load ("c:\inetpub\wwwroot\xml\cup.xml") MsgBox xmlDoc.xml Dim objNode As IXMLDOMNode Dim objListOfNodes As IXMLDOMNodeList xmlDoc.setProperty "SelectionLanguage", "XPath" MsgBox "Your cup contains the following items" Set objListOfNodes = xmlDoc.selectNodes("//CONTENTS/*[@qty>0]") For Each objNode In objListOfNodes MsgBox objNode.Text Next Set objNode = xmlDoc.selectSingleNode("/CUP/LID") If objNode.Text = "yes" Then MsgBox "We have a lid" Else MsgBox "No lid on this cup" End If
Listing 3 -
ActiveX Control: ADO to XML (WebClass.dll)(xmlControl.cls)
Option Explicit 'Declare Database variables Private m_dbConnection As New ADODB.Connection Private m_dbCommand As ADODB.Command Private m_adoRs As ADODB.Recordset Private m_adoErrors As ADODB.Errors Private m_adoErr As Error Public nCommandTimeOut As Variant Public nConnectionTimeOut As Variant Public strConnect As Variant Public strAppName As String Public strLogPath As String Public strDatabase As String Public strUser As String Public strPassword As String Public strServer As String Public strVersion As String Public lMSADO As Boolean 'Private Global Variables Private gnErrNum As Variant Private gstrErrDesc As Variant Private gstrErrSrc As Variant Private gstrDB As String Private gstrADOError As String Private Const adLeonNoRecordset As Integer = 129 Private gtableName(6) As String Private gcolumnName(6) As String Private gprettyName(6) As String Private gdatatype(6) As String Private gfilter(6) As String Private Function OpenDatabase() If Len(strConnect) = 0 Then 'set up defaults if they were not passed If Len(strDatabase) = 0 Then strDatabase = "pubs" End If If nConnectionTimeOut = 0 Then nConnectionTimeOut = 600 End If If nCommandTimeOut = 0 Then nCommandTimeOut = 600 End If If Len(strAppName) = 0 Then strAppName = "xmlControl" End If If Len(strUser) = 0 Then strUser = "sa" End If If Len(strPassword) = 0 Then strPassword = "" End If strConnect = "Provider=SQLOLEDB.1; " & _ "Application Name=" & strAppName & _ "; Data Source=" & strServer & "; Initial Catalog=" & strDatabase & "; " & _ " User ID=" & strUser & "; Password=" & strPassword & ";" End If 'connect to SQL Server and open the database On Error GoTo SQLErr 'turn on error handler With m_dbConnection .ConnectionTimeout = nConnectionTimeOut .CommandTimeout = nCommandTimeOut .Open strConnect 'open the database using the connection string End With On Error GoTo 0 'turn off error handler OpenDatabase = True 'database opened successfully Exit Function SQLErr: Call logerror("OPEN") OpenDatabase = False End Function Private Function BuildSQLwhere(tmpWhere) As String 'This is for the future End Function Public Function GetTitlesXML(Optional xmlWhere As Variant) As String Dim whereClause As String Dim strSQL As String Call OpenDatabase 'open the pubs database If IsMissing(xmlWhere) Then 'a query was not passed in whereClause = "" Else whereClause = BuildSQLwhere(xmlWhere) 'convert the query to valid sql End If 'initialize the sql statement that will query for the titles strSQL = "select title_id,title,type,price,ytd_sales,notes,pubdate from titles " & whereClause Call NewRecordSet 'create a record set 'Set the cursorlocation m_adoRs.CursorLocation = adUseClient 'open the recordset m_adoRs.Open strSQL, m_dbConnection, adOpenForwardOnly, adLockReadOnly, adCmdText 'disconnect the recordset Set m_adoRs.ActiveConnection = Nothing On Error GoTo 0 'turn off error handler 'Close the database to free the connection Call CloseDatabase If m_adoRs.EOF Then GetTitlesXML = "" 'query did not return any titles Else If lMSADO Then GetTitlesXML = msado(m_adoRs) 'convert the recordset to Microsoftado-->xml Else GetTitlesXML = ADOtoXML(m_adoRs, True) 'convert the ado recordset to custom xml End If End If 'Close the recordset Call CloseRecordset Exit Function SQLErr: Call logerror(strSQL) End Function Private Function ADOtoXML(tmprs As ADODB.Recordset, tmpMP As Boolean) As String Dim adoFields As ADODB.Fields 'set up a collectio to hold the fields Dim adoField As ADODB.Field 'used to retrieve each field from the collection Dim xmlDoc As msxml2.DOMDocument30 Dim tmpLine As String 'holds the xml representation of each book Dim tmpXML As String 'used to concatenate each line of xml Dim i As Integer If tmprs.EOF Then 'no titles returned by query ADOtoXML = "" Exit Function Else Set adoFields = tmprs.Fields 'create the collection of fields End If tmpXML = "<TITLES>" 'all books will be wrapped in a <TITLES> tag Do Until tmprs.EOF 'loop through each title in the recordset i = 0 ' i is an index to the ado field its initialized to 0 so that first field will be field(0) tmpLine = "<BOOK>" & tmprs("title") & vbCrLf For Each adoField In adoFields 'loop through all the fields 'build the xml <FIELD> tag and its attributes for the current field tmpLine = tmpLine & "<FIELD " tmpLine = tmpLine & "prettyname=""" & gprettyName(i) & """ " tmpLine = tmpLine & "tablename=""" & gtableName(i) & """ gcolumnname=""" & adoField.Name & """ " tmpLine = tmpLine & "datatype=""" & gdatatype(i) & """ gfilter=""""" tmpLine = tmpLine & ">" & adoField.Value tmpLine = tmpLine & "</FIELD>" & vbCrLf i = i + 1 'point index to next field Next tmpXML = tmpXML & tmpLine & "</BOOK>" & vbCrLf 'end the book tag after last field tmprs.MoveNext 'next title Loop Set adoField = Nothing 'destroy the field object Set adoFields = Nothing 'destroy the fields collection tmpXML= tmpXML & "<?xml version="1.0"?></TITLES>" & vbCrLf 'end the string with the ending </TITLES> tag 'at this point I could just return this string back 'load the xml string into a DOM just toshow the loadxml method 'also this will test to make sure the string is well-formed Set xmlDoc = New msxml2.DOMDocument30 'create a xmlDOM xmlDoc.async = False 'wait for document to load xmlDoc.validateOnParse = False 'do not validate against a schema xmlDoc.loadXML(tmpXML) 'load the string into the DOM On Error Resume Next 'if the file bellow does not exist I will get an error when I try to kill it Kill("c:\temp\custom.xml") 'erase the file if it exists On Error GoTo 0 'seterror handler to abort on error xmlDoc.save ("c:\temp\custom.xml") 'save the xml to a file ADOtoXML=xmlDoc.xml 'return the xml string Set xmlDoc=Nothing 'destroy the xml DOM End Function Private Function msado(tmprs As ADODB.Recordset) As String Dim xmlDoc As msxml2.DOMDocument30 On Error Resume Next 'if the file bellow does not exist I will get an error when I try to kill it Kill ("c:\temp\msado.xml") 'erase the file if it exists On Error GoTo 0 'set error handler to abort on error tmprs.save "c:\temp\msado.xml", adPersistXML 'save the xml to a file Set xmlDoc = New msxml2.DOMDocument30 'create a xml DOM xmlDoc.async = False 'wait for document to load xmlDoc.validateOnParse = False 'do not validate against a schema xmlDoc.Load ("C:\temp\msado.xml") 'load the file into the DOM msado = xmlDoc.xml 'return the xml string Set xmlDoc = Nothing 'destroy the xml DOM End Function Private SubCloseRecordset() 'Close recordset objects and dereference them m_adoRs.Close Set m_adoRs =Nothing End Sub Private Sub NewRecordSet() Set m_adoRs= Nothing 'Close recordset objects and dereference them Set m_adoRs=New ADODB.Recordset End Sub Private Sub CloseDatabase() 'Close database objects and dereference them m_dbConnection.Close Set m_dbConnection =Nothing End Sub Private Sub logerror(errSQL As String) Dim hFile As Integer Dim expFile As String On Error GoTo 0 gnErrNum = Err.Number gstrErrDesc =Err.Description gstrErrSrc = Err.Source Set m_adoErrors = m_dbConnection.Errors For Each m_adoErr In m_adoErrors gstrADOError = m_adoErr.Description & "," & CStr(m_adoErr.NativeError) _ & "," & CStr(m_adoErr.Number) & "," & m_adoErr.Source _ & "," & CStr(m_adoErr.SQLState) Next hFile =FreeFile If Len(strLogPath) = 0 Then strLogPath = "C:\temp\" End If expFile = strLogPath & strAppName & ".err" Open expFile For Append As #hFile Print #hFile,"**********************************" Print #hFile, Now() Print#hFile, "**********************************" Print #hFile,"Subroutine: " & tmpPro Print #hFile, "Error Number:" & gnErrNum Print#hFile, "Error Description: " & gstrErrDesc Print #hFile, "Error Source:" & gstrErrSrc Print #hFile, "Ado error String: " & gstrADOError Print #hFile, "Bad SQL: " & errSQL Close #hFile End Sub Private Sub Class_Initialize() strVersion = "xmlControl Version 1.1" 'title_id,title,type,price,ytd_sales,notes,pubdate gtableName(0) = "titles" gcolumnName(0) = "title_id" gprettyName(0) = "Title Identification Number" gdatatype(0) = "number" gfilter(0) = "" gtableName(1) = "titles" gcolumnName(1) = "title" gprettyName(1) = "Title of the Book" gdatatype(1) = "text" gfilter(1) = "" gtableName(2) = "titles" gcolumnName(2) = "type" gprettyName(2) = "Type of Book" gdatatype(2) = "text" gfilter(2) = "" gtableName(3) = "titles" gcolumnName(3) = "price" gprettyName(3) = "Price of the Book" gdatatype(3) = "number" gfilter(3) = "" gtableName(4) = "titles" gcolumnName(4) = "ytd_sales" gprettyName(4) = "Year to date sales" gdatatype(4) = "number" gfilter(4) = "" gtableName(5) = "titles" gcolumnName(5) = "notes" gprettyName(5) = "Notes about the book" gdatatype(5) = "memo" gfilter(5) = "" gtableName(6) = "titles" gcolumnName(6) = "pubdate" gprettyName(6) = "Date Published" gdatatype(6) = "date" gfilter(6) = "" End Sub
Listing 4 - VB application to test
Private Sub Command1_Click() Dim objWC As xmlControl Dim xml As String Set objWC = New xmlControl objWC.strDatabase = "pubs" objWC.strServer = "ltweb" objWC.strUser = "sa" objWC.strPassword = "" objWC.lMSADO = Option2.Value objWC.strAppName = "Article1" Text1.Text = objWC.getTitlesXML End Sub
Listing 5 - Active server page to test
<%@ Language=VBScript %> <% 'Use the WebClass ActiveX control to return xml to the browser ' 'before the page will opperate the WebClass.dll must be registered on the web server 'The microsoft xml parser version 3.0 (msxml3.dll) must be registered also 'download msxml3.exe and install ' set objWC = Server.CreateObject("WebClass.xmlControl") objWC.strDatabase = "pubs" objWC.strServer = "ltweb" 'replace ltweb with your sql server name objWC.strUser ="sa" 'replace sa with your sql user name objWC.strPassword="" 'enter your sql password here objWC.strAppName="Article1" objWC.lMSADO=false 'true will return microsoft ado-->xml 'false will return custom xml ' Response.ContentType="text/xml" 'tell browser to expect xml Response.write objWC.getTitlesXML 'get the xml and display it ' set objWC=nothing 'destroy the object %>