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Retrieve and Query XML Data

This topic describes the query options that you have to specify to query XML data. It also describes the parts of XML instances that are not preserved when they are stored in databases.

SQL Server preserves the content of the XML instance, but does not preserve aspects of the XML instance that are not considered to be significant in the XML data model. This means that a retrieved XML instance might not be identical to the instance that was stored in the server, but will contain the same information.

XML Declaration

The XML declaration in an instance is not preserved when the instance is stored in the database. For example:

CREATE TABLE T1 (Col1 int primary key, Col2 xml)
GO
INSERT INTO T1 values (1, '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="windows-1252" ?><doc></doc>')
GO
SELECT Col2
FROM T1

The result is <doc/>.

The XML declaration, such as <?xml version='1.0'?>, is not preserved when storing XML data in an xml data type instance. This is by design. The XML declaration (<?xml ... ?>) and its attributes (version/encoding/stand-alone) are lost after data is converted to type xml. The XML declaration is treated as a directive to the XML parser. The XML data is stored internally as ucs-2. All other PIs in the XML instance are preserved.

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Order of Attributes

The order of attributes in an XML instance is not preserved. When you query the XML instance stored in the xml type column, the order of attributes in the resulting XML may be different from the original XML instance.

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Quotation Marks Around Attribute Values

Single quotation marks and double quotations marks around attribute values are not preserved. The attribute values are stored in the database as a name and value pair. The quotation marks are not stored. When an XQuery is executed against an XML instance, the resulting XML is serialized with double quotation marks around the attribute values.

DECLARE @x xml
-- Use double quotation marks.
SET @x = '<root a="1" />'
SELECT @x
GO
DECLARE @x xml
-- Use single quotation marks.
SET @x = '<root a=''1'' />'
SELECT @x
GO

Both queries return = <root a="1" />.

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Namespace Prefixes

Namespace prefixes are not preserved. When you specify XQuery against an xml type column, the serialized XML result may return different namespace prefixes.

DECLARE @x xml
SET @x = '<ns1:root xmlns:ns1="abc" xmlns:ns2="abc">
            <ns2:SomeElement/>
          </ns1:root>'
SELECT @x
SELECT @x.query('/*')
GO

The namespace prefix in the result may be different. For example:

<p1:root xmlns:p1="abc"><p1:SomeElement/></p1:root>

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When querying xml type columns or variables using xml data type methods, the following options must be set as shown.

SET Options

Required Values

ANSI_NULLS

ON

ANSI_PADDING

ON

ANSI_WARNINGS

ON

ARITHABORT

ON

CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL

ON

NUMERIC_ROUNDABORT

OFF

QUOTED_IDENTIFIER

ON

If the options are not set as shown, queries and modifications on xml data type methods will fail.

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