Skipping Xml Wrapper Node With C# Xml Serialization

XML Serialization in C# works fairly well and is relatively easy, but XML itself makes life hard at times. JSON is always the best route to go, but when you have no option, you must deal with some badly formatted XML objects that do not map very well to the object hierarchy you have for your C# models. When faced with this problem, you must either modify your models to match the structure of the XML exactly. Or you can try to hack around a bit and bend the XML serializer object to do what you need. This simple trick will show you how to skip over a root node that you do not want to just serialize the data you need.

Let’s use the XML below as an example. You want to access the note “itemyouwant” but it is inside a parent node called “pointlesswrapper”. It is a waste of time to create a model for this in C# when it only contains the one class that you actually need. There are ways to instruct the serializer to know that pointlesswrapper is the node, but if you are dealing with nodes that are further nested than this, that solution will not work.

<pointlesswrapper>
	<itemyouwant>
		<name>Important data that lives inside the parent you need</name>
	</itemyouwant>
</pointlesswrapper>

The workaround for this is to read the XML into the XML reader class. This way you will be able to navigate the node that you want, bypassing all of the fluff that you do not need. The code example below will show you how to do this.

XmlSerializer serializer = new XmlSerializer(typeof(NodeName));
var reader = new XmlTextReader(xmlpath);
reader.ReadToDescendant("itemyouwant");
NodeNameresultingMessage = (NodeName)serializer.Deserialize(reader.ReadSubtree());

With this simple hack, you will be able to take a very large XML object, and only take a small section of the document. This is very helpful when you either have a badly designed XML tree with lots of bloated nodes or you have a very large XML object and you only need a small amount of it. This saves you from having to design lots of C# models for data you do not currently and may never need to use. When developing in a rush, this can be a very useful tip to help.

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