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Posted 17 Dec 2007


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ADO.NET and OPENXML to Perform Bulk Database Operations

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17 Dec 2007CPOL2 min read
Explains how to send bulk records to a database using OPENXML.


Last week at my work, I had to write a tool to process few hundreds of thousand email files and insert their details to an MS SQL Server 2005 database. Doing it the traditional way might require much connectivity to the database and will consume many resources. I was wondering what if I could insert all that data at once to the database, which will be much more efficient. I started Googling and I found OPENXML. This is not a whole new technology, but I didn’t know about this before (strange!!).

After a few more minutes of research, I found out how to perform bulk operations against a databases using OPENXML and Stored Procedures.


OPENXML is a function added to SQL Server 2000 that provides a row set view over an XML document. Since a row set is simply a set of rows that contain columns of data, OPENXML is the function that allows an XML document to be treated in a familiar relational database format. It allows for the passing of an XML document to a T-SQL Stored Procedure for updating the data.

OPENXML- Summary

  • It extends the SQL Language
  • It is used within T-SQL Stored Procedures
  • XML Document passed as a parameter
  • It uses row and column selectors utilizing XPath

It supports the following:

  • Attribute and element-centric mappings.
  • Edge table row set.
  • XML annotation/overflow column.
  • Hierarchy support.


This code block explains the usage of OPENXML to insert bulk data to a database. It simulates the actual process I want (processing .eml files) by reading files in a folder and saving their names, created date, and size in bytes.

  1. First create the table below:
  2. SQL
    CREATE TABLE FileDetails(
            FileName varchar(50) PRIMARY KEY,
            CreatedDate varchar(50) ,
            Size decimal(18, 0)
  3. Now create the Stored Procedure as below:
  4. SQL
    CREATE PROC sp_bulkinsert @xmldata varchar(max)
        DECLARE @hDoc int
        exec sp_xml_preparedocument @hDoc OUTPUT,@xmldata
        --inserting data
        Insert Into FileDetails 
        SELECT FileName, CreatedDate, Size
        FROM OPENXML (@hdoc, '/ds/fileDetails',2)
        WITH (FileName varchar(50), CreatedDate Datetime, Size decimal) XMLFileDetails
        Where XMLFileDetails.FileName Not IN (Select FileName from FileDetails)
        EXEC sp_xml_removedocument @hDoc
  5. The sample code snippet below shows how to call this Stored Procedure to insert bulk data to a database at once.
  6. We can retrieve the file details using FileInfo() objects and create a DataSet of the file details, and then we can convert this DataSet to XML using the WriteXml() method of the DataSet.

    private static string preparexml(DataSet ds)
        StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        StringWriter sw = new StringWriter(sb);
        ds.WriteXml(sw, XmlWriteMode.WriteSchema);
        return sb.ToString();

    This XML representation of the data can be passed as the parameter to the Stored Procedure, as given below:

    private static void bulkInsert(string xml) 
            SqlConnection con = creatCon();
            SqlCommand cmd = new SqlCommand("sp_bulkinsert", con);
            cmd.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
            cmd.Parameters.Add(new SqlParameter("@xmldata",SqlDbType.VarChar));
            Console.WriteLine("Completed inserting file informations to database");
         catch(Exception ex)

That’s all simple isn’t it? You can see the performance of this method by writing another code to insert the same fields using the traditional one at a time way. Which surprisingly will show a huge difference in performance and time.

You can use the same way to update and delete records in bulk.

The latest complete code can be downloaded and tested here: complete source code.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
Software Developer
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
i work for as a c# software developer, and experienced with c# 2.0/3.0,,, sqlserver,mysql, xml, xsl,

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