DataTable - Adding, Modifying, Deleting, Filtering, Sorting rows & Reading/Writing from/to Xml

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In this article, I am going to explain how to Add, Modify, Delete, Sort, Filter rows of the DataTable and also loading data from xml and writing data into xml. I will also talk about writing/reading Schema of the DataTable.
DataTable is a central object in the ADO.NET library. If you are working with ADO.NET - accessing data from database, you can not escape from DataTable. Other objects that use DataTable are DataSet and DataView. In this tutorials, I will explain how to work with DataTable. I have tried to cover most of the frequently used activity in the DataTable, I hope you will like it.

Creating a DataTable

To create a DataTable, you need to use System.Data namespace, generally when you create a new class or page, it is included by default by the Visual Studio. Lets write following code to create a DataTable object. Here, I have pased a string as the DataTable name while creating DataTable object.

// instantiate DataTable

DataTable dTable = new DataTable("Dynamically_Generated");

Creating Columns in the DataTable

To create column in the DataTable, you need to use DataColumn object. Instantiate the DataColumn object and pass column name and its data type as parameter. Then call add method of DataTable column and pass the DataColumn object as parameter.

// create columns for the DataTable

DataColumn auto = new DataColumn("AutoID", typeof(System.Int32));


// create another column

DataColumn name = new DataColumn("Name", typeof(string));


// create one more column

DataColumn address = new DataColumn("Address", typeof(string));


Specifying AutoIncrement column in the DataTable

To specify a column as AutoIncrement (naturally it should be an integer type of field only), you need to set some properties of the column like AutoIncrement, AutoIncrementSeed. See the code below, here I am setting the first column "AutoID" as autoincrement field. Whenever a new row will be added its value will automatically increase by 1 as I am specified AutoIncrementSeed value as 1.

// specify it as auto increment field

auto.AutoIncrement = true;

auto.AutoIncrementSeed = 1;

auto.ReadOnly = true;

If you want a particular column to be a unique column ie. you don't want duplicate records into that column, then set its Unique property to true like below.

auto.Unique = true;

Specifying Primary Key column in the DataTable

To set the primary key column in the DataTable, you need to create arrays of column and store column you want as primary key for the DataTable and set its PrimaryKey property to the column arrays. See the code below.

// create primary key on this field

DataColumn[] pK = new DataColumn[1];

pK[0] = auto;

dTable.PrimaryKey = pK;

Till now we have created the DataTable, now lets populate the DataTable with some data.

Populating data into DataTable

There are two ways to populate DataTable.

Using DataRow object

Look at the code below, I have created a DataRow object above the loop and I am assiging its value to the dTable.NewRow() inside the loop. After specifying columns value, I am adding that row to the DataTable using dTable.Rows.Add method.

// populate the DataTable using DataRow object

DataRow row = null;

for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)


row = dTable.NewRow();

row["AutoID"] = i + 1;

row["Name"] = i + " - Ram";

row["Address"] = "Ram Nagar, India - " + i;



Instead of using the column name, you can use ColumnIndex too, however it is not suggested as you might want to add a column in the mid of the table then you will need to change your code wherever you have specified the index of the column. Same applies while reading or writing values into Database column.

Asiging the value of column using Arrays

In following code, I have specified the values of every column as the array separated by comma (,) in the Add method of the dTable.Rows.

// manually adding rows using array of values

dTable.Rows.Add(6, "Manual Data - 1", "Manual Address - 1, USA");

dTable.Rows.Add(7, "Manual Data - 2", "Manual Address - 2, USA");

Modifying data into DataTable

Modifying Row Data

To edit the data of the row, sets its column value using row index or by specifying the column name. In below example, I am updating the 3rd row of the DataTable as I have specified the row index as 2 (dTable.Rows[2]).

// modify certain values into the DataTable

dTable.Rows[2]["AutoID"] = 20;

dTable.Rows[2]["Name"] = "Modified";

dTable.Rows[2]["Address"] = "Modified Address";


Deleting Row

To delete a row into DataTable, call the rows.Delete() method followed by AcceptChanges() method. AcceptChanges() method commits all the changes made by you to the DataTable. Here Row[1] is the index of the row, in this case 2nd row will be deleted as in collection (here rows collection) count start from 0.

// Delete row




Filtering data from DataTable

To filter records from the DataTable, use Select method and pass necessary filter expression. In below code, the 1st line will simply filter all rows whose AutoID value is greater than 5. The 2nd line of the code filters the DataTable whose AutoID value is greater than 5 after sorting it.

DataRow[] rows = dTable.Select(" AutoID > 5");

DataRow[] rows1 = dTable.Select(" AutoID > 5", "AuotID ASC");

Note that Select method of the DataTable returns the array of rows that matche the filter expression. If you want to loop through all the filtered rows, you can use foreach loop as shown below. In this code, I am adding all the filtered rows into another DataTable.

foreach (DataRow thisRow in rows)


// add values into the datatable



Working with Aggregate functions (Updated on 18-Nov-08)

We can use almost all aggregate functions with DataTable, however the syntax is bit different than standard SQL.

Suppose we need to get the maximum value of a particular column, we can get it in the following way.

DataRow[] rows22 = dTable.Select("AutoID = max(AutoID)");

string str = "MaxAutoID: " + rows22[0]["AutoID"].ToString();

To get the sum of a particular column, we can use Compute method of the DataTable. Compute method of the DataTable takes two argument. The first argument is the expression to compute and second is the filter to limit the rows that evaluate in the expression. If we don't want any filteration (if we need only the sum of the AutoID column for all rows), we can leave the second parameter as blank ("").

object objSum = dTable.Compute("sum(AutoID)", "AutoID > 7");

string sum = "Sum: " + objSum.ToString();

// To get sum of AutoID for all rows of the DataTable

object objSum = dTable.Compute("sum(AutoID)", "");


Sorting data of DataTable

Oops !. There is no direct way of sorting DataTable rows like filtering (Select method to filter DataRows).

There are two ways you can do this.

Using DataView

See the code below. I have created a DataView object by passing my DataTable as parameter, so my DataView will have all the data of the DataTable. Now, simply call the Sort method of the DataView and pass the sort expression. Your DataView object have sorted records now, You can either directly specify the Source of the Data controls object like GridView, DataList to bind the data or if you need to loop through its data you can use ForEach loop as below.

// Sorting DataTable

DataView dataView = new DataView(dTable);

dataView.Sort = " AutoID DESC, Name DESC";

foreach (DataRowView view in dataView)




Using DataTable.Select() method

Yes, you can sort all the rows using Select method too provided you have not specified any filter expression. If you will specify the filter expression, ofcourse your rows will be sorted but filter will also be applied. A small drawback of this way of sorting is that it will return array of DataRows as descibed earlier so if you are planning to bind it to the Data controls like GridView or DataList you will have for form a DataTable by looping through because directly binding arrays of rows to the Data controls will not give desired results.

DataRow[] rows = dTable.Select("", "AutoID DESC");

Writing and Reading XmlSchema of the DataTable

If you need XmlSchema of the DataTabe, you can use WriteXmlSchema to write and ReadXmlSchema to read it. There are several overloads methods of both methods and you can pass filename, stream, TextReader, XmlReader etc. as the parameter. In this code, the schema will be written to the .xml file and will be read from there.

// creating schema definition of the DataTable


// Reading XmlSchema from the xml file we just created

DataTable dTableXmlSchema = new DataTable();


Reading/Writing from/to Xml

If you have a scenario, where you need to write the data of the DataTable into xml format, you can use WriteXml method of the DataTable. Note that WriteXml method will not work if you will not specify the name of the DataTable object while creating it. Look at the first code block above, I have passed "Dynamically_Generated" string while creating the instance of the DataTable. If you will not specify the name of the DataTable then you will get error as WriteXml method will not be able to serialize the data without it.

// Note: In order to write the DataTable into XML,

// you must define the name of the DataTable while creating it

// Also if you are planning to read back this XML into DataTable, you should define the XmlWriteMode.WriteSchema too

// Otherwise ReadXml method will not understand simple xml file

dTable.WriteXml(Server.MapPath("~/DataTable.xml"), XmlWriteMode.WriteSchema);

// Loading Data from XML into DataTable

DataTable dTableXml = new DataTable();


If you are planning to read the xml you have just created into the DataTable sometime later then you need to specify XmlWriteMode.WriteSchema too as the 2nd parameter while calling WriteXml method of the DataTable otherwise normally WriteXml method doesn't write schema of the DataTable. In the abscence of the schema, you will get error (DataTable does not support schema inference from Xml) while calling ReadXml method of the DataTable.


Hope this article will be useful. If you have any question, comments or suggestions, please respond to this article. Thank you very much for reading it and Happy DataTable :)

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About the Author

Full Name: Sheo Narayan
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Member Since: 7/8/2008 6:32:14 PM
Country: India
Regards, Sheo Narayan

Ex-Microsoft MVP, Author, Writer, Mentor & architecting applications since year 2001. Connect me on | |

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Comments or Responses

Posted by: ankitdadhich-4285 on: 7/8/2010
thanks very helpful
Posted by: Fxjamy on: 9/6/2010 | Points: 10

I was wondering if it is possible to style particular columns? Need to show Money symbol in some columns.

Posted by: Lakhwinder.ghuman on: 5/23/2011 | Points: 25
too good.
Posted by: G on: 6/7/2011 | Points: 25
Following is the code that i currently have as an output from dataset. I used ds.writexml("FILENAME"); Cool.


But I want to change the names of allthe columns in this xml file as under:


Can someone help me out!!
Posted by: TitoChhabra on: 6/12/2012 | Points: 25
Great job. Nice article. It's really very helpful for me.

Thanks !!
Posted by: Anwer on: 6/12/2012 | Points: 25
Nice article,
Posted by: Bhupentiwari on: 6/26/2012 | Points: 25
thank you very much
Posted by: Sharmagoldi781 on: 12/4/2013 | Points: 25
to run this code..only we have to write this code in .aspx.cs page...
any other changes needed to be done in web.config or design page??? please specify..because my code is not showing ant output.
i had put the entire code in a function and have called that function in page load.
it is building successfully but no output is there.

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