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 = newDataTable(“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 = newDataColumn(“AutoID”, typeof(System.Int32));
// create another column
DataColumn name = newDataColumn(“Name”, typeof(string));
// create one more column
DataColumn address = newDataColumn(“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 = newDataColumn;
pK = 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).
// modify certain values into the DataTable
dTable.Rows[“AutoID”] = 20;
dTable.Rows[“Name”] = “Modified”;
dTable.Rows[“Address”] = “Modified Address”;
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 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[“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.
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 = newDataView(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 = newDataTable();
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
// Loading Data from XML into DataTable
DataTable dTableXml = newDataTable();
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.