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Using XPath Inside BizTalk Orchestrations

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Stephen W. Thomas BizTalk MVP

Insight and guidance on Microsoft BizTalk Server, Windows Azure, Infrastructure as a Service, and related Microsoft technologies.

Using XPath Inside BizTalk Orchestrations

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Working with XPath inside Orchestrations is a powerful and simple feature of BizTalk 2004.  The help guide does a good job describing the process (under Using XPath in Message Assignment).




I have found that the XPath queries can only be done against a Message and the results can be set to a Message, XML Document or other orchestration variables.  XPath queries can also be executed against untyped messages.  That is, a Message that is of type System.Xml.XmlDocument.




CRITICAL: BizTalk xpath can be used to both read values and set values inside your Message.  To set values in your message, you need to be inside a Message Construct shape.




Here are some of the things you can do with xpath and how to do them:


- Set a single values inside a Message using xpath


 xpath(SingleXML, "//LineTotal") = nLineTotal;




- Extract a single piece of data out of a Message


 sCustomer = xpath(InXML,"string(//Customer)");




- Extract a single node out of a large XML Document and assign it to a message or variable


 sXPath = System.String.Format("//Item[{0}]",nCount);

 xDoc = xpath(InXML, sXPath);




- Count the number of nodes or occurrences of something inside your message


 nNumberItems = System.Convert.ToInt32(xpath(InXML, "count(//Item)"));



A great resource for xpath functions and expressions is the W3Schools.




I have put together a sample that shows several different xpath uses inside the Orchestration.  This sample takes in an Order, calculates the total per line, sends out each line item as a single message, and sends out the whole order with an order total.  Note that the Item nodes are not updated on the Output document, only on the single documents.




DOWNLOAD: XPath Sample




The de-batching approach is based on Darren Jefford’s Blog about Manual Message Splitting.  Make sure you check it out and download his sample as well.

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  • hey Thomas

    that was gr8 information u knw i implimented that but i am running one small issue if u can help me out,i am appplying same senario with sql adapter i am splitting coming bunch of xml and running loop and xpath for node by node data and i get node xml in message but now i do not know how to insert it into sql table as it is not bound to updategram,how can i achive this????

  • You will need to create a schema to inset that data into SQL.  Or use .net code to do the same.

    You can either create an Update Gram schema or create a stored procedure.  Use the Add Generated Item option to create the schema.

    You should be able to find some samples on this online.

    Stephen W. Thomas

  • Great information, thanks.  The link to the sample files doesn't seem to work anymore, are they still hosted and available somewhere?  Thanks!

  • Sorry things have moved around a bit since this post in 2004.  All samples can now be found here:


  • thanks its very help ful for me .

  • hi i saw  your sample xpath application,

    there u mention

    // Get a specific node based on the loop count

    sXPath = System.String.Format("//Item[{0}]",nCount);

    but i have doubt in the item[{0}]

    is curly brace should need inside the square bracket?

    actually i refered in website

    there saying if we want first item element in xml document,

    we should use //item[0]

    but obviously getting error when i omitted the

    curly brace

    can u explain me the index usage?

  • actually i couldnot understand this statement .. can u explain me?

    // Allow unrecognized messages on this send port

    SingleXML(XMLNORM.AllowUnrecognizedMessage) = true;

  • so far i used xml schema for message type in message creating properties

    and       used  default xml pipeline in configuration port

    but in  ur application, u used system.xml.xmldocument in messagetype

    and default pipeline of passthrough used in configuration port

    can u tell me ,   for what purpose  we  using that default pipeline and system.xml.xmldocument?

  • sXPath = System.String.Format("//Item[{0}]",nCount);

    xDoc = xpath(InXML, sXPath);

    when i use above code its getting cast error

  • XPathStatement = System.String.Format("//Detail[{0}]",nLoopCount);

    xDoc = xpath(Msg_PaymentEOD, XPathStatement);

    when i use above code its getting  Error i.e.Object reference not set to an instance of an object

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