T-SQL Tutorial


In SQL Server, the FOR XML clause is used to generate XML output from a query result set. The FOR XML clause allows you to specify how the query results should be formatted in XML, and it can be used with various query constructs like SELECT, UNION, and GROUP BY.

When using the FOR XML clause, you can specify several options that control the XML output format. For example, you can specify the root element name, the element name for each row of the result set, and the attribute or element structure of the XML output. You can also specify whether the XML should be formatted as a single string or as multiple rows, and whether to include or exclude column headers and empty elements.


SELECT column1, column2
FROM table
FOR XML mode

In the above syntax, mode specifies the format in which the XML output will be generated. There are several modes available in SQL Server, which are as follows:

RAW - This mode generates XML output without any formatting or indentation.
AUTO - This mode generates XML output in a nested format, with elements and attributes generated based on the column names and data types.
EXPLICIT - This mode allows developers to define the structure of the XML output using the PATH option. This mode is useful when you need more control over the structure of the XML output.
PATH - This option is used with the EXPLICIT mode to define the structure of the XML output.


Here's an example of how to use the FOR XML clause in a SELECT statement to generate XML output:

SELECT column1, column2
FROM table1

In this example, the SELECT statement retrieves data from table1 and generates XML output using the AUTO option. The AUTO option specifies that each row of the result set should be represented as an element, with column names used as element names. The resulting XML output would look something like this:


You can also use other options like RAW, PATH, and EXPLICIT to generate different XML output formats, depending on your needs. The FOR XML clause is a powerful tool for generating XML output from SQL Server queries, and it can be used to integrate SQL Server with other applications that consume or produce XML data.