Problem with XmlNode.ChildNodes across different machines

I'm having the darndest XML config file problem that I really need help with.  

I'm supporting a .NET 1.1 desktop application with its own config file, and 
I implement IConfigurationSectionHandler so I can have a custom config 
section in my config file.  The IConfigurationSectionHandler.Create method 
just returns the 'section' XmlNode back to the consumer.  The config file 
looks kind of like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<section name="MyConfigSettings" type="MyAssembly.ConfigReader, MyAssembly" />
<ConfigSet zone="Test">
<add key="FirstKey" value="FirstValue"/>
<add key="SecondKey" value="SecondValue"/>
<add key="ThirdKey" value="ThirdValue"/>
<ConfigSet zone="Integration">
<add key="FirstKey" value="FirstValue"/>
<add key="SecondKey" value="SecondValue"/>
<add key="ThirdKey" value="ThirdValue"/>

Then I've got this section of code that looks like this:

    Public Shared Sub SetConfigZone(ByVal Zone As String)

        Dim debug As String

            debug &= "Checking Zone variable " & Environment.NewLine

            If (Zone Is Nothing) Then
                MessageBox.Show("Zone variable passed in is nothing")
            End If

            debug &= "Getting XmlNode from config file " & Environment.NewLine
            Dim parent As XmlNode = 

            debug &= "Checking parent variable " & Environment.NewLine
            If (parent Is Nothing) Then
                Throw New ConfigurationException("Unable to locate the 
custom configuration section MyConfigSettings.  Please check your config 
            End If


            debug &= "Beginning loop through nodes " & Environment.NewLine
            For Each node As XmlNode In parent.ChildNodes
                debug &= "Inspecting Node's zone attribute... " & 
                If (node.Attributes("zone").Value = Zone) Then
                    debug &= "Correct node found... " & Environment.NewLine
                    debug &= "Creating new NameValueCollection... " & 
                    ConfigCommon.m_ConfigSettings = New NameValueCollection
                    debug &= "Looping through 'add' subnodes... " & 
                    For Each subNode As XmlNode In node.SelectNodes("add")
                        debug &= "Getting subnode's 'key' value... " & 
                End If
        Catch ex As Exception
            MessageBox.Show(debug, "Our debug message")
            MessageBox.Show(ex.ToString(), "Our error message")
        End Try

        'If we get this far, we haven't found our configuration section
        Throw New ConfigurationException("Unable to locate configuration 
zone " & Zone)

    End Sub

So here's my problem.  This code has been working just great for the last 
six to nine months, but all of a sudden about two weeks ago all of the new 
machine builds our desktop group puts out fail at the following line:

                If (node.Attributes("zone").Value = Zone) //fails on first 
run through

On new machines, it's producing a NullReferenceException.  But when I take 
the exact same code and run it on anyone else's machine, it works just fine.  
In fact, you'll notice that I added a lot of little debugs and 
MessageBox.Show statements in there to try to pinpoint it.  When I run the 
code on my machine, I notice that the MessageBox.Show(node.OuterXml) produces 
the first node.  When I run this on a newly built machine, the 
MessageBox.Show produces an empty string.  

My question is:  what is missing from these new builds that was in the old 
builds?  I think I've ruled out different versions of the .NET framework.  
Even if this was a breaking change in .NET 2.0, I tried forcing the .NET 
Framework in the config file to 1.1 and still got the same error.  And the 
users definitely have the .NET 1.1 Framework.  

Please help.  


3/14/2007 9:42:03 PM
dotnet.xml 7266 articles. 0 followers. Follow

5 Replies

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In fact, I have run the application with your code and .config file on my 
machine (with .net framework 2.0), but without any error. The code snippet 
you posted in newsgroup is fine.

> When I run the code on my machine, I notice that the 
MessageBox.Show(node.OuterXml) >produces the first node.  When I run this 
on a newly built machine, the MessageBox.Show produces an empty string.  

Is there any output by  "MessageBox.Show(parent.OuterXml)" ?
I suggest you may output the parent.Attributes.count and through out each 
Attribute of parent node rather than only output the attribute "zone". 
There must be something wrong in Parent.Attributes.

Hope this helps,
Wen Yuan

v-wywang (104)
3/15/2007 1:49:28 PM
Hi Wen Yuan,

> Is there any output by  "MessageBox.Show(parent.OuterXml)" ?

On both the old and new builds, the parent.OuterXml displays just fine.  

This app is written in .NET 1.1 and the users have the .NET 1.1 Framework on 
their machines.  Does this code run just fine for you in .NET 1.1?  

3/15/2007 2:00:10 PM
Thanks for your reply.

I uninstalled my .net framework 2.0 and installed .net framework 1.1 just 
now. This is really a bug. I have reproduced this issue. The node.outXml 
become null and I get the same exception as you.
But after I installed sp1 for .net frame work 1.1. The issue has gone away.
Apparently, this issue has been addressed in SP1 and .net framework 2.0. 
(under my test).
For this reason, I suggest you may installed sp1 for .net 1.1 or installed 
new .net 2.0 to resolved this issue.
You can download sp1 for .net 1.1 from the following website.
[Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1]

Hope this will hope you. Also if you have any further issue, please feel 
free to let me know. I'm glad to assist you.
Have a great weekend.
Wen Yuan

v-wywang (104)
3/16/2007 11:30:59 AM
Wen Yuan,

Thank you very much for your help.  Independently yesterday I stumbled 
across this article which outlines my issue:

As you indicated, it is a bug having do with Config files represented as 
XML.  I am working with our Desktop team to determine which patch installed 
in the last few months fixed it, as I don't believe we are running SP1 but 
have applied numerous patches from 1.1.  Converting to .NET 2.0 is not an 
option for us, as it would require much more thorough testing of our 

Thanks again for your help.  

3/16/2007 1:12:06 PM
Thanks for your feedback. You are welcome.:)
As you see, I think .NET 1.1 SP 1 will resolve the issue for you.

Have a great day,
Wen Yuan

v-wywang (104)
3/19/2007 7:04:09 AM

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