As described in Constructing XML Using FOR XML, the PATH mode provides a simpler way to mix elements and attributes. PATH mode is also a simpler way to introduce additional nesting for representing complex properties. You can use FOR XML EXPLICIT mode queries to construct such XML from a rowset, but the PATH mode provides a simpler alternative to the potentially cumbersome EXPLICIT mode queries. PATH mode, together with the ability to write nested FOR XML queries and the TYPE directive to return xml type instances, allows you to write queries with less complexity.
In PATH mode, column names or column aliases are treated as XPath expressions. These expressions indicate how the values are being mapped to XML. Each XPath expression is a relative XPath that provides the item type., such as the attribute, element, and scalar value, and the name and hierarchy of the node that will be generated relative to the row element.
This section describes mapping columns in a rowset under various conditions, and provides examples.