C# – Serialize an object to string

c++serializationstringxml-serialization

I have the following method to save an Object to a file:

// Save an object out to the disk
public static void SerializeObject<T>(this T toSerialize, String filename)
{
    XmlSerializer xmlSerializer = new XmlSerializer(toSerialize.GetType());
    TextWriter textWriter = new StreamWriter(filename);

    xmlSerializer.Serialize(textWriter, toSerialize);
    textWriter.Close();
}

I confess I did not write it (I only converted it to a extension method that took a type parameter).

Now I need it to give the xml back to me as a string (rather than save it to a file). I am looking into it, but I have not figured it out yet.

I thought this might be really easy for someone familiar with these objects. If not I will figure it out eventually.

Best Solution

Use a StringWriter instead of a StreamWriter:

public static string SerializeObject<T>(this T toSerialize)
{
    XmlSerializer xmlSerializer = new XmlSerializer(toSerialize.GetType());

    using(StringWriter textWriter = new StringWriter())
    {
        xmlSerializer.Serialize(textWriter, toSerialize);
        return textWriter.ToString();
    }
}

Note, it is important to use toSerialize.GetType() instead of typeof(T) in XmlSerializer constructor: if you use the first one the code covers all possible subclasses of T (which are valid for the method), while using the latter one will fail when passing a type derived from T.    Here is a link with some example code that motivate this statement, with XmlSerializer throwing an Exception when typeof(T) is used, because you pass an instance of a derived type to a method that calls SerializeObject that is defined in the derived type's base class: http://ideone.com/1Z5J1.

Also, Ideone uses Mono to execute code; the actual Exception you would get using the Microsoft .NET runtime has a different Message than the one shown on Ideone, but it fails just the same.