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Ignoring Null Objects in the Serialization Process
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The Employee class has an Address property that is an object type. If this property is null, XmlSerializer still emits an empty XML element for it, but you can use the [XmlElement] attribute to change this behavior. The IsNullable Boolean property of the [XmlElement] attribute indicates whether the empty XML element will be emitted when the member is null. Setting this property to true will not emit the empty XML element if the Address property is null.
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Changing Enumeration Identifiers
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The EmployeeType enumeration has two values: Permanent and Contract. By default when a member of the EmployeeType type is serialized, the value of these enumeration identifiers is emitted in the serialized XML. The [XmlEnum] attribute specifies the alternate value to serialize instead of the actual identifier name, and is applied on enumeration identifiers. The Name property of the [XmlEnum] attribute specifies the text that will be serialized instead of the identifier name.
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Serializing Data in SOAP Format
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In the beginning of this chapter, you learned that there are three flavors of serialization based on the format (binary, XML, and SOAP). Serializing objects into binary format is outside the scope of this book, and you have already learned how to serialize objects in XML format. Now it s time to learn how objects can be serialized in SOAP format. SOAP is an industry standard that forms one of the pillars of web services. Though SOAP is used extensively along with web services, you can use it as an encoding format for object serialization. When you serialize objects by using the XmlSerializer class, you need not do anything special to the classes themselves. However, when you wish to use SOAP as a serialization format, you must mark your classes with the [Serializable] attribute. Only then can your classes be serialized. The SoapFormatter class takes care of all the intricacies of serializing your objects in SOAP format. The SoapFormatter class resides in the System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Soap namespace, which physically resides in the System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Soap.dll assembly. Let s revisit the application that we developed when we began this chapter (see Figure 8-1) and modify it to use SoapFormatter instead of XmlSerializer. The user interface of the application remains unchanged, but the way we serialize and deserialize the objects differs. First, you need to mark the Employee class with the [Serializable] attribute. The modified Employee class is shown in Listing 8-17.
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CHAPTER 8 XML S ERIA LIZATION
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Listing 8-17. Marking a Class with the [Serializable] Attribute [Serializable] public class Employee { private int intID; private string strFName; private string strLName; private string strHPhone; private string strNotes; public int EmployeeID { get { return intID; } set { intID = value; } } public string FirstName { get { return strFName; } set { strFName = value; } } public string LastName { get { return strLName; } set { strLName = value; } }
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CHAPTER 8 XML S ERIA LIZA TION
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public string HomePhone { get { return strHPhone; } set { strHPhone = value; } } public string Notes { get { return strNotes; } set { strNotes = value; } } } As you can see, the [Serializable] attribute is a class-level attribute. Hence it is placed at the top of the Employee class and marked as a serializable class. Listing 8-18 shows the Click event handler of the Serialize button. This time the code uses the SoapFormatter class. Listing 8-18. Serializing Objects by Using the SoapFormatter Class private void button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e) { Employee emp = new Employee(); emp.EmployeeID = int.Parse(textBox1.Text); emp.FirstName = textBox2.Text; emp.LastName = textBox3.Text; emp.HomePhone = textBox4.Text; emp.Notes = textBox5.Text; FileStream stream = new FileStream(Application.StartupPath + @"\employee.xml", FileMode.Create); SoapFormatter formatter = new SoapFormatter(); formatter.Serialize(stream, emp);
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CHAPTER 8 XML S ERIA LIZATION
stream.Close(); if (checkBox1.Checked) { Process.Start(Application.StartupPath + @"\employee.xml"); } } The code creates an instance of the Employee class and sets its properties to the values entered in the text boxes. A FileStream object is then created and creates a file to which the serialized data is to be written. Then a SoapFormatter object is created. The Serialize() method of SoapFormatter accepts two parameters: a stream to which the serialized data is to be written and the object that is to be serialized. The counterpart of this operation is performed in the Click event handler of the Deserialize button and is shown in Listing 8-19. Listing 8-19. Deserialization by Using the SoapFormatter Class private void button2_Click(object sender, EventArgs e) { Employee emp; FileStream stream = new FileStream(Application.StartupPath + @"\employee.xml", FileMode.Open); SoapFormatter formatter = new SoapFormatter(); emp=(Employee)formatter.Deserialize(stream); textBox1.Text = emp.EmployeeID.ToString(); textBox2.Text = emp.FirstName; textBox3.Text = emp.LastName; textBox4.Text = emp.HomePhone; textBox5.Text = emp.Notes; stream.Close(); } The code declares a variable of type Employee. It then opens a stream pointing to the same file to which the object was serialized before. An instance of SoapFormatter is then created. The Deserialize() method of SoapFormatter reads the stream and deserializes the object. The return value of Deserialize() is of type object and hence it is type converted to the Employee class. After the Employee object is retrieved, its property values are assigned to the corresponding text boxes. If you run the application and serialize the Employee object, you should see output similar to Figure 8-8. As you can see, the XML output is now in SOAP format. There is also mention of some namespaces related to SOAP. There is another important difference: the names given to various elements containing data correspond to private variable names that hold the actual value and not the property names. Unlike XML serialization, which is shallow by nature, SOAP serialization done via the SoapFormatter class is deep serialization. It serializes private, protected, and public data.
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