Print out all properties and their values in C# from an Object

I stumbled upon a problem where I wanted to copy a WCF response and share it with someone, sounds easy enough but when you want to whole hierarchy of an objects properties in a clear view it can get tricky. Just like the WCF Test Client I want to get all properties and copy them but you can’t do that from the WCF Test Client unfortunately. So the best way I found is to utilize the ObjectDumper class we will create here.

So let’s say you have a bunch of classes like this

namespace MyNamespace
{
    public class User
    {
        public string FirstName { get; set; }
        public string LastName { get; set; }
        public Address Address { get; set; }
        public IList<Hobby> Hobbies { get; set; }
    }

    public class Hobby
    {
        public string Name { get; set; }
    }

    public class Address
    {
        public string Street { get; set; }
        public int ZipCode { get; set; }
        public string City { get; set; }    
    }
}

Then you’ll get a text like this basicly descripting the object

{MyNamespace.User}
  FirstName: "Arnold"
  LastName: "Schwarzenegger"
  Address: { }
    {MyNamespace.Address}
      Street: "6834 Hollywood Blvd"
      ZipCode: 90028
      City: "Hollywood"
  Hobbies: ...
    {MyNamespace.Hobby}
      Name: "body building"

You will get “…” telling that it is a list-object, otherwise simply the the object { } characters indicating it is indeed a single object, then it says what class it is.

The code you need:

using System;
using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Reflection;
using System.Text;

public class ObjectDumper
{
    private int _level;
    private readonly int _indentSize;
    private readonly StringBuilder _stringBuilder;
    private readonly List<int> _hashListOfFoundElements;

    private ObjectDumper(int indentSize)
    {
        _indentSize = indentSize;
        _stringBuilder = new StringBuilder();
        _hashListOfFoundElements = new List<int>();
    }

    public static string Dump(object element)
    {
        return Dump(element, 2);
    }

    public static string Dump(object element, int indentSize)
    {
        var instance = new ObjectDumper(indentSize);
        return instance.DumpElement(element);
    }

    private string DumpElement(object element)
    {
        if (element == null || element is ValueType || element is string)
        {
            Write(FormatValue(element));
        }
        else
        {
            var objectType = element.GetType();
            if (!typeof(IEnumerable).IsAssignableFrom(objectType))
            {
                Write("{{{0}}}", objectType.FullName);
                _hashListOfFoundElements.Add(element.GetHashCode());
                _level++;
            }

            var enumerableElement = element as IEnumerable;
            if (enumerableElement != null)
            {
                foreach (object item in enumerableElement)
                {
                    if (item is IEnumerable &amp;&amp; !(item is string))
                    {
                        _level++;
                        DumpElement(item);
                        _level--;
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        if (!AlreadyTouched(item))
                            DumpElement(item);
                        else
                            Write("{{{0}}} <-- bidirectional reference found", item.GetType().FullName);
                    }
                }
            }
            else
            {
                MemberInfo[] members = element.GetType().GetMembers(BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.Instance);
                foreach (var memberInfo in members)
                {
                    var fieldInfo = memberInfo as FieldInfo;
                    var propertyInfo = memberInfo as PropertyInfo;

                    if (fieldInfo == null &amp;&amp; propertyInfo == null)
                        continue;

                    var type = fieldInfo != null ? fieldInfo.FieldType : propertyInfo.PropertyType;
                    object value = fieldInfo != null
                                       ? fieldInfo.GetValue(element)
                                       : propertyInfo.GetValue(element, null);

                    if (type.IsValueType || type == typeof(string))
                    {
                        Write("{0}: {1}", memberInfo.Name, FormatValue(value));
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        var isEnumerable = typeof(IEnumerable).IsAssignableFrom(type);
                        Write("{0}: {1}", memberInfo.Name, isEnumerable ? "..." : "{ }");

                        var alreadyTouched = !isEnumerable &amp;&amp; AlreadyTouched(value);
                        _level++;
                        if (!alreadyTouched)
                            DumpElement(value);
                        else
                            Write("{{{0}}} <-- bidirectional reference found", value.GetType().FullName);
                        _level--;
                    }
                }
            }

            if (!typeof(IEnumerable).IsAssignableFrom(objectType))
            {
                _level--;
            }
        }

        return _stringBuilder.ToString();
    }

    private bool AlreadyTouched(object value)
    {
        if (value == null)
            return false;

        var hash = value.GetHashCode();
        for (var i = 0; i < _hashListOfFoundElements.Count; i++)
        {
            if (_hashListOfFoundElements[i] == hash)
                return true;
        }
        return false;
    }

    private void Write(string value, params object[] args)
    {
        var space = new string(' ', _level * _indentSize);

        if (args != null)
            value = string.Format(value, args);

        _stringBuilder.AppendLine(space + value);
    }

    private string FormatValue(object o)
    {
        if (o == null)
            return ("null");

        if (o is DateTime)
            return (((DateTime)o).ToShortDateString());

        if (o is string)
            return string.Format("\"{0}\"", o);

        if (o is char &amp;&amp; (char)o == '\0') 
            return string.Empty; 

        if (o is ValueType)
            return (o.ToString());

        if (o is IEnumerable)
            return ("...");

        return ("{ }");
    }
}

Usage

var dump = ObjectDumper.Dump(user);

Credit goes to ms007 for finishing this great method. So imagine you have a User object which contains a bunch of properties just like above, you will then pass the object into the Dump method then what you get is a string which describes the object structure, and with this I like to save into a text file since you’ll have \r and \n characters for tab and line breaks. Note that you will need to import System.IO to use the File methods.

var dump = ObjectDumper.Dump(proj);
// Create a file to write to
string createText = dump;
File.WriteAllText("C:\\thing.txt", createText);

And there you go, now you have saved a text file of the object structure and their values in your C disk drive called thing.

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