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CustomAttributeData Class

Provides access to custom attribute data for assemblies, modules, types, members and parameters that are loaded into the reflection-only context.

System.Object
  System.Reflection.CustomAttributeData

Namespace:  System.Reflection
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

'Declaration
<SerializableAttribute> _
<ComVisibleAttribute(True)> _
Public Class CustomAttributeData

The CustomAttributeData type exposes the following members.

  NameDescription
Protected methodCustomAttributeDataInitializes a new instance of the CustomAttributeData class.
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  NameDescription
Public propertyConstructorReturns a ConstructorInfo object representing the constructor that would have initialized the custom attribute.
Public propertyConstructorArgumentsGets the list of positional arguments specified for the attribute instance represented by the CustomAttributeData object.
Public propertyNamedArgumentsGets the list of named arguments specified for the attribute instance represented by the CustomAttributeData object.
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  NameDescription
Public methodEqualsReturns a value that indicates whether this instance is equal to a specified object. (Overrides Object.Equals(Object).)
Protected methodFinalizeAllows an object to try to free resources and perform other cleanup operations before it is reclaimed by garbage collection. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodStatic memberGetCustomAttributes(Assembly)Returns a list of CustomAttributeData objects representing data about the attributes that have been applied to the target assembly.
Public methodStatic memberGetCustomAttributes(MemberInfo)Returns a list of CustomAttributeData objects representing data about the attributes that have been applied to the target member.
Public methodStatic memberGetCustomAttributes(Module)Returns a list of CustomAttributeData objects representing data about the attributes that have been applied to the target module.
Public methodStatic memberGetCustomAttributes(ParameterInfo)Returns a list of CustomAttributeData objects representing data about the attributes that have been applied to the target parameter.
Public methodGetHashCodeServes as a hash function for a particular type. (Overrides Object.GetHashCode.)
Public methodGetTypeGets the Type of the current instance. (Inherited from Object.)
Protected methodMemberwiseCloneCreates a shallow copy of the current Object. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodToStringReturns a string representation of the custom attribute. (Overrides Object.ToString.)
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Code that is being examined in the reflection-only context cannot be executed, so it is not always possible to examine custom attributes by creating instances of them and then examining their properties, using methods like Attribute.GetCustomAttributes, MemberInfo.GetCustomAttributes, and so on. If the code for the attribute type itself is loaded into the reflection-only context, it cannot be executed.

The CustomAttributeData class allows examination of custom attributes in the reflection-only context by providing an abstraction for attributes. The members of this class can be used to obtain the positional arguments and named arguments of the attribute. Use the ConstructorArguments property to get a list of CustomAttributeTypedArgument structures that represent the positional arguments, and use the NamedArguments property to get a list of CustomAttributeNamedArgument structures that represent the named arguments.

NoteNote

The CustomAttributeNamedArgument structure only provides information about the attribute property used to get and set the argument value. To obtain the type and value of the argument, use the CustomAttributeNamedArgument.TypedValue property to obtain a CustomAttributeTypedArgument structure.

When you have a CustomAttributeTypedArgument structure for an argument, whether named or positional, use the CustomAttributeTypedArgument.ArgumentType property to get the type and the CustomAttributeTypedArgument.Value property to get the value.

NoteNote

For an array argument, the CustomAttributeTypedArgument.Value property returns a generic ReadOnlyCollection(Of T) of CustomAttributeTypedArgument objects. Each CustomAttributeTypedArgument object in the collection represents the corresponding element of the array.

CustomAttributeData can be used in the execution context as well as in the reflection-only context. For example, you might want to avoid loading the assembly that contains the code for a custom attribute. Using the CustomAttributeData class is different from using methods like Attribute.GetCustomAttributes:

  • The properties and methods of CustomAttributeData only provide you with the values that were specified for the attribute instance, not the semantics of the constructor. For example, a string argument of an attribute might be converted internally to some other representation, and returned in a canonical form; or a property might have side effects when the actual attribute code is executed.

  • The properties and methods of CustomAttributeData do not allow you to retrieve the custom attributes inherited from base classes.

To create instances of the CustomAttributeData class, use the static (Shared in Visual Basic) GetCustomAttributes factory methods.

The following example defines a custom attribute with four constructors and four properties. Two of the properties are read-only, and are set by using the positional parameters of the constructors. The other two properties are read/write, and can be set only by using named arguments. One positional property is an array of strings, and one named property is an array of integers.

The attribute is applied to the assembly, to a type declared in the assembly, to a method of the type, and to a parameter of the method. Different constructors are used for these cases. When executed, the assembly loads itself into the reflection-only context and displays information about the custom attributes that were applied to it and to the type and members it contains.

The attribute that is applied to the type demonstrates array properties, with both positional and named arguments.


Imports System
Imports System.Reflection
Imports System.Collections.Generic
Imports System.Collections.ObjectModel

' The example attribute is applied to the assembly.
<Assembly:Example(ExampleKind.ThirdKind, Note:="This is a note on the assembly.")>

' An enumeration used by the ExampleAttribute class.
Public Enum ExampleKind
    FirstKind
    SecondKind
    ThirdKind
    FourthKind
End Enum

' An example attribute. The attribute can be applied to all
' targets, from assemblies to parameters.
'
<AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.All)> _
Public Class ExampleAttribute
    Inherits Attribute

    ' Data for properties.
    Private kindValue As ExampleKind
    Private noteValue As String
    Private arrayStrings() As String
    Private arrayNumbers() As Integer

    ' Constructors. The parameterless constructor (.ctor) calls
    ' the constructor that specifies ExampleKind and an array of
    ' strings, and supplies the default values.
    '
    Public Sub New(ByVal initKind As ExampleKind, ByVal initStrings() As String)
        kindValue = initKind
        arrayStrings = initStrings
    End Sub
    Public Sub New(ByVal initKind As ExampleKind)
        Me.New(initKind, Nothing)
    End Sub
    Public Sub New()
        Me.New(ExampleKind.FirstKind, Nothing)
    End Sub

    ' Properties. The Note and Numbers properties must be read/write, so they 
    ' can be used as named parameters.
    '
    Public ReadOnly Property Kind As ExampleKind
        Get
            Return kindValue 
        End Get
    End Property
    Public ReadOnly Property Strings As String()
        Get
            Return arrayStrings 
        End Get
    End Property
    Public Property Note As String
        Get
            Return noteValue 
        End Get
        Set
            noteValue = value
        End Set
    End Property
    Public Property Numbers As Integer()
        Get
            Return arrayNumbers 
        End Get
        Set
            arrayNumbers = value
        End Set
    End Property
End Class

' The example attribute is applied to the test class.
'
<Example(ExampleKind.SecondKind, _
         New String() { "String array argument, line 1", _
                        "String array argument, line 2", _
                        "String array argument, line 3" }, _
         Note := "This is a note on the class.", _
         Numbers := New Integer() { 53, 57, 59 })> _
Public Class Test
    ' The example attribute is applied to a method, using the
    ' parameterless constructor and supplying a named argument.
    ' The attribute is also applied to the method parameter.
    '
    <Example(Note:="This is a note on a method.")> _
    Public Sub TestMethod(<Example()> ByVal arg As Object)
    End Sub

    ' Sub Main gets objects representing the assembly, the test
    ' type, the test method, and the method parameter. Custom
    ' attribute data is displayed for each of these.
    '
    Public Shared Sub Main()
        Dim asm As [Assembly] = Assembly.ReflectionOnlyLoad("source")
        Dim t As Type = asm.GetType("Test")
        Dim m As MethodInfo = t.GetMethod("TestMethod")
        Dim p() As ParameterInfo = m.GetParameters()

        Console.WriteLine(vbCrLf & "Attributes for assembly: '{0}'", asm)
        ShowAttributeData(CustomAttributeData.GetCustomAttributes(asm))
        Console.WriteLine(vbCrLf & "Attributes for type: '{0}'", t)
        ShowAttributeData(CustomAttributeData.GetCustomAttributes(t))
        Console.WriteLine(vbCrLf & "Attributes for member: '{0}'", m)
        ShowAttributeData(CustomAttributeData.GetCustomAttributes(m))
        Console.WriteLine(vbCrLf & "Attributes for parameter: '{0}'", p)
        ShowAttributeData(CustomAttributeData.GetCustomAttributes(p(0)))
    End Sub

    Private Shared Sub ShowAttributeData( _
        ByVal attributes As IList(Of CustomAttributeData))

        For Each cad As CustomAttributeData _
            In CType(attributes, IEnumerable(Of CustomAttributeData))

            Console.WriteLine("   {0}", cad)
            Console.WriteLine("      Constructor: '{0}'", cad.Constructor)

            Console.WriteLine("      Constructor arguments:")
            For Each cata As CustomAttributeTypedArgument _
                In CType(cad.ConstructorArguments, IEnumerable(Of CustomAttributeTypedArgument))

                ShowValueOrArray(cata)
            Next

            Console.WriteLine("      Named arguments:")
            For Each cana As CustomAttributeNamedArgument _
                In CType(cad.NamedArguments, IEnumerable(Of CustomAttributeNamedArgument))

                Console.WriteLine("         MemberInfo: '{0}'", _
                    cana.MemberInfo)
                ShowValueOrArray(cana.TypedValue)
            Next
        Next
    End Sub

    Private Shared Sub ShowValueOrArray(ByVal cata As CustomAttributeTypedArgument)
        If cata.Value.GetType() Is GetType(ReadOnlyCollection(Of CustomAttributeTypedArgument)) Then
            Console.WriteLine("         Array of '{0}':", cata.ArgumentType)

            For Each cataElement As CustomAttributeTypedArgument In cata.Value
                Console.WriteLine("             Type: '{0}'  Value: '{1}'", _
                    cataElement.ArgumentType, cataElement.Value)
            Next
        Else
            Console.WriteLine("         Type: '{0}'  Value: '{1}'", _
                cata.ArgumentType, cata.Value)
        End If       
    End Sub
End Class

' This code example produces output similar to the following:
'
'Attributes for assembly: 'source, Version=0.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null'
'   [System.Runtime.CompilerServices.CompilationRelaxationsAttribute((Int32)8)]
'      Constructor: 'Void .ctor(Int32)'
'      Constructor arguments:
'         Type: 'System.Int32'  Value: '8'
'      Named arguments:
'   [System.Runtime.CompilerServices.RuntimeCompatibilityAttribute(WrapNonExceptionThrows = True)]
'      Constructor: 'Void .ctor()'
'      Constructor arguments:
'      Named arguments:
'         MemberInfo: 'Boolean WrapNonExceptionThrows'
'         Type: 'System.Boolean'  Value: 'True'
'   [ExampleAttribute((ExampleKind)2, Note = "This is a note on the assembly.")]
'      Constructor: 'Void .ctor(ExampleKind)'
'      Constructor arguments:
'         Type: 'ExampleKind'  Value: '2'
'      Named arguments:
'         MemberInfo: 'System.String Note'
'         Type: 'System.String'  Value: 'This is a note on the assembly.'
'
'Attributes for type: 'Test'
'   [ExampleAttribute((ExampleKind)1, new String[3] { "String array argument, line 1", "String array argument, line 2", "String array argument, line 3" }, Note = "This is a note on the class.", Numbers = new Int32[3] { 53, 57, 59 })]
'      Constructor: 'Void .ctor(ExampleKind, System.String[])'
'      Constructor arguments:
'         Type: 'ExampleKind'  Value: '1'
'         Array of 'System.String[]':
'             Type: 'System.String'  Value: 'String array argument, line 1'
'             Type: 'System.String'  Value: 'String array argument, line 2'
'             Type: 'System.String'  Value: 'String array argument, line 3'
'      Named arguments:
'         MemberInfo: 'System.String Note'
'         Type: 'System.String'  Value: 'This is a note on the class.'
'         MemberInfo: 'Int32[] Numbers'
'         Array of 'System.Int32[]':
'             Type: 'System.Int32'  Value: '53'
'             Type: 'System.Int32'  Value: '57'
'             Type: 'System.Int32'  Value: '59'
'
'Attributes for member: 'Void TestMethod(System.Object)'
'   [ExampleAttribute(Note = "This is a note on a method.")]
'      Constructor: 'Void .ctor()'
'      Constructor arguments:
'      Named arguments:
'         MemberInfo: 'System.String Note'
'         Type: 'System.String'  Value: 'This is a note on a method.'
'
'Attributes for parameter: 'System.Object arg'
'   [ExampleAttribute()]
'      Constructor: 'Void .ctor()'
'      Constructor arguments:
'      Named arguments:


.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

The .NET Framework does not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.

Any public static (Shared in Visual Basic) members of this type are thread safe. Any instance members are not guaranteed to be thread safe.

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