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Data Contracts and Circular References

Visual Studio 2010

The DataContractSerializer is capable of serializing object trees that contain circular references. To enable this functionality you must mark the data contract with IsReference = true within the DataContractAttribute. The following sample code illustrates how to do this.

namespace CircularTest
{
  [DataContract(IsReference=true]
  public class Person
  {
    public Person(string firstName, string lastName, Person parent)
    {
      FirstName = firstName;
      LastName = lastName;
      Children = new List<Person>();
      Parent = parent;
    }

    [DataMember]
    public string FirstName { get; set; }
    [DataMember]
    public string LastName { get; set; }
    [DataMember]
    public List<Person> Children { get; set; }
    [DataMember]
    public Person Parent { get; set; } 
  }

  class Program
  {
    static void Main(string[] args)
    {
      Person kim= new Person("Kim", "Abercrombie", null);
      kim.Children.Add(new Person("Hazem", "Abolrous", kim));
      kim.Children.Add(new Person("Luka", "Abrus", kim));

      try
      {
        DataContractSerializer dcs = new DataContractSerializer(typeof(Person));
        MemoryStream stream = new MemoryStream();
        dcs.WriteObject(stream, kim);
      }
      catch (Exception ex)
      {
        Console.WriteLine("An exception occured: " + ex.Message);
      }
    }
  }
}

See Also

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