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Implementing Deep Cloning via Serializing objects

, 22 Feb 2008 CPOL
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The implementation for a deep clone helper class


I was looking around on The Code Project and saw an article talking about the different implementation styles for deep cloning an object. The article referred to an article using Reflection for Deep Cloning an object, but had no article to reference for using Serialization.

Using the Code

This is a helper class that can be used to perform a deep copy of an object:

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.Runtime.Serialization.Formatters.Binary;     
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
/// Provides a method for performing a deep copy of an object.
/// Binary Serialization is used to perform the copy.
/// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
public static class ObjectCopier
 /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><summary></span>
 /// Perform a deep Copy of the object.
 /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"></summary></span>
 /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><typeparam name="T">The type of object being copied.</typeparam></span>
 /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><param name="source">The object instance to copy.</param></span>
 /// <span class="code-SummaryComment"><returns>The copied object.</returns></span>
 public static T Clone<T>(T source)
  if (!typeof(T).IsSerializable)
    throw new ArgumentException("The type must be serializable.", "source");
  // Don't serialize a null object, simply return the default for that object
  if (Object.ReferenceEquals(source, null))
    return default(T);

  IFormatter formatter = new BinaryFormatter();
  Stream stream = new MemoryStream();
  using (stream)
    formatter.Serialize(stream, source);
    stream.Seek(0, SeekOrigin.Begin);
    return (T)formatter.Deserialize(stream);

Usage of this class becomes ObjectCopier.Clone(objectBeingCloned);.

Points of Interest

In case you prefer to use the new Extension methods of C# 3.0, change the method to have the following signature:

   public static T Clone<T>(this T source)

Now the method call simply becomes objectBeingCloned.Clone();.


  • 22nd February, 2008: Version 1.0: Initial release


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Stephen Inglish
Software Developer (Senior) Harland Financial Solutions
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

QuestionWhy are you dependant of IsSerializable ? [modified] Pinmembercopa01718-Feb-15 23:49 
QuestionNull object clone exception PinmemberThierry Parent14-Sep-14 1:26 
QuestionSerialization is very slow, use direct assigning. Pinmembercomaric31-Jan-13 4:31 
AnswerRe: Serialization is very slow, use direct assigning. Pinmemberreggaeguitar10-Sep-14 8:28 
QuestionHow do I make a Type serializable PinmemberAlexanderBlade10-Apr-12 13:08 
AnswerRe: How do I make a Type serializable PinmemberStephen Inglish10-Apr-12 13:25 
GeneralRe: How do I make a Type serializable PinmemberAlexanderBlade11-Apr-12 17:17 
QuestionAlternative method to copy object to reduce performance penalty Pinmemberjozamm5-Aug-11 19:32 
AnswerRe: Alternative method to copy object to reduce performance penalty PinmemberStephen Inglish6-Aug-11 5:23 
GeneralFYI Pinmemberlagerdalek23-May-10 14:04 
GeneralJust One Small Correction... Pinmemberno-paper20-Mar-09 7:17 
GeneralGood use of generics but be aware Pinmemberilya lozovyy29-Apr-08 10:33 
GeneralE=MC^2 PinmemberTom Hawkins17-Apr-08 11:45 
So, DeepCloning(someobject) = Deserialize(Serialize(someobject))
And regarding one comment where someone brought up performance, well, I would suggest that if you can come up with a performant serialization strategy deep cloning comes along for the ride.
Very cool,
GeneralExcellent idea!!! PinmemberWeslei Gomes24-Mar-08 12:15 
QuestionWhat about the performance penalty? PinmemberAndyHo26-Feb-08 3:14 
GeneralVery Interesting Idea Pinmembermerlin98125-Feb-08 5:27 

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