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C# Universal String Parsing Utility

, 3 Aug 2012 CPOL
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A simple utility to help convert strings into other types

The Problem

Parsing strings into other objects using tryParse() is a pain, and results in ugly code. I was sick and tired of seeing this kind of thing all over my projects:

var someStringThatShouldBeAnInt = "10";
int i = 0;
if(int.TryParse(someStringThatShouldBeAnInt, out i))
    //Continue on with things
    //Complain about it

The Desired Solution

Abstract this ugliness and replace it with something like this: 

var someStringThatShouldBeAnInt = "10";
var i = someStringThatShouldBeAnInt.Parse<int>();

The How

Seems like if I could dynamically call the tryParse() using Reflection I could write this once for every type that has the tryParse() available to it.

public static T Parse<T>(this string thingToParse)
    var retType = typeof(T);
    var tParse = retType.GetMethod("TryParse",
                                   BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.Static, null,
                                   new[] { typeof(string), retType.MakeByRefType() }, null);

    if (tParse != null)
        var parameters = new object[] { thingToParse, null };
        var success = (bool)tParse.Invoke(null, parameters);
        if (success)
            return (T)parameters[1];

    return default(T);

What If the type you are converting to doesn't implement tryParse()?

var csv = "1,2,3,4,5,6,7";
var list = someStringThatShouldBeAnInt.Parse<List<string>>();

Yea that’s not going to work. So let's give you the option to pass in your own converter.

public static T Parse<T>(this string thingToParse, Func<string, T> parser)
    return parser.Invoke(thingToParse);

Wow that’s even cleaner. Now we can do the following:

var csv = "1,2,3,4,5,6,7";
var list = csv.Parse<List<string>>(x => x.Split(',').ToList());

Yea that’s clean.

If you find this useful or see ways to improve please feel free to comment.

You can also find some other great topics over at my blog at:

This utility can be found with many others here:


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


About the Author

Software Developer Sympletech
United States United States
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 3 PinmemberAbdul Quader Mamun13-Aug-12 17:36 
General[My vote of 2] May I suggest this ? PinmemberPhilippe Bouteleux6-Aug-12 1:51 
Questionone question ... and now voted #4 PinmemberBillWoodruff3-Aug-12 17:03 
AnswerRe: one question ... and now voted #4 PinmemberSympletech3-Aug-12 19:33 
GeneralNot bad PinmemberPIEBALDconsult3-Aug-12 12:42 
GeneralRe: Not bad PinmemberSympletech3-Aug-12 19:37 
Wow ParsoMatic is a little more involved.
I was actually influenced to write this routine when a fellow developer showed off his tool box where he was parsing using a huge select list. Parsomatic takes his concept to the Nth level.

Good stuff though -- thanks for pointing me to it.
GeneralRe: Not bad PinmemberPIEBALDconsult7-Aug-12 11:29 

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