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WCF, Entity Framework, and Data Contracts

, 11 Jan 2013
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Expose an Entity Framework class entity as a data contract.


I have created a WCF service using Entity Framework. My problem is how can I expose Entity Framework class entity as a data contract? I tried to find out the solution on the internet but no luck. 

I found a few articles that suggested me to create custom entity classes with data contract attribute and expose these custom entity classes to the outer world. In each custom classes create a method (example: ConvertTo) that will accept an object of entity framework class and convert it into the custom class object.  


CustomClass ConvertTo(EntityClass objEntityClass)
    this.Property1 = objEntityClass.Property1;
    this.Property2 = objEntityClass.Property2;

Writing ConverTo method in each of the class is a time taken job. It can be written for few classes but not when the number is huge. It is very boring job. Frown | :(

After too many brainstorming I found one solution where I don’t need to write ConverTo method in each of the custom class. I just wrote a small piece of code which is responsible for translating the class. I wanted to share it with you all.  Smile | :)

I have written a code which can take the object of source and destination and copy the property value of source object to the destination object.

public static class Converter
    public static object Convert(object source, object target)
        //find the list of properties in the source object
        Type sourceType = source.GetType();
        IList<PropertyInfo> sourcePropertyList = 
          new List<PropertyInfo>(sourceType.GetProperties());
        //find the list of properties present in the target/destination 

        objectType targetType = target.GetType();
        IList<PropertyInfo> targetPropertyList = 
           new List<PropertyInfo>(targetType.GetProperties());
        //assign value of source object property to the target object.

        foreach (PropertyInfo propertyTarget in targetPropertyList)
            PropertyInfo property = null;
            //find the property which is present in the target object.

            foreach (PropertyInfo propertySource in sourcePropertyList)
                //if find the property store it
                if (propertySource.Name == propertyTarget.Name)
                    property = propertySource;
            //if target property exists in the source
            if (property != null)
                // take value of source
                object value = property.GetValue(source, null);
                //assign it into the target property 
                propertyTarget.SetValue(target, value, null); 
        return target;

How to use Converter?

Suppose you have two entity classes Employee and Person.

public class Employee
    public string Fname {get;set;}
    public string Lname {get;set;}

public class Person
    public string Fname {get;set;}
    public string Lname {get;set;}
    public string Address {get;set;}

Now we have an object of Employee and want to copy the value of object employee to the object of Person.

public static class ConverterTest
    public static void Main(string[] argc)
        Employee employee = new Employee() { Fname = "Jitendra", Lname = "Kumar" };
        Person person = new Person();
        person = Converter.Convert(employee,person) as Person;

        Console.WriteLine(string.Format("{0} : {1} : {2}", person.Fname, 
          person.Lname, object.Equals(person.Address, null) ? "" : person.Address)); 



Jitendra : Kumar :


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


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Comments and Discussions

SuggestionAnother solution PinmemberGuillaume Leparmentier11-Jan-13 23:54 
QuestionThere are tools for this task PinmemberKlaus Luedenscheidt11-Jan-13 17:23 
AnswerRe: There are tools for this task PinmemberThomas Eyde12-Jan-13 11:52 
AnswerRe: There are tools for this task Pinmemberffernandez2313-Jan-13 3:04 
AnswerRe: There are tools for this task PinmemberMike Lang14-Jan-13 4:51 

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