C#: Create instance of a type based on an integral Enum value

c# dapper


I have an interface for implementing an "output formatter" that looks a bit like this:

public interface IFormatOutput {}
public class HtmlOutputFormatter : IFormatOutput {}
public class TextOutputFormatter : IFormatOutput {}
// etc, etc...

public enum OutputFormat {

public class SomeFormattableEntity {
    int Id { get; set; }
    OutputFormat OutputType { get; set; }

So SomeFormattableEntity is persisted in a database via Dapper and its OutputType property is stored as the underlying integer value (ie, in an INT column). As you can guess, I want to provide an instance of a IFormatOutput to handle a SomeFormattableEntity based on its OutputType property.

Is there some clean best-practice way to handle this type of relationship? My ideas so far include a factory with innards potentially consisting of:

  1. grandpa's horrible ugly switch statement
  2. an array mapping the enum value to a Type
  3. reflection-based magic mapping enum member name as string to class type elsewhere
  4. some mapping mechanism involving attributes

I realize it is not desirable to require an instance of a thing whose type is based on a value, but it seems hard to avoid this when SQL is involved. Basically the problem is that multiple "things" that all have varying .NET types are stored in a single table. I keep running into this idiom and am unable to find an elegant solution to it.

Accepted Answer

I'd probably go for a custom attribute with a FormatsOutputFor property. Then decorate all of your implementations of IFormatOutput with the attribute. e.g.

public class HtmlOutputFormatter : IFormatOutput {}

Then in your factory:

// get all your formatters
var formatters = AppDomain.CurrentDomain.GetAssemblies()
    .SelectMany(s => s.GetTypes())
    .Where(p => Attribute.IsDefined(p, typeof(YourAttribute)));

// Now go through each formatter and use the attribute to figure out which
// output format it's for. Add these to some static IDictionary<OutputFormat, Type>

You probably want to build some internal cache that maps an OutputFormat value to a Type. Then your factory can double check that you have only got one type mapped to each output format and if you try to get a formatter for an enum value that doesn't have a corresponding class then you wont get some obscure TypeLoadException from activator.

Hopefully that makes sense...

Popular Answer

How about:

OutputFormat format = OutputFormat.Excel;
object obj = Activator.CreateInstance("myAssemblyName", format.ToString());

Assuming the elements of your enum has the exact name of your types?

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