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Posted 23 Sep 2010

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TIP: Descriptions for enum values

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23 Sep 2010CPOL
A consistent way to add descriptions to enumeration values by reflecting attributes
We can add descriptions to enumeration values and retrieve them at any moment. I will be needed the System.ComponentModel namespace to produce the following arrangement:

C#
public enum Status : int
{
     [Description("User is active with all permissions")]
     Active = 0,
     [Description("User membership has expired")]
     Inactive = 1,
     [Description("User has been suspended for some reason")]
     Suspended = 2
}

The following method will recover the description associated with an specific enum value by doing reflection:

C#
public string GetEnumDescription(object enu)   
{
      return  (enu.GetType().GetField(enu.ToString()).GetCustomAttributes(typeof(DescriptionAttribute), false) as DescriptionAttribute[])[0].Description;
}

This version will prevent any problem is there is no description:

C#
public string GetEnumDescription(object enu)   
{
    try {
      return  (enu.GetType().GetField(enu.ToString()).GetCustomAttributes(typeof(DescriptionAttribute), false) as DescriptionAttribute[])[0].Description;
    }
    catch { return string.Empty; }
}


Here is some test code:
C#
Status st = Status.Inactive;
Console.WriteLine(GetEnumDescription(st));

License

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

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About the Author

Jaime Olivares
Architect
Peru Peru


Computer Electronics professional, Software Architect and senior Windows C++ and C# developer with experience in many other programming languages, platforms and application areas including communications, simulation systems, PACS/DICOM (radiology), GIS, 3D graphics and HTML5-based web applications.
Currently intensively working with Visual Studio and TFS.

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