Essential C# Reflection  Suggest an edit

Creating an instance of a Type

The simplest way is to use the Activator class.

However, even though Activator performance have been improved since .NET 3.5, using Activator.CreateInstance() is bad option sometimes, due to (relatively) low performance: Test 1, Test 2, Test 3

With Activator class

Type type = typeof(BigInteger);
object result = Activator.CreateInstance(type); //Requires parameterless constructor.
Console.WriteLine(result); //Output: 0
result = Activator.CreateInstance(type, 123); //Requires a constructor which can receive an 'int' compatible argument.
Console.WriteLine(result); //Output: 123

You can pass an object array to Activator.CreateInstance if you have more than one parameter.

// With a constructor such as MyClass(int, int, string)
Activator.CreateInstance(typeof(MyClass), new object[] { 1, 2, "Hello World" });

Type type = typeof(someObject);
var instance = Activator.CreateInstance(type);

For a generic type

The MakeGenericType method turns an open generic type (like List<>) into a concrete type (like List) by applying type arguments to it.

// generic List with no parameters
Type openType = typeof(List<>);

// To create a List<string>
Type[] tArgs = { typeof(string) };
Type target = openType.MakeGenericType(tArgs);

// Create an instance - Activator.CreateInstance will call the default constructor.
// This is equivalent to calling new List<string>().
List<string> result = (List<string>)Activator.CreateInstance(target);

The List<> syntax is not permitted outside of a typeof expression.

Without Activator class

Using new keyword (will do for parameterless constructors)

T GetInstance<T>() where T : new()
{
    T instance = new T();
    return instance;
}

Using Invoke method

// Get the instance of the desired constructor (here it takes a string as a parameter).
ConstructorInfo c = typeof(T).GetConstructor(new[] { typeof(string) }); 
// Don't forget to check if such constructor exists
if (c == null) 
    throw new InvalidOperationException(string.Format("A constructor for type '{0}' was not found.", typeof(T)));
T instance = (T)c.Invoke(new object[] { "test" });

Using Expression trees

Expression trees represent code in a tree-like data structure, where each node is an expression. As MSDN explains:

Expression is a sequence of one or more operands and zero or more operators that can be evaluated to a single value, object, method, or namespace. Expressions can consist of a literal value, a method invocation, an operator and its operands, or a simple name. Simple names can be the name of a variable, type member, method parameter, namespace or type.
public class GenericFactory<TKey, TType>
    {
       private readonly Dictionary<TKey, Func<object[], TType>> _registeredTypes; // dictionary, that holds constructor functions.
       private object _locker = new object(); // object for locking dictionary, to guarantee thread safety

        public GenericFactory()
        {
            _registeredTypes = new Dictionary<TKey, Func<object[], TType>>();
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Find and register suitable constructor for type
        /// </summary>
        /// <typeparam name="TType"></typeparam>
        /// <param name="key">Key for this constructor</param>
        /// <param name="parameters">Parameters</param>
        public void Register(TKey key, params Type[] parameters)
        {
            ConstructorInfo ci = typeof(TType).GetConstructor(BindingFlags.Public | BindingFlags.Instance, null, CallingConventions.HasThis, parameters, new ParameterModifier[] { }); // Get the instance of ctor.
            if (ci == null)
                throw new InvalidOperationException(string.Format("Constructor for type '{0}' was not found.", typeof(TType)));

            Func<object[], TType> ctor;

            lock (_locker)
            {
                if (!_registeredTypes.TryGetValue(key, out ctor)) // check if such ctor already been registered
                {
                    var pExp = Expression.Parameter(typeof(object[]), "arguments"); // create parameter Expression
                    var ctorParams = ci.GetParameters(); // get parameter info from constructor

                    var argExpressions = new Expression[ctorParams.Length]; // array that will contains parameter expessions
                    for (var i = 0; i < parameters.Length; i++)
                    {

                        var indexedAcccess = Expression.ArrayIndex(pExp, Expression.Constant(i));

                        if (!parameters[i].IsClass && !parameters[i].IsInterface) // check if parameter is a value type
                        {
                            var localVariable = Expression.Variable(parameters[i], "localVariable"); // if so - we should create local variable that will store paraameter value

                            var block = Expression.Block(new[] { localVariable },
                                    Expression.IfThenElse(Expression.Equal(indexedAcccess, Expression.Constant(null)),
                                        Expression.Assign(localVariable, Expression.Default(parameters[i])),
                                        Expression.Assign(localVariable, Expression.Convert(indexedAcccess, parameters[i]))
                                    ),
                                    localVariable
                                );

                            argExpressions[i] = block;

                        }
                        else
                            argExpressions[i] = Expression.Convert(indexedAcccess, parameters[i]);
                    }
                    var newExpr = Expression.New(ci, argExpressions); // create expression that represents call to specified ctor with the specified arguments.
  
                    _registeredTypes.Add(key, Expression.Lambda(newExpr, new[] { pExp }).Compile() as Func<object[], TType>); // compile expression to create delegate, and add fucntion to dictionary
                }
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Returns instance of registered type by key.
        /// </summary>
        /// <typeparam name="TType"></typeparam>
        /// <param name="key"></param>
        /// <param name="args"></param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        public TType Create(TKey key, params object[] args)
        {
            Func<object[], TType> foo;
            if (_registeredTypes.TryGetValue(key, out foo))
            {
                return (TType)foo(args);
            }

            throw new ArgumentException("No type registered for this key.");
        }
    }

Could be used like this:

public class TestClass
 {
        public TestClass(string parameter)
        {
            Console.Write(parameter);
        }
 }

public void TestMethod()
{
       var factory = new GenericFactory<string, TestClass>();
       factory.Register("key", typeof(string));
       TestClass newInstance = factory.Create("key", "testParameter");
}

Using FormatterServices.GetUninitializedObject

T instance = (T)FormatterServices.GetUninitializedObject(typeof(T));

In case of using FormatterServices.GetUninitializedObject constructors and field initializers will not be called. It is meant to be used in serializers and remoting engines


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62 Reflection
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