Persist an object that is not marked as serializable

I need to persist an object that is not marked with the serializable attribute. The object is from a 3rd party library which I cannot change.

I need to store it in a persist place, like for example the file system, so the optimal solution would be to serialize the object to a file, but since it isn't marked as serializable, that is not a straight forward solution.

It's a pretty complex object, which also holds a collection of other objects.

Do you guys have any input on how to solve this? The code will never run in a production environment, so I'm ok with almost any solution and performance.


XmlSerializer may be a useful first thing to try, if the types are public etc

If that fails, v2 of protobuf-net (in progress, you'd need to build from source, but I can help) works with unattributed objects, so ideal for types outside your control - you just need to tell it what to include (via a DSL). The v2 code isn't complete, but it covers most common scenarios, including collections etc (the incomplete work is mainly callbacks and enums).

You could write a recursive method that would run down the object graph using reflection to persist the object... Putting it back could be much more difficult. Who knows if any of those objects are holding references to unmanaged or system resources. If i was to do anything this nuts, I would go for the .GetFields(...) method on the type.

Another idea...

If you are only doing this to speed up development why not wrap their clases with your own adapter classes. This would allow you to replace the third party libraries with your own simplifed mock classes and allow for better chance for replacement and reuse later.

Sick as it is... This was easier then I thought it would be. (While this works... please consider wrapping the third party classes.)

public static class Tools
    public static XElement AsXml(this object input)
        return input.AsXml(string.Empty);
    public static XElement AsXml(this object input, string name)
        if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(name))
            name = input.GetType().Name;

        var xname = XmlConvert.EncodeName(name);

        if (input == null)
            return new XElement(xname);

        if (input is string || input is int || input is float /* others */)
            return new XElement(xname, input);

        var type = input.GetType();
        var fields = type.GetFields(BindingFlags.Instance |
                         .Union(type.GetFields(BindingFlags.Instance |

        var elems = fields.Select(f => f.GetValue(input)

        return new XElement(xname, elems);
    public static void ToObject(this XElement input, object result)
        if (input == null || result == null)
            throw new ArgumentNullException();

        var type = result.GetType();
        var fields = type.GetFields(BindingFlags.Instance |
                         .Union(type.GetFields(BindingFlags.Instance |

        var values = from elm in input.Elements()
                     let name = XmlConvert.DecodeName(elm.Name.LocalName)
                     join field in fields on name equals field.Name
                     let backType = field.FieldType
                     let val = elm.Value
                     let parsed = backType.AsValue(val, elm)
                     select new

        foreach (var item in values)
            item.field.SetValue(result, item.parsed);            

    public static object AsValue(this Type backType,
                                      string val,
                                      XElement elm)
        if (backType == typeof(string))
            return (object)val;
        if (backType == typeof(int))
            return (object)int.Parse(val);
        if (backType == typeof(float))
            return (float)int.Parse(val);

        object ret = FormatterServices.GetUninitializedObject(backType);
        return ret;
public class Program
    public static void Main(string[] args)
        var obj = new { Matt = "hi", Other = new { ID = 1 } };
        var other = new { Matt = "zzz", Other = new { ID = 5 } };
        var ret = obj.AsXml();
        Console.WriteLine(obj); //{ Matt = hi, Other = { ID = 1 } }
        Console.WriteLine(other); //{ Matt = hi, Other = { ID = 1 } }

This is one way you could do it:

here is the msdn link showing it:

I don't know if it is overkill for your usage, but I have been playing around with db4o lately. It will persist any object, just call IObjectContainer.Store(object), and it is lightweight and file-based. Does not require any installation.

I haven't had any problems with it yet.

///Here OBJECT is Class name and Object_to_write is instance  
XmlSerializer serializer = new XmlSerializer(typeof(OBJECT)); 
using (TextWriter writer = new StreamWriter(@"C:\Xml.xml"))
    serializer.Serialize(writer, OBJECT_to_Write); 

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