Tidbits on software development, technology, and other geeky stuff.

Conditional Serialization with Json.NET

In ASP.NET MVC, I typically use View Models along with the Json.NET library to get JSON back to the client. When I want some members to be omitted from serialization I will simply add the [JsonIgnore] attribute to the target property. This works great for static omission but sometimes I come across the need to perform _conditional _(i.e. at runtime) omission. To do this, you can use the largely undocumented [bool ShouldSerialize{MemberName}()] \approach.

Simply add a bool return method named ShouldSerialize{MemberName} to the model class. The {MemberName} portion of the name should match the member name that will be conditionally omitted. Json.NET will check for the existence of this method and conditionally serialize the corresponding member value. I also like to use an additional property (with [JsonIgnore]) that I set externally which is used by the ShouldSerialize methods. In the example below, this property is called SerializeSensitiveInfo.

public class UserViewModel {​
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  public string FirstName {get;set;}public string LastName {get;set;}public string Username {get;set;} //conditional serialization!public string SecurityQuestion {get;set;} //conditional serialization!​
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  public bool ShouldSerializeUsername(){//only serialize Username if SerializeSensitiveInfo == truereturn (this.SerializeSensitiveInfo);}​
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  public bool ShouldSerializeSecurityQuestion(){//only serialize SecurityQuestion if SerializeSensitiveInfo == truereturn (this.SerializeSensitiveInfo);}​
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  [JsonIgnore]public bool SerializeSensitiveInfo {get;set;} //this property allows control of serialization at runtime}