[c#] String representation of an Enum


14 Answers

Use method

Enum.GetName(Type MyEnumType,  object enumvariable)  

as in (Assume Shipper is a defined Enum)

Shipper x = Shipper.FederalExpress;
string s = Enum.GetName(typeof(Shipper), x);

There are a bunch of other static methods on the Enum class worth investigating too...

Question

I have the following enumeration:

public enum AuthenticationMethod
{
    FORMS = 1,
    WINDOWSAUTHENTICATION = 2,
    SINGLESIGNON = 3
}

The problem however is that I need the word "FORMS" when I ask for AuthenticationMethod.FORMS and not the id 1.

I have found the following solution for this problem (link):

First I need to create a custom attribute called "StringValue":

public class StringValue : System.Attribute
{
    private readonly string _value;

    public StringValue(string value)
    {
        _value = value;
    }

    public string Value
    {
        get { return _value; }
    }

}

Then I can add this attribute to my enumerator:

public enum AuthenticationMethod
{
    [StringValue("FORMS")]
    FORMS = 1,
    [StringValue("WINDOWS")]
    WINDOWSAUTHENTICATION = 2,
    [StringValue("SSO")]
    SINGLESIGNON = 3
}

And of course I need something to retrieve that StringValue:

public static class StringEnum
{
    public static string GetStringValue(Enum value)
    {
        string output = null;
        Type type = value.GetType();

        //Check first in our cached results...

        //Look for our 'StringValueAttribute' 

        //in the field's custom attributes

        FieldInfo fi = type.GetField(value.ToString());
        StringValue[] attrs =
           fi.GetCustomAttributes(typeof(StringValue),
                                   false) as StringValue[];
        if (attrs.Length > 0)
        {
            output = attrs[0].Value;
        }

        return output;
    }
}

Good now I've got the tools to get a string value for an enumerator. I can then use it like this:

string valueOfAuthenticationMethod = StringEnum.GetStringValue(AuthenticationMethod.FORMS);

Okay now all of these work like a charm but I find it a whole lot of work. I was wondering if there is a better solution for this.

I also tried something with a dictionary and static properties but that wasn't better either.




I agree with Keith, but I can't vote up (yet).

I use a static method and swith statement to return exactly what I want. In the database I store tinyint and my code only uses the actual enum, so the strings are for UI requirements. After numerous testing this resulted in the best performance and most control over the output.

public static string ToSimpleString(this enum)
{
     switch (enum)
     {
         case ComplexForms:
             return "ComplexForms";
             break;
     }
}

public static string ToFormattedString(this enum)
{
     switch (enum)
     {
         case ComplexForms:
             return "Complex Forms";
             break;
     }
}

However, by some accounts, this leads to a possible maintenance nightmare and some code smell. I try to keep an eye for enums that are long and a lot of enums, or those that change frequently. Otherwise, this has been a great solution for me.




My variant

public struct Colors
{
    private String current;

    private static string red = "#ff0000";
    private static string green = "#00ff00";
    private static string blue = "#0000ff";

    private static IList<String> possibleColors; 

    public static Colors Red { get { return (Colors) red; } }
    public static Colors Green { get { return (Colors) green; } }
    public static Colors Blue { get { return (Colors) blue; } }

    static Colors()
    {
        possibleColors = new List<string>() {red, green, blue};
    }

    public static explicit operator String(Colors value)
    {
        return value.current;
    }

    public static explicit operator Colors(String value)
    {
        if (!possibleColors.Contains(value))
        {
            throw new InvalidCastException();
        }

        Colors color = new Colors();
        color.current = value;
        return color;
    }

    public static bool operator ==(Colors left, Colors right)
    {
        return left.current == right.current;
    }

    public static bool operator !=(Colors left, Colors right)
    {
        return left.current != right.current;
    }

    public bool Equals(Colors other)
    {
        return Equals(other.current, current);
    }

    public override bool Equals(object obj)
    {
        if (ReferenceEquals(null, obj)) return false;
        if (obj.GetType() != typeof(Colors)) return false;
        return Equals((Colors)obj);
    }

    public override int GetHashCode()
    {
        return (current != null ? current.GetHashCode() : 0);
    }

    public override string ToString()
    {
        return current;
    }
}

Code looks a bit ugly, but usages of this struct are pretty presentative.

Colors color1 = Colors.Red;
Console.WriteLine(color1); // #ff0000

Colors color2 = (Colors) "#00ff00";
Console.WriteLine(color2); // #00ff00

// Colors color3 = "#0000ff"; // Compilation error
// String color4 = Colors.Red; // Compilation error

Colors color5 = (Colors)"#ff0000";
Console.WriteLine(color1 == color5); // True

Colors color6 = (Colors)"#00ff00";
Console.WriteLine(color1 == color6); // False

Also, I think, if a lot of such enums required, code generation (e.g. T4) might be used.




Here is yet another way to accomplish the task of associating strings with enums:

struct DATABASE {
    public enum enums {NOTCONNECTED, CONNECTED, ERROR}
    static List<string> strings =
        new List<string>() {"Not Connected", "Connected", "Error"};

    public string GetString(DATABASE.enums value) {
        return strings[(int)value];
    }
}

This method is called like this:

public FormMain() {
    DATABASE dbEnum;

    string enumName = dbEnum.GetString(DATABASE.enums.NOTCONNECTED);
}

You can group related enums in their own struct. Since this method uses the enum type, you can use Intellisense to display the list of enums when making the GetString() call.

You can optionally use the new operator on the DATABASE struct. Not using it means the strings List is not allocated until the first GetString() call is made.




If you think about the problem we're trying to solve, it's not an enum we need at all. We need an object that allows a certain number of values to be associated with eachother; in other words, to define a class.

Jakub Šturc's type-safe enum pattern is the best option I see here.

Look at it:

  • It has a private constructor so only the class itself can define the allowed values.
  • It is a sealed class so values can't be modifed through inheritence.
  • It is type-safe, allowing your methods to require only that type.
  • There is no reflection performance hit incurred by accessing the values.
  • And lastly, it can be modified to associate more than two fields together, for example a Name, Description, and a numeric Value.



My answer, working on @user29964 's answer (which is by far the simplest and closest to a Enum) is

 public class StringValue : System.Attribute
    {
        private string _value;

        public StringValue(string value)
        {
            _value = value;
        }

        public string Value
        {
            get { return _value; }
        }



        public static string GetStringValue(Enum Flagvalue)
        {
            Type type = Flagvalue.GetType();
            string[] flags = Flagvalue.ToString().Split(',').Select(x => x.Trim()).ToArray();
            List<string> values = new List<string>();

            for (int i = 0; i < flags.Length; i++)
            {

                FieldInfo fi = type.GetField(flags[i].ToString());

                StringValue[] attrs =
                   fi.GetCustomAttributes(typeof(StringValue),
                                           false) as StringValue[];
                if (attrs.Length > 0)
                {
                    values.Add(attrs[0].Value);
                }
            }
            return String.Join(",", values);

        }

usage

[Flags]
    public enum CompeteMetric
    {

        /// <summary>
        /// u
        /// </summary>
        [StringValue("u")]//Json mapping
        Basic_UniqueVisitors = 1 //Basic
             ,
        /// <summary>
        /// vi
        /// </summary>
        [StringValue("vi")]//json mapping
        Basic_Visits = 2// Basic
            ,
        /// <summary>
        /// rank
        /// </summary>
        [StringValue("rank")]//json mapping
        Basic_Rank = 4//Basic
 }

Example

        CompeteMetric metrics = CompeteMetric.Basic_Visits | CompeteMetric.Basic_Rank;
        string strmetrics = StringValue.GetStringValue(metrics);

this will return "vi,rank"




Just use the ToString() method

public enum any{Tomato=0,Melon,Watermelon}

To reference the string Tomato, just use

any.Tomato.ToString();



Well, after reading all of the above I feel that the guys have over complicated the issue of transforming enumerators into strings. I liked the idea of having attributes over enumerated fields but i think that attributes are mainly used for Meta-data, but in your case i think that all you need is some sort of localization.

public enum Color 
{ Red = 1, Green = 2, Blue = 3}


public static EnumUtils 
{
   public static string GetEnumResourceString(object enumValue)
    {
        Type enumType = enumValue.GetType();
        string value = Enum.GetName(enumValue.GetType(), enumValue);
        string resourceKey = String.Format("{0}_{1}", enumType.Name, value);
        string result = Resources.Enums.ResourceManager.GetString(resourceKey);
        if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(result))
        {
            result = String.Format("{0}", value);
        }
        return result;
    }
}

Now if we try to call the above method we can call it this way

public void Foo()
{
  var col = Color.Red;
  Console.WriteLine (EnumUtils.GetEnumResourceString (col));
}

All you need to do is just create a resource file containing all the enumerator values and the corresponding strings

Resource Name          Resource Value
Color_Red              My String Color in Red
Color_Blue             Blueeey
Color_Green            Hulk Color

What is actually very nice about that is that it will be very helpful if you need your application to be localized, since all you need to do is just create another resource file with your new language! and Voe-la!




old post but...

The answer to this may actually be very simple. Use Enum.ToString() function

There are 6 overloads of this function, you can use Enum.Tostring("F") or Enum.ToString() to return the string value. No need to bother with anything else. Here is a working Demo

Note that this solution may not work for all compilers (this demo does not work as expected) but at least it works for the latest compiler.




I use a combination of several of the suggestions above, combined with some caching. Now, I got the idea from some code that I found somewhere on the net, but I can neither remember where I got it or find it. So if anyone ever finds something that looks similar please comment with the attribution.

Anyway, the usage involves the type converters, so if you are binding to the UI it 'just works'. You can extended with Jakub's pattern for quick code lookup by initializing from the type converter into the static methods.

The base usage would look like this

[TypeConverter(typeof(CustomEnumTypeConverter<MyEnum>))]
public enum MyEnum
{
    // The custom type converter will use the description attribute
    [Description("A custom description")]
    ValueWithCustomDescription,

   // This will be exposed exactly.
   Exact
}

The code for the custom enum type converter follows:

public class CustomEnumTypeConverter<T> : EnumConverter
    where T : struct
{
    private static readonly Dictionary<T,string> s_toString = 
      new Dictionary<T, string>();

    private static readonly Dictionary<string, T> s_toValue = 
      new Dictionary<string, T>();

    private static bool s_isInitialized;

    static CustomEnumTypeConverter()
    {
        System.Diagnostics.Debug.Assert(typeof(T).IsEnum,
          "The custom enum class must be used with an enum type.");
    }

    public CustomEnumTypeConverter() : base(typeof(T))
    {
        if (!s_isInitialized)
        {
            Initialize();
            s_isInitialized = true;
        }
    }

    protected void Initialize()
    {
        foreach (T item in Enum.GetValues(typeof(T)))
        {
            string description = GetDescription(item);
            s_toString[item] = description;
            s_toValue[description] = item;
        }
    }

    private static string GetDescription(T optionValue)
    {
        var optionDescription = optionValue.ToString();
        var optionInfo = typeof(T).GetField(optionDescription);
        if (Attribute.IsDefined(optionInfo, typeof(DescriptionAttribute)))
        {
            var attribute = 
              (DescriptionAttribute)Attribute.
                 GetCustomAttribute(optionInfo, typeof(DescriptionAttribute));
            return attribute.Description;
        }
        return optionDescription;
    }

    public override object ConvertTo(ITypeDescriptorContext context, 
       System.Globalization.CultureInfo culture, 
       object value, Type destinationType)
    {
        var optionValue = (T)value;

        if (destinationType == typeof(string) && 
            s_toString.ContainsKey(optionValue))
        {
            return s_toString[optionValue];
        }

        return base.ConvertTo(context, culture, value, destinationType);
    }

    public override object ConvertFrom(ITypeDescriptorContext context, 
       System.Globalization.CultureInfo culture, object value)
    {
        var stringValue = value as string;

        if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(stringValue) && s_toValue.ContainsKey(stringValue))
        {
            return s_toValue[stringValue];
        }

        return base.ConvertFrom(context, culture, value);
    }
}

}




In your question you never said that you actually need the numeric value of the enum anywhere.

If you do not and just need an enum of type string (which is not an integral type so can not be a base of enum) here is a way:

    static class AuthenticationMethod
    {
        public static readonly string
            FORMS = "Forms",
            WINDOWSAUTHENTICATION = "WindowsAuthentication";
    }

you can use the same syntax as enum to reference it

if (bla == AuthenticationMethod.FORMS)

It will be a bit slower than with numeric values (comparing strings instead of numbers) but on the plus side it is not using reflection (slow) to access the string.




Unfortunately reflection to get attributes on enums is quite slow:

See this question: Anyone know a quick way to get to custom attributes on an enum value?

The .ToString() is quite slow on enums too.

You can write extension methods for enums though:

public static string GetName( this MyEnum input ) {
    switch ( input ) {
        case MyEnum.WINDOWSAUTHENTICATION:
            return "Windows";
        //and so on
    }
}

This isn't great, but will be quick and not require the reflection for attributes or field name.


C#6 Update

If you can use C#6 then the new nameof operator works for enums, so nameof(MyEnum.WINDOWSAUTHENTICATION) will be converted to "WINDOWSAUTHENTICATION" at compile time, making it the quickest way to get enum names.

Note that this will convert the explicit enum to an inlined constant, so it doesn't work for enums that you have in a variable. So:

nameof(AuthenticationMethod.FORMS) == "FORMS"

But...

var myMethod = AuthenticationMethod.FORMS;
nameof(myMethod) == "myMethod"



When I'm confronted with this problem, there are a couple of questions that I try to find the answers to first:

  • Are the names of my enum values sufficiently friendly for the purpose, or do I need to provide friendlier ones?
  • Do I need to round-trip? That is, will I need to take text values and parse them into enum values?
  • Is this something I need to do for many enums in my project, or just one?
  • What kind of UI elements will I be presenting this information in - in particular, will I be binding to the UI, or using property sheets?
  • Does this need to be localizable?

The simplest way to do this is with Enum.GetValue (and support round-tripping using Enum.Parse). It's also often worth building a TypeConverter, as Steve Mitcham suggests, to support UI binding. (It's not necessary to build a TypeConverter when you're using property sheets, which is one of the nice things about property sheets. Though lord knows they have their own issues.)

In general, if the answers to the above questions suggest that's not going to work, my next step is to create and populate a static Dictionary<MyEnum, string>, or possibly a Dictionary<Type, Dictionary<int, string>>. I tend to skip the intermediate decorate-the-code-with-attributes step because what's usually coming down the pike next is the need to change the friendly values after deployment (often, but not always, because of localization).




A lot of great answers here but in my case did not solve what I wanted out of an "string enum", which was:

  1. Usable in a switch statement e.g switch(myEnum)
  2. Can be used in function parameters e.g. foo(myEnum type)
  3. Can be referenced e.g. myEnum.FirstElement
  4. I can use strings e.g. foo("FirstElement") == foo(myEnum.FirstElement)

1,2 & 4 can actually be solved with a C# Typedef of a string (since strings are switchable in c#)

3 can be solved by static const strings. So if you have the same needs, this is the simplest approach:

public sealed class Types
{

    private readonly String name;

    private Types(String name)
    {
        this.name = name;

    }

    public override String ToString()
    {
        return name;
    }

    public static implicit operator Types(string str)
    {
        return new Types(str);

    }
    public static implicit operator string(Types str)
    {
        return str.ToString();
    }


    #region enum

    public const string DataType = "Data";
    public const string ImageType = "Image";
    public const string Folder = "Folder";
    #endregion

}

This allows for example:

    public TypeArgs(Types SelectedType)
    {
        Types SelectedType = SelectedType
    }

and

public TypeObject CreateType(Types type)
    {
        switch (type)
        {

            case Types.ImageType:
              //
                break;

            case Types.DataType:
             //
                break;

        }
    }

Where CreateType can be called with a string or a type. However the downside is that any string is automatically a valid enum, this could be modified but then it would require some kind of init function...or possibly make they explicit cast internal?

Now if an int value was important to you (perhaps for comparison speed), you could use some ideas from Jakub Šturc fantastic answer and do something a bit crazy, this is my stab at it:

    public sealed class Types
{
    private static readonly Dictionary<string, Types> strInstance = new Dictionary<string, Types>();
    private static readonly Dictionary<int, Types> intInstance = new Dictionary<int, Types>();

    private readonly String name;
    private static int layerTypeCount = 0;
    private int value;
    private Types(String name)
    {
        this.name = name;
        value = layerTypeCount++;
        strInstance[name] = this;
        intInstance[value] = this;
    }

    public override String ToString()
    {
        return name;
    }


    public static implicit operator Types(int val)
    {
        Types result;
        if (intInstance.TryGetValue(val, out result))
            return result;
        else
            throw new InvalidCastException();
    }

    public static implicit operator Types(string str)
    {
        Types result;
        if (strInstance.TryGetValue(str, out result))
        {
            return result;
        }
        else
        {
            result = new Types(str);
            return result;
        }

    }
    public static implicit operator string(Types str)
    {
        return str.ToString();
    }

    public static bool operator ==(Types a, Types b)
    {
        return a.value == b.value;
    }
    public static bool operator !=(Types a, Types b)
    {
        return a.value != b.value;
    }

    #region enum

    public const string DataType = "Data";
    public const string ImageType = "Image";

    #endregion

}

but of course "Types bob = 4;" would be meaningless unless you had initialized them first which would sort of defeat the point...

But in theory TypeA == TypeB would be quicker...




Very simple solution to this with .Net 4.0 and above. No other code is needed.

public enum MyStatus
{
    Active = 1,
    Archived = 2
}

To get the string about just use:

MyStatus.Active.ToString("f");

or

MyStatus.Archived.ToString("f");`

The value will be "Active" or "Archived".

To see the different string formats (the "f" from above) when calling Enum.ToString see this Enumeration Format Strings page




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Tags

c# c#   enums