Converting a String to an Enumeration Value

Wednesday Nov 13th 2002 by Andreas Stolle

How to convert a string value to a given enumeration type using System.Reflection.

Environment: C#


Using enumeration types is the best way to store data such as days, months, account types, genders, and so forth.

Using this technique for data exchange, I decided to use enumerations for external representation as well. There is no problem converting an enumeration type value to a string. You only have to use the standard "ToString()" method for conversion. For example: "string x = DayOfWeek.Monday.ToString()" will place the string "Monday" in "x".

But how do you convert this string back to its internal value? First, I generated a long list of switch and case statements to handle this problem.

Using the System.Reflection class, the solution is placed in just 3–8 lines of code, and it works for any possible enumeration type.

The following example contains the method "StringToEnum" that performs the internal conversions. The other stuff is just to get a small example of how to use "StringToEnum" in your code. The example is based on the well-known enumeration type "System.DayOfWeek", but "StringToEnum" will work for any other enumeration type as well.


using System;
using System.Reflection;

namespace ttype
  /// How to convert a string value to a given enumeration type.
  /// The static method "StringToEnum" will convert any possible
  /// string value to a given enumeration type. It's a function I
  /// never found in any framework class.
  class Class1
    static void Main(string[] args)
      // Check all the possible values:
      DayOut( DayOfWeek.Monday );
      DayOut( DayOfWeek.Tuesday );
      DayOut( DayOfWeek.Wednesday );
      DayOut( DayOfWeek.Thursday );
      DayOut( DayOfWeek.Friday );
      DayOut( DayOfWeek.Saturday );
      DayOut( DayOfWeek.Sunday );

      // This would throw an Exception:
      // StringToEnum( typeof(DayOfWeek), "Montag" );

    static void DayOut( DayOfWeek d )
      string myString = d.ToString();

      Console.WriteLine( "{0} = {1} = {2}", d, myString, (int)
                          d );

      // This line can't work because we can't convert "string"
      // to "enum type"
      // Console.WriteLine( "{0} = {1} = {2}", d, myString,
      // (DayOfWeek) myString );

      // This line will not work either:
      // DayOfWeek NewVal1 = (DayOfWeek) Convert.ChangeType
      //                     ( myString, typeof(DayOfWeek) );

      // So we have to use our "StringToEnum" Function:
      DayOfWeek NewVal = (DayOfWeek) StringToEnum
                         ( typeof(DayOfWeek), myString );
      Console.WriteLine( "{0} = {1} = {2}", d, NewVal, (int)
                                               NewVal );

    /// Convert any possible string-Value of a given enumeration
    /// type to its internal representation.
    static object StringToEnum( Type t, string Value )
      foreach ( FieldInfo fi in t.GetFields() )
        if ( fi.Name == Value )
          return fi.GetValue( null );    // We use null because
                                         // enumeration values
                                         // are static

      throw new Exception( string.Format("Can't convert {0} to 
                                          {1}", Value,
                                          t.ToString()) );


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