ICustomAttributeProvider

One small thing that was missed in the "Applied .NET Attributes" book was this: Why do most of the System.Reflection classes allow you to search for metadata on their instances? It's a simple answer, but I think it's important to clearly state what's going on.

It all comes down to ICustomAttributeProvider. This interface defines two methods: GetCustomAttributes() and IsDefined(), both of which have two overloads (I talk about the differences between the overloaded versions here if you're interested in the details). There are four classes that implement ICustomAttributeProvider: Assembly, MemberInfo, Module, and ParameterInfo. These four classes are core base classes in the System.Reflection world, especially MemberInfo as EventInfo, FieldInfo, MethodBase (which both ConstructorInfo and MethodInfo derive from), PropertyInfo, and Type. This is why you can search for attributes on any member of an assembly, because they all implement ICustomAttributeProvider, either directly or indirectly.

Again, it's a simple thing to look up, but I think it's cool to reflect upon (no pun intended...OK, I'll admit it, I intended it) the design of the Reflection API as it pertains to metadata.

* Posted at 01.19.2005 01:10:11 AM CST | Link *

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