.NET Framework 2.0 Performance Inspection Questions - Serialization

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- J.D. Meier, Srinath Vasireddy, Ashish Babbar, Rico Mariani, and Alex Mackman


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Serialization Inefficiencies

Inefficient serialization code is a common performance-related problem area. To review whether your code uses serialization, search for the "Serializable" string. Classes that support serialization should be decorated with the SerializableAttribute; they may also implement ISerializable. If your code does use serialization, review the following questions:

  • Do you serialize too much data?
  • Do you serialize DataSet objects?
  • Do you implement ISerializable?


Do You Serialize Too Much Data?

Review which data members from an object your code serializes. Identify items that do not need to be serialized, such as items that can be easily recalculated when the object is deserialized. For example, there is no need to serialize an Age property in addition to a DateOfBirth property because the Age can easily be recalculated without requiring significant processor power. Such members can be marked with the NonSerialized attribute if you use the SoapFormatter or the BinaryFormatter or the XmlIgnore attribute if you use the XmlSerializer class, which Web services use.

Also identify opportunities to use structures within your classes to encapsulate the data that needs to be serialized. Collecting the logical data in a data structure can help reduce round trips and lessen the serialization impact.


Do You Serialize DataSet Objects?

The DataSet object generates a large amount of serialization data and is expensive to serialize and deserialize. If your code serializes DataSet objects, make sure to conduct performance testing to analyze whether it is creating a bottleneck in your application. If it is, consider alternatives such as using custom classes.


Do You Implement ISerializable?

If your classes implement ISerializable to control the serialization process, be aware that you are responsible for maintaining your own serialization code. If you implement ISerializable simply to restrict specific fields from being serialized, consider using the Serializable and NonSerialized attributes instead. By using these attributes, you will automatically gain the benefit of any serialization improvements in future versions of the .NET Framework.


More Information For more information about improving serialization performance and DataSet serialization, see How To Improve Serialization Performance in the "How To" section of this guide.

For more information about the various options for passing data across the tiers of a distributed .NET application, see Web Application Performance Design Inspection Questions - Data Access.

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