I have a switch statement used to handle options that a user selected (stored in an array). The array is iterated through, and for each element (enum object) in the array, an appropriate action is performed. However, the enum has over 50 items, so the switch statement is very long.

The items are all necessary and related, so they cannot be moved or removed. They also each call a method or get a property of an object, so no dictionaries. Are there any other options to make this shorter?

public string GetUserAttributes(UserPrincipal user,
    ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute[] attributes)
    var userAsDirectoryEntry
        = (DirectoryEntry)user.GetUnderlyingObject();
    var userAttributes = string.Empty;
    foreach (ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute attribute in attributes)
        switch (attribute)
            case ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.AccountExpirationDate:
                userAttributes += AttributeToString(
            case ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.AccountLockoutTime:
                userAttributes += AttributeToString(
            case ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.Assistant:
                userAttributes += AttributeToString(
            case ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.BadLogonCount:
                userAttributes += AttributeToString(
    return userAttributes;
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can use Reflection: it can be an elegant solution and the whole switch disappears, but one condition is needed: the methods you call... are they all without input parameters (like property getters do)? If yes, I'll post a code snippet with the solution; otherwise, a switch/enum or a dictionary is necessary. \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2016 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MK87 Some of the methods do require parameters, and are not just property getters/setters. \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2016 at 2:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mhm... can you add a snippet of a method with parameters in your code? Where you get the parameters from? \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2016 at 9:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MK87 The only parameters are the UserPrincipal and the DirectoryEntry. They are in the form GetSomeString(UserPrincipal user, DirectoryEntry userAsDirectoryEntry). \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2016 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


You can put the switch-cases into a dictionary to reduce the boilerplate case and break. The foreach and the string concatenation part can also be reduced with string.Concat(...) or string.Join(delimiter, ...):

public string GetUserAttributes(UserPrincipal user, ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute[] attributes)
    var userAsDirectoryEntry = (DirectoryEntry)user.GetUnderlyingObject();

    var getters = new Dictionary<ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute, Func<object>>();
    getters[ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.AccountExpirationDate] = () => user.AccountExpirationDate;
    getters[ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.AccountLockoutTime] = () => user.AccountLockoutTime;
    getters[ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.Assistant] = () => userAsDirectoryEntry.Properties[AttributeAssistant].Value;
    getters[ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.BadLogonCount] = () => user.BadLogonCount;
    // ...

    // just concat them directly, like you are doing now
    return string.Concat(attributes.Select(attr => getters[attr]()));

    // or, you can separate them with a comma, or anything :
    return string.Join(", ", attributes
        .Select(attr => getters[attr]()));

You can also use the collection initializer for dictionary to cut down some letters :

var getters = new Dictionary<ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute, Func<object>>
    // C# 6
    [ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.AccountExpirationDate] = () => user.AccountExpirationDate,
    [ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.AccountLockoutTime] = () => user.AccountLockoutTime,

    // older version
    { ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.Assistant, () => userAsDirectoryEntry.Properties[AttributeAssistant].Value },
    { ActiveDirectoryUserAttribute.BadLogonCount, () => user.BadLogonCount },

    // ...

Personally I prefer the C# 6 collection initializer the most, second by the method shown in first snippet, and lastly the older initializer.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note, the semicolon needs to go after the closing brace of the collection initializer, not after the open/close parentheses. \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2016 at 17:20
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ You can also omit the parent's empty constructor parentheses in collection/object initializers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan Lyons
    May 27, 2016 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ahh, Copy-paste programming! The source of all evil! A syntax error and 1 style problem in a single line... \$\endgroup\$
    – Xiaoy312
    May 27, 2016 at 18:24

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