I have been working with C# for quite some time but relatively new to the concepts of lambdas and Linq. I was working with a Linq To SQL example and trying to write a generic solution for executing a search against a collection of entities (eg. list of Customer objects) where the search parameter will be specified by passing a partially filled object of the entity class itself. I was doing this just to ensure that a person does not have to go on specifying different overloads for different searches based on the entity class attributes and trying to write a generic solution which will cater to any entity class.

Hence I used reflection and an array of predicates to successively apply the Where clauses to the collection.

Client App

using (CustomerManager oCustomerManager = new CustomerManager())
   IEnumerable<Customer> customers = oCustomerManager.Load();

   Customer oSearchCustomer = new Customer();
   oSearchCustomer.City = "London";
   oSearchCustomer.ContactName = "Thomas Hardy";

   IEnumerable<Customer> customerList = oCustomerManager.Search(oSearchCustomer);

   foreach (Customer customer in customerList)

Manager Class

public IEnumerable<Customer> Search(Customer searchObject)
    IEnumerable<Customer> customers = DataContext.Customers;
    List<Func<Customer, bool>> result = 


    foreach (var item in result)
        customers = customers.Where(item);

    return customers;

Extension Method Utility Class

public static class UtilityExtensions
   public static List<Func<T, bool>> GenerateFilterClause<T>(this IEnumerable<T> 
          collection, T searchEntity)
        List<Func<T, bool>> whereFilterList = new List<Func<T, bool>>();
        Func<T, bool> predicate = null;

        var propertyList = searchEntity.GetType().GetProperties();

        foreach (PropertyInfo p in propertyList)
            if (p.GetCustomAttributes(false).OfType<ColumnAttribute>().Count() > 0)
               string propName = p.Name;
               var searchVal = 

               if (searchVal != null)
                  predicate = new Func<T, bool>(entity => propertyWhereClause(entity, 
                         searchEntity, propName, searchVal));

         return whereFilterList;

      private static bool propertyWhereClause<T>(T obj, T searchEntity, string    propertyName, object searchVal)
           return obj.GetType().GetProperty(propertyName).GetValue(obj, 

While the solution is working, I have two specific questions:

  • What are the drawbacks of this solution? I was hoping to have inputs regarding performance and cleaner way to rewrite the code.
  • Can anyone suggest a more efficient and better solution? That would help me to understand the proper way to utilize the power of lambdas and Linq.

2 Answers 2


How much did you look into LINQ to SQL? Unless you have a reason not to expose the DataContext, you can just perform queries on it without using the 'search object'.

from c in DataContext.Customers
where c.City == "London" && c.ContactName == "Thomas Hardy"
select c

I haven't used LINQ to SQL myself yet, so I can't really tell much about the best practices and whether or not exposing DataContext is a good idea. Probably it's best to use an existing ORM framework. DataObjects.NET looks really nice.

A nice ORM overview can be found on ORMbattle.


I don't fully understand what you're trying to accomplish, but there's a lot of code here that doesn't make sense.

Client app

  • You create a customers object and never use it. Why?
  • You create a temporary customerList object only to iterate over it. Why?
  • WriteLine(object) already calls ToString implicitly.

Manager class and the rest

  • You're reinventing the wheel here. This is exactly what LINQ-to-SQL does.

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