# C# Reflection-based CSV Parser

I've been trying to make a C# version of my Java CSV Parser using C# specific idioms.

Here is the full code:

using System;
using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.IO;
using System.Linq;
using System.Reflection;

namespace CSV
{
/// <inheritdoc />
public sealed class ParseException : Exception
{
/// <inheritdoc />
public ParseException()
{
}

/// <inheritdoc />
public ParseException(string message, Exception inner) : base(message, inner)
{
}
}

/// <summary>
/// This Exception is raised when a type <c>T</c> is not supported by <see cref="Convert.ChangeType(object?,Type)"/>
/// nor has a custom parser been registered via <see cref="Parsers.RegisterParser{T}(Converter{string,T})"/> for the type.
/// </summary>
public sealed class NoSuchParserException : Exception
{
/// <inheritdoc />
public NoSuchParserException()
{
}

/// <inheritdoc />
public NoSuchParserException(Type t) : base($"There are no supported parsers for {t}") { } } /// <summary> /// This attribute may be applied to any property of a class or struct to indicate that the custom name should /// be matched against the headers of the CSV file instead of the name of the attribute /// </summary> /// /// <example> /// <c>[CSV.PropertyName("value")] public int Num { get; set; }</c> /// </example> [AttributeUsage(AttributeTargets.Property)] public sealed class PropertyNameAttribute : Attribute { /// <summary> /// The name of the property. /// </summary> public string Name { get; } /// <summary> /// Initializes a new instance of <see cref="PropertyNameAttribute"/> with the specified property name. /// </summary> /// <param name="name">The name of the property.</param> public PropertyNameAttribute(string name) => Name = name; } /// <summary> /// A struct for accessing the map of parsers used by <see cref="Parser{TRow}"/> /// </summary> public readonly struct Parsers { internal static readonly Dictionary<Type, Converter<string, object>> Dict = new Dictionary<Type, Converter<string, object>>(); /// <summary> /// Globally registers a parser for <typeparamref name="T"/>, overriding any parser which may exist for the type /// </summary> /// <param name="parser">a <c>Converter</c> from a string to an arbitrary type <c>T</c></param> /// <typeparam name="T">a type to make available for parsing into</typeparam> public static void RegisterParser<T>(Converter<string, T> parser) { object CovarianceCaster(string s) => parser(s); Dict[typeof(T)] = CovarianceCaster; } } /// <summary> /// This class allows CSV text strings to be conveniently and easily parsed into an Enumerable sequence of objects of type <c>TRow</c> /// </summary> /// /// <para> /// By default, CSV.Parser supports parsing all types supported by <see cref="Convert.ChangeType(object?,Type)"/> /// Parsers for other types may be added via <see cref="Parsers.RegisterParser{T}(Converter{string,T})"/>. /// </para> /// /// <example> /// Suppose there exists the following struct <c>Foo</c>: /// <code> /// public struct Foo /// { /// [CSV.PropertyName("Value")] public float X { get; set; } /// public string Name { get; set; } /// } /// </code> /// Given a <see cref="TextReader"/> whose contents are /// <code> /// Name,Value /// hello,3.14 /// world /// </code> /// each line can be parsed into a <c>Foo</c> object using /// <code> /// var csv = new CSV.Parser(reader) /// foreach (var foo in csv) Console.WriteLine(foo); /// </code> /// </example> /// /// <typeparam name="TRow"> /// a type that satisfies the following properties: /// <list type="bullet"> /// <item>It has a no-argument constructor (satisfies the <c>new()</c> constraint)</item> /// <item>Any property which should be affected should have an accessor</item> /// </list> /// </typeparam> public class Parser<TRow> : IEnumerable<TRow> where TRow : new() { private readonly TextReader _reader; private readonly string _delimiter; private readonly List<string> _headers; /// <summary> /// Creates a new CSV.Parser instance from the specified <c>reader</c> whose lines may be parsed into <c>TRow</c> instances /// </summary> /// <param name="reader">a <c>TextReader</c> containing N lines of text, each line containing M data fields /// separated by a <c>delimiter</c></param> /// <param name="delimiter">the delimiter to use</param> public Parser(TextReader reader, string delimiter = ",") { _reader = reader; _delimiter = delimiter; _headers = _reader.ReadLine()?.Split(delimiter).ToList(); } /// <summary> /// Ignores the specified next number of lines. Useful for possible inclusion of metadata in the CSV data. /// </summary> /// <param name="numberOfLines">the number of lines to skip</param> /// <returns>this CSV.Parser instance</returns> public Parser<TRow> Skip(int numberOfLines) { for (var i = 0; i < numberOfLines; i++) { _reader.ReadLine(); } return this; } /// <summary> /// Parses the next line of the associated <see cref="TextReader"/> into a <c>TRow</c> object /// </summary> /// <returns>The parsed TRow object</returns> /// <exception cref="ParseException">There is no valid parser for one of the types of the fields of /// <typeparamref name="TRow"/>, or a parser threw an Exception while parsing</exception> public TRow ReadLine() { var line = _reader.ReadLine(); if (line == null) return default; var split = line.Split(_delimiter); object row = new TRow(); foreach (var prop in typeof(TRow).GetProperties().Where(p => p.CanWrite)) { var attr = prop.GetCustomAttribute<PropertyNameAttribute>(); var name = attr == null ? prop.Name : attr.Name; var idx = _headers.IndexOf(name); if (idx >= split.Length) continue; var parsed = idx == -1 ? null : TryParse(split[idx].Trim(' ', '\"'), prop.PropertyType); prop.SetValue(row, parsed); } return (TRow) row; } private static object TryParse(string s, Type t) { if (Parsers.Dict.ContainsKey(t)) { try { return Parsers.Dict[t].Invoke(s); } catch (Exception e) { throw new ParseException($"The parser for {t} failed", e);
}
}

try
{
return s != "" ? Convert.ChangeType(s, t) : null;
}
catch
{
throw new NoSuchParserException(t);
}
}

/// <summary>
/// Returns an <see cref="IEnumerator{T}"/> by repeatedly invoking <see cref="Parser{TRow}.ReadLine()"/>.
/// </summary>
/// <returns>an <see cref="IEnumerator{T}"/> of all the parsed rows</returns>
public IEnumerator<TRow> GetEnumerator()
{
{
yield return row;
}
}

IEnumerator IEnumerable.GetEnumerator() => GetEnumerator();
}
}


My primary concerns are idiomatically implementing exception handling. In particular, I was wondering if

• NoSuchParserException should be removed and use ParseException as a catch all Exception for the class
• my implementation of TryParse could be improved / designed better

I was also wondering how I should go about the case where the number of properties in TRow is not equal to the number of headers in the CSV data. I'm not sure if I should ignore the extraneous headers or properties, add an Enum option, or always throw an Exception.

• Sorry but I don't get it. Do you want to port and redesign the CSV parser at the same time? What is your question? – Peter Csala Jun 26 at 6:54

The idiomatic TryParse signature is public bool TryParse(string input, out T result). It should never throw; that's what regular Parse is for. Return true if it succeeds and false otherwise, with result being set to the parsed value or default respectively. If you really do want to distinguish between the cases "there exists a converter but the string simply couldn't be parsed" and "there doesn't even exist a converter for that type", then I suppose you can keep those exceptions, but I'd still like to see some way of indicating whether or not the parse succeeded given there exists a parser for that type. null is not a particularly strong indicator since it's conceivable that someone might want to encode null in their CSV file.

XML documentation is a good habit to get into so I'm glad to see that. I would add a note to the docs for ReadLine indicating that it'll return default(TRow) when it hits the end of the text reader.

Which brings me to something that sticks out, and that's the end-of-text-reader condition: your mechanism for that is to return the default value of TRow from ReadLine. What happens if TRow is a value type and I happen to read a line that's intended to populate an instance of TRow with default values? For example, if TRow is Point and my CSV line is 0,0, it looks like the parser enumerator will end prematurely. Perhaps ReadLine should return a flag indicating whether something was actually read or not. Or maybe define a TryReadLine in the same manner as TryParse which returns a bool indicating whether it worked.

You will never need to instantiate Parsers so it should be a static class instead of a readonly struct.

If you're not using the new C# 8.0 nullable references, then you should be throwing ArgumentNullExceptions in the Parser constructor if any of those parameters are null.

_headers can be null but you're not checking for null anywhere; although I suppose you can reason that it will always be non-null in the parts where it's actually used, in which case I'd document that with an assertion.

You will read a lot of wisdom saying that premature optimization is the root of all evil, but here is a case where it's possibly warranted:

foreach (var prop in typeof(TRow).GetProperties().Where(p => p.CanWrite))


Reflection is super slow and the properties associated with TRow will not change during runtime, so you can cache the result of typeof(TRow).GetProperties(). Likewise for prop.GetCustomAttribute<PropertyNameAttribute>(). It's up to you/your stakeholders whether your current solution is fast enough. If it isn't, look into caching those things.