PostSharpDeveloping Custom AspectsInitializing AspectsCoping with Custom Object Serializers
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Coping with Custom Object Serializers

Some aspects need to be initialized when a new instance of the class to which they are applied is created. For instance, instance-scoped aspect must be cloned from the prototype; members imported into the through ImportMemberAttribute must be bound to aspect fields.

PostSharp enhances every constructor of every enhanced class so that aspects are properly initialized.

However, it is possible to create new instances of classes by bypassing the constructor. This happens, for instance, when classes are deserialized by the BinaryFormatter or the DataContractSerializer. These formatters use the method GetUninitializedObject(Type) to create new instances, but this method bypasses all constructors.

PostSharp implements a workaround for the deserializers BinaryFormatter and DataContractSerializer: it creates or modifies a method annotated by the custom attribute OnDeserializingAttribute, so that aspects are initialized properly.

However, if you are using a custom deserializer, or for any reason create instances using the method the method GetUninitializedObject(Type), you will have to initialize aspects manually.

Initializing Aspects Manually

There are two possible ways to initialize an aspect from user code.

By Defining a Method InitializeAspects

You can define in your classes (typically in one of the root classes of your class hierarchy) a method with the following name and signature:

protected virtual void InitializeAspects();

When PostSharp discovers this method, it will insert its own initialization logic at the beginning of the InitializeAspects method. The original logic is not deleted. This method can safely have an empty implementation.

The following constraints apply:

  • The method should be virtual unless the class is sealed.

  • The method should be protected or public unless the class is internal.

For instance, the following class would enable aspects (applied to this class or on derived classes) to be initialized after deserialization (note that PostSharp automatically generates this code for BinaryFormatter and DataContractSerializer; you only need to do it manually for a custom serializer).

public abstract class BaseClass
  protected virtual void InitializeAspects()

  private void OnDeserializingInitializeAspects()

By Invoking AspectUtilities.InitializeCurrentAspects

Instead of providing an empty method InitializeAspects, it is possible to invoke the method InitializeCurrentAspects(). A call to this method will be translated into a call to InitializeAspects. It has to be invoked from a non-static method of an enhanced class.

If the class from which InitializeCurrentAspects() is invoked has not been enhanced by an aspect requiring initialization, the call to this method is simply ignored.


Using this approach may be brittle in some situations: calls to InitializeCurrentAspects() will have no effect if aspects are applied to derived classes, but not to the calling class. In this scenario, it is preferable to define the method InitializeAspects.