ICloneable tricks & shortcuts

Here’s a couple of tricks to implementing ICloneable.

First, if your class supports serialization or deserialization, you can serialize the object you wish to clone and deserialize it to a new object.  This has a couple of obvious drawbacks:

  • If you’ve marked fields or properties to be ignored by serialization, you won’t see them in the clone.
  • If you’ve implemented IXmlSerializable to make custom serialization, you’ll lose values that are not in the XML.

Another trick that I’ve come up with is to use Reflection to clone:

public static object CloneThroughReflection(object source)
Type ObjectType = source.GetType();

// Create a new object of the same type as the source and call its default constructor
object MyClone = System.Activator.CreateInstance(ObjectType, null);

// Loop through the fields
FieldInfo[] FieldInformation = ObjectType.GetFields();
for (int i = 0; i < FieldInformation.Length; i++)
// Set the clone's field to the same value as the source's
FieldInfo MyField = FieldInformation[i];
object SourceValue = MyField.GetValue(source);
MyField.SetValue(MyClone, SourceValue);
return MyClone;

This function is more accurate at making a deep clone of an object, as it doesn’t rely on a field’s or property’s inclusion in the XML to appear in the clone.

2 thoughts on “ICloneable tricks & shortcuts

  1. Dan, that’s correct. I’m using Activator.CreateInstance(Type, Object[]) to make the cloned object, and passing null as the Object[] tells it to use the default constructor. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be public, just visible to the CloneThroughReflection() method. So if you had:

    public class MyClass
    private MyClass()

    public MyClass CloneThroughReflection()


    that would work.

    Also, I should really modify it to see if MyField’s value’s type supports ICloneable and use that rather than just SourceValue = MyField.GetValue(source), but I’ve not done so yet. 😉

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