protobuf-net: Beware of setting an optional int primitive to zero

May 21, 2010 1 comment

Here’s another gotcha with protobuf-net, setting an optional int to 0 causes it the property to be skipped during serialization.

private int? _myProperty;
[ProtoBuf.ProtoMember(21022, IsRequired = false, Name = @"myProperty", DataFormat = ProtoBuf.DataFormat.TwosComplement)]
public int myProperty {
	get { return _myProperty ?? default(int); }
	set { _myProperty= value; }
public bool myPropertySpecified {
	get { return _myProperty != null; }
	set { if (value == (_myProperty == null)) _myProperty = value ? fillreportpolicy : (int?)null; }
private bool ShouldSerializemyProperty() { return myPropertySpecified; }
private void ResetmyProperty() { myPropertySpecified = false; }

After you set myProperty to “0”, you’ll notice that myPropertySpecified will return true. You can also use reflection to verify that the property is indeed set. But, it won’t get serialized in the end.

Categories: .net

ProtoBuf-net: A helper method

April 20, 2010 3 comments

The current implementation of protobuf-net does not contain a simple way of writing the proto as a string, or key-value pairs (unlike the C++ library).

Here’s a simple extension method to aid in logging protos, in case you ever have a similar need.

/// Returns the contents of the proto object log-friendly string format.
/// This method will also cycle through the repeating groups.
/// Eg: MyProto { fielda [100] = Foo, fieldb [101] = bar }
public static string ToDebug(this IExtensible proto) {
	StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
	sb.AppendFormat("{0} {{", proto.GetType().Name);
	ReadProto(proto, sb);
	return sb.ToString();

private static void ReadProto(IExtensible proto, StringBuilder sb) {
	object val;
	SortedDictionary props = GetProtoAttributeProperties(proto);
	int[] keys = new int[props.Count];
	PropertyInfo info = null;
	MethodInfo mi = null;

	props.Keys.CopyTo(keys, 0);
	for (int i = 0; i < props.Keys.Count; i++) {
		info = props[keys[i]];
		val = info.GetValue(proto, null);
		if (val == null)

		mi = proto.GetType().GetMethod(
					string.Format("ShouldSerialize{0}", props[keys[i]].Name), 
					BindingFlags.NonPublic | BindingFlags.Instance);
		if (mi != null && !Convert.ToBoolean(mi.Invoke(proto, null)))
		sb.AppendFormat("{0} [{1}] = {2}",
			info.Name, keys[i], 
			val == null ? string.Empty :
				val is IExtensible ? val.GetType().Name : val.ToString());

		if (val is IExtensible) {
			sb.Append(" {");
			ReadProto((IExtensible)val, sb);
		} else {
			IList list = val as IList;
			if (list != null) {
				ReadRepeatingGroups(list, sb);
			} else if (i != keys.Length - 1)
				sb.Append(", ");

private static void ReadRepeatingGroups(IList list, StringBuilder sb) {
	if (list == null)
	if (list.Count == 0) {
	sb.Append(" {");
	for (int i = 0; i < list.Count; i++) {
		sb.Append(" {");
		ReadProto((IExtensible)list[i], sb);
		if (i != list.Count - 1)
			sb.Append(", ");

private static SortedDictionary GetProtoAttributeProperties(IExtensible proto) {
	SortedDictionary props = new SortedDictionary();
	PropertyInfo[] properties = proto.GetType().GetProperties();
	foreach (PropertyInfo pi in properties) {
		if (!pi.IsDefined(typeof(ProtoBuf.ProtoMemberAttribute), false))
		ProtoMemberAttribute attr = null;
		object[] attributes = pi.GetCustomAttributes(false);
		foreach (object a in attributes) {
			attr = a as ProtoMemberAttribute;
			if (attr != null)
		if (attr != null)
			props.Add(attr.Tag, pi);
	return props;
Categories: .net oddities

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I noticed a couple of odd behavior in the implementation so figured I’d document them here.

First, the code…

_client = new Client();
_client.connect( host, port, virtualHost, userName, password );
_session = _client.createSession( -1 );

// Create a response queue so the server can send us responses
_responseQueue = string.Format( "GUI_{0}_{1}", Environment.UserName, DateTime.Now.Ticks );
// Use the name of the response queue as the routing key
_session.queueDeclare( _responseQueue, new Option[] {
	// Setting EXCLUSIVE option makes the queue hang around
	// even when the session is closed
} );
_session.exchangeBind( _responseQueue, "", _responseQueue );
  1. Apparently, specifying Option.Exclusive on the queue, as the comment indicates, causes the queue to hang around even after you cleanly tear down the session and connection. (You can use qpid-stat to find out about the open sessions;
    qpid-stat -q localhost:6001 -S queue
    with the port where your daemon is listening to, of course.)

  2. Even though I’m not specifying a timeout when creating the session, and given that QPID sessions typically are set to infinite timeouts, the session is closed by the broker after some period of inactivity. You’ll notice that the session has closed the next time you attempt to send a message back to the server. (If you have QPID configured to log everything, you can easily search the log file for your IP address to see if it’s disconnected; you should see entries similar to the following)
    debug DISCONNECTED []

    For now, until I find a better solution, to fix this requires a hack. Essentially, you need to check whether the session is closed or not before attempting to send a message (code below). You’ll notice a Sleep call which I found was necessary as sending a message immediately after the session connects causes it to go into the ether

/// HACK! Attempt to reconnect if the session was closed.
/// TODO Find a way to keep the session open
protected void CheckSessionState() {
	if (_session != null && _session.Closed == false)
	bool isConnected = false;
	int tryCnt = 5, i = 0;
	while (!isConnected && i < tryCnt) {
		OnMessageWorkerLogMessage(this.GetServiceName() + " was closed, attempting to reconnect");
		Connect(this.Host, this.Port, this.VirtualHost, _user, _pwd);
		isConnected = _session != null && (_session.Closed == false);
		if (isConnected) {
		OnMessageWorkerLogMessage(this.GetServiceName() +
			(isConnected ? " reconnected" :
			" still closed. Attempting " + (tryCnt - 1 - i) + " more times"));
Categories: .net

Visualizing economics

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment

A nice set of graphics from Visualizing Economics, via Zero Hedge.

Categories: Finance

Articles on FIXatdl

April 9, 2010 1 comment

With the formal introduction of FIXatdl at the last FPL’s EMEA meeting, v1.1 is now an official FIX standard. Here, then, are the latest articles published in FIXGlobal on the new standard.

Categories: .net, Finance

LHC: some details about the software

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday represented a large milestone for the LHC. Here’re some details on the software.

You can also view LHC’s real time status here and here, the latter being the more interesting from a technology and visualization perspective.

Categories: Astronomy, CEP

Protobuf-Net: Couple of gotchas

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’re a couple of issues with Protobuf-net that I ran into recently.

  1. C# classes generated with protogen /p:detectMissing flag creates string getters as
    get { return _myStringField ?? ""; }
    This means that string fields that were supposed to be nulls still get sent to the server as an empty string; not an ideal situation.
    The fix is to manually edit the generated class to remove the coalesce from all string getters.
     get { return _myStringField; }
  2. If you try to serialize a class where you do not populate an optional enum with no enum value defined for zero (0), you’ll get an exception “The default enum value is not defined for the optional property”. This happens even though Google spec says that in such cases, the 1st value should be used; although, in my opinion, Protobuf-Net should check whether to serialize the enum at all before attempting to get to the valid enum values.
    For example, this enum will throw the aforementioned exception:
    public enum MyEnum {
       MyEnumValueA = 10,
       MyEnumValueB = 100

    Unfortunately, there’re no workarounds for this problem at the moment except adding a “MyEnumValueUnknown=0” to the enum.

The author, Marc Gravell, is aware of these issues. Here’s hoping he’ll get a chance to fix these problems quickly.

Categories: .net