Wim's .NET blog

Generic Parse method on Enum - a solution

David Findley writes about how he wishes we had a generic Parse method on the Enum class in .NET 2.0.

Though I agree in principle, it's actually quite trivial to create a generic static class with a Parse method, which alleviates some of the pain.

Here's my stab at it:

    public static class EnumUtil<T>
        public static T Parse(string s)
            return (T)Enum.Parse(typeof(T), s);

Say we have the following enum:

    public enum Color

We can now simply use the generic EnumUtil class as follows:

Color c = EnumUtil<Color>.Parse("Black");

I feel that this helper method doesn't actually warrant a class in its own right, so you may want to add it to one of your Util classes (if you happen to have a generic one!) instead.

Posted: Jul 06 2006, 09:59 AM by Wim | with 10 comment(s)
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Jens said:

Am I wrong or is it a mistake?:

Color c = EnumUtil<Number>.Parse("Black");

should be

Color c = EnumUtil<Color >.Parse("Black");


# July 6, 2006 5:38 AM

Wim said:

Ofcourse Jens - that's because I started out with an enum called Number, but renamed it in-situ to an enum called Color (as that seemed a better example for an enum) while I was editing my post. Fixed now though.

# July 6, 2006 6:28 AM

Jouni Heikniemi said:

It would probably make more sense to use the type parameter at the method level (i.e. public static T Parse<T>(string s)) instead of the class level.

Having a type-parameterized utility class may be useful in some particular context, but unless it's instantiated for some purposes (such as to wrap or manage the instances of the original class/enum), I'd vote for keeping the type parameterization at the static method level.

# July 6, 2006 7:58 AM

findleyd said:

I'm actually doing this at the moment. Thats how I came up with the idea of Hey, why don't they just do this on the Enum class so millions of developers won't have to go write util code. :)

Personally I think MS was very conservative with the use of generics in the 2.0 fwk. Once we get to WinFX errr... .NET FWK 3.0 I think the use of gerics will explode. I just hope they remember to give the enum class some love. :P

# July 6, 2006 9:38 AM

Wim said:

Jouni - you're right, unless you got a good reason for having a generic util class, it makes more sense just having a static generic method.

David - nice one, your generic TryParse() function. Not sure whether it'd be better to raise an exception or return a boolean if teh value cannot be parsed but hey...

Dave - yep, it would make a lot of sense, and in many cases they have not really looked at existing classes in the framework and said:"Now, where would it be useful to add generics into the mix...", even if they'd limited that to the System namespace...

# July 6, 2006 10:55 AM

greyson said:

public static class GenericEnum<T>

   where T : struct, IComparable, IFormattable, IConvertible


   public static bool TryParse(String value)


     bool parsable = false;

     if (Enum.IsDefined(typeof(T), value))


       parsable = true;


     return parsable;


   public static T Parse(String value, bool ignoreCase)


     return (T)Enum.Parse(typeof(T), value, ignoreCase);


   public static T Parse(String value)


     return Parse(value, false);



# November 15, 2008 10:50 AM