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I got this exception at my work today, a System.ArgumentException with the message "Argument passed in is not serializable.", that I could not quite understand. Where does it come from, since the .NET source repository does not contain the string? How can I fix it?

The stack trace ended up at System.Collection.ListDictionaryInternal.set_Item(Object key, Object value) in a method where, indeed, I was setting a value in a dictionary. But this is not how dictionaries behave! The dictionary in question was the Exception.Data property. It makes sense, because Exception objects are supposed to be serializable, and I was adding a value of type HttpMethod which, even if extremely simple and almost always used as an Enum, it is actually a class of its own which is not serializable!

So, there you have it, always make sure you add serializable objects in an exception's Data dictionary.

But why is this happening? The implementation of the Data property looks like this:

public virtual IDictionary Data { 
  get {
    if (_data == null)
      if (IsImmutableAgileException(this))
        _data = new EmptyReadOnlyDictionaryInternal();
        _data = new ListDictionaryInternal();
    return _data;

Now, EmptyReadOnlyDictionaryInternal is just a dictionary you can't add to. The interesting class is ListDictionaryInternal. Besides being an actual linked list implementation (who does that in anything but C++ classrooms?) it contains this code:

  if (!key.GetType().IsSerializable)                 
    throw new ArgumentException(Environment.GetResourceString("Argument_NotSerializable"), "key");                    
  if( (value != null) && (!value.GetType().IsSerializable ) )
    throw new ArgumentException(Environment.GetResourceString("Argument_NotSerializable"), "value");                    

So both key and value of the Data dictionary property in an Exception instance need to be serializable.

But why didn't I find the string in the source reference? While the Microsoft reference website doesn't seem to support simple string search, it seems Google does NOT index the code GitHub pages either. You have to:

  • manually go to GitHub and search
  • get no results
  • notice that the "Code" section of the results has a question mark instead of a number next to it
  • click on it
  • then it asks you to log in
  • and only then you get results!

So bonus thing: if you are searching for some string in the .NET source code, first of all use the GitHub repo, then make sure you log in when you search.


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