Generic Lambda Query Builder

Remarks

The class is called ExpressionBuilder. It has three properties:

 private static readonly MethodInfo ContainsMethod = typeof(string).GetMethod("Contains", new[] { typeof(string) });
 private static readonly MethodInfo StartsWithMethod = typeof(string).GetMethod("StartsWith", new[] { typeof(string) });
 private static readonly MethodInfo EndsWithMethod = typeof(string).GetMethod("EndsWith", new[] { typeof(string) });

One public method GetExpression that returns the lambda expression, and three private methods:

  • Expression GetExpression<T>
  • BinaryExpression GetExpression<T>
  • ConstantExpression GetConstant

All the methods are explained in details in the examples.

ConstantExpression Method

ConstantExpression must be the same type of the MemberExpression. The value in this example is a string, which is converted before creating the ConstantExpression instance.

private static ConstantExpression GetConstant(Type type, string value)
{
    // Discover the type, convert it, and create ConstantExpression 
    ConstantExpression constant = null;
    if (type == typeof(int))
    {
        int num;
        int.TryParse(value, out num);
        constant = Expression.Constant(num);
    }
    else if(type == typeof(string))
    {
        constant = Expression.Constant(value);
    }
    else if (type == typeof(DateTime))
    {
        DateTime date;
        DateTime.TryParse(value, out date);
        constant = Expression.Constant(date);
    }
    else if (type == typeof(bool))
    {                
        bool flag;
        if (bool.TryParse(value, out flag))
        {
            flag = true;
        }
        constant = Expression.Constant(flag);
    }
    else if (type == typeof(decimal))
    {
        decimal number;
        decimal.TryParse(value, out number);
        constant = Expression.Constant(number);
    }
    return constant;
}

GetExpression Method

public static Expression<Func<T, bool>> GetExpression<T>(IList<QueryFilter> filters)
{
    Expression exp = null;
    
    // Represents a named parameter expression. {parm => parm.Name.Equals()}, it is the param part
    // To create a ParameterExpression need the type of the entity that the query is against an a name
    // The type is possible to find with the generic T and the name is fixed parm
    ParameterExpression param = Expression.Parameter(typeof(T), "parm");

    // It is good parctice never trust in the client, so it is wise to validate.
    if (filters.Count == 0)
        return null;

    // The expression creation differ if there is one, two or more filters.    
    if (filters.Count != 1)
    {
        if (filters.Count == 2)
            // It is result from direct call.
            // For simplicity sake the private overloads will be explained in another example.
            exp = GetExpression<T>(param, filters[0], filters[1]);
        else
        {
            // As there is no method for more than two filters, 
            // I iterate through all the filters and put I in the query two at a time
            while (filters.Count > 0)
            {
                // Retreive the first two filters
                var f1 = filters[0];
                var f2 = filters[1];
                
                // To build a expression with a conditional AND operation that evaluates 
                // the second operand only if the first operand evaluates to true.
                // It needed to use the BinaryExpression a Expression derived class 
                // That has the AndAlso method that join two expression together
                exp = exp == null ? GetExpression<T>(param, filters[0], filters[1]) : Expression.AndAlso(exp, GetExpression<T>(param, filters[0], filters[1]));
                
                // Remove the two just used filters, for the method in the next iteration finds the next filters
                filters.Remove(f1);
                filters.Remove(f2);
                
                // If it is that last filter, add the last one and remove it
                if (filters.Count == 1)
                {
                    exp = Expression.AndAlso(exp, GetExpression<T>(param, filters[0]));
                    filters.RemoveAt(0);
                }
            }
        }
    }
    else
        // It is result from direct call.
        exp = GetExpression<T>(param, filters[0]);

           // converts the Expression into Lambda and retuns the query
    return Expression.Lambda<Func<T, bool>>(exp, param);
}

GetExpression Private overload

For one filter:

Here is where the query is created, it receives a expression parameter and a filter.

private static Expression GetExpression<T>(ParameterExpression param, QueryFilter queryFilter)
{
    // Represents accessing a field or property, so here we are accessing for example:
    // the property "Name" of the entity
    MemberExpression member = Expression.Property(param, queryFilter.PropertyName);

    //Represents an expression that has a constant value, so here we are accessing for example:
    // the values of the Property "Name".
    // Also for clarity sake the GetConstant will be explained in another example.
    ConstantExpression constant = GetConstant(member.Type, queryFilter.Value);

    // With these two, now I can build the expression
    // every operator has it one way to call, so the switch will do.
    switch (queryFilter.Operator)
    {
        case Operator.Equals:
            return Expression.Equal(member, constant);

        case Operator.Contains:
            return Expression.Call(member, ContainsMethod, constant);

        case Operator.GreaterThan:
            return Expression.GreaterThan(member, constant);

        case Operator.GreaterThanOrEqual:
            return Expression.GreaterThanOrEqual(member, constant);

        case Operator.LessThan:
            return Expression.LessThan(member, constant);

        case Operator.LessThanOrEqualTo:
            return Expression.LessThanOrEqual(member, constant);

        case Operator.StartsWith:
            return Expression.Call(member, StartsWithMethod, constant);

        case Operator.EndsWith:
            return Expression.Call(member, EndsWithMethod, constant);
    }

    return null;
}

For two filters:

It returns the BinaryExpresion instance instead of the simple Expression.

private static BinaryExpression GetExpression<T>(ParameterExpression param, QueryFilter filter1, QueryFilter filter2)
{
    // Built two separated expression and join them after.
    Expression result1 = GetExpression<T>(param, filter1);
    Expression result2 = GetExpression<T>(param, filter2);
    return Expression.AndAlso(result1, result2);
}

QueryFilter class

This class holds predicate filters values.

public class QueryFilter
{
    public string PropertyName { get; set; }
    public string Value { get; set; }
    public Operator Operator { get; set; }

    // In the query {a => a.Name.Equals("Pedro")} 
    // Property name to filter - propertyName = "Name"
    // Filter value - value = "Pedro"
    // Operation to perform - operation = enum Operator.Equals
    public QueryFilter(string propertyName, string value, Operator operatorValue)
    {
        PropertyName = propertyName;
        Value = value;
        Operator = operatorValue;
    }       
}

Enum to hold the operations values:

 public enum Operator
{
    Contains,
    GreaterThan,
    GreaterThanOrEqual,
    LessThan,
    LessThanOrEqualTo,
    StartsWith,
    EndsWith,
    Equals,
    NotEqual
}

Usage

Collection filters = new List(); QueryFilter filter = new QueryFilter("Name", "Burger", Operator.StartsWith); filters.Add(filter);

 Expression<Func<Food, bool>> query = ExpressionBuilder.GetExpression<Food>(filters);

In this case, it is a query against the Food entity, that want to find all foods that start with "Burger" in the name.

Output:

query = {parm => a.parm.StartsWith("Burger")}


Expression<Func<T, bool>> GetExpression<T>(IList<QueryFilter> filters)