I’ve wrote before about trying to serialize EF objects to JSON (post in Hebrew), which to conclude, isn’t that easy.
EF objects are marked with IsReference=true and therefore cannot be serialized with DataContractJsonSerializer.
Trying to serialize EF objects with that serializer throws the following exception:
“The type ‘xxx’ cannot be serialized to JSON because its IsReference setting is ‘True’. The JSON format does not support references because there is no standardized format for representing references. To enable serialization, disable the IsReference setting on the type or an appropriate parent class of the type.”
BTW, that message is somehow misleading because you cannot “disable” the IsReference setting because all EF objects inherit from the EntityObject class which is also marked with IsReference=true
“A circular reference was detected while serializing an object of type ‘XXX’.”
The circular reference exception will be raised when a navigable relation is double-sided (can access both sides of the relation), so the first thing to do is disable one side of the relation.
The exception will also be thrown when you use 1:1 relations (or 1:0..1 or any relation causing the creation of an EntityReference type property), in this case the exception will be of type ”System.Data.Metadata.Edm.AssociationType’.
So to conclude, serializing EF object to JSON is not quite of an easy task. There is, however, another solution to serialize EF objects, using the JSON serializer supplied with Ado.Net Data Services (Astoria), the catch is that the JSON serializer is an internal serializer, which means you’ll have to expose the EF as a Data Service, making this solution a bit annoying.