Array Serialization in Flex

I have been doing a lot of Flex work over the last couple of weeks. I have to say, it is like a dream come true after having written my fair share of code in the Macromedia Flash IDE which is something akin to eating beans with a toothpick, you get there in the end but it is a long and arduous journey. FlexBuilder, built on Eclipse, is a fully featured IDE that relieves a lot of the frustration.

Anyway, back to the plot… Being a .NET developer at heart my first foray into Flex has been a front end that sits on top of some .NET web services. There are a few options as to what you put behind your Flex apps but .NET was the best fit for the job and my skills…

So off I went and all was going swimmingly until I tried to send an array of integers from the flex app to my .NET web service. The darn thing wouldn’t work. So I opened up (the excellent, probably worth another post) Service Capture and had a look at what was being submitted to the web service.

Flex, it appears, was serializing my int array like so:


My web service was expecting:


So what did I do? I spent a while looking around the FlexCoders Yahoo group. Could’t find exactly what I was after so I posted the problem…

The upshot is there seems to be a couple of serialization bugs that Adobe are planning to sort out in the imminent service update. Whether they are responsible for my problem I didn’t find out but here’s hoping.

In the meantime my options are to send literal XML to my web service rather than allow Flex to serialize it for me. This, I imagine will require some adjustments to the back end too although  I haven’t tried it yet and don’t really want to if I can help it, simply because I shouldn’t have to in this day and age.

There are various solutions I could implement on the server such as some sort of custom deserialization but this is all very complicated just so as I can pass an array of integers and  besides which, if this is due to a bug I’ll have to undo it all when it is fixed.

Another alternative suggested on the group was to use JSON. It turns out that there is a Flex JSON implementation and a .NET one, neither of which I had heard of before. Sam Shrefler explains… Thanks Sam that looks just the ticket.

11 Responses to “Array Serialization in Flex”

  1. 1 Sam Shrefler September 11, 2006 at 1:27 am

    No problem…Glad I could help. The real thanks should go to the Darron (JSON is AS) and the person that integrated JSON into .NET. Good luck with your project.

  2. 2 avejidah January 11, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Waking the dead, but I found this on google after having similar issues. Here is how I solved the problem.

    array(‘ref’ => ‘SOAP-ENC:arrayType’,
    ‘wsdl:arrayType’ => ‘xsd:string[]’)

    array(‘params’ => ‘tns:Colors’),
    array(‘return’ => ‘xsd:string’),

    Works correctly. If you use the first array in the addComplexType instead of the second array, you’ll get Serialization.

    Here’s a struct with that array just as an example:

    ‘ScientificName’ => array(‘name’ => ‘ScientificName’, ‘type’ => ‘xsd:string’),
    ‘Colors’ => array(‘name’ => ‘Colors’, ‘type’ => ‘tns:Colors’)

    array(‘params’ => ‘tns:Flower’),
    array(‘return’ => ‘xsd:string’),

  3. 3 avejidah January 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    var colors:Object = new Object();
    colors.Colors = new Array();
    colors.Colors[0] = ‘Red’;
    colors.Colors[1] = ‘Green’;
    colors.Colors[2] = ‘Blue’;
    colors.ScientificName = ‘Iris Testopoly’;


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