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2-4. Base64 Encode Binary Data

2-4. Base64 Encode Binary Data

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Use the static methods ToBase64CharArray and FromBase64CharArray of the System.Convert class to

convert your binary data to and from a Base64-encoded char array. If you need to work with the encoded

data as a string value instead of a char array, you can use the ToBase64String and FromBase64String

methods of the Convert class instead.

How It Works

Base64 is an encoding scheme that enables you to represent binary data as a series of ASCII characters

so that it can be included in text files and e-mail messages in which raw binary data is unacceptable.

Base64 encoding works by spreading the contents of 3 bytes of input data across 4 bytes and ensuring

each byte uses only the 7 low-order bits to contain data. This means that each byte of Base64-encoded

data is equivalent to an ASCII character and can be stored or transmitted anywhere ASCII characters are


The ToBase64CharArray and FromBase64CharArray methods of the Convert class make it

straightforward to Base64 encode and decode data. However, before Base64 encoding, you must convert

your data to a byte array. Similarly, when decoding you must convert the byte array back to the

appropriate data type. See recipe 2-2 for details on converting string data to and from byte arrays and

recipe 2-3 for details on converting basic value types. The ToBase64String and FromBase64String

methods of the Convert class deal with string representations of Base64-encoded data.

The Code

The example shown here demonstrates how to Base64 encode and decode a byte array, a Unicode string,

an int type, and a decimal type using the Convert class. The DecimalToBase64 and Base64ToDecimal

methods rely on the ByteArrayToDecimal and DecimalToByteArray methods listed in recipe 2-3.

using System;

using System.IO;

using System.Text;

namespace Apress.VisualCSharpRecipes.Chapter02


class Recipe02_04


// Create a byte array from a decimal.

public static byte[] DecimalToByteArray (decimal src)


// Create a MemoryStream as a buffer to hold the binary data.

using (MemoryStream stream = new MemoryStream())


// Create a BinaryWriter to write binary data the stream.

using (BinaryWriter writer = new BinaryWriter(stream))


// Write the decimal to the BinaryWriter/MemoryStream.





// Return the byte representation of the decimal.

return stream.ToArray();




// Create a decimal from a byte array.

public static decimal ByteArrayToDecimal (byte[] src)


// Create a MemoryStream containing the byte array.

using (MemoryStream stream = new MemoryStream(src))


// Create a BinaryReader to read the decimal from the stream.

using (BinaryReader reader = new BinaryReader(stream))


// Read and return the decimal from the

// BinaryReader/MemoryStream.

return reader.ReadDecimal();




// Base64 encode a Unicode string.

public static string StringToBase64 (string src)


// Get a byte representation of the source string.

byte[] b = Encoding.Unicode.GetBytes(src);

// Return the Base64-encoded string.

return Convert.ToBase64String(b);


// Decode a Base64-encoded Unicode string.

public static string Base64ToString (string src)


// Decode the Base64-encoded string to a byte array.

byte[] b = Convert.FromBase64String(src);

// Return the decoded Unicode string.

return Encoding.Unicode.GetString(b);


// Base64 encode a decimal.

public static string DecimalToBase64 (decimal src)


// Get a byte representation of the decimal.

byte[] b = DecimalToByteArray(src);

// Return the Base64-encoded decimal.

return Convert.ToBase64String(b);





// Decode a Base64-encoded decimal.

public static decimal Base64ToDecimal (string src)


// Decode the Base64-encoded decimal to a byte array.

byte[] b = Convert.FromBase64String(src);

// Return the decoded decimal.

return ByteArrayToDecimal(b);


// Base64 encode an int.

public static string IntToBase64 (int src)


// Get a byte representation of the int.

byte[] b = BitConverter.GetBytes(src);

// Return the Base64-encoded int.

return Convert.ToBase64String(b);


// Decode a Base64-encoded int.

public static int Base64ToInt (string src)


// Decode the Base64-encoded int to a byte array.

byte[] b = Convert.FromBase64String(src);

// Return the decoded int.

return BitConverter.ToInt32(b,0);


public static void Main()


// Encode and decode a general byte array. Need to create a char[]

// to hold the Base64-encoded data. The size of the char[] must

// be at least 4/3 the size of the source byte[] and must be

// divisible by 4.

byte[] data = { 0x04, 0x43, 0x5F, 0xFF, 0x0, 0xF0, 0x2D, 0x62, 0x78,

0x22, 0x15, 0x51, 0x5A, 0xD6, 0x0C, 0x59, 0x36, 0x63, 0xBD, 0xC2,

0xD5, 0x0F, 0x8C, 0xF5, 0xCA, 0x0C};




char[] base64data =

new char[(int)(Math.Ceiling((double)data.Length / 3) * 4)];

Console.WriteLine("\nByte array encoding/decoding");

Convert.ToBase64CharArray(data, 0, data.Length, base64data, 0);

Console.WriteLine(new String(base64data));


Convert.FromBase64CharArray(base64data, 0, base64data.Length)));

// Encode and decode a string.


("Welcome to Visual C# Recipes from Apress"));

Console.WriteLine(Base64ToString("VwBlAGwAYwBvAG0AZQAgAHQAbwA" +



// Encode and decode a decimal.



// Encode and decode an int.



// Wait to continue.

Console.WriteLine("\nMain method complete. Press Enter");





■ Caution If you Base64 encode binary data for the purpose of including it as MIME data in an e-mail message,

be aware that the maximum allowed line length in MIME for Base64-encoded data is 76 characters. Therefore, if

your data is longer than 76 characters, you must insert a new line. For further information about the MIME

standard, consult RFCs 2045 through 2049, which can be found at www.ietf.org/rfc.html.

2-5. Validate Input Using Regular Expressions


You need to validate that user input or data read from a file has the expected structure and content. For

example, you want to ensure that a user enters a valid IP address, telephone number, or e-mail address.





Use regular expressions to ensure that the input data follows the correct structure and contains only

valid characters for the expected type of information.

How It Works

When a user inputs data to your application or your application reads data from a file, it’s good practice

to assume that the data is bad until you have verified its accuracy. One common validation requirement

is to ensure that data entries such as e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and credit card numbers

follow the pattern and content constraints expected of such data. Obviously, you cannot be sure the

actual data entered is valid until you use it, and you cannot compare it against values that are known to

be correct. However, ensuring the data has the correct structure and content is a good first step to

determining whether the input is accurate. Regular expressions provide an excellent mechanism for

evaluating strings for the presence of patterns, and you can use this to your advantage when validating

input data.

The first thing you must do is figure out the regular expression syntax that will correctly match the

structure and content of the data you are trying to validate. This is by far the most difficult aspect of

using regular expressions. Many resources exist to help you with regular expressions, such as The

Regulator (http://osherove.com/tools), and RegExDesigner.NET, by Chris Sells

(www.sellsbrothers.com/tools/#regexd). The RegExLib.com web site (www.regxlib.com) also provides

hundreds of useful prebuilt expressions.

Regular expressions are constructed from two types of elements: literals and metacharacters.

Literals represent specific characters that appear in the pattern you want to match. Metacharacters

provide support for wildcard matching, ranges, grouping, repetition, conditionals, and other control

mechanisms. Table 2-2 describes some of the more commonly used regular expression metacharacter

elements. (Consult the .NET SDK documentation for a full description of regular expressions. A good

starting point is http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.text.regularexpressions.


Table 2-2. Commonly Used Regular Expression Metacharacter Elements




Specifies any character except a newline character (\n)


Specifies any decimal digit


Specifies any nondigit


Specifies any whitespace character


Specifies any non-whitespace character


Specifies any word character


Specifies any nonword character



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2-4. Base64 Encode Binary Data

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