Serialization is the process of converting an object into a stream of bytes in order to persist it to memory, a database, or a file. Its main purpose is to save the state of an object in order to be able to recreate it when needed. The reverse process is called deserialization.
The object is serialized to a stream, which carries not just the data, but information about the object's type, such as its version, culture, and assembly name. From that stream, it can be stored in a database, a file, or memory.
Serialization allows the developer to save the state of an object and recreate it as needed, providing storage of objects as well as data exchange. Through serialization, a developer can perform actions like sending the object to a remote application by means of a Web Service, passing an object from one domain to another, passing an object through a firewall as an XML string, or maintaining security or user-specific information across applications.
Binary serialization uses binary encoding to produce compact serialization for uses such as storage or socket-based network streams.
XML serialization serializes the public fields and properties of an object, or the parameters and return values of methods, into an XML stream that conforms to a specific XML Schema definition language (XSD) document. XML serialization results in strongly typed classes with public properties and fields that are converted to XML.System.Xml.Serialization contains the classes necessary for serializing and deserializing XML.
XML serialization can also be used to serialize objects into XML streams that conform to the SOAP specification. SOAP is a protocol based on XML, designed specifically to transport procedure calls using XML. As with regular XML serialization, attributes can be used to control the literal-style SOAP messages generated by an XML Web service.
The only requirement in basic serialization is that the object has the SerializableAttribute attribute applied. The NonSerializedAttribute can be used to keep specific fields from being serialized.
When you use basic serialization, the versioning of objects may create problems, in which case custom serialization may be preferable. Basic serialization is the easiest way to perform serialization, but it does not provide much control over the process.