Structs with Care: Boxing

Consider an employee service, say in an SOA-based implementation, which exposes the following method:

Employee    getEmployeeInfo(int employeeId)

Looking at this signature, Employee can be defined as struct because it would be faster and lighter weight compared to defining Employee as a class:

struct Employee{int employeeId;int department;string name;string designation;string address;....}

In order to reduce network overhead, the Employee service should also provide the following overload:

Employee [] getEmployeeInfo(int[] employeeId)

Now, should Employee be a struct or a class (a value type or a referenece type)?Since the array is a reference type, boxing will kick in to convert the value type to a reference type at runtime and performance overhead will be incurred. This makes it sensible to make Employee a class rather than a struct.

Although this explanation cites an SOA-based implementation, it is applicable in any scenario involving boxing.

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