An example of using the dynamic keyword in C# .NET

The dynamic keyword in C# is similar to Reflection. It helps you deal with cases where you’re not sure of the concrete type of an object. However, you may expect the object to have a certain method that you can invoke at runtime. E.g. you have a framework that external users can write plugins for. You may set up a list of rules for the plugin to be valid, e.g. it must have a method called “Execute” and a property called “Visible”.

There are various ways you can solve this problem and one of them is dynamic objects. Using the dynamic keyword will turn off the automatic type checking when C# code is compiled. The validity of the code will only be checked at runtime.

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Convert a dynamic type to a concrete object in .NET C#

Dynamic objects in C# let us work with objects without compile time error checking in .NET. They are instead checked during execution. As a consequence we can’t use IntelliSense while writing the code to see what properties and functions an object has.

Consider the following Dog class:

public class Dog
{
	public string Name { get; }
	public string Type { get;}
	public int Age { get; }

	public Dog(string name, string type, int age)
	{
		Name = name;
		Type = type;
		Age = age;
	}
}

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How to create custom string formatters with C# .NET

.NET has a fairly large number of built-in string formatters that you can pass into the string.Format method. Here are some examples from the MSDN page about formatting:

String.Format("{0,-12}{1,8:yyyy}{2,12:N0}{3,8:yyyy}{4,12:N0}{5,14:P1}",
                                city.Item1, city.Item2, city.Item3, city.Item4, city.Item5,
                                (city.Item5 - city.Item3)/ (double)city.Item3);
String.Format("{0,-12}{1,8}{2,12}{1,8}{2,12}{3,14}\n",
                                    "City", "Year", "Population", "Change (%)");
String.Format("{0,-10:C}", 126347.89m);         

The IFormatProvider and ICustomFormatter interfaces will provide you with the methods required to create your own formats.

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Using the StringComparer class for string equality with C# .NET

In this post we saw how to use the generic IEqualityComparer of T interface to indicate equality for our custom types. If you need a similar comparer for strings then there’s a ready-made static class called StringComparer which can construct string comparers for you.

The StringComparer class provides comparers for the common string comparison scenarios: ordinal, locale specific and invariant culture comparisons. This is a good MSDN article on the differences between these.

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Using the KeyedCollection object in C# .NET

The abstract generic KeyedCollection object can be used to declare which field of your custom object to use as a key in a Dictionary. It provides sort of a short-cut where you’d want to organise your objects in a Dictionary by an attribute of that object.

Let’s take the following object as an example:

public class CloudServer
{
	public string CloudProvider { get; set; }
	public string ImageId { get; set; }
	public string Size { get; set; }
}

The Image IDs are always unique so the ImageId property seems to be a good candidate for a dictionary key.

Here’s an example:

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How to emit compiler warnings and errors in C# .NET

In this post we saw how to use the “if” preprocessor in Visual Studio to “communicate” with the compiler. Here’s a reminder of the example code which we’ll re-use here:

private static void TryPreprocessors()
{
# if DEBUG
	Console.WriteLine("You are running the Debug build");
# elif RELEASE
	Console.WriteLine("You are running the Release build");
#else
	Console.WriteLine("This is some other build.");
# endif
}

In this post we’ll look at two more preprocessor types: warning and error. If you compile a project you can get one or more errors or warnings:

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Build array index ranges of an integer in C# .NET

Suppose that we have a large array of data heavy objects that are impractical to handle in a single go. Instead we can read batches of the array until all elements have been processed. It can then be useful to build a range of indexes for the objects in the array that we want to extract.

E.g. if an array consists of 357 objects and we want to read at most 100 elements from it in a single batch then the size of the batches will be as follows:

100
100
100
57

…and we want to extract the elements by their indexes as follows:

0, 99
100, 199
200, 299
300, 356

…where the first number is the array start index and the second number is the array end index. Since we’re talking about array indexes the numbers are 0-based of course.

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