Passing a reference type using ref keyword

In this post, I am going to talk about ref keyword in C#. You all must be knowing the basic use of this keyword. But for them who are new to this keyword or C#, will explain the basics.

ref keyword is used to pass the parameter by reference. It means the parameter references the same memory location as the original variable.

As we know that there are two type of variable in C#. One is Value type and other is Reference type. Whenever a value type variable is passed to a method, a copy that variable is created and passed to the method. So let’s see it pictorially

Passed by valueSo when the variable is updated in the called method, then initial variable is not updated but the copy variable gets updated.

Now let’s pass the parameter using ref keyword. So when we pass a value type variable using ref keyword the reference of the variable is passed and both variable names points to same memory location. So when the variable is updated it is available in both method. It can be depicted pictorially as

Pass value using refTill now we passed the value type variable. But when we send other type (reference type) variable to the method the reference is passed so when we update the object in the called method, the updated object gets available to both the method. let’s see the example

For this example,I used an instance of Class type

Typeand the example is

refLet’s come to the real question. What if we pass the instance using ref keyword. When the instance is itself a reference type then what else we get from it. Or they exactly same? Let’s see by example

refref1But if we see the above example, then we get the difference that now variable name points the reference of the reference variable name. When we update the object it updates the same memory location as earlier. By seeing the above example, it seems that there is no difference between passing the reference type variable normally and by ref keyword. But Wait !! Let’s see the screenshot

refref12Now when the UpdateName method get’s executed then what will happen. Let’s see this


So here after execution of UpdateName both variable name and myName points to null and now the object is available in memory but not accessible from any variable.

But if we pass the object without ref keyword in same method then

ref2So here variable name points to null but myName still points to that object and object is accessible.

So it means as long as we update the object by updating it’s property method etc.,it is same in both case but when we play with the variable name then it makes a difference as we have seen in the above example.

So next time when someone asks that difference by passing the a reference using ref keyword or without ref keyword then you can explain it.

Happy learning!!


Learning checked and unchecked context

Today, I am going to discuss about one of the rarely used but very useful keywords of C# that are called checked and unchecked context. I learnt this few days back.  These keywords can be used at certain scenarios and can save you from hazardous situations. This would be more useful when you are playing with lots of data and doing lots of operations over it.

So let’s start with a quiz. Just predict the result of the following code snippet

   int value = 5000000;
   int multiplier = 2500;
   int result = value * multiplier;

What would be the result?
12500000000?   No

It would be -384901888. But how?

Because if you check the max value of int. It is 2147483647. Now you can see that the result of multiplication is higher than this max value. So you can think that the value displayed is min value of int. Which is certainly not desirable.

And even you would not get any overflow exception. So be cautious, while selecting the data types of variable whether it is a normal or temporary variable.

By default, Arithmetic overflow and underflow exception is turned off. You can turn it in on assembly level. For this, you can go to

Project->Properties->build tab-> advanced button. So you’ll get the following screen.

Here you can check the checkbox for arithmetic overflow/underflow and now if you run the code, you will get the OverflowException.

But this got enabled at assembly level and if you want to to have at some code snippet level then first uncheck the above marked checkbox and second you need to use the checked and unchecked keyword to have this feature.

So checked and unchecked keywords are provided for these scenarios. If you want to get exception if some values overflows or underflows.

   int value = 5000000;
   int multiplier = 2500;
   int result = 0;
   	result = value * multiplier;

So if you run the above you’ll get the overflow exception again. What actually checked does, whenever a value is assigned to primitive variable, it the checks with the variable’s max value if the value is greater/lower than the max/min value, it throws overflow/underflow exception.

The above code  that is in checked block, can also be written as

int result = checked((int)(value * multiplier));

One need to be cautious while writing checked/unchecked keyword. This code would not throw any exception.

unchecked keyword also can be used if you don’t want to have a check for overflow/underflow. the code can be written as

            int value = 5000000;
            int multiplier = 2500;
            int result = 0;
                result = value * multiplier;

If you have enabled overflow exception check at assembly level but don’t want it at certain situations then you can use unchecked keyword.

There are few key points, one need to remember-

  • In any case, you cannot rely on user input whether you have some validation or not. So it’s always recommended that you have this check and code for handling the overflow exception. Even if you are getting from some third party services etc, then also I would recommend this check.
  • You cannot rely on the following code, generally it does not throw overflow/underflow exception.
        static void Main(string[] args)
        private static void addition()
        	int value = 5000000;
        	int multiplier = 2500;
        	int result = 0;
        	result = value * multiplier;

    I mean, one should write code statements in checked block. If you are calling any method from the checked/unchecked block, you cannot sure that it work as desired.

  • These checked/unchecked context works on CLR primitive types only.
  • System.Decimal is c# primitive type but not CLR. So checked/unchecked context has no effect on this.

I hope you all have enjoyed this feature if didn’t learn it earlier.

Who already aware of this feature, please share some more points that can be added here.


Limiting the accessibility- Another way of Friend Assemblies

In my last post, I discussed, how to access internal class of one assembly in another assembly and that is easily achieved with the help of a C# feature called Friend Assemblies. It allows us to call the internal methods of another assembly. It is very much required at several occasions like the one I discussed in my last post, Unit Testing. It is often required to test the internal classes of the assembly in another project of Unit testing and It can be done easily via Friend Assembly.

To see my last post Please click here How to access internal class of one assembly to other assembly

But in some other scenarios Friend assemblies solution may not work. Like if you have two assemblies and one assembly accesses other assembly using Friend assembly. It’ll be fine as long as both assembly are compatible and shipped at same point of time. And if it does not happen on regular basis or in every release/update of assembly this may be hazardous.

To avoid it, we should implement it in another way. Here we declare the method as public but will limit to its accessibility to some specific assembly. It can be achieved by using LinkCommand with StrongNameIdentityPermission.

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How to access internal class of one assembly to other assembly.

It’s been long since I made a new Post. I was missing it a lot. But now I’ll be here with my normal way..
Today I am sharing a small but useful learning with you all..

As we all know,  Internal classes are visible in the same assembly.  And we make it internal based on our requirement. i e when we make a class internal, it means we don’t want that code written outside the assembly, able to access it.

Normally in our projects, we have a separate project for Unit Tests. And obviously we may require to test that internal class. There may be some other requirement where you may need to expose your internal classes to some assembly. But how to access the internal classes here.

There is a concept of Friend Assembly in C#. It allows us to access the internal classes in other assembly.
Note : Only Internal classes can be exposed to other assembly. Private classes can not be made available outside the assembly.

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Learning null-coalescing operator

I am pretty sure that most of the guys has never knew this operator and its also very rarely used. Since C# provides this and this is very useful and handy at certain times.

The short from of null-coalescing operator is ??.

It actually takes two operands.  So it returns the left hand operand if it is not null else returns right operand. So this is very useful while initializing any variable. let’s see a example

string name = null;
string otherName = "Brij";
string userName = name ?? otherName;

As you can see, here is name is null then userName is assigned to otherName. and it will print Brij.

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Exploring Nullable types : Part 2

This is second and last part of the post on Nullable type series. You can view the first part from here

Exploring Nullable types : Part 1

In this series, I will talking certain rules that we need to take care while using Nullable type. I will be taking scenario wise.

First scenario:

Int? a=8;
object o = a;
long d = (long)c;

It will be compiled successfully but will throw and Invalid Cast Exception. Means, you cannot cast it to any other type except the underlying type which is here int although  int type can be hold by long.

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Checking the Objects equality

In this post, I am going to discuss, one of the confusing topics of C#, to check the objects equality. I’ll also try to demonstrate with some sample.

First as we know that System.Object is mother of all objects in .NET. I mean, every class is by inherited from System.Object. So it means you get the some freebie methods that are provided by the class System.Object. Here we’ll be talking about the Virtual method Equals provided by System.Object . So what do you think? What will it check? Let’s play with it.

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Some basics about C#

I have seen a lot of confusion amongst a lot developers about some basic things of C#. I am going to discuss some of them here.

The very first thing, In C# every thing is a struct or a Class. And every type(Class) is a derived from System.Object, whether is of reference type or Value type.

All Value type variables are derived from System.Value type and System.Value type itself is derived from System.Object. And every value type variables is declared sealed type so no one can derive from it.

Now Lets move some basic Questions.

- What is the difference string, String and System.String?

- What is the difference amongst int, System.Int32, System.Int64.

So these are few basic things, some always have confusion. So lets try to clear it out.

int c;

System.Int32 c;

int c=0;

System.Int32 c = 0;

int c= new int();

System.Int32 c = new System.Int32();

So what is the difference in all above. or Is there any differences?

In one word answer: NO

All of the above would be compiled and will produce the same and exact IL code.

It means all of these are same. Actually C# define primitive types and every primitive is directly mapped to some Class in FCL. So whenever you are going to write the primitive type, compiler while compiling finds the exact Class from the FCL and replaces with it.

Similarly, System.String or String or string all are same. Even I had confusion earlier between String and string. Even when you type both in Visual Studio IDE, both are in different color.

One more thing, I want to say every value type is initialized to its defined default value. Whether you give its default value or not Compiler does it for you, but this is not true for Reference Type.

One already know, writing int is mapped Int32 or is of 32 bit. But some people have different view, according to them int is of 32 bit in 32 bit machines and is of 64 bit on 64 bit machines. Which is absolutely wrong and int is always of 32 bit in C#, whether is of 32 bit or 64 bit machines.

Hope it clears…