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ChaosEngine

C# null testing

9 posts in this topic

Sometimes it's the little things that really get to you. Right now, I'm getting really sick of typing " != null" in C#. This seems to be a very common test in C# (checking if someone has subscribed to an event, testing for a SelectedItem, the result of a find), so couldn't they have let you do a C++ style
if (someObj)
and cast null to false? I don't see why this would be a problem. I'm a relative noob with C#, so feel free to tell if I'm not using the correct C# idioms (in fact, please tell me there's a better way!) and while I'm ranting, I want specialised generics damnit!! [grin]
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Thanks, Unbeliever, but I'm afraid that doesn't help.

The ?? null coalescing operator is basically a shortcut for the ?: ternary op, which means that both operands must be of the same type, i.e. you can't do

void SomeMethod()
{}

someObject ?? SomeMethod();



anymore than you can do

someObject != null ? SomeMethod() : SomeOtherMethod()


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In C#, it's that way because of a case like this:


object a;
object b;

// something to one or both of the objects

if (a == b)

// now what happens if you have a typo:

if (a = b)



Semantically, the expression with a typo will reduce to "if (object)", exactly like your example for testing against null. Since C# requires that the expression inside an "if" reduce to a boolean, instead of getting a runtime error, you get a compile-time error.

You could try bypassing this in C# 3.0 with an implicit typecast operator as an extension method, but I suspect those are specifically disallowed.
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Sorry, think you'll just have to get used to it. I have never found a way around it, which I think is good. Trust me, its not that bad - at least its specific on what you are checking. C# likes to make you say what you want, not just guess it and hope its right, and its worth it. Think of it this way - you may waste a little time writing out != or == null, but at least you'll save a lot more using the .NET framework and the GC. ^_^
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If it's a user made class, and it makes sense, you can make an implicit casting operator to bool so if(foo){} works.

That said, you shouldn't. That behavior is specific to C, carried forward for compatibility reasons into C++ and promptly abandoned by anything since. nulls are far less common in a language like C# that forces initialization before use and promotes exceptions for exceptional circumstances (and null coalescing where appropriate).

Though yeah, invoking an unsubscribed/null event should be a no-op...
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I am trying to why you are having to do so much testing for null. I very rarely have to do this. So I am thinking there might be something about your design that is causing the need for this.

theTroll
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You have a null test whenever you implement your own object.Equals() override. It's not that uncommon.

I don't know of a shorter test, but I'm often even using object.ReferenceEquals(x, null) instead of x != null in order to avoid calling the operator != override. I guess that's just something you'll have to accept when programming in C#.
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Quote:
Original post by ChaosEngine
if (someObj)
and cast null to false?

I don't see why this would be a problem.


What if someObj is a bool? now you need extra checks to see if it is either null or false ( if (someObj != true) if (someObj != null) [false] else [null])
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Quote:
Original post by Koobazaur
Quote:
Original post by ChaosEngine
if (someObj)
and cast null to false?

I don't see why this would be a problem.


What if someObj is a bool? now you need extra checks to see if it is either null or false ( if (someObj != true) if (someObj != null) [false] else [null])


bools are not nullable.

A class which is implicitly convertible to bool will handle the null case.
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