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Understanding Methods

In addition to properties, most objects have methods. Methods are actions the object can perform, in contrast to attributes, which describe the object. To understand this distinction, think about the Pet object example. A Dog object has a certain set of actions that it can perform. These actions, called methods in Visual C#, include barking, tail wagging, and chewing carpet (don't ask). Figure 3.6 illustrates the Dog object and its methods.

Triggering Methods

Think of methods as functions—which is exactly what they are. When you invoke a method, code is executed. You can pass data to a method, and methods can return values. However, a method is neither required to accept parameters (data passed by the calling code) nor to return a value; many methods simply perform an action in code. Invoking (triggering) a method is similar to referencing the value of a property; you first reference the object's name, then a "dot," then the method name, followed by a set of parentheses, which can optionally contain any parameters that must be passed to the method. As you might have noticed, all statements end in a semicolon; forget one, and your code won't compile.

{ObjectName}.{Method}();

Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 Invoking a method causes the object to perform an action.

For example, to make the hypothetical Dog object Bruno bark using Visual C# code, you would use this line of code:

Bruno.Bark();

NOTE

Method calls in Visual C# .NET must always have parentheses. Sometimes they'll be empty, but at other times they'll contain data to pass to the method.

NOTE

Methods are generally used to perform an action using an object, such as saving or deleting a record in a database. Properties, on the other hand, are used to get and set attribute values of the object. One way to tell in code whether a statement is a property reference or method call is that the method call will have a set of parenthesis after it, as in frmAlbum.ShowDialog();.

Invoking methods is simple; the real skill lies in knowing what methods an object supports and when to use a particular method.

Understanding Method Dynamism

Properties and methods go hand in hand, and at times a particular method may become "unavailable" because of one or more property values. For example, if you were to set the NumberofLegs on the Dog object Bruno equal to zero, the Walk and Fetch methods would obviously be inapplicable. If you were to set the NumberofLegs property back to four, you could then trigger the Walk or Fetch methods again. In Visual C# .NET, a method or property won't physically become unavailable—you can still call it, but doing so might cause an exception (error) or the call may be ignored.

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