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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Reviewing Delegate Members

Languages like C++ and Object Pascal support function pointers (also referred to as procedural types in Pascal) as simple types. Delegates are subclassed from the Object class and were implemented to support dynamic programming using procedure addresses to implement event handlers. Delegate is a subclass of Object in Visual Basic .NET. Table 1 lists and describes public members of Delegate.

Table 1 Delegate Members



Shared Methods


Combines the delegate invocation lists


Creates a delegate of the indicated type


Removes the delegate from the invocation list

Shared Operators


Tests for equality


Test for inequality

Instance Properties


Returns the signature of the procedural type represented by the delegate


Gets the class instance that created the delegate

Instance Methods


Returns a shallow copy of the delegate


Invokes the procedure referred to by the delegate


Invokes the Delegate method


Returns True if Instance and single-cast Delegate share the same Target, Method, and invocation list


Returns the hash code representing the instance


Returns the invocation list


Returns information needed to serialize the Delegate


Returns the type of the instance


Returns a string representing the Delegate


Table 1 contains two strangely named methods: op_Equality and op_Inequality. Visual Basic .NET does not currently support operator overloading but C# does. Because both languages share the same CLR and C# supports operator overloading, there has to be an intermediate form of the overloaded operator for equality and inequality.

It is an exceptionally good practice to implement overloaded operators as regular methods first and implement the overloaded operators in terms of the method. The existence of methods like op_Equality suggests that Visual Basic .NET will support operator overloading soon.

Combine and Remove are commonly used to manage multicast delegates. For the most part, other than Combine and Remove, you will probably be using delegates as procedural types and event handlers. However, for exposure to the behavior of the Delegate methods, a brief example subroutine is defined in Listing 6 that demonstrates some of the Delegate methods.

Listing 6—Delegate Methods Example

 1: Private Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, _
 2:   ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles Button1.Click
 4:   Dim Handler As EventHandler
 5:   Handler = AddressOf Form1_Load
 6:   Handler.Invoke(sender, e)
 7:   Debug.WriteLine(Handler.Method().ToString())
 8:   Debug.WriteLine(Handler.Target.ToString)
 9:   Debug.WriteLine(Handler.ToString)
11:   Dim Handler2 As EventHandler
12:   Handler2 = AddressOf Form1_Load
13:   Debug.WriteLine(EventHandler.op_Equality(Handler, Handler2))
15: End Sub

Listing 6 demonstrates a few Delegate members. Line 4 declares Handler as the Delegate EventHandler. Line 5 initializes Handler to the Form1_Load subroutine (which can be created by double-clicking on the form). Line 6 manually invokes the handler. In the example, line 6 causes the program to run the Form1_Load method. Line 7 prints the static Delegate method, resulting in the following line:

Void Form1_Load(System.Object, System.EventArgs)

This is the signature of the method. (The signature shown here is actually very similar to a C-style procedure declaration.) Line 8 shows the class containing the Delegate. In the example the default form, Form1, is the owner of this Delegate. Line 9 calls the ToString method. ToString is defined to display the class name, so System.EventHandler is displayed. Lines 11 and 12 declare and initialize a second Delegate to the address of Form1_Load, resulting in the op_Equality test to yield True.

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