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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

C# Programming Elements

In the following sections we examine key elements of the C# language that we use throughout the book. From time to time, additional C# information is introduced, but the material in the following sections is used repeatedly.


C# supports the same variety of arrays as C and C++, including both single and multidimensional arrays. This type of array is often referred to as a rectangular array, as opposed to a jagged array.

To declare a single-dimension integer array named myarray, the following C# syntax can be used:

int[] myarray = new int[12];

The array can then be initialized with 12 values using a for loop in the following manner:

for (int i = 0; i < myarray.Length; i++)
    myarray[i] = 2 * i;

The contents of the array can be written to the screen with a for loop and WriteLine() statement.

for (int i = 0; i < myarray.Length; i++)
    Console.WriteLine("myarray[{0}] = {1}", i, myarray[i]);

Note that i values will be substituted for the {0} and myarray[ ] values for {1} in the argument list provided with the WriteLine() statement.

Other array dimensions can follow the same pattern. For example, the syntax used for creating a two-dimensional array can take this form:

int[,] my2array = new int[12, 2];

The array can then be initialized with values using two for loops in the following manner:

for (int i = 0; i < 12; i++)
    for (int j = 0; j < 2; j++)
        my2array[i, j] = 2 * i;

The contents of the array can then be displayed on the console with the following syntax:

for (int i = 0; i < 12; i++)
    for (int j = 0; j < 2; j++)
        Console.WriteLine("my2array[{0}, {1}] = {2}",
                          i, j, my2array[i, j]);

Three-dimensional arrays can be handled with similar syntax using this form:

int[,,] my3array = new int[3, 6, 9];

In addition to handling multidimensional rectangular arrays, C# handles jagged arrays. A jagged array can be declared using the following syntax:

int[][] jagarray1;
int[][][] jagarray2;

For example, suppose a jagged array is declared as:

int[][] jagarray1 = new int[2][];

jagarray1[0] = new int[] {2, 4};
jagarray1[1] = new int[] {2, 4, 6, 8};

Here jagarray1 represents an array of int. The jagged appearance of the structure gives rise to the array's type name. The following line of code would print the value 6 to the screen:


For practice, try to write the code necessary to print each array element to the screen.

Attributes, Events, Indexers, Properties, and Versioning

Many of the terms in this section are employed when developing applications for Windows. If you have worked with Visual Basic or the Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) and C++ you are familiar with the terms attributes, events, and properties as they apply to controls. In the following sections, we generalize those definitions even more.


C# attributes allow programmers to identify and program new kinds of declarative information. For example, public, private and protected are attributes that identify the accessibility of a method.

An element's attribute information can be returned at runtime using the NGWS runtime's reflection support.


Events are used to allow classes to provide notifications about which clients can provide executable code. This code is in the form of event handlers. Again, if you have developed MFC C++ Windows code, you are already familiar with event handlers.

Here is code for a button-click event handler, extracted from a project developed later in this book:

private void button1_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
    radius = Convert.ToDouble(textBox1.Text);
    textBox2.Text = (radius * radius * 22 / 7).ToString();
    textBox3.Text = (radius * 2.0 * 22 / 7).ToString();

The event handler contains code that will be executed when a button-click event occurs. The button is a button that resides on a form in a C# Windows application.


Indexers are used by C# to expose array-like data structures, such as an array of strings. This data structure might be used by a C# Windows control, such as a CheckedListBox control.

    private string[] items;
    public string this[int index] {
        get {
            return items[index];
        set {
            items[index] = value;

The CheckedListBox class can then be altered with the following code:

CheckedListBox MyListBox;
MyListBox[0] = "List box title";

The array-like access provided by indexers is similar to the field-like access provided by properties.


A property is an attribute that is associated with a class or object. Windows controls offer a wide variety of changeable properties, including caption name, ID value, color, font, location, size, text, and so on.

Here is a small portion of a C# Windows program that modifies the properties of a button control:

this.button1.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(152, 192);
this.button1.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(176, 24);
this.button1.TabIndex = 6;
this.button1.Text = "Push to Calculate";
this.button1.AddOnClick(new System.EventHandler(button1_Click));

Properties can be read or written to as the need arises.


C# supports versioning by addressing two levels of compatibility. The first is source compatibility, which occurs when code developed on an earlier version can be simply recompiled to work on a later version.

The second type of compatibility is binary compatibility, which occurs when code developed under an earlier version works under a newer version without recompiling.

Boxing, Unboxing, and the Unified Type System

All types in C# can be treated as objects. For example, the following line of code is acceptable in C#:


In this case the ToString() method is used on the integer 12345 by treating it as an object.

An object box can be used when a value is to be converted to a reference type. This is called boxing. Unboxing is used to convert a reference type back to a value. For example:

int num1 = 12345;

object myobject = num1; // boxed

int num2 = (int) myobject; // unboxed

Here the integer number, 12345, is first converted to a reference type with the use of boxing, then converted from an object back to an integer value by casting the object (unboxing).

Classes, Structures, and Enum

C# provides simple, but unique, implementations to these common object-oriented features.


C# classes allow only single inheritance. Members of a class can include constants, constructors, destructors, events, indexers, methods, properties, and operators. Each member can, in turn, have a public, protected, internal, protected internal, or private access.

The makeup of a class is similar to that used in C and C++. For example:

public class Form1 : System.Windows.Forms.Form
    // variable declaration
    public double radius = 7.5;

    /// <summary> 
    /// Required designer variable
    /// </summary>
    private System.ComponentModel.Container components;
    private System.Windows.Forms.Label label1;
    private System.Windows.Forms.Button button1;
    private System.Windows.Forms.TextBox textBox1;

In this example, the class itself is public and contains a variable with public access. The designer variables, however, use a private qualifier to limit access. Classes use a pass by reference scheme as compared to a structures pass by value. For this reason, they tend to be faster than the equivalent structure.


Structures, as in C and C++, are very similar to classes. As a matter of fact, they can be created with members similar to those described for classes. Structures differ from classes in that they are value types with values being stored on the stack. This tends to make then slower than an equivalent class because passing by value is slower than passing by reference.

Point is typically used and implemented in C, C++, and C# as a structure:

struct Point
    public int x, y;
    public Point(int x, int y) {
 this.x = x;
 this.y = y;

This example illustrates the typical syntax for creating a structure.


The enum type declaration is used to provide a type name for a group of symbolic constants that are usually related to one another. For example:

enum vehicle {

Use vehicle GM to access the GM element, and so on.


C# uses namespaces as an organization system applied both internally and externally. As a convention, developers usually name namespaces after the company they are developing code for.

The Visual C# AppWizard uses the following convention when creating a C# console code template:

using System;
namespace Tester
    /// <summary>
    /// Summary description for Class1.
    /// </summary>
    class Class1
        static void Main(string[] args)
            // TODO: Add code to start application here
            int[] myint = new int[] {1,2,3,4,5};

            foreach (object o in myint) {
                Console.Write("the value of myint is: ");

We can modify that code to take on the following appearance:

using System;

namespace Nineveh_National_Research.CSharp.Tester
    /// <summary>
    /// Summary description for ForEachDemo.
    /// </summary>
    class ForEachDemo
        static void Main(string[] args)
            // TODO: Add code to start application here
            int[] myint = new int[] {1,2,3,4,5};

            foreach (object o in myint) {
                Console.Write("the value of myint is: ");

The namespace Nineveh_National_Research.CSharp.Tester is hierarchical. It really means that there is a namespace Nineveh_National_Research that contains a namespace named CSharp that itself contains a namespace named Tester.

The using directive can be used as a shorthand notation instead of writing out the whole namespace name. In the previous listing, the using directive allows all of the types in System to be used without qualification.

Predefined Types

In addition to the value and reference types discussed in the previous section, C# provides several predefined types.

For example, predefined value types include bool, byte, char, decimal, double, float, int, long, sbyte, short, uint, ulong and ushort. Table 1–1 lists and describes these types.

Table 1–1 C# Predefined Types




Boolean type; true or false, 1 or 0


Unsigned 8-bit integer


Unicode character


28-digit decimal type


Double precision real


Single precision real


Signed 32-bit integer


Signed 64-bit integer


Base type for all other C# types


Signed 8-bit integer


Signed 16-bit integer


A sequence of Unicode characters


Unsigned 32-bit integer


Unsigned 64-bit integer


Unsigned 16-bit integer

The types listed in the first column Table 1–1 are abbreviated versions of a longer structure name, but one preferred in C#.


Statement syntax in C# is basically the same as that for C and C++. In the following sections you'll see several familiar coding examples.


C# allows blocking code so that one or more statements can be written in sequence. The following portion of code shows several blocks:

// block 1
Console.WriteLine("This is the first block");
    // block 2
    Console.WriteLine("This is the second block");
        // block 3
        Console.WriteLine("This is the third block");

Any number of blocks can be created using this format.

Miscellaneous Statements

C# provides a number of miscellaneous statements that are listed and briefly explained in Table 1–2.

Table 1–2 C# Miscellaneous Statements




For exiting an enclosing do, for, foreach, switch, or while statement.


Used to control the overflow checking context for arithmetic operations. All expressions are evaluated in a checked context.


For starting a new iteration of a do, for, foreach, switch, or while statement.


Used to obtain a mutual-exclusive lock for an object. With the lock in place, the statement will be executed then the lock will be released.


Used to return control to the caller of the statement in which it appears.


Used to throw an exception.


Used for catching exceptions while a block is executing.


Used to control the overflow checking context for arithmetic operations. All expressions are evaluated in an unchecked context.

You are already familiar with a number of these statements from your work with C and C++.

The do Statement

A do statement continues to execute a statement until the Boolean test is false. Here is a small portion of code:

int num1 = 0;

do {
    num1 += 2;
while (num1 != 20);

The output from this code will be the numbers 0 to 18. Every do statement will be executed at least one time with the Boolean test being made after the statement.

The Expression Statement

An expression statement evaluates a given expression and discards any value calculated in the process. Expressions such as (x + s), (y * 3), (t =2), and so on are not allowed as statements. The following is an example of an expression statement:

static int HereWeGo() {
    Console.WriteLine("We made it to HereWeGo");
    return 0;

static void Main(string[] args)
    // TODO: Add code to start application here


Once again, the value returned by HereWeGo() is discarded.

The for Statement

The for statement, like its C and C++ counterparts, initializes the expression, and then executes an expression when the Boolean test is true. For example:

for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
    Console.Write("the value of i is: ");

This portion of code will report the value of i to the screen. The value of i increments from 0 to 9 before the Boolean condition is false.

The foreach Statement

The foreach statement is used to enumerate the contents of a collection. For example:

int[] myint = new int[] {1,2,3,4,5};

foreach (object o in myint) {
    Console.Write("the value of myint is: ");

In this collection, each integer element will be reported to the screen. The collection, in general, can be any type.

The if and if-else Statements

The if statement executes based on a Boolean decision. If the statement is true, the expression will execute. If it is false, the statement will not execute. When used in conjunction with an else, the if-else combination will pass operation to the else when the if statement is false. For example:

int i = 2 * 23 / 12;

if ( i >= 5) 
    Console.WriteLine("This is a big number");
    Console.WriteLine("This is a reasonable number");

This portion writes one message or another based on the calculated value of the integer result.

The Label and goto Statements

The goto statement is used in conjunction with a label to transfer program control. For example:

goto C;

A: Console.WriteLine("This should be printed last");
return 0;

B: Console.WriteLine("This should be printed second");
goto A;

C: Console.WriteLine("This should be printed first");
goto B;

This concept is fairly straightforward. We recommend, however, limited use of goto statements.

The switch (case-break) Statement

C# switch statements, like those of C and C++, execute statements that are associated with the value of a particular expression. When no match occurs, a default condition is executed:

string str = "Top";

switch (str.Length) {
    case 0:
        Console.WriteLine("No characters in the string.");
    case 1:
        Console.WriteLine("One character in the string.");
    case 2:
        Console.WriteLine("Two characters in the string.");
    case 3:
        Console.WriteLine("Three characters in the string.");
        Console.WriteLine("A lot of characters in the string.");

A default option should always be provided in switch statements.

The while Statement

A while statement continues to execute while the Boolean result is true. For example:

int i = 5;

while (i <= 300) {
    i += 5;
    Console.WriteLine("Not there yet!");

The value of i is initialized to 5. When the final increment is made, the value in i will be 305, and thus the loop will stop executing. The while statement continues to execute until the value of i is equal to or exceeds 300.

Value and Reference Types

C# supports two main categories of types: value and reference types. You are already familiar with value types, including char, enum, float, int, struct, and so on. The key feature of the value type is that the variable actually contains the data

Reference types, on the other hand, include class, array, delegate, and interface types. An assignment to a reference type can affect other reference types derived from that reference type.

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