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DependencyProperties or INotifyPropertyChanged ?

, 1 Mar 2010
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When you want to make an object binding-aware you have two choices : implements INotifyPropertyChanged or creates DependencyProperties. Which one is the best ? Let's try to answer this question !How to implement INotifyPropertyChangedDeclaring that your class is implementing INotifyPropertyChang

When you want to make an object binding-aware you have two choices : implement INotifyPropertyChanged or create DependencyProperties. Which one is the best? Let's try to answer this question!

How to Implement INotifyPropertyChanged

Declaring that your class is implementing INotifyPropertyChanged adds an PropertyChangedEventHandler that you raise for every changes of the properties. We also add a little tricky method checkIfPropertyNameExists(String propertyName) which checks by reflection when debugging if the property name really exists! You usually ends up with code like this :

/// <summary>
/// Base class for all my viewModel.
/// </summary>
public class ViewModelBase : INotifyPropertyChanged
{
#region INotifyPropertyChanged Members
public event PropertyChangedEventHandler PropertyChanged;
public void FirePropertyChanged(String propertyName)
{
  checkIfPropertyNameExists(propertyName);
  PropertyChangedEventHandler handler = PropertyChanged;
  if (handler != null)
    handler.Invoke(this, new PropertyChangedEventArgs(propertyName));
}
 
#endregion
 
[Conditional("DEBUG")]
private void checkIfPropertyNameExists(String propertyName)
{
  Type type = this.GetType();
  Debug.Assert(
    type.GetProperty(propertyName) != null,
    propertyName + "property does not exist on object of type : " + type.FullName);
}
}

As you can see, the code is quite easy to write and understand. You have to be very vigilant in checking the name of the property you gives as refactoring do not impacts Strings values but it stays quite simple.

DependencyProperties

MSDN definition of a DependencyProperty (link to) : a property that exists on a DependencyObject, is stored by the DependencyObject property store, and is identified by a DependencyProperty identifier on the owning DependencyObject.

Here is an example of how to create a DependencyProperty:

public class MyDependencyObject : System.Windows.DependencyObject
{
 public static readonly System.Windows.DependencyProperty MyDependencyPropertyProperty =
  System.Windows.DependencyProperty.Register("MyDependencyProperty", typeof(String), typeof(MyDependencyObject));
 
 public String MyDependencyProperty
 {
   get { return (String)GetValue(MyDependencyObject.MyDependencyPropertyProperty); }
   set { SetValue(MyDependencyObject.MyDependencyPropertyProperty, value); }
 }
}

Which one choose ?

Performances

All the tests are done under the .NET framework 4.0 with VisualStudio 2010 and .NET Memory Profiler 3.5. The tests were already done on this page MVVM – Lambda vs INotifyPropertyChanged vs DependencyObject but I do not get the same results...

Execution Times

To tests this I created a simple application and two textblocks binded to two String on my ViewModel. The tests were performed one by one and I took care to remove the inheritance of my ViewModel from DependencyObject when testing the INotifyPropertyChanged.

The code used to tests DependencyProperty is this one :

public static readonly DependencyProperty StringWithDependencyPropertyProperty =
DependencyProperty.Register("StringWithDependencyProperty", typeof(String), typeof(MainViewModel));
public String StringWithDependencyProperty
{
  get { return (String)GetValue(MainViewModel.StringWithDependencyPropertyProperty); }
  set { SetValue(MainViewModel.StringWithDependencyPropertyProperty, value); }
}
...
DateTime start = DateTime.Now;
for (int i = 0; i < 100000; i++)
  _mainViewModel.StringWithDependencyProperty = i.ToString();
DateTime end = DateTime.Now;
Console.WriteLine("Total time for DependencyProperty : " + (end - start).TotalMilliseconds +" ms.");

The code used to tests INotifyPropertyChangedis this one :

public String StringWithINotifyPropertyChanged
{
 get { return _stringWithINotifyPropertyChanged; }
 set
  {
    _stringWithINotifyPropertyChanged = value;
    firePropertyChanged("StringWithINotifyPropertyChanged");
  }
}
...
DateTime start = DateTime.Now;
for (int i = 0; i < 100000; i++)
  _mainViewModel.StringWithINotifyPropertyChanged = i.ToString();
DateTime end = DateTime.Now;
Console.WriteLine("Total time for INotifyPropertyChanged : " + (end - start).TotalMilliseconds+" ms.");

The results, for NO binding of the properties, were these :

Total time for DependencyProperty : 45 ms.
Total time for INotifyPropertyChanged : 171 ms.

The results, for one binding of the properties, were these :

Total time for DependencyProperty : 489 ms.
Total time for INotifyPropertyChanged : 1125 ms.

The results, for twelve binding of the properties, were these :

Total time for DependencyProperty : 3600ms.
Total time for INotifyPropertyChanged : 8375 ms.

DPvsInotifyPropertyChangedExecTimeChart

DependencyProperty is 2,30 times faster than INotifyPropertyChanged for one binding and this number does not increase with the number of binded controls!

Edit : As argued in the comments and even if it is not the most common way to use INotifyPropertyChanged, I have made the tests with a static event args, and the results are :

Total time for no binding: 154ms.
Total time for one binding: 770ms.
Total time for twelve bindings: 5605ms.

DependencyProperies are still better, even if it's less...

Memory usage

I executed the same code and profiled the memory usages :

DependencyProperty created 600 new instances and add 44,583 bytes INotifyPropertyChanged created 876 new instances and add 63,536 bytes

DPvsInotifyPropertyChangedMemoryUsageChart

DependencyProperty seems (in my tests) to create less instance and to use less memory than the INotifyPropertyChanged system...

Inheritance Issues

To create a DependencyProperty your objects needs to inherit from DependencyObject. This is not always possible and then using INotifyPropertyChanged is the only way to make it Bindable-aware.

Also, by being a DependencyObject, your object will carry with it all the dependency engine stuff and these limitations:

Inheritance from a base class you do not have a grip on ?=> No DependencyProperty !

Animations

Using DependencyProperty make the poperties animatable. If you want to animate a property, there is no simple work-around because, as the MSDN says : In order to be animated, the animation's target property must be a dependency property.

If you can't use DependencyProperty (when you do not create the objects for example), there is still work-arounds techniques.

Flexibility

Using INotifyPropertyChanged is sometimes more flexible than using DependencyProperty. Let me explain that. When you build a screen on which a lot of controls visibility dependsof some rules, you may declare a boolean which value is computed from other boolean.

For example, IsEditionPosible must be set to true only if IsAlreadyInEditionMode = false and if UserHasEditionRights = true. So when changing the value of IsAlreadyInEditionMode or UserHasEditionRights you must tells the binding engine that IsEditionPosible has been updated too. It's easier to do this with INotifyPropertyChanged than with the DependencyProperty with which you should have to create a method, which recalculate and reassign the new value to IsEditionPosible. Here you just have to use this little snippet :

public Boolean IsAlreadyInEditionMode 
{
 get { return _isAlreadyInEditionMode ; }
 set
  {
    _isAlreadyInEditionMode = value;
    firePropertyChanged("IsAlreadyInEditionMode ");
    firePropertyChanged("IsEditionPosible");
  }
}
 
public Boolean UserHasEditionRights 
{
 get { return _userHasEditionRights ; }
 set
  {
    _userHasEditionRights = value;
    firePropertyChanged("UserHasEditionRights");
    firePropertyChanged("IsEditionPosible");
  }
}
 
public Boolean IsEditionPosible
{
 get { return UserHasEditionRights && !IsAlreadyInEditionMode  ; }
}

Note that this is the way that I create computed value for easier binding in my viewModel but this is a subject where improvments may be done...

Flexibility (easier code writing) needed ?=> Choose INotifyPropertyChanged !

Testing

When you performs testing on your object, you will be in trouble if you use DependencyObject: the test are not done on the same thread that created the object and then throws you a "System.InvalidOperationException: The calling thread cannot access this object because a different thread owns it".

Testing => No DependencyProperty !

Code Readability/Writing

Some people argues that the use of DependencyProperties the code extremely ugly. I myself think that this is exaclty the same. To make easier the creation of dependencyProperty you can use this snippet : link to the snippet

Links of Articles on the Same Subject

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)

About the Author

jmix90
Software Developer http://wpf-france.fr
France (Metropolitan) France (Metropolitan)
Jonathan creates software, mostly with C#,WPF and XAML.

He really likes to works on every Natural User Interfaces(NUI : multitouch, touchless, etc...) issues.



He is awarded Microsoft MVP in the "Client Application Development" section since 2011.
 

You can check out his WPF/C#/NUI/3D blog http://www.jonathanantoine.com.

He is also the creator of the WPF French community web site : http://wpf-france.fr.

Here is some videos of the projects he has already work on :
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Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionNot agree with author PinmemberVIT_AS29-Nov-11 16:37 

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