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C# 4.0: Alternative To Optional Arguments

, 17 Apr 2010 CPOL 9.4K 4
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C# 4.0: Alternative To Optional Arguments
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Like I mentioned in my last post, exposing public methods with optional arguments is a bad practice (that’s why C# has resisted having it, until now).

You might argue that your method or constructor has too many variants and having ten or more overloads is a maintenance nightmare, and you're right. But the solution has been there for ages: have an arguments class.

The arguments class pattern in the .NET Framework is used by several classes, like XmlReader and XmlWriter that use such patterns in their Create methods, since version 2.0:

XmlReaderSettings settings = new XmlReaderSettings();
settings.ValidationType = ValidationType.Auto;
XmlReader.Create("file.xml", settings);

With this pattern, you don't have to maintain a long list of overloads and any default values for properties of XmlReaderSettings (or XmlWriterSettings for XmlWriter.Create) can be changed or new properties added in future implementations that won't break existing compiled code.

You might now argue that it’s too much code to write, but, with object initializers added in C# 3.0, the same code can be written like this:

XmlReader.Create("file.xml", new XmlReaderSettings 
	{ ValidationType = ValidationType.Auto });

Looks almost like named and optional arguments, doesn't it? And, who knows, in a future version of C#, it might even look like this:

XmlReader.Create("file.xml", new { ValidationType = ValidationType.Auto });

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This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Paulo Morgado
Software Developer (Senior) Paulo Morgado
Portugal Portugal

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Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionIs this the same as optional arguments? Pin
MartinFister18-Apr-10 5:28
memberMartinFister18-Apr-10 5:28 
AnswerRe: Is this the same as optional arguments? Pin
Paulo Morgado18-Apr-10 5:56
memberPaulo Morgado18-Apr-10 5:56 
GeneralRe: Is this the same as optional arguments? Pin
MartinFister18-Apr-10 7:48
memberMartinFister18-Apr-10 7:48 
GeneralRe: Is this the same as optional arguments? Pin
Paulo Morgado18-Apr-10 8:28
memberPaulo Morgado18-Apr-10 8:28 

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