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C#

Events


An event is a member that enables an object or class to provide notifications. Clients can attach executable code for events by supplying event handlers.

Events are declared using event-declarations:

event-declaration:
attributesopt event-modifiersopt event type variable-declarators ;
attributesopt event-modifiersopt event type member-name { event-accessor-declarations }

event-modifiers:
event-modifier
event-modifiers event-modifier

event-modifier:
new
public
protected
internal
private
static
virtual
sealed
override
abstract
extern

event-accessor-declarations:
add-accessor-declaration remove-accessor-declaration
remove-accessor-declaration add-accessor-declaration

add-accessor-declaration:
attributesopt add block

remove-accessor-declaration:
attributesopt remove block

An event-declaration may include a set of attributes and a valid combination of the four access modifiers , the new , static , virtual , override , sealed , abstract , and extern modifiers.

Event declarations are subject to the same rules as method declarations with regard to valid combinations of modifiers.

The type of an event declaration must be a delegate-type , and that delegate-type must be at least as accessible as the event itself .

An event declaration may include event-accessor-declarations. However, if it does not, for non-extern, non-abstract events, the compiler supplies them automatically ; for extern events, the accessors are provided externally.

An event declaration that omits event-accessor-declarations defines one or more events—one for each of the variable-declarators. The attributes and modifiers apply to all of the members declared by such an event-declaration.

It is a compile-time error for an event-declaration to include both the abstract modifier and brace-delimited event-accessor-declarations.

When an event declaration includes an extern modifier, the event is said to be an external event. Because an external event declaration provides no actual implementation, it is an error for it to include both the extern modifier and event-accessor-declarations.

An event can be used as the left-hand operand of the += and -= operators . These operators are used, respectively, to attach event handlers to or to remove event handlers from an event, and the access modifiers of the event control the contexts in which such operations are permitted.

Since += and -= are the only operations that are permitted on an event outside the type that declares the event, external code can add and remove handlers for an event, but cannot in any other way obtain or modify the underlying list of event handlers.

In an operation of the form x += y or x -= y, when x is an event and the reference takes place outside the type that contains the declaration of x, the result of the operation has type void (as opposed to having the type of x, with the value of x after the assignment). This rule prohibits external code from indirectly examining the underlying delegate of an event.

The following example shows how event handlers are attached to instances of the Button class:

public delegate void EventHandler(object sender, EventArgs e);

public class Button: Control
{
public event EventHandler Click;
}

public class LoginDialog: Form
{
Button OkButton;
Button CancelButton;

public LoginDialog() {
OkButton = new Button(...);
OkButton.Click += new EventHandler(OkButtonClick);
CancelButton = new Button(...);
CancelButton.Click += new EventHandler(CancelButtonClick);
}

void OkButtonClick(object sender, EventArgs e) {
// Handle OkButton.Click event
}

void CancelButtonClick(object sender, EventArgs e) {
// Handle CancelButton.Click event
}
}

Here, the LoginDialog instance constructor creates two Button instances and attaches event handlers to the Click events.

      1. Field-like events

Within the program text of the class or struct that contains the declaration of an event, certain events can be used like fields. To be used in this way, an event must not be abstract or extern, and must not explicitly include event-accessor-declarations. Such an event can be used in any context that permits a field. The field contains a delegate which refers to the list of event handlers that have been added to the event. If no event handlers have been added, the field contains null.

In the example

public delegate void EventHandler(object sender, EventArgs e);

public class Button: Control
{
public event EventHandler Click;

protected void OnClick(EventArgs e) {
if (Click != null) Click(this, e);
}

public void Reset() {
Click = null;
}
}

Click is used as a field within the Button class. As the example demonstrates, the field can be examined, modified, and used in delegate invocation expressions. The OnClick method in the Button class “raises” the Click event. The notion of raising an event is precisely equivalent to invoking the delegate represented by the event—thus, there are no special language constructs for raising events. Note that the delegate invocation is preceded by a check that ensures the delegate is non-null.

Outside the declaration of the Button class, the Click member can only be used on the left-hand side of the += and –= operators, as in

b.Click += new EventHandler(…);

which appends a delegate to the invocation list of the Click event, and

b.Click –= new EventHandler(…);

which removes a delegate from the invocation list of the Click event.

When compiling a field-like event, the compiler automatically creates storage to hold the delegate, and creates accessors for the event that add or remove event handlers to the delegate field. In order to be thread-safe, the addition or removal operations are done while holding the lock on the containing object for an instance event, or the type object for a static event.

Thus, an instance event declaration of the form:

class X
{
public event D Ev;
}

could be compiled to something equivalent to:

class X
{
private D __Ev; // field to hold the delegate

public event D Ev {
add {
lock(this) { __Ev = __Ev + value; }
}

remove {
lock(this) { __Ev = __Ev - value; }
}
}
}

Within the class X, references to Ev are compiled to reference the hidden field __Ev instead. The name “__Ev” is arbitrary; the hidden field could have any name or no name at all.

Similarly, a static event declaration of the form:

class X
{
public static event D Ev;
}

could be compiled to something equivalent to:

class X
{
private static D __Ev; // field to hold the delegate

public static event D Ev {
add {
lock(typeof(X)) { __Ev = __Ev + value; }
}

remove {
lock(typeof(X)) { __Ev = __Ev - value; }
}
}
}

      1. Event accessors

Event declarations typically omit event-accessor-declarations, as in the Button example above. One situation for doing so involves the case in which the storage cost of one field per event is not acceptable. In such cases, a class can include event-accessor-declarations and use a private mechanism for storing the list of event handlers.

The event-accessor-declarations of an event specify the executable statements associated with adding and removing event handlers.

The accessor declarations consist of an add-accessor-declaration and a remove-accessor-declaration. Each accessor declaration consists of the token add or remove followed by a block. The block associated with an add-accessor-declaration specifies the statements to execute when an event handler is added, and the block associated with a remove-accessor-declaration specifies the statements to execute when an event handler is removed.

Each add-accessor-declaration and remove-accessor-declaration corresponds to a method with a single value parameter of the event type and a void return type. The implicit parameter of an event accessor is named value. When an event is used in an event assignment, the appropriate event accessor is used. Specifically, if the assignment operator is += then the add accessor is used, and if the assignment operator is -= then the remove accessor is used. In either case, the right-hand operand of the assignment operator is used as the argument to the event accessor. The block of an add-accessor-declaration or a remove-accessor-declaration must conform to the rules for void methods described in §10.6.10. In particular, return statements in such a block are not permitted to specify an expression.

Since an event accessor implicitly has a parameter named value, it is a compile-time error for a local variable or constant declared in an event accessor to have that name.

In the example

class Control: Component
{
// Unique keys for events
static readonly object mouseDownEventKey = new object();
static readonly object mouseUpEventKey = new object();

// Return event handler associated with key
protected Delegate GetEventHandler(object key) {...}

// Add event handler associated with key
protected void AddEventHandler(object key, Delegate handler) {...}

// Remove event handler associated with key
protected void RemoveEventHandler(object key, Delegate handler) {...}

// MouseDown event
public event MouseEventHandler MouseDown {
add { AddEventHandler(mouseDownEventKey, value); }
remove { RemoveEventHandler(mouseDownEventKey, value); }
}

// MouseUp event
public event MouseEventHandler MouseUp {
add { AddEventHandler(mouseUpEventKey, value); }
remove { RemoveEventHandler(mouseUpEventKey, value); }
}

// Invoke the MouseUp event
protected void OnMouseUp(MouseEventArgs args) {
MouseEventHandler handler;
handler = (MouseEventHandler)GetEventHandler(mouseUpEventKey);
if (handler != null)
handler(this, args);
}
}

the Control class implements an internal storage mechanism for events. The AddEventHandler method associates a delegate value with a key, the GetEventHandler method returns the delegate currently associated with a key, and the RemoveEventHandler method removes a delegate as an event handler for the specified event. Presumably, the underlying storage mechanism is designed such that there is no cost for associating a null delegate value with a key, and thus unhandled events consume no storage.

      1. Static and instance events

When an event declaration includes a static modifier, the event is said to be a static event. When no static modifier is present, the event is said to be an instance event.

A static event is not associated with a specific instance, and it is a compile-time error to refer to this in the accessors of a static event.

An instance event is associated with a given instance of a class, and this instance can be accessed as this in the accessors of that event.

When an event is referenced in a member-access of the form E.M, if M is a static event, E must denote a type containing M, and if M is an instance event, E must denote an instance of a type containing M.

The differences between static and instance members are discussed further in §10.3.7.

      1. Virtual, sealed, override, and abstract accessors

A virtual event declaration specifies that the accessors of that event are virtual. The virtual modifier applies to both accessors of an event.

An abstract event declaration specifies that the accessors of the event are virtual, but does not provide an actual implementation of the accessors. Instead, non-abstract derived classes are required to provide their own implementation for the accessors by overriding the event. Because an abstract event declaration provides no actual implementation, it cannot provide brace-delimited event-accessor-declarations.

An event declaration that includes both the abstract and override modifiers specifies that the event is abstract and overrides a base event. The accessors of such an event are also abstract.

Abstract event declarations are only permitted in abstract classes .

The accessors of an inherited virtual event can be overridden in a derived class by including an event declaration that specifies an override modifier. This is known as an overriding event declaration. An overriding event declaration does not declare a new event. Instead, it simply specializes the implementations of the accessors of an existing virtual event.

An overriding event declaration must specify the exact same accessibility modifiers, type, and name as the overridden event.

An overriding event declaration may include the sealed modifier. Use of this modifier prevents a derived class from further overriding the event. The accessors of a sealed event are also sealed.

It is a compile-time error for an overriding event declaration to include a new modifier.

Except for differences in declaration and invocation syntax, virtual, sealed, override, and abstract accessors behave exactly like virtual, sealed, override and abstract methods. Specifically, the rules described in §10.6.3, §10.6.4, §10.6.5, and §10.6.6 apply as if accessors were methods of a corresponding form. Each accessor corresponds to a method with a single value parameter of the event type, a void return type, and the same modifiers as the containing event.



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