Moving Beyond Enumerations
page 2 of 5
by Steven Smith
Average Rating: This article has not yet been rated.
Views (Total / Last 10 Days): 30335/ 45

Simple Enum Use

For this example, let's say we have a list of Roles that our application uses, and these roles include Authors, Editors, and Sales Representatives.  To model this with an enum, we can use something like this:

Now anywhere in our code that we need to use a Role, instead of using a string or an integer ID for the role, we can simply specify Role.Author or Role.Editor, etc.  The resulting code will be much more readable.

However, enums are not without their limitations.  A very common use case for enumerations is the creation of user interface elements that allow the end user to choose from a list of options.  Since enums' element names must follow C# naming conventions, they cannot, for instance, have spaces in them.  Thus if you were to have the following bit of code for displaying the above enum listing, and you expected to have "Sales Representative" listed instead of the concatenated version use by the enum, your code (and the test shown) would fail.

Enumerations, while type-safe, are not as safe as many believe when it comes to using them as parameters.  For instance, if enumerations only supported the named values specified, the following method would correctly model the behavior that Editors and Sales Representatives should be able to do something, but Authors should not. 

However, it allows for the possibility of an invalid input to be granted access.  Consider this test and result:

There are no built-in range checks performed on enumerations, for performance reasons (see more here).  If you're going to use them, it's your responsibility to verify the values you're receiving are valid.  The simplest way to do so is to use the Enum.IsDefined() method, like so:

View Entire Article

User Comments

Title: Good Catch   
Name: Steve Smith
Date: 2011-08-30 7:56:15 PM
Good catch. Yes, those fields should be readonly, of course.

Title: public static roles should be readonly   
Name: Ian Mercer
Date: 2011-08-30 5:01:05 PM
Totally agree that enums should be replaced with classes as soon as they stop being enums. One improvement to your class would be to make all the values readonly, e.g.

public static readonly Author ...

Community Advice: ASP | SQL | XML | Regular Expressions | Windows

©Copyright 1998-2024  |  Page Processed at 2024-05-24 1:47:29 PM  AspAlliance Recent Articles RSS Feed
About ASPAlliance | Newsgroups | Advertise | Authors | Email Lists | Feedback | Link To Us | Privacy | Search