What to expect in C# 8.0

C# 8.0 is the next major release version of C#. As the work is still in progress and the below list of features is not a complete list, but it will definitely give you an idea of what you will be getting from the next major release.

New Features in C# 8.0

  • Nullable Reference Types

This is one of the cool features that you will love to have in the new version of C#.

This feature will allow the developers to:

  1. Express whether a variable, parameter or result of a reference type is intended to be null or not.
  2. Provide warnings when such variables, parameters and results are not used according to that intent.

Till now, you cannot add null into ordinary reference types such as string. Now with this new feature, the developers will only get warnings, not errors.


string s = null; // Warning: Assignment of null to non-nullable reference type

But, if you really want to have null, then use a nullable reference type, such as string?


string? s = null;

A flow analysis tracks nullable reference variables and the compiler will analyze the flow of your code to see if a null value could make it to where you are using it.


void M(string? s)
{
   Console.WriteLine(s.Length); // Warning: Possible null reference exception

   if (s != null)
   {
       Console.WriteLine(s.Length); // Ok: You won't get here if s is null
   }
}

  • Recursive Patterns Matching

Pattern matching extensions for C# enable many of the benefits of algebraic data types and pattern matching from functional languages, but in a way that smoothly integrates with the feel of the underlying language.


IEnumerable GetEmployeesOnLeave()
{
    foreach (var e in Employees)
    {
      if (e is Employee { OnLeave: true, Name: string name }) yield return name;
    }
}

The pattern Employee { OnLeave: true, Name: string name }) checks that the Person is a Employee, then applies the constant pattern true to their OnLeave property to see if they’re on leave, and the pattern string name to their Name property to get their name (if non-null). Thus, if e is a Employee, is not on leave and has a non-null name, you will get the name of those employees.

  • Async Streams

Until now, C# has support for iterator methods and async methods, but no support for a method that is both an iterator and an async method. C# 8.0 is coming with this new feature by allowing for await to be used in a new form of async iterator, one that returns an IAsyncEnumerable or IAsyncEnumerator rather than an IEnumerable or IEnumerator, with IAsyncEnumerable consumable in a new await foreach


async Task GetBigResultAsync()
{
    var result = await GetResultAsync();
    if (result > 20) return result;
    else return -1;
}

What if you want to return a set or stream of results. With C# 8.0, you can achieve this


async IAsyncEnumerable GetBigResultsAsync()
{
   await foreach (var result in GetResultsAsync())
   {
      if (result > 20) yield return result;
    }
}

  • Ranges and Indices

This is another new feature of C# 8.0 which allows the developers to add a type Index, which can be used for indexing. We can create an int index that would count from the beginning or we can also add ^ operator that would count from the end.


Index i1 = 2; // number 2 from the beginning
Index i2 = ^3; // number 3 from the end

int[] a = { 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 };
Console.WriteLine($"{a[i1]}, {a[i2]}"); // "2, 7"

C# 8.0 is also coming with a Range type, that consists of 2 indexes – start and end. The expression can be written as x..y


var slice = a[i1..i2]; // { 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 }

 

Dependencies: Async streams, indexers and ranges all rely on new framework types that will be part of .NET Standard 2.1. The types required to use these features won’t be available if you target C# 8.0 to .NET Framework 4.8.

 

There are some others active features in proposal and in progress state as well. We can only wait for the final version to be released to see all the features.

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What’s New in C# 7.3

C# 7.3 was a minor release with a few enhancements to the existing features.

Features for better performance of safe code

  • Access to fixed fields without pinning.
  • Use of initializers on stackalloc arrays.
  • Use of fixed statements with any type that supports a pattern.
  • Use of additional generic constraints.
  • Reassign of ref local variables.

Some enhancements on the existing features

  • Test == and != with tuple types.
  • Attach attributes to the backing field of auto-implemented properties.
  • Method resolution when arguments differ by in has been improved.
  • Overload resolution

Let’s discuss the above in more detail

Overload Resolution

The resolution rules for overload methods have always been in question as it would pick one or more methods, though all but one could not be used, which is annoying.

With 7.3, this rule has been improved and now the compiler is able to make the obvious choice and select a method without giving compiler error. The detailed proposal is outlined below –

  1. When a method group contains both instance and static members, we discard the instance members if invoked without an instance receiver or context, and discard the static members if invoked with an instance receiver. When there is no receiver, we include only static members in a static context, otherwise both static and instance members. When the receiver is ambiguously an instance or type due to a color-color situation, we include both. A static context, where an implicit this instance receiver cannot be used, includes the body of members where no this is defined, such as static members, as well as places where this cannot be used, such as field initializers and constructor-initializers.
  2. When a method group contains some generic methods whose type arguments do not satisfy their constraints, these members are removed from the candidate set.
  3. For a method group conversion, candidate methods whose return type doesn’t match up with the delegate’s return type are removed from the set.

Tuple Comparisons

Allow expressions t1 == t2 where t1 and t2 are tuples or nullable tuple types of same cardinality, and evaluate them roughly as temp1.Item1 == temp2.Item1 && temp1.Item2 == temp2.Item2 (assuming var temp1 = t1; var temp2 = t2;).

So to compare two operands, C# 7.3 uses two points –

  • Both should be tuples
  • Both should have matching cardinality

Both operands  are evaluated in order from left to right. Each pair of elements is then used as operands to bind the operator == (or !=), recursively.

Potential breaking change in tuple comparison –

If someone wrote their own ValueTuple types with an implementation of the comparison operator, it would have previously been picked up by overload resolution. But since the new tuple case comes before overload resolution, we would handle this case with tuple comparison instead of relying on the user-defined comparison.

Auto-Implemented Property Field-Targeted Attributes

Auto-implemented properties have always been useful, but not in the case of serialization. With the new version of C#, when you are adding an attribute to auto-implemented property, just add the modifier field:

This allow developers to apply attributes directly to the backing fields of auto-implemented properties.

[Serializable]
public class Class{

    [field: NonSerialized]
    public string Property1 { get; set; }
}

Unmanaged Type constraint

The unmanaged constraint feature will give language enforcement to the class of types known as “unmanaged types”.  This new feature uses the “unmanaged” keyword to indicate the generic type must be a “type which is not a reference type and doesn’t contain reference type fields at any level of nesting.”

Unmanaged types include:

  • The primitives types such as, sbyte, byte, short, ushort, int, uint, long, ulong, char, float, double, decimal, bool
  • Any enum type
  • Pointer types
  • User defined structs

Stack Allocated Arrays

With this feature, the same syntax used to specify the values for elements in an array while initializing  can be applied to arrays that are declared with stackalloc:

int* pArr = stackalloc int[3] {1, 2, 3};
int* pArr2 = stackalloc int[] {1, 2, 3};
Span<int> arr = stackalloc [] {1, 2, 3};

The stackalloc keyword is used in an unsafe code context to allocate a block of memory on the stack.

 

Wondering what could be the new features in the next major release C# 8.0. Click here to know about the new features.