C# Extension Methods & Cleaner Code

My goal in this post is to explain & show you what Extension Methods are and why they are important. I also hope that this will allow you to write cleaner more understandable code for you & others.

So what are Extension Methods? Extension Methods "simply" allow you to tack on methods to .Net types such as strings or integers to act on them. Now when I say "tack on" I mean you can use the "." access modifier to access common functionality that you or someone else has written. If you want the Microsoft MSDN definition see this link. So what does an Extension Method look like? Take a look below:

The Extension Method in the above example is RemoveNumbers();. I'd like to make a point that Extension Methods should easily identify what is going to be done with the type it is being used with. In this case we can come to the conclusion that numbers will be removed from the string testString. Great, we now know what Extension Methods look like when being used but how to you create one. Let's take a look at the code below:

An extension method is defined just like any other method. As you can see this method is public & static. It also returns a string. The method overload is what defines what type the Extension Method will work with. The this keyword before String tells .Net that this method is to be used with the String type. So any variable that is of type String can use this extension method. Nice! Now if you read the above Extension Method you will see that it is simply taking a string & removing numbers...plain & simple. Now remember Extension Methods can do what ever you want them to....with in the confines of .Net & C# of course. 

Now lets say your are developing a library to work with Twitter and you are going to make it public by pushing it to Github. Making your library easy to use is going to help make your library successful. 

A user's goal is to get handles from a list of users on Twitter. Normally you would instantiate a class, call a method pass in values and then get your results. The code is going to look a little ugly and not feel very intuitive. With extension methods a user could simply do myUsers.GetHandle();. The user can now in one line of code do work on their list of users and quickly get the results they want. All the messiness of the logic is hidden from the user. 

As I said before naming is also key to extension methods. You want the name to quickly identify what is going to happen. When a user hits the "." after an typing in an object Intellisense is going to give them a long list of options. Extension method names will play a key part in how fast a user can find and identify the correct method they need. 

I hope this helps you in your development career and also shows you that Extension Methods allow you and others to quickly act on objects in .Net. One more tool in the toolbox. Happy coding!

I don't need a Solution!!

So the last thing you want to do is create a complete Solution in Visual Studio just to type out a few lines of code. Thanks to the Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 you don't need to create a solution. Just so we are clear this isn't knocking other tools like LINQPad. LINQPad is a great tool so this is just another tool to put in your toolbox. 

Welcome the C# Interactive Window in Visual Studio 2015!

Ok so this doesn't look like much but this window, introduced in the latest update for Visual Studio 2015, lets us use the Roslyn REPL features for C# . REPL stands for "Read Eval Print Loop". Basically it reads your code, evaluates it and you guessed it...prints feedback. You can even integrate the REPL features into your own app using the Roslyn APIs. The nice thing with the C# interactive window is that it provides Intellisense. The window allows you to type in expressions, statements and methods just like a normal .cs file.

All this makes it very easy to quickly test a theory out and get some feedback. No the below foreach loop is not a mystery to me...just an example.

Now the above code snippet is very simple and you may be asking what about third party APIs. Well we are in luck. using the "#r" directive we can import other DLLs. We can even load in script files using the "#load" directive. 

Again this is another tool in your toolbox. If your looking for a full featured tool besides Visual Studio, I would definitely check out LINQPad.  The C# Interactive Window reference is here . Hope this helps you and happy coding!

Xamarin for Windows Phone Devs...Yeah Baby!

Hey Windows Phone devs! Have you heard the awesome news? If you are a published Windows Phone dev you could get a free Xamarin subscription! Yes you heard right, FREE. Now there are some stipulations. You have to have a published app in the store on or before August 17, 2015. Still that's a heck of deal! Be sure to check out the link below for more details