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Summary

This context discusses the use of delegates in C# programming, providing four real-world examples and explaining their applications in event handling, asynchronous programming, plugin architecture, and Language Integrated Query (LINQ).

Abstract

The content delves into the concept of delegates in C#, describing them as type-safe function pointers that allow methods to be treated as first-class citizens. It provides four practical examples of using delegates in various scenarios. The first example demonstrates their use in event handling, where delegates enable the definition and invocation of events dynamically. The second example showcases delegates in asynchronous programming, highlighting their role in parallel processing and the execution of dynamic operations asynchronously. The third example illustrates the use of delegates in creating a simple plugin architecture, allowing dynamic registration and execution of plugins. Lastly, the fourth example demonstrates the application of delegates in Language Integrated Query (LINQ) for querying and filtering collections.

Opinions

  • The author emphasizes the importance of delegates in C# programming, describing them as powerful constructs that contribute to achieving flexibility and extensibility in software design.
  • The author acknowledges that delegates can be difficult to fully understand, especially for beginners.
  • The author suggests that practical examples can help in understanding delegates better, encouraging readers to try out the examples in a Visual Studio environment.
  • The author highlights the role of delegates in promoting loose coupling in event-driven architectures.
  • The author underscores the significance of delegates in asynchronous programming, particularly with the introduction of the Async and await keywords.
  • The author emphasizes the use of delegates in creating extensible systems, enabling dynamic registration and execution of plugins.
  • The author highlights the extensive use of delegates in Language Integrated Query (LINQ) for querying and manipulating collections.

4 Real World Examples of C# Delegates: Software Interview

The Delegate. Mighty software beast.

Delegates.

The other one of my problems when I stumbled upon them for the first time.

Delegates in C# are powerful constructs that play a crucial role in achieving flexibility and extensibility in software design.

A very important and yet difficult topic to fully understand.

Today, we are taking a look at the senior software interview question:

When would you use delegates?

We will take a look with 4 real world examples of how to use them, along with the theory behind them.

Place your booty in a comfortable position and Let’s Get Right Into it!

Introduction to Delegates

Delegates in C# are essentially type-safe function pointers.

They allow you to treat methods as first-class citizens, enabling you to pass methods as parameters, store them in variables, and invoke them dynamically.

This flexibility is particularly beneficial in scenarios where you want to achieve loose coupling between components or design extensible frameworks.

Event handlers are nothing more than methods that are invoked through delegates.

You create a custom method, and a class such as a windows control can call your method when a certain event occurs.

Here is how you can declare a delegate.

public delegate int PerformCalculation(int x, int y);

Let’s look at some examples.

Example1️⃣— Event Handling

Delegates are commonly used in event handling scenarios.

Consider a simple example where you have a button in a graphical user interface, and you want to perform some action when the button is clicked. Delegates facilitate this by allowing you to define and invoke methods dynamically.

public class Button
{
    // Declare a delegate for the click event
    public delegate void ClickHandler();

    // Declare the click event using the delegate
    public event ClickHandler OnClick;

    // Method to simulate a button click
    public void Click()
    {
        // Invoke the Click event
        OnClick?.Invoke();
    }
}

public class Program
{
    public static void Main()
    {
        Button myButton = new Button();

        // Subscribe to the Click event using a delegate
        myButton.OnClick += () => Console.WriteLine("Button Clicked!");

        // Simulate a button click
        myButton.Click();
    }
}

In the Program class, an instance of Button is created, and a delegate is used to subscribe to the OnClick event. When the button is clicked, the subscribed method is dynamically invoked.

This example demonstrates how delegates provide a mechanism for defining and invoking events dynamically, promoting loose coupling in event-driven architectures.

Here, we can assign the lambda to the OnClick, because the OnClick event is based on the delegate of type void.

Example2️⃣—Asynchronous Programming

Delegates play a crucial role in asynchronous programming, especially with the introduction of the Async and await keywords.

Consider a scenario where you need to perform parallel processing using asynchronous methods.

public class AsyncProcessor
{
    // Declare a delegate for asynchronous operations
    public delegate Task<int> AsyncOperation();

    // Method to execute asynchronous operations
    public async Task<int> ExecuteAsync(AsyncOperation operation)
    {
        // Asynchronously execute the operation
        return await operation();
    }
}

public class Program
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        // Create an instance of the AsyncProcessor class
        AsyncProcessor asyncProcessor = new AsyncProcessor();

        // Define an asynchronous operation using a delegate
        // Here, we store the operation (lambda) in the AsyncOp property
        AsyncProcessor.AsyncOperation operation = async () =>
        {
            await Task.Delay(1000);
            return 42;
        };

        // Execute the asynchronous operation
        // Here, we can pass the previously created operation and execute it.
        int result = await asyncProcessor.ExecuteAsync(operation);

        Console.WriteLine($"Result: {result}");
    }
}

In the Program class, an instance of AsyncProcessor is created.

An asynchronous operation is defined using a delegate, and then it is executed using the ExecuteAsync method.

This example illustrates how delegates, especially when combined with asynchronous programming, enable the execution of dynamic operations asynchronously.

Example3️⃣ — Plugin Architecture

Delegates are instrumental in creating plugin architectures where components can register and execute dynamically loaded plugins.

This is common in extensible systems where you want to allow third-party developers to extend the functionality.

In the third example, we explore the use of delegates in creating a simple plugin architecture.

The PluginManager class declares a delegate PluginAction representing a plugin, and it maintains a list of registered plugins.

public class PluginManager
{
    // Declare a delegate for plugin actions
    public delegate void PluginAction();

    // List to store registered plugins
    private List<PluginAction> plugins = new List<PluginAction>();

    // Method to register a plugin
    public void RegisterPlugin(PluginAction plugin)
    {
        plugins.Add(plugin);
    }

    // Method to execute all registered plugins
    public void ExecutePlugins()
    {
        foreach (var plugin in plugins)
        {
            plugin();
        }
    }
}

In the Program class, an instance of PluginManager is created, and plugins are registered using delegates.

Later, all registered plugins are executed.

public class Program
{
    public static void Main()
    {
        // Create an instance of the PluginManager class
        PluginManager pluginManager = new PluginManager();

        // Register plugins using delegates
        pluginManager.RegisterPlugin(() => Console.WriteLine("Plugin 1 executed"));
        pluginManager.RegisterPlugin(() => Console.WriteLine("Plugin 2 executed"));

        // Execute all registered plugins
        pluginManager.ExecutePlugins();
    }
}

This example showcases how delegates can facilitate the creation of extensible systems by allowing dynamic registration and execution of plugins.

Example4️⃣ — LINQ (Language Integrated Query)

Delegates are extensively used in LINQ to enable querying and manipulating collections.

Consider a scenario where you want to filter a list of numbers based on a certain condition.

In the fourth example, we demonstrate the use of delegates in LINQ for querying and filtering collections.

The Program class defines a list of numbers and uses a delegate (Func<int, bool>) to represent a filtering condition.

using System;
using System.Linq;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class Program
{
    public static void Main()
    {
        // Create a list of numbers
        List<int> numbers = new List<int> { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 };

        // Use a delegate to define the filtering condition
        Func<int, bool> filterCondition = x => x % 2 == 0;

        // Use LINQ to filter the numbers based on the condition
        var evenNumbers = numbers.Where(filterCondition);

        // Print the filtered numbers
        Console.WriteLine("Even Numbers:");
        foreach (var number in evenNumbers)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(number);
        }
    }
}

Here, the delegate filterCondition is used to define the filtering logic for selecting even numbers from the list.

The LINQ Where method then utilizes this delegate to filter the numbers accordingly.

Conclusion

These examples collectively illustrate the versatility of delegates in C# across various scenarios, showcasing their ability to enhance code modularity, flexibility, and maintainability.

It might be quite difficult to understand at first.

If you try them out on a VS for yourself, you will see that eventually everything will make sence.

I tried commenting as much as possible through my examples.

Hopefully, you found this technical article useful.

Don’t forget that practice makes perfect and this is your ringing bell for a coffee break, before you give it a try!

If you found this article useful, make sure to write a comment and let’s connect!

Thank you for being with me and I will see you in the next one! Happy coding, engineers!

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