What does the [Flags] Enum Attribute mean in C#?


Answers

You can also do this

[Flags]
public enum MyEnum
{
    None   = 0,
    First  = 1 << 0,
    Second = 1 << 1,
    Third  = 1 << 2,
    Fourth = 1 << 3
}

I find the bit-shifting easier than typing 4,8,16,32 and so on. It has no impact on your code because it's all done at compile time

Question

From time to time I see an enum like the following:

[Flags]
public enum Options 
{
    None    = 0,
    Option1 = 1,
    Option2 = 2,
    Option3 = 4,
    Option4 = 8
}

I don't understand what exactly the [Flags]-attribute does.

Anyone have a good explanation or example they could post?




There's something overly verbose to me about the if ((x & y) == y)... construct, especially if x AND y are both compound sets of flags and you only want to know if there's any overlap.

In this case, all you really need to know is if there's a non-zero value[1] after you've bitmasked.

[1] See Jaime's comment. If we were authentically bitmasking, we'd only need to check that the result was positive. But since enums can be negative, even, strangely, when combined with the [Flags] attribute, it's defensive to code for != 0 rather than > 0.

Building off of @andnil's setup...

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

namespace BitFlagPlay
{
    class Program
    {
        [Flags]
        public enum MyColor
        {
            Yellow = 0x01,
            Green = 0x02,
            Red = 0x04,
            Blue = 0x08
        }

        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            var myColor = MyColor.Yellow | MyColor.Blue;
            var acceptableColors = MyColor.Yellow | MyColor.Red;

            Console.WriteLine((myColor & MyColor.Blue) != 0);     // True
            Console.WriteLine((myColor & MyColor.Red) != 0);      // False                
            Console.WriteLine((myColor & acceptableColors) != 0); // True
            // ... though only Yellow is shared.

            Console.WriteLine((myColor & MyColor.Green) != 0);    // Wait a minute... ;^D

            Console.Read();
        }
    }
}



@Nidonocu

To add another flag to an existing set of values, use the OR assignment operator.

Mode = Mode.Read;
//Add Mode.Write
Mode |= Mode.Write;
Assert.True(((Mode & Mode.Write) == Mode.Write)
  && ((Mode & Mode.Read) == Mode.Read)));



Flags allow you to use bitmasking inside your enumeration. This allows you to combine enumeration values, while retaining which ones are specified.

[Flags]
public enum DashboardItemPresentationProperties : long
{
    None = 0,
    HideCollapse = 1,
    HideDelete = 2,
    HideEdit = 4,
    HideOpenInNewWindow = 8,
    HideResetSource = 16,
    HideMenu = 32
}



Please see the following for an example which shows the declaration and potential usage:

namespace Flags
{
    class Program
    {
        [Flags]
        public enum MyFlags : short
        {
            Foo = 0x1,
            Bar = 0x2,
            Baz = 0x4
        }

        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            MyFlags fooBar = MyFlags.Foo | MyFlags.Bar;

            if ((fooBar & MyFlags.Foo) == MyFlags.Foo)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("Item has Foo flag set");
            }
        }
    }
}



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