[c#] Catch multiple exceptions at once?


11 Answers

EDIT: I do concur with others who are saying that, as of C# 6.0, exception filters are now a perfectly fine way to go: catch (Exception ex) when (ex is ... || ex is ... )

Except that I still kind of hate the one-long-line layout and would personally lay the code out like the following. I think this is as functional as it is aesthetic, since I believe it improves comprehension. Some may disagree:

catch (Exception ex) when (
    ex is ...
    || ex is ...
    || ex is ...
)

ORIGINAL:

I know I'm a little late to the party here, but holy smoke...

Cutting straight to the chase, this kind of duplicates an earlier answer, but if you really want to perform a common action for several exception types and keep the whole thing neat and tidy within the scope of the one method, why not just use a lambda/closure/inline function to do something like the following? I mean, chances are pretty good that you'll end up realizing that you just want to make that closure a separate method that you can utilize all over the place. But then it will be super easy to do that without actually changing the rest of the code structurally. Right?

private void TestMethod ()
{
    Action<Exception> errorHandler = ( ex ) => {
        // write to a log, whatever...
    };

    try
    {
        // try some stuff
    }
    catch ( FormatException  ex ) { errorHandler ( ex ); }
    catch ( OverflowException ex ) { errorHandler ( ex ); }
    catch ( ArgumentNullException ex ) { errorHandler ( ex ); }
}

I can't help but wonder (warning: a little irony/sarcasm ahead) why on earth go to all this effort to basically just replace the following:

try
{
    // try some stuff
}
catch( FormatException ex ){}
catch( OverflowException ex ){}
catch( ArgumentNullException ex ){}

...with some crazy variation of this next code smell, I mean example, only to pretend that you're saving a few keystrokes.

// sorta sucks, let's be honest...
try
{
    // try some stuff
}
catch( Exception ex )
{
    if (ex is FormatException ||
        ex is OverflowException ||
        ex is ArgumentNullException)
    {
        // write to a log, whatever...
        return;
    }
    throw;
}

Because it certainly isn't automatically more readable.

Granted, I left the three identical instances of /* write to a log, whatever... */ return; out of the first example.

But that's sort of my point. Y'all have heard of functions/methods, right? Seriously. Write a common ErrorHandler function and, like, call it from each catch block.

If you ask me, the second example (with the if and is keywords) is both significantly less readable, and simultaneously significantly more error-prone during the maintenance phase of your project.

The maintenance phase, for anyone who might be relatively new to programming, is going to comprise 98.7% or more of the overall lifetime of your project, and the poor schmuck doing the maintenance is almost certainly going to be someone other than you. And there is a very good chance they will spend 50% of their time on the job cursing your name.

And of course FxCop barks at you and so you have to also add an attribute to your code that has precisely zip to do with the running program, and is only there to tell FxCop to ignore an issue that in 99.9% of cases it is totally correct in flagging. And, sorry, I might be mistaken, but doesn't that "ignore" attribute end up actually compiled into your app?

Would putting the entire if test on one line make it more readable? I don't think so. I mean, I did have another programmer vehemently argue once long ago that putting more code on one line would make it "run faster." But of course he was stark raving nuts. Trying to explain to him (with a straight face--which was challenging) how the interpreter or compiler would break that long line apart into discrete one-instruction-per-line statements--essentially identical to the result if he had gone ahead and just made the code readable instead of trying to out-clever the compiler--had no effect on him whatsoever. But I digress.

How much less readable does this get when you add three more exception types, a month or two from now? (Answer: it gets a lot less readable).

One of the major points, really, is that most of the point of formatting the textual source code that we're all looking at every day is to make it really, really obvious to other human beings what is actually happening when the code runs. Because the compiler turns the source code into something totally different and couldn't care less about your code formatting style. So all-on-one-line totally sucks, too.

Just saying...

// super sucks...
catch( Exception ex )
{
    if ( ex is FormatException || ex is OverflowException || ex is ArgumentNullException )
    {
        // write to a log, whatever...
        return;
    }
    throw;
}
Question

It is discouraged to simply catch System.Exception. Instead, only the "known" exceptions should be caught.

Now, this sometimes leads to unneccessary repetitive code, for example:

try
{
    WebId = new Guid(queryString["web"]);
}
catch (FormatException)
{
    WebId = Guid.Empty;
}
catch (OverflowException)
{
    WebId = Guid.Empty;
}

I wonder: Is there a way to catch both exceptions and only call the WebId = Guid.Empty call once?

The given example is rather simple, as it's only a GUID. But imagine code where you modify an object multiple times, and if one of the manipulations fail in an expected way, you want to "reset" the object. However, if there is an unexpected exception, I still want to throw that higher.




Just call the try and catch twice.

try
{
    WebId = new Guid(queryString["web"]);
}
catch (FormatException)
{
    WebId = Guid.Empty;
}
try
{
    WebId = new Guid(queryString["web"]);
}
catch (OverflowException)
{
    WebId = Guid.Empty;
}

It is just that Simple!!




Not in C# unfortunately, as you'd need an exception filter to do it and C# doesn't expose that feature of MSIL. VB.NET does have this capability though, e.g.

Catch ex As Exception When TypeOf ex Is FormatException OrElse TypeOf ex Is OverflowException

What you could do is use an anonymous function to encapsulate your on-error code, and then call it in those specific catch blocks:

Action onError = () => WebId = Guid.Empty;
try
{
    // something
}
catch (FormatException)
{
    onError();
}
catch (OverflowException)
{
    onError();
}



Joseph Daigle's Answer is a good solution, but I found the following structure to be a bit tidier and less error prone.

catch(Exception ex)
{   
    if (!(ex is SomeException || ex is OtherException)) throw;

    // Handle exception
}

There are a few advantages of inverting the expression:

  • A return statement is not necessary
  • The code isn't nested
  • There's no risk of forgetting the 'throw' or 'return' statements that in Joseph's solution are separated from the expression.

It can even be compacted to a single line (though not very pretty)

catch(Exception ex) { if (!(ex is SomeException || ex is OtherException)) throw;

    // Handle exception
}

Edit: The exception filtering in C# 6.0 will make the syntax a bit cleaner and comes with a number of other benefits over any current solution. (most notably leaving the stack unharmed)

Here is how the same problem would look using C# 6.0 syntax:

catch(Exception ex) when (ex is SomeException || ex is OtherException)
{
    // Handle exception
}



The accepted answer seems acceptable, except that CodeAnalysis/FxCop will complain about the fact that it's catching a general exception type.

Also, it seems the "is" operator might degrade performance slightly.

CA1800: Do not cast unnecessarily says to "consider testing the result of the 'as' operator instead", but if you do that, you'll be writing more code than if you catch each exception separately.

Anyhow, here's what I would do:

bool exThrown = false;

try
{
    // Something
}
catch (FormatException) {
    exThrown = true;
}
catch (OverflowException) {
    exThrown = true;
}

if (exThrown)
{
    // Something else
}



Update 2015-12-15: See https://.com/a/22864936/1718702 for C#6. It's a cleaner and now standard in the language.

Geared for people that want a more elegant solution to catch once and filter exceptions, I use an extension method as demonstrated below.

I already had this extension in my library, originally written for other purposes, but it worked just perfectly for type checking on exceptions. Plus, imho, it looks cleaner than a bunch of || statements. Also, unlike the accepted answer, I prefer explicit exception handling so ex is ... had undesireable behaviour as derrived classes are assignable to there parent types).

Usage

if (ex.GetType().IsAnyOf(
    typeof(FormatException),
    typeof(ArgumentException)))
{
    // Handle
}
else
    throw;

IsAnyOf.cs Extension (See Full Error Handling Example for Dependancies)

namespace Common.FluentValidation
{
    public static partial class Validate
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Validates the passed in parameter matches at least one of the passed in comparisons.
        /// </summary>
        /// <typeparam name="T"></typeparam>
        /// <param name="p_parameter">Parameter to validate.</param>
        /// <param name="p_comparisons">Values to compare against.</param>
        /// <returns>True if a match is found.</returns>
        /// <exception cref="ArgumentNullException"></exception>
        public static bool IsAnyOf<T>(this T p_parameter, params T[] p_comparisons)
        {
            // Validate
            p_parameter
                .CannotBeNull("p_parameter");
            p_comparisons
                .CannotBeNullOrEmpty("p_comparisons");

            // Test for any match
            foreach (var item in p_comparisons)
                if (p_parameter.Equals(item))
                    return true;

            // Return no matches found
            return false;
        }
    }
}

Full Error Handling Example (Copy-Paste to new Console app)

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

namespace IsAnyOfExceptionHandlerSample
{
    class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            // High Level Error Handler (Log and Crash App)
            try
            {
                Foo();
            }
            catch (OutOfMemoryException ex)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("FATAL ERROR! System Crashing. " + ex.Message);
                Console.ReadKey();
            }
        }

        static void Foo()
        {
            // Init
            List<Action<string>> TestActions = new List<Action<string>>()
            {
                (key) => { throw new FormatException(); },
                (key) => { throw new ArgumentException(); },
                (key) => { throw new KeyNotFoundException();},
                (key) => { throw new OutOfMemoryException(); },
            };

            // Run
            foreach (var FooAction in TestActions)
            {
                // Mid-Level Error Handler (Appends Data for Log)
                try
                {
                    // Init
                    var SomeKeyPassedToFoo = "FooParam";

                    // Low-Level Handler (Handle/Log and Keep going)
                    try
                    {
                        FooAction(SomeKeyPassedToFoo);
                    }
                    catch (Exception ex)
                    {
                        if (ex.GetType().IsAnyOf(
                            typeof(FormatException),
                            typeof(ArgumentException)))
                        {
                            // Handle
                            Console.WriteLine("ex was {0}", ex.GetType().Name);
                            Console.ReadKey();
                        }
                        else
                        {
                            // Add some Debug info
                            ex.Data.Add("SomeKeyPassedToFoo", SomeKeyPassedToFoo.ToString());
                            throw;
                        }
                    }
                }
                catch (KeyNotFoundException ex)
                {
                    // Handle differently
                    Console.WriteLine(ex.Message);

                    int Count = 0;
                    if (!Validate.IsAnyNull(ex, ex.Data, ex.Data.Keys))
                        foreach (var Key in ex.Data.Keys)
                            Console.WriteLine(
                                "[{0}][\"{1}\" = {2}]",
                                Count, Key, ex.Data[Key]);

                    Console.ReadKey();
                }
            }
        }
    }
}

namespace Common.FluentValidation
{
    public static partial class Validate
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Validates the passed in parameter matches at least one of the passed in comparisons.
        /// </summary>
        /// <typeparam name="T"></typeparam>
        /// <param name="p_parameter">Parameter to validate.</param>
        /// <param name="p_comparisons">Values to compare against.</param>
        /// <returns>True if a match is found.</returns>
        /// <exception cref="ArgumentNullException"></exception>
        public static bool IsAnyOf<T>(this T p_parameter, params T[] p_comparisons)
        {
            // Validate
            p_parameter
                .CannotBeNull("p_parameter");
            p_comparisons
                .CannotBeNullOrEmpty("p_comparisons");

            // Test for any match
            foreach (var item in p_comparisons)
                if (p_parameter.Equals(item))
                    return true;

            // Return no matches found
            return false;
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Validates if any passed in parameter is equal to null.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="p_parameters">Parameters to test for Null.</param>
        /// <returns>True if one or more parameters are null.</returns>
        public static bool IsAnyNull(params object[] p_parameters)
        {
            p_parameters
                .CannotBeNullOrEmpty("p_parameters");

            foreach (var item in p_parameters)
                if (item == null)
                    return true;

            return false;
        }
    }
}

namespace Common.FluentValidation
{
    public static partial class Validate
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Validates the passed in parameter is not null, throwing a detailed exception message if the test fails.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="p_parameter">Parameter to validate.</param>
        /// <param name="p_name">Name of tested parameter to assist with debugging.</param>
        /// <exception cref="ArgumentNullException"></exception>
        public static void CannotBeNull(this object p_parameter, string p_name)
        {
            if (p_parameter == null)
                throw
                    new
                        ArgumentNullException(
                        string.Format("Parameter \"{0}\" cannot be null.",
                        p_name), default(Exception));
        }
    }
}

namespace Common.FluentValidation
{
    public static partial class Validate
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Validates the passed in parameter is not null or an empty collection, throwing a detailed exception message if the test fails.
        /// </summary>
        /// <typeparam name="T"></typeparam>
        /// <param name="p_parameter">Parameter to validate.</param>
        /// <param name="p_name">Name of tested parameter to assist with debugging.</param>
        /// <exception cref="ArgumentNullException"></exception>
        /// <exception cref="ArgumentOutOfRangeException"></exception>
        public static void CannotBeNullOrEmpty<T>(this ICollection<T> p_parameter, string p_name)
        {
            if (p_parameter == null)
                throw new ArgumentNullException("Collection cannot be null.\r\nParameter_Name: " + p_name, default(Exception));

            if (p_parameter.Count <= 0)
                throw new ArgumentOutOfRangeException("Collection cannot be empty.\r\nParameter_Name: " + p_name, default(Exception));
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Validates the passed in parameter is not null or empty, throwing a detailed exception message if the test fails.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="p_parameter">Parameter to validate.</param>
        /// <param name="p_name">Name of tested parameter to assist with debugging.</param>
        /// <exception cref="ArgumentException"></exception>
        public static void CannotBeNullOrEmpty(this string p_parameter, string p_name)
        {
            if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(p_parameter))
                throw new ArgumentException("String cannot be null or empty.\r\nParameter_Name: " + p_name, default(Exception));
        }
    }
}

Two Sample NUnit Unit Tests

Matching behaviour for Exception types is exact (ie. A child IS NOT a match for any of its parent types).

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using Common.FluentValidation;
using NUnit.Framework;

namespace UnitTests.Common.Fluent_Validations
{
    [TestFixture]
    public class IsAnyOf_Tests
    {
        [Test, ExpectedException(typeof(ArgumentNullException))]
        public void IsAnyOf_ArgumentNullException_ShouldNotMatch_ArgumentException_Test()
        {
            Action TestMethod = () => { throw new ArgumentNullException(); };

            try
            {
                TestMethod();
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
                if (ex.GetType().IsAnyOf(
                    typeof(ArgumentException), /*Note: ArgumentNullException derrived from ArgumentException*/
                    typeof(FormatException),
                    typeof(KeyNotFoundException)))
                {
                    // Handle expected Exceptions
                    return;
                }

                //else throw original
                throw;
            }
        }

        [Test, ExpectedException(typeof(OutOfMemoryException))]
        public void IsAnyOf_OutOfMemoryException_ShouldMatch_OutOfMemoryException_Test()
        {
            Action TestMethod = () => { throw new OutOfMemoryException(); };

            try
            {
                TestMethod();
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
                if (ex.GetType().IsAnyOf(
                    typeof(OutOfMemoryException),
                    typeof(Exception)))
                    throw;

                /*else... Handle other exception types, typically by logging to file*/
            }
        }
    }
}



@Micheal

Slightly revised version of your code:

catch (Exception ex)
{
   Type exType = ex.GetType();
   if (exType == typeof(System.FormatException) || 
       exType == typeof(System.OverflowException)
   {
       WebId = Guid.Empty;
   } else {
      throw;
   }
}

String comparisons are ugly and slow.




Wanted to added my short answer to this already long thread. Something that hasn't been mentioned is the order of precedence of the catch statements, more specifically you need to be aware of the scope of each type of exception you are trying to catch.

For example if you use a "catch-all" exception as Exception it will preceed all other catch statements and you will obviously get compiler errors however if you reverse the order you can chain up your catch statements (bit of an anti-pattern I think) you can put the catch-all Exception type at the bottom and this will be capture any exceptions that didn't cater for higher up in your try..catch block:

            try
            {
                // do some work here
            }
            catch (WebException ex)
            {
                // catch a web excpetion
            }
            catch (ArgumentException ex)
            {
                // do some stuff
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
                // you should really surface your errors but this is for example only
                throw new Exception("An error occurred: " + ex.Message);
            }

I highly recommend folks review this MSDN document:

Exception Hierarchy




This is a classic problem every C# developer faces eventually.

Let me break your question into 2 questions. The first,

Can I catch multiple exceptions at once?

In short, no.

Which leads to the next question,

How do I avoid writing duplicate code given that I can't catch multiple exception types in the same catch() block?

Given your specific sample, where the fall-back value is cheap to construct, I like to follow these steps:

  1. Initialize WebId to the fall-back value.
  2. Construct a new Guid in a temporary variable.
  3. Set WebId to the fully constructed temporary variable. Make this the final statement of the try{} block.

So the code looks like:

try
{
    WebId = Guid.Empty;
    Guid newGuid = new Guid(queryString["web"]);
    // More initialization code goes here like 
    // newGuid.x = y;
    WebId = newGuid;
}
catch (FormatException) {}
catch (OverflowException) {}

If any exception is thrown, then WebId is never set to the half-constructed value, and remains Guid.Empty.

If constructing the fall-back value is expensive, and resetting a value is much cheaper, then I would move the reset code into its own function:

try
{
    WebId = new Guid(queryString["web"]);
    // More initialization code goes here.
}
catch (FormatException) {
    Reset(WebId);
}
catch (OverflowException) {
    Reset(WebId);
}



Cautioned and Warned: Yet another kind, functional style.

What is in the link doesn't answer your question directly, but it's trivial to extend it to look like:

static void Main() 
{ 
    Action body = () => { ...your code... };

    body.Catch<InvalidOperationException>() 
        .Catch<BadCodeException>() 
        .Catch<AnotherException>(ex => { ...handler... })(); 
}

(Basically provide another empty Catch overload which returns itself)

The bigger question to this is why. I do not think the cost outweighs the gain here :)




So you´re repeating lots of code within every exception-switch? Sounds like extracting a method would be god idea, doesn´t it?

So your code comes down to this:

MyClass instance;
try { instance = ... }
catch(Exception1 e) { Reset(instance); }
catch(Exception2 e) { Reset(instance); }
catch(Exception) { throw; }

void Reset(MyClass instance) { /* reset the state of the instance */ }

I wonder why no-one noticed that code-duplication.

From C#6 you furthermore have the exception-filters as already mentioned by others. So you can modify the code above to this:

try { ... }
catch(Exception e) when(e is Exception1 || e is Exception2)
{ 
    Reset(instance); 
}



If you can upgrade your application to C# 6 you are lucky. The new C# version has implemented Exception filters. So you can write this:

catch (Exception ex) when (ex is FormatException || ex is OverflowException) {
    WebId = Guid.Empty;
}

Some people think this code is the same as

catch (Exception ex) {                
    if (ex is FormatException || ex is OverflowException) {
        WebId = Guid.Empty;
    }
    throw;
}

But it´s not. Actually this is the only new feature in C# 6 that is not possible to emulate in prior versions. First, a re-throw means more overhead than skipping the catch. Second, it is not semantically equivalent. The new feature preserves the stack intact when you are debugging your code. Without this feature the crash dump is less useful or even useless.

See a discussion about this on CodePlex. And an example showing the difference.




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