c# - strings - const array c

Declare a const array (9)

Is it possible to write something similar to the following?

public const string[] Titles = { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" };

A .NET Framework v4.5+ solution that improves on tdbeckett's answer:

using System.Collections.ObjectModel;

// ...

public ReadOnlyCollection<string> Titles { get; } = new ReadOnlyCollection<string>(
  new string[] { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" }

Note: Given that the collection is conceptually constant, it may make sense to make it static to declare it at the class level.

The above:

  • Initializes the property's implicit backing field once with the array.

    • Note that { get; } - i.e., declaring only a property getter - is what makes the property itself implicitly read-only (trying to combine readonly with { get; } is actually a syntax error).

    • Alternatively, you could just omit the { get; } and add readonly to create a field instead of a property, as in the question, but exposing public data members as properties rather than fields is a good habit to form.

  • Creates an array-like structure (allowing indexed access) that is truly and robustly read-only (conceptually, constant, once created), both with respect to:

    • preventing modification of the collection (such as by removing or adding elements, or by replacing the collection as a whole)
    • preventing modification of individual elements.
      (Even indirect modification isn't possible - unlike with a IReadOnlyList<T> solution, where a (string[]) cast can be used to gain write access to the elements, as shown in mjepsen's helpful answer.
      The same vulnerability applies to the IReadOnlyCollection<T> interface, which, despite its name similarity to class ReadOnlyCollection, does not even support indexed access, making it fundamentally unsuitable for providing array-like access).

Arrays are probably one of those things that can only be evaluated at runtime. Constants must be evaluated at compile time. Try using "readonly" instead of "const".

For my needs I define static array, instead of impossible const and it works: public static string[] Titles = { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" };

For the sake of completeness, now we also have ImmutableArrays at our disposal. This should be truly immutable:

public readonly static ImmutableArray<string> Tiles = ImmutableArray.Create(new[] { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" });

Requires System.Collections.Immutable NuGet reference


If you declare an array behind an IReadOnlyList interface you get a constant array with constant values that is declared at runtime:

public readonly IReadOnlyList<string> Titles = new [] {"German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" };

Available in .NET 4.5 and higher.

Since C# 6 you can write it like:

public static string[] Titles => new string[] { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" };

See also: C# : The New and Improved C# 6.0 (specifically the chapter "Expression Bodied Functions and Properties")

This will make a read-only static property, but it will still allow you to alter the content of the array returned, but when you call the property again, you will get the original, unaltered array again.

For clarification, this code is the same as (or actually a shorthand for):

public static string[] Titles
    get { return new string[] { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" }; }

Please note that there is a downside to this approach: A new array is actually instantiated on each and every reference, so if you are using a very large array, this might not be the most efficient solution. But if you re-use the same array (by putting it in a private attribute for instance) it will again open up the possibility to change the contents of the array.

If you want to have an immutable array (or list) you could also use:

public static IReadOnlyList<string> Titles { get; } = new string[] { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" };

But, this still has a risk for changes, as you can still cast it back to a string[] and alter the contents, as such:

((string[]) Titles)[1] = "French";

Yes, but you need to declare it readonly instead of const:

public static readonly string[] Titles = { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" };

The reason is that const can only be applied to a field whose value is known at compile-time. The array initializer you've shown is not a constant expression in C#, so it produces a compiler error.

Declaring it readonly solves that problem because the value is not initialized until run-time (although it's guaranteed to have initialized before the first time that the array is used).

Depending on what it is that you ultimately want to achieve, you might also consider declaring an enum:

public enum Titles { German, Spanish, Corrects, Wrongs };

You can declare array as readonly, but keep in mind that you can change element of readonly array.

public readonly string[] Titles = { "German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" };
Titles[0] = "bla";

Consider using enum, as Cody suggested, or IList.

public readonly IList<string> ITitles = new List<string> {"German", "Spanish", "Corrects", "Wrongs" }.AsReadOnly();

You could take a different approach: define a constant string to represent your array and then split the string into an array when you need it, e.g.

const string DefaultDistances = "5,10,15,20,25,30,40,50";
public static readonly string[] distances = DefaultDistances.Split(',');

This approach gives you a constant which can be stored in configuration and converted to an array when needed.