extension - Use of “this” keyword in formal parameters for static methods in C#




function constructor (6)

I just learnt this myself the other day: the this keyword defines that method has being an extension of the class that proceeds it. So for your example, MyClass will have a new extension method called Foo (which doesn't accept any parameter and returns an int; it can be used as with any other public method).

I've come across several instances of C# code like the following:

public static int Foo(this MyClass arg)

I haven't been able to find an explanation of what the this keyword means in this case. Any insights?



This is an extension method. See here for an explanation.

Extension methods allow developers to add new methods to the public contract of an existing CLR type, without having to sub-class it or recompile the original type. Extension Methods help blend the flexibility of "duck typing" support popular within dynamic languages today with the performance and compile-time validation of strongly-typed languages.

Extension Methods enable a variety of useful scenarios, and help make possible the really powerful LINQ query framework... .

it means that you can call

MyClass myClass = new MyClass();
int i = myClass.Foo();

rather than

MyClass myClass = new MyClass();
int i = Foo(myClass);

This allows the construction of fluent interfaces as stated below.


"this" extends the next class in the parameter list

So in the method signature below "this" extends "String". Line is passed to the function as a normal argument to the method. public static string[] SplitCsvLine(this String line)

In the above example "this" class is extending the built in "String" class.


Scott Gu's quoted blog post explains it nicely.

For me, the answer to the question is in the following statement in that post:

Note how the static method above has a "this" keyword before the first parameter argument of type string. This tells the compiler that this particular Extension Method should be added to objects of type "string". Within the IsValidEmailAddress() method implementation I can then access all of the public properties/methods/events of the actual string instance that the method is being called on, and return true/false depending on whether it is a valid email or not.


A similar approach to https://.com/a/13864910/2323964 that works in Java 8 is to use an interface with default getters. This will be more whitespace verbose, but is mockable, and it's great for when you have a bunch of instances where you actually want to draw attention to the parameters.

public class Foo() {
    public interface Parameters {
        String getRequired();
        default int getOptionalInt(){ return 23; }
        default String getOptionalString(){ return "Skidoo"; }
    }

    public Foo(Parameters parameters){
        //...
    }

    public static void baz() {
        final Foo foo = new Foo(new Person() {
            @Override public String getRequired(){ return "blahblahblah"; }
            @Override public int getOptionalInt(){ return 43; }
        });
    }
}




c# parameters this