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Recently, my attitude has changed a bit toward IEnumerable<>.

Recently, my attitude has changed a bit toward IEnumerable<>. It has always served a very good purpose (foreach is so nice), but it has seemed to me to be an interesting, but mostly hidden implementation detail of the framework. And then there was LINQ.

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LINQ is a ton of functionality built around that simple little interface. Which makes me think about using it, exposing it directly in my own API. Why would I choose to expose IEnumerable<>, instead of IList<> or something else? First of all, what other interface is there for exposing a read-only set of “things”? Second, I adhere to the philosophy APIs should expose only the necessary functionality and no more, because:

  1. It makes it easier to understand how to use the API (and how not to use it).
  2. It makes it easier to change or completely re-implement the original API.
  3. The less you can do, the less there is to go wrong.

Of course, IEnumerable<> may be useful, but it certainly isn’t pretty. Instead of IEnumerable<Foo>, I would rather see Foo* or Foo+ orwell, you get the idea.

This is not a new idea (I’m sorry, but you probably won’t find those on this blog). There is, of course, Foo?, which means Nullable<Foo>. And then there is the experimental language C (thank you, cut-and-paste), which proves how unoriginal this idea is: In C, Foo* is a “stream” of Foo. According to the C Overview, “Streams in C are closely related to IEnumerable<>”. Well, who’s going to argue with the brains inside MS Research? Not me!

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Posted in Multimedia Post Date 03/04/2017






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