-1

In C#, when you call a constructor, you can add one or more property initializers in curly braces:

var foo = new Bar() { Armpit = new Flapdoodle() { Limpet = 2 } };

What if that feature were generalized to "set properties on a return value":

var baz = foo.Armpit { Limpet = 4 };

This would be handy in cases like this:

var things = coll
    .Select(x => {
        var a = CreateA(x);
        a.Parent = this;
        return a;
    });

That's a common pattern in projecting collections via LINQ, but you see it elsewhere too: You have to declare a local variable and add some noise just to set one property on a return value before you pass it along to something else.

You write

f2(f1());

...but then whoops, something needs to change, so it becomes three lines:

A a = f1();
a.B = "c";
f2(a);

It seems like it might be nicer to be able to express the same code as follows:

var things = coll.Select(x => CreateA(x) { Parent = this } );

f2(f1() { B = "c" });

My question is this: Is this merely not useful enough to bother with, or is it actively a bad idea for some reason that's obvious to the C# team but not to me?

3

You've discovered a real problem when you want your code to consist of expressions rather than statements: you can't easily apply side effects to a value. However, introducing extra syntax is both inelegant and unncessary. Instead, I'd rather define a static helper function that can be used like

f2(With(f1(), a => { a.B = "c"; }));
var things = coll.Select(x => With(CreateA(x), a => { a.Parent = this; }));

where With would be implemented as With = (x, f) => { f(x); return x; }, i.e. the function is only evaluated for its side effects. This pattern allows side effects to be embedded into an expression.

0

Is this merely not useful enough to bother with, or is it actively a bad idea for some reason that's obvious to the C# team but not to me?

I can't think of any actively bad reason except perhaps the lack of atomicity (which also applies to the multi-line versions) but I think that it is not particularly useful. I've not had to do a lot of this, but then again, I dislike mutable types. Mostly though, I find this syntax to be mostly shuffling the deck chairs.

var a = f1();
a.B = "c";
f2(a);

Is about as readable as

f2(f1() { B = "c" });

to me. If anything, spreading the operations over multiple lines helps with the readability.

Sure, the select case is more compelling, but a select doing mutation strikes me as a bit smelly.

  • I think it's exceedingly smelly to use select to mutate items in a collection. In fact any feature that encourages it might qualify as "actively bad" on that basis alone, but projecting a collection is really a different case. – Ed Plunkett Jan 7 '16 at 16:57

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